Six Fundamental Principles of WAC

1. WAC balances learning-to-write with writing-to-learn.

WAC promotes better writing by using writing as a tool for learning and as a means for communicating learning. Traditional approaches to writing focus on learning outcomes and correctness in writing. WAC uses writing to teach process and outcomes. It is built on a definition of writing as a complex process that is closely related to thinking. WAC emphasizes the learning process while developing writing skills that demonstrate improved learning outcomes. Writing, reading, and critical thinking are the foundations of academic excellence, and these intellectual practices are mutually interdependent. Writing sustains and produces disciplined thinking.

2. WAC promotes active learning.

Too often students are conditioned to be passive, absorbing information from instructors, never challenging assumptions or asking why and how material is relevant to their lives. WAC helps students to take charge of their own learning processes. Through writing to learn, students participate in the discovery of knowledge, connecting more deeply to subject matter and becoming more motivated.

3. Reading and writing (and speaking and listening) are closely interrelated.

The more students read, the better their writing becomes. Good writers are good readers of writing.

4. Revision is key to improving writing.

Writing is a process of bringing written communication to form. The more feedback students have during the writing process, the more opportunities they have for improvement. Once a writing assignment is handed in for grading, the process is complete. Feedback and revision before grading are the crux of learning to communicate well in writing.

5. Writing improves through collaboration.

Meaning and language arise through social interaction. The more students learn to negotiate points of view with others, the clearer and more confident their ability to communicate. WAC emphasizes reader response and group work in the writing process.

6. Every discipline has its own writing conventions.

Every field of knowledge has its own ways of knowing and communicating, so all teachers (not just English teachers) need to teach how writing shapes knowledge and discourse within respective disciplines. Good writing in any discipline depends on understanding discipline-specific requirements, so experts in a given discipline are most likely to be the best teachers of writing in that discipline. WAC empowers all faculty members to be teachers of writing.