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MCC Daily Tribune Archive

All WRite: WAC in Practice

Writing Across the Curriculum in Speech and Communication Courses

By Mark Ricci (Visual and Performing Arts)

Have you thought about implementing WR in your communication course, but decided against it for a number of different reasons? I’m here to alleviate some of your concerns and give you confidence to make your SPC and COM courses WR.

In order for a course to be considered WR, it must have both formal and informal writing assignments.  Far too often, we overemphasize the formal assignments, but fail to account for the informal assignments also currently in place. Many communication courses, both media and speech, already use the assignments that equate to WR certification.

I currently teach my SPC 141 courses as WR.  This may sound odd to some, as these courses are set up for maximizing the face-to-face speaking skills.  However, part of one’s ability to communicate effectively can be assessed through writing.  In my courses, students put together two formal papers, each set up for application of the skills.  In the relationship paper, students analyze a current, intimate relationship and apply communication skills in the recommendation section, before they conclude.  This shows not only that they understand and can see application to their real lives, but also gives them the ability to effectively structure a written plan for it.  This formal assignment in no way takes the place of implementation of the skills inside or outside the classroom, but gives another avenue to apply the skills.

The informal written assignments are where faculty can get creative in formulating different assessments.  I use a combination of many informal opportunities in all my courses, ranging from blogs to evaluations to discussion board posts.  Each of these give students the platform to concisely explore specific concepts and apply through examples.  Specifically in SPC 141, students use the discussion board to explain a concept in their own words and provide real-life examples.  I have found that permitting students to provide comments and advice, along with original posts, shows a deeper level of understanding and learning.  I also use similar assignments in all the COM courses I teach.  Many of the COM courses already have the structure in place to receive WR certification, so why not give students the credit for the written work they already do?  Even for the courses that currently do not meet the basic requirements, some minor tweaks to the structure could easily result in certification.  We as faculty know how gratifying it is read a student’s work when he/she makes the appropriate connection from course concept to examples, and there is not another assessment quite like it.

Need a push to look at your courses and see if this is the time for WR certification? I’m here to assist. If you have any questions about how to make your communication course writing intensive, or if you’d like to see examples of assignments, please do not hesitate to contact me at <>


Note: This the second installment of a series of Trib articles written by members of the Writing Across the Curriculum steering committee. We’re calling this series All WRite: WAC in Practice, and the purpose is to showcase how faculty in different departments teach their courses as writing intensive.

If you are a WR-certified faculty member who would like to be featured in future installments (Fall 2016, for example), please contact Amy Burtner, Interim Coordinator for WAC, at <>. We would love to highlight your teaching!

For more information about WR certification and the application process, see the WAC webpage, <>

Amy Burtner
Writing Across the Curriculum