Writing Intensive (WI) Courses

For graduation, all LIU Brooklyn students are required to take nine credits of writing-intensive courses.  These courses include: English 16, Core Seminar, and a writing-intensive (WI) course in the major.

WI courses employ a writing-to-learn model, integrating significant formal and informal writing assignments into the curriculum. Each department designates which course will serve as the WI requirement for their majors. These courses are reviewed by the WAC department to ensure they meet the WI requirements and to offer support to faculty members teaching these classes.

Writing Requirements for Mandated Writing-Intensive Courses

The following are guidelines for writing-intensive courses in the disciplines and the Core Seminar.

Writing Intensive courses should be designed and taught by faculty members, at a 20:1 student to faculty ratio. This ratio will give faculty more time to respond to student writing.

Planning the WI Syllabus:

  • The syllabus should clearly indicate that the course is a WI course and that writing assignments will be a major component of the course grade.

Please include the following statement on your WI syllabus:
This is a writing-intensive course which fulfills LIU Brooklyn’s writing-intensive requirement. For graduation, all students are required to take nine credits of writing-intensive courses.  These courses include English 16, Core Seminar, and a WI course in the major.

  •  Writing assignments should be explicitly integrated into the course. The syllabus should clearly indicate when all writing assignments, including drafts for the formal paper(s), are due. Sufficient time should be allowed between drafts for students to revise.

Types of Writing Assignments:
Each course should include multiple assignments both formal and informal totaling at least 20 pages (5000 words). These assignments should be distributed throughout the semester.


  • At least one formal assignment (6-10 pages) should ask students to think critically about a problem or confront an issue in their discipline. This assignment(s) should encourage students to reflect on a critical question from several points of view and to use writing to analyze the issue and construct an effective argument.
  • The formal writing assignment(s) should be complex enough to require substantial revision. Revision includes proofreading and editing, but must also include allowing students to rethink their approach, consider alternate points of view, bring in new evidence, and redesign their argument accordingly. In a WI course, revision should be one of the primary means by which students engage with the course material and learn critical thinking skills.
  • Each course should include at least one assignment requiring the use of source material and appropriate documentation (MLA or APA). The source material may be researched by the students independently or developed out of course material. This requirement can be included in the 6-10 page formal paper or it can be assigned separately.


Informal assignments (totaling 10-14 pages) may or may not be revised and may include the following:

  • journals
  • reflective essays
  • response papers
  • summaries
  • reviews of literature
  • abstracts
  • written reports
  • meta-texts
  • self-evaluations

Recommendations for Assessment and Grading

  • Students should receive feedback on drafts from the professor and, whenever possible, from other students (peer review).
  • Examinations in the writing intensive courses should include essay instead of or in addition to multiple-choice questions whenever possible.
  • Grades for students’ written work should be determined by assessing ideas, argumentation, style, originality of expression, and critical thinking in addition to grammar and correctness.

Process of Review for WI Courses
Review of Writing Intensive courses takes place in two stages:

1) Designation Phase
This phase must be completed before the course is designated Writing Intensive by the registrar. The department will choose a WI course(s) for their majors and submits a syllabus to the WAC office for review (see WI Requirements and WI Procedures). The WAC Office recommends that departments run a pilot version of the course in the semester before or during the semester that they submit the proposed Writing Intensive syllabus. In consultation with the WAC staff, the department will revise the syllabus if necessary to meet the WI requirements. Once the course meets the requirements, it will be designated WI by the registrar’s office.

2) Review Phase
The review will take place at the end of the first semester that the course is taught and thereafter. The WAC Office’s intention is not to monitor every aspect of how the course is taught, but to explore, in consultation with the instructor, how writing is being used to meet the WI requirements and the instructor’s goals for the course. This phase is portfolio-based and conducted by the WAC Director in close consultation with the instructor. The instructor provides the WAC Director with two different portfolios.

1.  First Portfolio (Instructor-Based) will include

  • WI-specific syllabus
  • Assignments
  • Grading and assessment criteria
  • WI-specific student evaluations (designed by instructor in consultation with WAC Office)
  • Other documents to be determined by the WAC Office in consultation with the instructor

Review of this portfolio will focus on writing pedagogy and on the kinds of student writing assigned, not on every aspect of the course design or the instructor’s grading practices.

2. Second Portfolio (Student-Based) will be compiled by the instructor with help from the WAC Coordinators and will include:

  • A selection of student writing that represents both successful and unsuccessful responses to the assignments and illustrates the students’ writing process

These portfolios will be reviewed by the WAC staff in consultation with the instructor to ensure that the WI requirements are being met. After the review phase is complete, the WAC Director, in consultation with the instructor, will determine an approximate date for the next review of the course.

All such portfolios will then be filed in the WAC office for periodic internal WAC Program Review.

To help you determine if your portfolio is complete feel free to use this checklist: Writing Intensive Course Review Checklist