Writing Intensive - University of Hawaii at Hilo

The initials WI stand for Writing Intensive.
This is also a code which is attached to a
course title built into Banner as each
semester’s course schedule is created.
This code is entered onto each college or
division’s course schedule by the
appropriate staff member in each academic
unit, usually the College or Division
Writing Intensive is also a graduation requirement which is described in the current UH-Hilo
catalog. The College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics, and the
College of Hawaiian Language require students to complete the same number of WI classes in
order to graduate.
Students who enrolled at UHH as freshmen in AY 1995 – 1996 must complete two WI courses
regardless of the number of credits. At least one of the required WI courses must be from a
300-level or higher class.
Students who enrolled at UHH as freshmen beginning in AY 1996-1997 must complete three
WI courses regardless of the number of credits. Additionally, at least one of the required WI
courses must be from a 300-level or higher class.
Students who transferred to UHH in AY 1995-1996 have fewer courses required depending on
class standing. Transfer students who were classified as freshmen and sophomores need to
complete two WI courses. Junior transfer students require one WI course. Senior transfer
students are not required to complete any WI courses. (Note the upper-division WI requirement
is a critical element with transfers who are classified as Jrs. or Srs.)
Students who transferred to UHH beginning in AY 1996-1997 follow a different requirement.
Transfer students who were classified as freshmen and sophomores must complete three WI
courses. Junior transfer students must complete two WI courses. Senior transfer students
must complete one WI course. The upper-division minimum applies to all transfer students.
The WI code has to be manually entered onto the course
schedule every semester. This makes it a workload
issue for the division and college office personnel.
Additionally, once a student has registered for a class and
the semester begins, there is a workload issue for the
Record’s Office personnel. This is why the WI code
cannot be added to the course title “after the fact” once
the semester begins. It also cannot be entered on to
the course title after the semester ends.
By agreement throughout the UH System, the WI
designation cannot be a permanent
designation. Rather, each instructor (part-time
and full-time) decides whether to apply for the
WI on any course during any semester.
Discussions about what courses might be more
appropriate for a WI designation, how often WI
courses should be offered, etc should regularly
occur within each department.
To first time students, the term typically means
“lots of writing in the class.”
First time WI faculty often attach a similar
meaning to the term.
The following statements are from Professor Tom Hilgers, former Director
of the UH-Manoa Writing Program and General Education office where
the UH System WI Committee is academically “housed.”
What is a writing intensive course?
“They are classes which use writing as frequently as possible to help
students to learn the content of the course. In a conventional class,
students are often asked to read, think, discuss, and then write or take
an exam, pretty much in that order. In a writing-intensive class,
professors ask students to write, read, write as they read, write as they
think, write before they discuss, write after they discuss, and then read
and discuss even more in order to write again.”
The Chair of the UH Standing Committee on Written Communication and a
representative from each of the 10 UH campuses annually review each
campus WI program. The number of WI classes students need to
graduate varies among campuses, but each campus WI program works
within the framework of this system committee.
What’s an example of a WI class?
“In a writing-intensive math class, for example, students
may be asked to write out proofs in conventional English.
(Professors who have had their students do this, by the
way, tell me that written proofs are far better indicators of
students' understanding of concepts than are the same
proofs in mathematical notation.)”
“Students in a music class will write reviews of a
performance along with analyses, sometimes in technical
language, of their responses.”
“Students in a clinical nursing class keep a "problem-solving
log" in which they note the rationales behind the decisions
implicit in their clinical write-ups.”
The hallmarks of a WI class are similar on each campus. These hallmarks are:
The class uses writing to promote learning the course material, content, and skill(s)
The instructor provides students with opportunities to discuss their writing using various
activities such as peer to peer feedback, instructor comments, small discussion groups, and
other appropriate activities that engage students in thinking about the writing and the course
The students have an opportunity to use different forms of writing throughout the semester.
The writing activities and assignments can be formal and informal. Ideally, students should
not be asked to simply write a 20-page research paper
The students have some opportunities to revise some of their writing assignments.
The students will complete at least 16 pages of finished text
The writing submitted for evaluation will contribute significantly to the final course grade (at
least 40%)
The course enrollment will not be higher than 20 students
The answer to this question is as varied as the
number of faculty and courses. The answer
should be tailored to your students, your
content or skill emphasis, and your
willingness to try approaches that may
occasionally be outside of your teaching
“comfort zone.”
A classic example of informal writing is a
focused journal entry, often read by the
instructor without comment or grade.
Other forms of informal writing in a WI class
include focused writing activities such as
learning logs, in-class micro-themes within a
specific time frame on a 3” x 5” index card,
one-minute summarizations, or closure
statements at the end of the class.
The traditional assignment is a multi-page paper
requiring use of multiple sources and formal
discipline citations. (Again, please do not
consider this your only assignment option.)
Follow this link to the Manoa Writing Program
website to examine information about how you
might approach assigning such a task to
From a 300-level Math class:
…guides students through a sequence of assignments requiring increasingly complex composition tasks.
A first set of assignments emphasizes increasing student awareness and comprehension of mathematical
concepts. Students are required to rephrase definitions and mathematical symbols in terms that are more
understandable to them. Students are also asked to take an idea that has been presented using English prose
and restate it using as much mathematical symbolism as possible.
A second series of assignments requires students to translate theorems and proofs into everyday language. The
resulting documents must explain each step separately, showing an understanding both of its common sense
meaning and of how it fits into the sequence of the theorem or proof.
A third and final set of assignments asks students to write their own proofs, once again using everyday
language that relies upon a combination of English and formal mathematical symbolism.
Earlier assignments provide practice in the skills students need in completing later assignments. Most of the
problems have a computational component but all require English language answers rather than extensive
computational or symbolic manipulation.
… tries to present problems that are just beyond the boundaries of what students already know, thus encouraging
students to make the jump to understanding the next level on their own.
From a 300-level Poetry class:
Students are required to write three essays, each increasingly more difficult than the prior essay and all based on
analytical skills learned through the semester.
The first three-page essay is an explication of a poem each student selects from among three possibilities.
Students determine the central situation of the poem, the audience, and the poetic techniques employed by the
author. These three objectives are derived from a heuristic the instructor uses for the reading of a poem and
introduced early in the semester.
The second essay is a five-page analysis of the metrical and sound patterns of a poem selected by the student
from the course text, an anthology.
The third essay is a seven-page summary and evaluation of a critical article on a specific poem. Students
prepare drafts of each essay, meet in peer review groups (see Related Activities below), and receive instructor
feedback. Students are strongly encouraged to revise their essays before submitting a final copy. Essays 1 and 2
are worth up to five points each for the course grade; Essay 3 is worth up to ten points.
PURPOSE: In each of the essays, students demonstrate their understanding and evaluation of a poem. Specifically,
they apply strategies for reading poetry such as trying to determine a poem's context, imagery, language,
musical devices, metrical patterns, and poetic form. The essays, a more formal analysis compared to the weekly
peer letters, are an evaluative tool to determine if students are really learning the course content. The essay
becomes the mode for more detailed discussions of a poem's sense and methods.
From a 200-level Dance Class:
…uses the in-class and shorter out-of-class writing as building blocks for longer formal
assignments. So, for example, she first requires a one-page live performance report that
begins with "a one-paragraph factual statement identifying what you saw; the remainder
describing your personal reaction to what you saw."
A second live performance report must be two pages long, include the same information
as the first but also relate what was seen to the concepts discussed in class, that is,
begin to show elements of a critical analysis.
A third and final live performance report must be three pages long and explore the same
areas as paper two but display greater detail and critical depth.
Another technique … uses asks students to write a sequence of nine reports on films in
the nine major geographical areas of dance that the course explores. Each of these
papers is only one page in length but includes a bibliographic citation, a personal
response, a brief summary and a discussion of the "relationship between what you saw
and what has been covered in class." Though the length and content requirements
remain unchanged, … expects students to show increasing critical skills as they practice
in this format. She thus counts each paper more than the one before. She assigns two
points for the first report, one for content and one for form. For each subsequent report,
the number of points in each category increases by one, so that the last report is worth
18 points.
A writing intensive class can be almost anything
you envision it to be. You are not limited only
to traditional assignments.
There will be future WI workshops that will
introduce interested faculty to various
assignments, rubrics, and suggestions on how
to carry out evaluation of writing, etc.
I hope you and others will come to these future