Undergraduate Studies hopes to convert as many Substantial Writing Component (SWC) courses to Writing Flag courses as possible by Fall 2010. There are some key differences between SWCs and Writing Flag. Please see the UGS Writing Committee’s interpretation for specific information on the requirements.
- No set page minimums: the Writing Flag designation does not set hard-and-fast page counts for student writing. Rather than the 16-page, 4,000-word requirement of the SWC, Writing Flags require “regular” writing “several times a semester” (i.e., not one long research paper turned in at semester’s end), and writing projects must be “substantial” in length.
- Feedback on drafts required: where the SWC requirements encouraged drafting and revision, Writing Flags require meaningful feedback from the instructor before the final draft stage to help them improve successive drafts. This does not necessarily need to happen for every writing project in the class, but feedback and revision are the only way to teach the clarity, precision, and style that Writing Flags are responsible for developing.
- At least one-third of grade is writing-based: writing assignments must account for at least one-third of a student’s final grade in a Writing Flag course. The SWC designation merely stipulated that a “significant” percentage of the grade come from writing (though some colleges, such as Liberal Arts, did have set percentages).
- Peer review required: students in a Writing Flag course must have the opportunity “to read each other’s work in order to offer constructive criticism.” The structured review can be as simple as putting a student paper on an overhead projector and discussing it as a class, or it can involve more elaborate exchanges of papers, with students responding at length in writing to each other’s work.
Keep in mind that your college or school may have additional, more stringent, requirements for its Writing Flags. You should check with your departmental and college course schedulers for additional requirements particular to your program.