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Writing Program

Writing Program

Writing at DePauw is taught across the curriculum on the assumption that skill in written communication is intimately connected with clear thinking in all subjects. We believe that writing is an essential means for thinking and learning across the University. Writing requirements are also premised on the idea that students do not learn to write in any one particular course; that is, no single course completes one’s growth and development as a writer and thinker. Rather, writing is a skill that must be nurtured and developed throughout one’s intellectual journey.

DePauw’s Writing Program begins with a writing intensive First-Year Seminar, builds with a required writing-competency or ‘W’ course during the sophomore year, and culminates with demonstrated writing competency within the major. This last feature in particular marks DePauw’s embrace of the idea that the nature and role of writing varies across disciplines. Writing for different purposes and audiences must be tailored to demands inherent in the disciplines themselves. Regardless of one’s chosen major, a DePauw education emphasizes the importance of writing to thinking and learning.

Core Components of the Writing Curriculum

As part of the writing program, each student takes a writing intensive First-Year Seminar (described in detail above). First-Year Seminars introduce students to skills essential for success at DePauw generally, but focus on writing and oral communication specifically given their centrality to everything we do. The course begins nurturing essential skills in writing, thinking and speaking with the expectation that these skills will be reinforced and further developed throughout students’ time at DePauw both in courses specific to the writing curriculum and in broader general education and departmental/program curricula.

As part of the developmental approach DePauw embraces, students must complete a course with a W designation during their sophomore year. Sophomore W courses are offered across the curriculum each semester; enrollment is limited to approximately 18, with sophomores receiving first priority during registration. The sophomore W combines an emphasis on academic content with practice in writing. Such courses encourage:

  • the logical development of argument, clear and precise diction and a coherent prose style;
  • the development of general skills of expository writing as they apply in the academic disciplines; and
  • the responsible, appropriate and effective use of sources and special or technical language.

Students must achieve W certification during their sophomore year. (Music degree students have until the second semester of their junior year to complete the W requirement.) If certification is not attained before the second semester of the sophomore year, students must complete a W course each succeeding semester until they achieve certification.

In a few exceptional cases, students may fulfill the W requirement through a portfolio of college-level writings. Students seeking such exemptions should speak to the director of writing placement.

DePauw’s writing curriculum also includes requirements–developed by each department or program–that focus on the skills, methodologies, and types of writing specific to one’s chosen major. The writing curriculum thus sharpens skills throughout the college career, culminating in explicit focus on the role of writing within specific academic fields.

Other Writing-Specific Courses

Writing and the teaching of writing are emphasized in many courses at DePauw, far more than will be listed specifically here. Still, certain courses deserve special attention.

Academic English Seminar I and II (ENG 110 and ENG 115) are offered for students whose first language is not English. English courses for non-native speakers of English are aimed at strengthening existing language skills and developing new skills necessary for academic success. Placement in the appropriate English courses is made based on three criteria: 1) English language assessments administered on campus during orientation, 2) recommendation from the English language coordinator, and 3) confirmation by appointed faculty representing the English department (department chair, W Center director, etc.). Students are expected to complete ENG 110 or 115 in the semester assigned. Students placed in ENG 110 in the Fall Semester will be expected to take ENG 115 in the Spring. They may withdraw from these courses only under exceptional circumstances, such as extended illness, with the permission of the Petitions Committee.

College Writing I (ENG 120) stresses the development of writing skills fundamental for expressing ideas, imagination and opinion. By means of short essay assignments, some of which may be reflections on their own experience, students will build fluency in written expression, clarity of style and proficiency in the use of language. ENG 120 is offered to first-year students in the fall semester as an elective on a Pass/Fail basis.

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