Yale College students are required to take two courses that focus on writing skills. Courses that fulfill this requirement are designated WR in the YCPS. Rather than host these courses in a separate writing program, Yale’s requirement is distributed throughout the curriculum. Currently over 200 courses may be applied toward the WR requirement, spanning more than 45 different academic departments. An ideal outcome would be for every department to host one or more WR courses, so that students can learn the principles of writing and thinking in a discipline directly from their departmental faculty. If writing assignments are already a central part of your teaching, please join us. The guidelines below describe ways to make writing a more conscious goal of your teaching, usually without major changes to your syllabus. And if writing assignments have not formerly been a central part of your teaching, we encourage you to revise one of your courses or to work with us to develop a new one. We urgently want students to have opportunities for writing in all disciplines. To help faculty incorporate writing into their courses, we are committed to providing training, materials, support for TFs, and tutoring resources.
To propose adding the WR designation to a course, please send an email to Alfred Guy, the R.W.B. Lewis Director of Writing (firstname.lastname@example.org); include the information listed below. Please also contact Dr. Guy if you have questions or need more information about proposing a WR course—or if you’re already teaching one, but have comments and suggestions.
WR Course Proposals
Course Name and Number:
When was the course last taught?
(Note: All new courses must still be submitted to the Course of Study Committee first)
Estimated number of students:
Pre-requisites or restrictions:
Choose one: Seminar, Lecture w/Sections*, Other
*For budgetary reasons, lecture courses with WR sections are subject to additional screening and limits.
In 2-3 paragraphs, please describe how the course meets the WR guidelines listed below.
Requirements for WR courses
Courses that fulfill the writing requirement must include the following elements.
• Basic logistics:
A total of 15-25 pages of graded writing required for the semester.
2 or more graded writing assignments.
Writing assignments that count, cumulatively, for 25% or more of the final course grade.
WR Seminars limited to 20 students; WR sections led by TFs limited to 15 students.
• Pedagogical Elements:
Instructor feedback on writing, with opportunities to put suggestions into practice. This feedback might be on a series of papers that build on each other, or through feedback on early drafts revised for a grade.
Time spent teaching writing in class throughout the semester.
A discussion of writing goals on the syllabus.
• Course Feedback and Review
All WR courses must add a custom question to the student evaluations that asks: “What have you learned about writing in this course that you can use in your future writing at Yale?”
New WR courses will be reviewed after one year; recurring courses will be reviewed again very five years. Faculty will be asked to provide such materials as writing prompts, examples of feedback, and student comments on course evaluations.
In these guidelines “writing” means both style and substance. The College has designed the WR requirement to integrate teaching writing and teaching subject matter in our courses; we honor this integration by teaching students not only to write better prose, but also to argue well, work with evidence, and explore problems appropriate to our subjects. In teaching students to write, we teach them to create knowledge and to communicate effectively.
Most WR courses are seminars taught without teaching fellows. Courses with TFs are subject to some additional requirements, and may be limited based on available TF allocations. Please note that Teaching Fellows for WR lecture courses must be trained by the Writing Center and will normally be permitted to teach only one section per term.