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Issue Brief: Writing Across the Curriculum - Previous Revision

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 withinparticular fields, and(3)  thedevelopment of writing skills in particular disciplines through the use ofwriting assignments in courses across the curriculum. The first area, typicallyreferred to as “writing to learn,” addresses the use of writing activities inand outside of classrooms to help students gain a deeper understanding ofdisciplinary content, theoretical frameworks, and disciplinary processes andapproaches. The second area focuses on the use of writing as a mode of engagingcritically with a discipline, typically through the use of critical thinkingprocesses such as application, analysis, evaluation, and reflection. The thirdarea, frequently referred to as “writing in the disciplines,” focuses onhelping students prepare to participate in disciplinary and professionalcommunication activities.

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

Leading Journals                               

Across theDisciplines

The WACJournal

Languageand Learning Across the Disciplines (archives)


College Composition and Communication  

Relevant Web Sites                         

The WACClearinghouse

An Introduction to WAC

Open Access Publishers                

The WACClearinghouse

Relevant Organizations

International Network ofWriting-across-the Curriculum Programs

Relevant Email Discussion Lists

WAC-L: Writing Across the Curriculum



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