Revised INTD 105 Writing Requirements, 2015

In the spring of 2015 College Senate approved a change to the amount and nature of writing required of students in INTD 105. At its heart, the change increases the prominence of revision in the writing process, and ties the library instruction requirement to a research paper. While the change may seem substantial at first, it need not require major changes in how people teach sections, as discussed below.

Revised Writing Requirement

Each section of INTD 105 will require students to write three papers of at least three pages in length–and substantial revision is required of all of them. A fourth paper will require research, following library instruction. A minimum of 5000 words (approximately twenty double-spaced pages) is expected from each student at the end of the term.

Rationale

Revision of essays serves an important pedagogical purpose, not simply to fix mistakes but to expand critical thinking. In compliance with SUNY General Education Guidelines, INTD 105 assessment includes an assessment of revision. This proposal formalizes the way students do some of the revision of papers in the course and sustains a common experience across sections. By decreasing the number of "original assignments," we want to encourage the writing seminar faculty to work with their students when they revise. A final paper, an "original assignment," will not only emphasize the importance of invention to the writing process, but guarantee that crucial library outcomes have been fulfilled.

Implementation

The following are some notes on how the INTD 105 coordinators understand the new requirement.

The "research" paper needn't be a long paper or one that asks students to read scholarly literature in a field. The central purpose of the research paper is to get students to practice what they learn in the library instruction session(s), and so "research" can be broadly understood as any activity that asks students to find and write about some "voice" other than their own and the one(s) they have been studying elsewhere in the course. The resulting paper need not be a culminating or final paper for the course, and can also be one of the revised papers.

"Revision" does not require that instructors formally grade revisions from one draft to the next. In fact, the value of revision comes from students internalizing it as part of the writing process, i.e., coming to understand that writing is a continuous process of thinking about material, expressing thoughts in words, critically evaluating one's own work, modifying the ideas and their expression in response to this evaluation, and repeating. Thus revision can be driven by feedback to students from peers, and indeed should be to the extent that peer reviews teach students to think critically about their own writing as well as about their fellows'.