The Skidmore College
Expository Writing Network


Composition research has shown that English composition courses alone cannot prepare students to write effectively in all their courses throughout a college career. Just as importantly, the research has shown that the relationship between subject and form differs among disciplines. For example, theses have a different shape and status: they require different kinds and amounts of evidence to support them persuasively, they demand different structures of argument, and they must be addressed to readers with different preconceptions and expectations. The act of writing generates thoughts, and student writers often clarify course content and discover new ideas about that content as they write. Thus, to acquaint students with the methods of inquiry, the patterns of organization, and the style and vocabulary of a discipline, instructors across college curricula acknowledge the importance of having students analyze the way scholars have written about a discipline, learn about writing for specific discipline, and write regularly in discipline-based classes.


The College Curriculum Committee, in conjunction with the English Department, offers these guidelines for faculty who want to propose writing intensive courses that will meet the all-college expository writing requirement as well as for faculty who want to enhance the writing experiences offered in their courses. There are several routes available to students for completing the all-college writing requirement:

1. EN 105 Writing Seminar II (some students are required to take EN 103 in preparation for EN 105 or any other writing intensive course);
2. EN 105H Writing Seminar II, honors;
3. Designated writing-intensive courses, such as EN 110, HI 107, or AN 101W .

With proper design (and approval from the Curriculum Committee) such courses may multiple-count in various ways: for example, to meet the writing requirement and a course in a major or minor. Writing-intensive courses have an enrollment limit of 17 students, offering faculty ample opportunity to cover the desired disciplinary content and to give close attention to the students' writing. In fact, when such courses are designed appropriately, the writing activities aid mastery of the course content rather than distract from the central concerns of the course. The directors of the Writing Program and the Writing Center are pleased to meet with faculty wishing to develop writing-intensive courses.


1. Each week or at least bi-weekly, students should write drafts and revisions, over the course of the semester producing several finished works (such as essays, summaries, research papers, and reports). The length of the papers may vary as appropriate to the discipline and the instructor's intentions, but the general expectation is that completed papers will total twenty-five or more pages of formal writing. Faculty might also choose to use journal-writing and other less structured writing exercises to augment the process of developing formal papers.

2. A writing-intensive course must include, at a number of points during the semester, classroom activities which examine the writing process. These normally include generating ideas; principles of organization; gathering and documenting information; determining an appropriate audience and voice; structuring the paper as a whole; revising; peer critiquing; attending to questions of grammar, syntax, and word usage.

3. Writing-intensive courses should introduce students to the revision process and provide them with the opportunity to revise. The process of revision must be an integral part of the writing assignments and instruction. Whether revision is built into the assignment or done as an additional graded paper will be a matter for each instructor to decide.

The directors of Expository Writing Program and the Writing Center will gladly supply advice to faculty on strategies of instruction.


Skidmore College

Writing Center

Scribner Library