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Academic Writing Classes


Mission StatementStandards, Outcomes, and Approaches ♦ Placement


English Academic Catalog ♦ Liberal Education Program ♦ NCTE ♦ WPA Outcomes

Mission Statement

Through its Liberal Education Program (LEP) in composition,* the Academic Writing Program provides academic writing opportunities which engage students in a process of developing their writing and critical thinking skills. The Academic Writing Program’s focus on student engagement and lifelong learning supports the university-wide mission to prepare “students to meet the complex challenges of this century as engaged citizens in their local and global communities.” Students in Academic Writing Program courses work in the liberal arts tradition as a community of writers learning to compose and revise for a variety of audiences, purposes, and contexts. Faculty in the Academic Writing Program, working together, provide writing instruction that reflects current standards as set forth by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA).

*LEP composition courses consist of: English 099: Introduction to Academic Writing, English 151: Academic Writing (including College Now sections), and  English 251: Writing in Professions.

Standards, Outcomes, and Approaches that Inform
the SMSU Academic Writing Program’s Mission

  1. NCTE's Teaching Conditions Necessary for Quality Education
    1. No more than 20 students should be permitted in any writing class. Ideally, classes should be limited to 15.
    2. Remedial or developmental sections should be limited to a maximum of 15 students.
    3. No English faculty members should teach more than 60 writing students a term. In developmental writing classes, the maximum should be 45.
    4. The effectiveness of classroom writing instruction is significantly improved by the assistance students receive in writing centers. Centers provide students with individual attention to their writing and often provide faculty and graduate students with opportunities to learn more about effective writing instruction. Because these centers enhance the conditions of teaching and learning, their development and support should be an important departmental and institutional priority.
    5. Because rhetoric and composition is a rapidly developing field, all writing instructors should have access to scholarly literature and be given opportunities for continuing professional development.
    6. Because writing instruction requires so much individual attention to student writing, it is important that all instructors have adequate and reasonably private office space for regular conferences.
    7. The institution should provide all necessary support services for the teaching of writing, including supplies, duplication services, and secretarial assistance.
  2. Pedagogical Practices for SMSU Academic Writing Program Courses
    1. All academic writing courses will employ a variety of methods, including workshopping, presentations by instructors and students, exercises, and hands-on, practical applications.
    2. Students will learn to be critical readers, able to judge the rhetorical effectiveness of their own and others’ texts.
    3. Major paper assignments will require students to consider how the audience and purpose of a text they are writing inform and shape that text.
    4. Students will receive thoughtful feedback and grades from their instructor in a timely manner (at a minimum students will receive feedback on a paper before the next paper is due).
    5. Instructors will employ methods that enable students to become critically aware of their own writing and strategic about their own writing processes.
    6. Instructors will allow for at least one revision of each major paper or utilize a portfolio approach in which students can choose to revise certain papers.
    7. In addition to scheduled classroom time, instructors will individualize writing instruction with their students through written comments, office hours, or required conferences. Time may be taken from regular course time in order for conferences to occur.
    8. The parameters for writing assignments will reflect academic and “real-world” circumstances. For example, students will be given adequate time to compose a majority of their papers outside of class time. However, students may also be asked to write impromptu in-class papers which will count toward their grade. A course will not require only in-class writing.
    9. While academic writing courses are not literature courses, readings from a variety of texts and genres (including print, visual, and digital media) might be assigned in writing courses. Readings in writing classes are used for analysis and inspiration. Students will learn how to become critical readers as well as writers.
    10. For assignments that require research, instructors will help students learn appropriate research techniques and ethical means of attributing source material.
    11. Students will begin to learn and apply a citation system. Instructors will help students become aware that different disciplines might require other citation systems than those used in their writing class.
    12. Instructors of the Academic Writing Program courses strive to help students meet Standard American Edited English (SAE) expectations. Students in Liberal Arts Core Composition and advanced composition are expected to have basic mastery of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Class time may be spent on mini-lessons if common issues surface, but generally grammar is taught in context of an individual’s own writing. Students who struggle with the conventions of SAE may be required to take appropriate Academic Writing Program courses tailored to the students’ specific needs.


Initial placement for native-speaking students will be based upon the ACT or SAT exam.

Placement for international students is based on the Accuplacer exam.  International students will not be placed in composition courses until they complete the Accuplacer exam.

Academic Writing Pages redesigned in 2014 by Krista Hoffbeck, Crystal Joos, & Kevin Danielson

Last Modified: 6/28/23 10:00 AM | Website Feedback