Writing Intensive Courses

What do writing-intensive courses look like?

In 2022-23, as part of the extraordinary initiatives for undergraduate education found in CUE2, we are redefining the criteria that distinguish courses as “writing-intensive.”

The new W (the criteria are listed below) will help students learn the conventions and epistemological assumptions of writing in their major disciplines, but also to use writing as a tool for thinking and learning. The new W will also contribute to everyone’s experience in the classroom: writing is one of the most effective ways to encourage deep engagement with the subject at hand, no matter what the discipline. Low-stakes assignments in which students write to clarify and organize thinking have been shown to improve performance on exams, while reflective writing that engages students’ values has been shown to reduce achievement disparities between first-generation students and their economically advantaged peers.

Here are the criteria for W courses:

  • Multiple substantial writing projects, ranging from traditional papers to a wide variety of other forms, distributed throughout the semester
  • A mix of high and low stakes writing, meaning that students have the chance write in informal, low-pressure – even ungraded – contexts, as well as producing larger, more formal assignments
  • Direct engagement with writing in the classroom, including class discussions, workshop, faculty/TA lectures, and class materials (for instance, strong and weak examples of the assigned genre)
  • Expectations that are conveyed clearly through assignment descriptions, including the genre and audience of the assigned writing, and evaluative criteria
  • Feedback to students on their writing, in written and/or verbal form, from faculty, teaching assistants, and/or peers
  • At least one opportunity to revise

Transferring “W” Credit

Students who transfer to Hopkins from another college or university, and Hopkins students who study abroad, may request to transfer W credit for up to 6 credits. To learn more and to request credit, please use this form.