Writing-intensive courses offer hands-on experience in clear thinking

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By Ava Bustos

Learning how to think, write and comprehend one’s thoughts is a skill successful students need to develop.

Writing-intensive classes help students learn to write well and think critically, philosophy Instructor Amy Whitworth said.

This college offers 21 courses this semester designated as “writing-intensive.” These courses are in English, journalism, philosophy and interdisciplinary studies.

Writing-intensive courses require students to write a minimum of 2,000 words, base at least 60 percent of the course grade on writing assignments, and require each writing activity to be at least 200 words in length. 

Writing-intensive courses were started at this college in a movement known as “writing across the curriculum.” They are listed in the 2007-08 college bulletin as skill-intensive courses. 

A skill-intensive course requires college-level students to employ a designated skill such as speech, mathematics or writing to earn a significant portion of their grade, according to the bulletin. 

To graduate from this college, students must demonstrate competencies in writing, reading, math, oral communication and computer literacy. Writing intensive courses are one way to demonstrate writing competency. 

Velia Tovar, office supervisor in admissions and records, said the writing-intensive notation stays on a student’s transcript even when they transfer if the course transfers to a senior institution.

Students don’t always recognize the reasons for taking a writing-intensive class, but the reason for taking one of these classes is to challenge “old” writing habits and mold a student’s future with the ability to write clearly and in the form required for the discipline, English Chair Alex Bernal said. 

 Writing-intensive classes give students “college experience,” he said.

 “It (writing intensive) plays a part in speech, lectures, or like the different events that take place everyday.” 

Teachers suggest some things students should consider before enrolling in WI classes:

• Have you completed the required classes before enrolling in the writing-intensive class? 

• Are you willing and ready to be challenged with term papers, essay exams and short writing assignments? 

• Are you willing to continue going the extra mile to gather and fulfill the research requirements to complete the course? 

Whitworth said that taking writing-intensive classes helps students to prepare for university coursework.

“Knowing how to write clearly means that you know how to think clearly. Writing is thinking out loud,” she said.

 Being able to write helps students understand themselves on a deeper level, she said. 

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