Writing Across the Curriculum and in the Disciplines

Image: Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus


The WAC program has begun to assess GWAR courses, and this page will be updated as we analyze results. Some tools and results from other programs are also referenced here.


I. A Student Perceptions in GWAR Courses at SF State

WHAT do SF State Students enrolled in GWAR courses believe they learn, and HOW do they think they learn best?

Here is a snapshot of students' perceptions based on a survey (n=5 classes / 125 students) and focus group interviews (n=20 classes / 78 students). The snapshot contains quotations.


What Students Thought They Learned

(1) Students reported that the writing assignments they encountered in GWAR courses were new to them.


(2) Students also reported learning new ways of thinking in GWAR classes that are specific to thei rmajors; many said they learned to approach issues from multiple perspectives.


How They Thought They Learned


Many students believed their professors helped them to sustain true passion for learning. They reported they succeeded in GWAR courses when their professors were accessible; and when they

• Articulated the purpose for writing in their disciplines;

• Gave copious and timely feedback on rough drafts;

• Fostered connections between peers (e.g., through class discussion, tutoring);

• Sequenced assignments in a logical manner.


2. Assessment of Student Writing

Some departments have assessed writing in their majors. Here are links to their reports:

1. Department of History Assessment Report, 2008-2009

2. Department of International Relations GWAR Writing Assessment Committee Memo, Spring 2011

3. Department of Philosophy Report on GWAR Pilot Study, Fall 2011 

4. Department of Health Education, Pilot Study on GWAR, Draft, Summer 2009

5. Department of Liberal Studies: White Paper, Tanya Augsburg, 2012


3. Instructional Rounds

The San Francisco Education Fund and Burton High School developed a protocol to assess individual classrooms. In spring 2013, the team visited 6 GWAR classes in 5 disciplines. They discovered that SF State faculty asked higher order questions; used peer review;  integrated discussion of writing into their class time; and affirmed students' responses. Read their Report, SFSU-Instructional Rounds

II. Other Studies 


WAC Can Work overviews the types of assessments being done at some campuses.

One of the most robust studies, The University of Washington's Study of Undergraduate Learning (UW SOUL) shows that

  • Writing (and, critical thinking) is always disciplinary, even in general education;
  • Students who write a lot are more engaged with their education; and
  • Students who practice writing in specific situations get better at writing.

Other large-scale institutional studies have shown similar results: writing engages students in learning and in the life of the institution.

wac_can_work.pdf71.53 KB
history_assessment_report_2008-2009.pdf846.19 KB
ir_writing_assessment.pdf165.88 KB
phil_writing_assessment.pdf135.78 KB
what_students_say__.pdf208.43 KB
what_students_say__.pdf208.43 KB
hed_400_report322.pdf132.05 KB
augsburg-invited-paper.pdf132.17 KB
sfsu-instructional_rounds_.pdf110.53 KB
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