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Dr. Loretta Kasper
Associate Professor of English

College Now Workshop
Using Computers to Teach Writing Across the Curriculum

Kingsborough Community College/CUNY
Tuesday, November 2, 1999

Back to Workshop Web Page


From: Sully, Brenda. Malaspina University-College's Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Project.
April 1995.

Why should instructors in disciplines that traditionally do not emphasize writing try to get their students to write more or to focus more on how they write?

  1. the ability to solve problems
  2. the ability to examine ideas carefully and support them with evidence
  3. the ability to incorporate and synthesize information

  1. Attitude (the motivation and interest of students)
  2. Mechanical Skills (spelling, punctuation)
  3. Organizational skills (how to piece it together)
  4. Style (conventions appropriate to task and audience)
  5. Reasoning ability (thinking, logic)
  6. Knowledge (something to write about)
  7. Many students have no clear or realistic idea as to what is expected of them in college.
  8. For many students, language skills that relate to writing (reading, listening, vocabulary) are poor.
  9. Students seem to have trouble grasping questions and analyzing problems.

  1. Writing can help students to learn better--"verbalization at the more conscious levels, including writing, probably helps the writer to understand the thoughts that otherwise would remain inaccessible. The research also suggests that "writing helps people to operate at a higher level of abstraction" (Walvoord and Smith qtd. in Cooke 5).
  2. As Cooke states " when we ask our students to write ...[w]e are encouraging them to engage actively with the subject matter in our disciplines: to see patterns, connect ideas, make meanings - in other words, to learn" (6).

  1. If writing is to become a natural and effective skill for [students], they must be offered practice and instruction in a great variety of academic settings. They must learn to write for different readers and in many contexts" (Cooke 9).
  2. Many of the problems we see in students' writing result from them not having enough awareness of these different contexts, or from them not having enough practice addressing them.

  1. It requires assigning far more papers than are usually assigned in other college classrooms
  2. It requires reading them and commenting on them not simply to justify a grade, but to offer guidance and suggestions for improvement; and it requires an atmosphere of trust.
  3. In short, it requires paying attention to the needs of individuals


Cooke, Virginia. Writing Across the Curriculum: A Faculty Handbook. Victoria. Centre for Curriculum and Professional Development, 1991.

Young, Art and Toby Fulwiler. Writing Across the Disciplines: Research Into Practice. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1986.