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Writing & Speaking Intensive Courses

The fundamental concept informing the Rhetorica Program is the belief that the most effective means of improving students’ writing and speaking is for them to practice these skills, and to receive instruction on how to improve them, in as many courses as possible. To this end, students are required to complete a prescribed number of Writing Intensive (WI) and Speaking Intensive (SI) courses as a requirement for graduation.

Each semester, professors volunteer to teach writing or speaking Intensive versions of their courses. These courses are indicated in the course schedule with the following abbreviations: WI, SI, or WI/SI. These courses are not more difficult and do not require more work than “regular” courses. They simply include a papers, presentations or class discussion as part of the course requirements. In addition to learning the course content, students also improve their writing or speaking skills. 

Course Descriptions

Writing Intensive (WI) courses must meet the following criteria, which derive from best practices in writing instruction:

  • At least 50% of a student’s final grade in the course must derive from formal written assignments. These assignments may be written in variety of formats, but they must be composed for an academic audience and evaluated for more than simply “content.” 
  • Students must complete at least two written assignments in the course.
  • Students must be allowed opportunities for instructor-directed feedback prior to submitting final drafts of their written assignments.
  • A portion of class time must be devoted to writing instruction.

Speaking Intensive (SI) courses must meet the following criteria, which derive from best practices in speaking instruction:

  • Option 1: At least 25% of a student’s final grade in the course must derive from either formal presentations or class discussion, or a combination of both.
  • Option 2: At least 50% of the total number of class days for the course must offer opportunities for discussion. 
  • If formal presentations comprise the speaking intensive component of the course, students must visit the Speaking Center for assistance at least once during the semester.
  • A portion of class time must be devoted to speaking instruction.

Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes for Writing and Speaking Intensive courses are as follows:

Learning Outcomes for WI Courses

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to explain, analyze or argue specific concepts, ideas or texts.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to support their explanations, analyses or arguments with specific evidence and examples.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to convey their explanations, analyses or arguments effectively by crafting written assignments that are well-organized and clearly written.
  4. Students will demonstrate the ability to write with mechanical and grammatical accuracy.
  5. Students will demonstrate the ability to format their written assignments according to the conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

Learning Outcomes for SI Courses that Include Formal Presentations

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to deliver well-designed explanations, arguments, or analyses.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to make accurate and thorough explanations, arguments or analyses and support them with relevant, sufficient and effective evidence.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to adapt their message and delivery to a particular audience, situation, purpose and occasion.
  4. Students will demonstrate the ability to articulate their message fluently and clearly.
  5. Students will demonstrate the ability to use effective nonverbal communication.
  6. Students will demonstrate the ability to manage communication apprehension.

Learning Outcomes for SI Courses that Include Class Discussion

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to offer well-reasoned responses to specific concepts, issues, ideas or texts related to the course material.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to articulate their responses clearly.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to respond to other students as well as their professor, and to respect the responses of others.
  4. Students will demonstrate the ability to manage communication apprehension.