Writing Across the Curriculum History

Written by Stacia Callan

  1. In 1984, a subcommittee of the Professional Development Instructional Resources Committee (PDIRC) polled the MCC faculty if they would be interested in learning more abut WAC. It received 112 affirmative responses out of 427. This set the stage for subsequent WAC activities at MCC.
  2. In 1985, the PDIRC organized a two-day series of WAC consciousness-raising, informational workshops. They were conducted by Dr. Carey Ser of Miami Dade Community College which had a strong WAC program already in existence. The general session and the discipline specific workshops drew about 105 people.
  3. The 1985 workshop generated dialogues between colleagues and experiments with the writing assignments in the disciplines but no formal follow-up until 1987.
  4. During the two years after Dr. Ser's workshops, growth had occurred. Colleagues in some disciplines found out that writing helps students to learn, to think; and it helps them to teach. These discoveries had to be made known. With this in mind, in November of 1987, the PDIRC organized a "local talent show." Four colleagues, who became confident in the use of writing in their disciplines, reported how it worked for them. The represented disciplines were: Biology, Business/Economics, Nursing, and Sociology. The event was attended by 54 people and very well received. Soon came requests for another follow-up.
  5. In February, 1988, the PDIRC organized another WAC event. It included presentations by local experts on the following:

    1. How to evaluate writing
    2. Assignments that need not be graded
    3. Effective ways of assigning research projects
    4. Help available to poor student writers through Developmental Studies

    This function was attended by 57 faculty.

  6. In June, 1988, the PDIRC organized an advanced WAC training session: a two-day workshop on Assignments that Teach Disciplines." The presenters were Joyce Magnotto of Prince George's Community College and Barbara Stout of Montgomery Community College, both of Maryland. Barbara and Joyce are a national research team on WAC in community colleges. They are also published writers. Their workshops were attended by 49 faculty who responded enthusiastically to the presenters. The faculty reaction to the advanced session was "What's next?"
  7. In the fall of 1988, the WAC Project gained momentum with a $6,000 grant from the MCC Foundation. In January of 1989, the WAC Committee was formed. In February and March, 1989, the WAC Committee surveyed the MCC faculty for the amounts and kinds of writing assigned in the disciplines. Out of the 305 polled faculty, 117 responded. The results show that 51 of the respondents from the disciplines, excluding English, require a significant amount of writing through a variety of assignments in their courses.
    After careful consideration of the responses to the WAC Survey, the committee tentatively defined a writing-intensive ("WR") course for MCC. Its concept is explained in the enclosed proposal to the Curriculum Committee of the MCC Senate.
  8. The next step in the MCC WAC efforts is a pilot program of "WR" courses which will use writing in the disciplines according to the "WR" course proposal guideline. The participants will be chosen on the basis of the merits of their proposals, and will be given incentives. At this time 11 stipends are available to participants, $300 each. The WAC Committee hopes to receive many more than 11 "WR" Course Proposals, and it plans to work toward other incentives such as reduced class size, more stipends, or partial reduction in a teaching load for participants.