Any course in any discipline can define itself as Writing Attentive (W) if it has as one of its conscious and stated objectives the improvement of students’ critical writing, whether that writing is highly discipline-specific (e.g., a lab report) or broader in its application. Whether a course counts as a W course is determined not so much by the number of pages of writing students produce as by the uses to which that writing is put. In particular, writing assignments should be used at least in part for the purpose of improving students’ writing skills rather than solely as evidence of their mastery of course content. Accordingly, in W courses, students can reasonably expect to receive extensive feedback not only on the content but also on the form of their writing. This feedback might be given in a variety of ways, e.g., written comments, one-on-one paper conferences, and/or classroom discussion of samples of student writing.
Designed specifically to meet the needs of students whose secondary education did not adequately prepare them for writing at Amherst College. Students who take these courses will be taught the fundamentals of academic writing: thesis development, the use and citation of secondary sources, cogent argumentation, effective organization, the construction of coherent and unified paragraphs, and the crafting of complex yet clear sentences whose grammatical structure accurately mirrors the logical relations between the ideas they express. Though a significant amount of class time will be devoted to writing instruction, these courses are based squarely within a particular discipline and may count toward the major in the department in which they are taught.