Every candidate for any undergraduate degree must successfully complete three writing courses to be selected from courses designated W1 (one course) and W2 (two courses).

Writing Program specifics detailed below include:

Two Aims
Two Types of Courses
Specific Criteria for W1
Specific Criteria for W2
Summary of Criteria for W1 and W2
Order of Courses
Writing Course Distribution

Two Aims

Designated writing courses in the University Writing Program have two purposes: to develop expository skills and to teach the use of writing as a means for creating and processing knowledge. Such courses aim to develop students' mastery of written language so that they may discover, organize, and communicate their knowledge.

Two Types of Courses

Courses intended to fulfill the University writing requirement are of two types: foundation (W1) and practice (W2).

W1 courses are introductory. They have as one of their primary objectives the teaching of fundamental techniques in writing expository prose. These courses are not to be remedial.

W2 courses are distributive. They offer students guided practice in writing in differing fields across the curriculum. They teach the skills necessary to write for the course/discipline.

W1/W2 courses may be offered in any department.

Specific Criteria for W1

W1 courses will:

1. Include recurring instruction in writing.
Methods of instruction will vary. There is no single model for teaching a W1 course. But whether the instructor is assisted by student peer editors or by tutors, whether instruction is directed to the whole class, to small groups, to individuals, or in combination of these methods, the important aim is to reinforce the development of skills by frequent instruction (weekly, if possible).

2. Teach the writing process: planning, composing, revising, editing.
By teaching writing as a process, by presenting strategies for each stage, and by allowing time for reworking, instructors enable students to improve thought and to improve communication.

The writing process often varies by discipline and by instructor. Consequently, it is essential that faculty members be clear about what is expected of students in the drafting/revising process as well as about the criteria by which writing assignments will be evaluated. Students should be held accountable for meeting these expectations and for treating each stage of the process with an appropriate amount of care.

3. Teach and emphasize the importance of the following expository skills:

  • addressing intended audiences
  • achieving purposes
  • organizing the whole paper, paragraphs, and sentences
  • choosing appropriate words
  • punctuating and spelling correctly

Since the W1 course is the foundation course in composition, it should teach those expository skills that are a) generally recognized elements in higher-level discourse, and b) needed by the majority of students entering Bucknell.

Instructors of W1 courses will stress the importance of these expository skills, and students will be held accountable for demonstrating the mastery of these skills in their writing. When providing feedback to students on late-stage drafts or final submissions of written work, instructors will point out recurring errors and require students to address these problems.

As a first resource for addressing writing problems, instructors may refer students to a print or online writing "handbook." (Sample handbooks are available in the Writing Center, and links to electronic resources may be found on the Writing Center's web pages for students.) For more serious problems, the instructor may work with students individually. Writing Center peer and staff consultants will similarly be available to help students remedy flaws in their writing mechanics as well as other issues. For wide-spread problems (i.e., problems appearing in several student papers within a class), the instructor may wish to use class time to point out and correct patterns of error.

4. Require frequent writing from each student.
The instructor, who may be assisted by student peer reviewers or by tutors, should see a substantial amount of this writing.

For mastery, students need to write more than instructors alone can read. However, a substantial amount of writing should receive response to aid revision. The response need not be time-consuming, but it should be prompt and frequent (weekly, if possible). Response to work in progress should occur in addition to evaluation of finished writing for grading.

5. Teach the use of writing as thinking and as a means of creating and processing knowledge.
W1 courses include writing assignments that cause students to engage in intellectual work. Types of assignments may include essays, abstracts, journals, emails, question formulation, field notes, lab notebooks, or short answers to prepared questions, all designed to use language as a resource for inquiry.

Specific Criteria for W2

W2 courses will:

1. Provide writing instruction.
Instructors will determine which writing skills or techniques are demanded by writing for the course and will provide instruction in them Methods of instruction will vary, but appropriate assistance must be provided by instructors, who may be assisted by student peer editors or by tutors.

Instructors of W2 courses will hold students to a high standard in regard to expository skills (see Criterion #3 for W1 courses). Instructors will identify rhetorical problems and/or patterns of error and will work with students either individually or in conjunction with the Writing Center.

2. Support the writing process.
W2 courses recognize the benefits of writing in stages to clarify meaning and improve communication. Whenever possible, the schedule of writing assignments will require drafting and re-drafting, will provide response, and will allow time for revision.

The writing process often varies by discipline and by instructor. Consequently, it is essential that faculty members be clear about what is expected of students in the drafting/revising process as well as about the criteria by which drafts will be evaluated. Students should be held accountable for meeting these expectations and for treating each stage of the process with an appropriate amount of care.

3. Teach the techniques of writing needed by students or expected in the discipline.
W2 courses recognize that students enter a course with writing skills on which to build but which may need reinforcement, development, or adaptation in a new context. Instructors will teach writing techniques expected in the discipline, and will provide review of strategies and methods of research as needed.

4. Require frequent and substantial writing.
W2 courses recognize the need for practice in writing. Students will write often, in multiple assignments or in preparation for one large assignment. Many types of writing (reports, abstracts, summaries, interpretive or argumentative essays, notes, documentation, manuals, fiction, poetry) are appropriate to W2 courses.

5. Use writing to teach subject matter.
W2 courses emphasize that writing enables acquisition and retention of information and ideas. Whenever appropriate, students will be required to put course materials in their own words to explore, internalize, and synthesize subject matter in writing. This kind of writing should occur in addition to finished, graded work.

Summary of Criteria for W1 and W2

PurposesCommon TraitsW1 TraitsW2 Traits
To develop expository skills 1. Writing instruction Recurring, frequent instruction Instruction as needed
  2. -- in writing process Introduce writing process Support writing process
  3. -- in expository skills Teach skills Support skills; teach techniques needed for the course / discipline  
  4. Frequent and substantial writing No difference No difference
To teach the use of language as an instrument for thinking 5. Writing to learn, as well as to communicate Introduce writing as thinking Use writing to teach concepts in the course / discipline

Order of Courses

Students will take one W1 course, for instruction in the first year. They will take two W2 courses, for sustained development throughout the four undergraduate years and for guided practice in differing disciplines, including the major.

W1 courses must be taken in the first year. W2 courses should normally follow W1 courses. A W2 course will count toward the University writing requirement if it follows a W1 (or, in exceptional cases, is concurrent with a W1). At least one W2 course must be taken after the first year. Some majors may require a W2 in the last two years.


Entering students, including those with Advanced Placement English, who wish to substitute a W2 for the W1 must petition the dean of their college to be assessed individually for permission. Such students will take three W2 courses.

Writing Course Distribution

It is expected that courses designated W1 and W2 will be widely distributed across the curriculum. Faculty advisers will therefore encourage their advisees to take W courses in a variety of disciplines.