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Issue Brief: Writing Across the Curriculum

Mike Palmquist

Colorado State University

Writing across the curriculum (WAC) focuses on (1) the useof writing to support the learning of disciplinary content and processes, (2) the use of writing to support engagement with issues and ideas within particular fields, and (3) the development of writing skills in particular disciplines through the use of writing assignments in courses across the curriculum. The first area, typically referred to as “writing to learn,” addresses the use of writing activities in and outside of classrooms to help students gain a deeper understanding of disciplinary content, theoretical frameworks, and disciplinary processes and approaches. The second area focuses on the use of writing as a mode of engaging critically with a discipline, typically through the use of critical thinking processes such as application, analysis, evaluation, and reflection. The third area, frequently referred to as “writing in the disciplines,” focuses on preparing students to participate in disciplinary and professional communication activities.

WAC emerged in the United States in the 1970s and is related to the earlier Language Across the Curriculum movement that developed in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. It is estimated that as many as 2,000 WAC programs have been established in post-secondary and second institutions in the United States. In the past decade, a growing number of WAC programs have been established outside the United States. Related areas include communication across the curriculum (CAC), which at some institutions has a primary focus on speaking and at others a dual focus on writing and speaking, and electronic communication across the curriculum, which focuses on the intersections of WAC and digital communication tools.

Leading Journals                               

Across theDisciplines

The WAC Journal

Language and Learning Across the Disciplines (archives)

College English

College Composition and Communication  

Relevant Web Sites                         

The WAC Clearinghouse

An Introduction to WAC

Open Access Publishers                

The WAC Clearinghouse

Relevant Organizations

International Network of Writing-across-the Curriculum Programs

Relevant Email Discussion Lists

WAC-L: Writing Across the Curriculum



Document and Site Resources

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