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Teaching Writing in the Major

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Writing in the Major (WIM) courses provide students with opportunities to develop writing skills in the context of their major fields. At Stanford, WIM is a crucial part of the process of teaching undergraduates to write effectively in discipline-specific formats and styles.

In these pages, we make suggestions based on research in writing pedagogy.

WIM courses

  • require a substantial amount of writing, with assignments sequenced to build on each other to expand students’ understanding of writing in the field 
  • schedule writing at regular intervals throughout the quarter via multiple short papers and/or assigning a larger project in stages; a single major writing assignment should have clearly-articulated parts
  • emphasize the process of rewriting, with individualized feedback and coaching from the instructor/TA 
  • devote attention to specialized standards of writing through the use of examples of strong writing in the field
  • draw on the conventions of writing in several areas of study when designed for students in IDPs, giving students practice in meeting the complex challenges of working across traditional disciplinary boundaries for a range of audiences and purposes
  • integrate writing concerns into classroom activities 
  • are situated in the overall curriculum of the major to contribute most effectively to students' training in the field; WIM courses placed early in the major will orient students to the standards of writing in the field and should lead to additional writing experiences later in the major, while WIM courses placed late in the major should challenge students to work at a sophisticated level based on their earlier courses and writing experiences