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Looking for effective and efficient ways to incorporate writing assignments into your courses or department? The Faculty of Arts & Science’s WIT initiative helps instructors enhance undergraduate writing instruction across the disciplines.

  1. What is WIT?
  2. Why is the Faculty investing in WIT?
  3. For how long has WIT been around and what units are involved?
  4. How are WIT funds used?
  5. Why do units apply to WIT?
  6. Who can apply to WIT?
  7. How do units apply to WIT?
  8. What are statements of writing goals?
  9. How are units chosen?
  10. What is the time commitment required of WIT instructors?
  11. What are the benefits of WIT for course instructors?
  12. I’m a course TA and am interested in becoming an LWTA. How do I apply?
  13. Where can I learn more about WIT?

  1. What is WIT?
    • Writing Instructions for TAs (WIT) is an Arts & Science Writing Across the Curriculum initiative that supports faculty interested in integrating writing into their courses. WIT helps instructors design writing assignments and tutorial and lab activities appropriate for their course goals but also gives training and support to Graduate Teaching Assistants involved in the teaching and grading of writing.
  2. Why is the Faculty of Arts & Science Investing in WIT?
    • Arts & Science has developed WIT to (1) improve the writing skills of undergraduate students; (2) provide training and support to current and future faculty; and (3) develop cultures of writing within departments that support disciplinary instruction. WIT’s model of teaching writing in the disciplines is based on research that shows students learn to write best within disciplinary contexts rather than in a separate generic writing courses (Beaufort, 2007). WIT leverages the expertise of TAs, who through grading student writing and leading labs and tutorials, play a key role in undergraduate writing instruction in Arts & Science.
  3. For how long has WIT been around and what units are involved?
    • WIT was piloted in six academic units 2006-2009 to help units integrate writing instruction into disciplinary courses. The project now involves 19 different units across the Faculty.
  4. How are WIT funds used?
    • Participating units receive funding to hire a Lead Writing TA (LWTA) who is normally an advanced PhD student from the unit who trains course TAs in writing instruction. In addition to funding the LWTA, WIT gives course TAs additional hours so they can receive training in how to provide effective writing instruction and feedback to students and for grading writing assignments.
  5. Why do units apply to WIT?
    • Units apply to WIT to:
      • Foster discussions about their program's learning goals for undergraduates, especially those related to writing
      • Improve writing instruction in their department or program
      • Meet their commitments to building students' writing skills and other related learning goals
      • Develop distinctive approaches to writing instruction in their disciplines
      • Give their TAs specialized training and professional development
  6. Who Can apply to WIT?
    • All Faculty Arts and Science units are eligible for WIT funding. Units, rather than individual instructors, must submit WIT applications, even if only one course will receive funding. If you are an instructor interested in participating in WIT please contact your chair, director, or principal.
  7. How do units apply to WIT?
      1. A one- to two-page report including:
        • A draft of the unit’s statement of writing goals.
        • Detailed plans for WIT activities, including evidence of the unit’s previous efforts in writing instruction, either in current WIT participation (where applicable) or in other initiatives.
      2. A budget listing the planned LWTA duties and hours needed (allocate 100-120 hours for the LWTA). A sample budget (using current Unit 1 wage structures).
      3. A budget listing the courses that will be involved in WIT and the expected TA activities and costs.
        • Note: In 2013-2014, units received funding for a maximum of 280 hours for course TAs (over and above the LWTA’s hours).
      4. Statements from the following key participants affirming their interest and commitment:
        • Head of the academic unit (department chair/EDU-A director/college principal);
        • Designated departmental WIT contact (UG coordinator/program director/other);
        • Each course instructor assigned to teach a designated WIT course.
          • NOTE: WIT participants should read the WIT project description to ensure they understand the initiative’s goals and expectations before applying for funds.
        • If you have questions any about the application procedure please contact WIT Coordinator, Andrea Williams.
    • What are statements of writing goals?
      • These statements articulate the kind of writing skills units expect their student to develop in the course of their degree from first through fourth year. The more specific these statements are, the more useful they are. Statements of writing goals should ideally be developed through department-wide consultation or at least by the unit’s curriculum committee. Instructors should use these statements to help them develop courses and writing assignments.
    • How are units chosen?
      • Successful applications will identify which courses will receive support, outline the types of initiatives planned, and show how funds will be used by the TAs in those courses. The following key criteria be considered by the committee reviewing the applications:
      • How many students in the unit will benefit from the initiative? Has the unit defined clear goals for writing in the unit, or is at least actively engaged in developing these goals?
      • Do the course plans relate clearly to the departmental goals? Do they show sensitivity to student needs? Do they include opportunities for sufficient instruction on writing to enable student success?
      • Are the course instructors committed to working closely with the WIT Coordinator and LWTA to develop writing assignments and activities in their course?
      • Are the plans practical and feasible? Specifically, do course TAs have enough hours for training and implementing the proposed WIT activities? Are enough hours allocated to course TAs for regular activities outside of involvement with WIT?
    • What is the time commitment required of WIT instructor?
      • Instructors of WIT courses are expected to work with the WIT Coordinator and Lead Writing TA on assignment and instructional design (e.g., planning writing activities for labs or tutorials). Instructors should expect to meet with the WIT Coordinator at least once before the start of term to plan the above, meet again during the term to ensure WIT is being effectively implemented, and participate in an end of term debrief meeting.
    • What are the benefits of WIT for course instructors?
      • Many course instructors report that WIT has helped improve their students writing. WIT does this by giving TAs training and additional hours so they can give students better feedback on their writing, feedback which students can use to improve their written work. Other ways WIT benefits instructors is by easing the instructor workload of managing TAs. Because TAs in WIT courses get more training and support for responding to and evaluating student writing, course instructors tend to get fewer requests for regarding work and related complaints. In classes with tutorials and labs, WIT helps TAs make better use of the class time by integrating writing-to-learn activities where students do low-stakes writing activities such as one-minute papers to help them learn course content.
    • I’m a course TA and am interested in becoming an LWTA. How do I apply?
      • LWTAs are hired by WIT units and are normally advanced PhD students from the unit. LWTA jobs are usually posted in the spring and units hire their LWTA before the WIT training in early June.
    • Where can I learn more about WIT?