The skills of rhetoric and research are best developed progressively over the course of a deep and diverse education, in a variety of disciplinary contexts. Each academic department therefore maintains and assesses its own departmental Rhetoric Program according to these general criteria.

Departmental rhetoric programs

Communication Arts & Sciences (CAS)
  1. The CAS faculty’s commitment to student learning in written, oral, and visual rhetoric.

    The CAS faculty are committed to teaching written, oral, and visual rhetoric throughout their courses to improve students’ critical thinking, enhance their learning, and develop their communication skills. Through this knowledge and these skills, students should be able to critically engage and alter their culture to glorify God.  

    The Communication Arts and Sciences faculty incorporate various types of rhetorical knowledge into their classrooms—knowledge that benefits the students taking core courses as well as those majoring in CAS.  The CAS department has historically offered many courses in the college core, with CAS 100, the Fundamentals of Oral Rhetoric, perhaps being offered the most.  With the recent college curriculum revisions, CAS now offers CAS 101 (a three-credit oral rhetoric course), and other communication and culture courses within that particular core category.  In all of their core courses, the CAS faculty strive to teach their students a combination of written, oral, and visual rhetoric.   

    In addition to teaching rhetorical skills in their core courses, the CAS faculty introduce current and prospective CAS majors to disciplinary rhetorical skills.  The CAS department consists of five tracks: Theatre, Mass Media, Film Studies, Rhetoric and Communication, and Speech Pathology and Audiology.  The learning goals for the students differ according to the purposes of each track, yet a set of common rhetorical knowledge and skills unite these concentrations.  All CAS students must understand the components of communication, how to adapt their messages to audiences in specific situations, and the ethical implications of their messages.

    In conjunction with the college core revisions, the CAS department revised its curriculum, strengthening each track and changing some of the classes offered for college core credit.  During the faculty’s discussion, members agreed that CAS students—those both in college core courses and major courses—must be effective communicators able to engage and renew their surrounding culture.

  2. Learning objectives for written, oral, and visual rhetoric

    1. General learning goals
      Introductory Courses offered in College Core

      CAS 101:  Students should be able to present an ethical, extemporaneous speech
      that clearly communicates a focused, reasoned message to their audience in a given situation.  Students should use delivery to enhance their message, using their performance as part of their overall rhetoric.  Students should be able to identify how a Christian can responsibly interact with the public sphere, carefully analyzing their messages’ ethics. Students must learn the necessary research skills to create their speeches and how to evaluate their sources.

      CAS 140, 141, 143:  Students should be able to identify the relationship between rhetoric/communication and culture.  Students should be able to extemporaneously present either an individual or group speech, thereby teaching their peers about a course concept.  Students should be able to identify how a reformed Christian perspective affects their rhetorical choices and how they should use that perspective to evaluate messages. Students should be able to critically analyze images as well as verbal or written communication.  Students should learn the basic research skills to create their presentations and analytical papers.  Students must evaluate their sources.

      200 Level Courses:  Students should build on the fundamentals gained in the introductory courses: they should be able to offer thorough critiques and responses, provide reasoned arguments, and better adapt their messages to different audiences and situations.  Students should be able to define rhetoric, communication, and culture and articulate their relationships.  Students should learn the necessary research skills for their particular track.

      300 Level Courses: Building on their skills from the 200-level courses, students
      should utilize more sources for creating their texts; refine their use of organization, language, evidence, and argument; and identify the key rhetorical/communication issues for their field of study.

      Capstone:  Students should integrate their knowledge regarding rhetoric and
      communication, reflecting on how their faith informs their rhetorical creations and critiques.

    2. Learning goals for specialized knowledge                        
      Within each concentration, students should gain specific knowledge and skills appropriate to that concentration’s goals.

      Film Studies:  Students should be able to write analytical and historical papers
      and oral present ations using the appropriate methodologies and terminology of film media.  Students should be able to account for all of the film’s components (e.g., sound, image, structure, style, etc.).  Students should be able to analyze a film according to rhetorical and aesthetic perspectives and place it into a historical context.  Students should be able to present an extemporaneous presentation exhibiting these analytical skills.  Students interested in film production must have an understanding of the process of film production and the rhetorical elements thereof.

      Mass Media Studies: Students should have a thorough understanding of the
      rhetorical exposition, persuasion, and principles of visual rhetoric.  In particular, students of media should have an understanding that film, tv, radio, internet, etc., are all texts which must be read in terms of their own language.  In order to do this, the student must be familiar with rhetorical principles of argument, evidence, value, and the like.  Furthermore, once students of media have discovered the language of their studied medium, they should have the communication skills to articulate their ideas and critiques regarding this identification.  In addition, mass media students should be aware of the following methodologies: textual analysis, social scientific/ effects-based research, audience studies/ ethnography, critical/ cultural studies, and feminist approaches.  Finally, production students must be able to research, plan, and make mediated messages that display good, right, and fitting rhetoric.  Students in media production must be able to create a message for their audience, understanding that audience’s expectations.  Students should write and produce clearly, and should be able to articulate the impact their Reformed faith will have on production.

      Theatre: Students should have an understanding  of the rhetorical components of a
      variety of performance texts, including  plays, scenes, monologues, oral histories, adaptations of non-dramatic  prose, poetry, and ethnographic material. This will be attained through  analysis of the structure, style, intention, etc., of these texts, with  such analysis making students aware of how these different forms work,  both on the page and in performance. Depending on the nature of the  particular course, written assignments will include one or more of the  following: extended critical, analytical, or historical papers, written  peer evaluations, response papers, and journals. All of these should  manifest capabilities in argumentation and critical thinking, and should  be written with clarity, expressiveness, and grammatical correctness.  Students should also be able to make oral presentations consistent with  standards inculcated in Oral Rhetoric courses.

      Rhetoric and Communication: Students should be able to chart the history of rhetoric and the place of rhetoric in liberal arts study.  They should know a range of rhetorical theory (from classical to the present).  Students should be able to construct clear, well-supported arguments, write such arguments in papers, give such arguments in competent oral presentation, integrate
      theory with primary evidence in critical writing, and use a variety of argument forms.

      Speech Pathology and Audiology:  Students should be able to both evaluate and use scientific academic journal articles.  Students must know APA style and be able to write their papers in that style.  In addition, students must be able to write succinct clinical reports.  Students must access the professional website for further information.

  3. Assignments and feedback to develop rhetorical skills

    Course assignments should require students to apply the rhetorical knowledge and skills learned in that course. Each level of course should offer a different learning opportunity than the previous level, or an increase in the intensity/ length of assignment.

    Faculty teaching sections of the same course (e.g., 101, 140) should agree on similar learning goals to ensure a certainty degree of uniformity in student learning.  However, instructors should have the freedom to utilize what they consider the best assignments for student learning.

    Introductory Courses offered in College Core

    • CAS 101: Students should present three to four extemporaneous speeches, including
      narrative, informative, and persuasive.  Students should write full sentence
      outlines for each presentation, including a bibliography of their library sources.  Students must identify when visual aids (including PowerPoint) are necessary to enhance (i.e., are integral to) their presentation(s).  Students must complete written and oral peer critiques and self-critiques.  Professors should provide written and oral feedback on the speeches and outlines and ask for peer comments as well.

    • CAS 140, 141, 143:  Students should present either an individual or group extemporaneous presentation, based on either a paper or a full sentence outline.  Students should write a short (3-5 page) critique or response paper.  CAS 141 students should create a piece of visual rhetoric for an actual audience and situation.  Unless the professor assigns an original research piece, students must use library research for their work. Students must identify when visual aids (including PowerPoint) are necessary to enhance (i.e., are integral to) their presentation(s).  Professors should provide written feedback on the assignments and provide optional conference times for students to seek input before the assignment’s completion.

    • 200 Level Courses:  Because many of the 200-level courses are introductions to the various tracks, the type of assignments will vary.  However, all 200 level courses should include at least one, if not more, of the following:  minute response papers, individual (at least 5 minutes) or group presentations (at least 20 minutes), critique or response papers (at least 5 pages in length), research papers or semester projects (6-8 pages using at least 6 sources), and essay exams. If possible, a revision assignment should be included to allow students to refine their rhetorical text. Unless the professor assigns an original research piece, students must use library research for their work.  Professors should provide written feedback on the assignments and provide optional conference times for students to seek input before the assignment’s completion.

    • 300 Level Courses:  All 300-level courses should include at least one, if not more of the
      following:  short response papers, individual (at least 10 minutes) or group presentations (at least 30 minutes), response or analytical papers (at least 12 pages in length), reflective papers (which may not require research), and essay exams.  Students must have an opportunity to revise one of their rhetorical assignments, receiving oral and written feedback from the instructor. Unless the professor assigns an original research piece, students must use library research for their work.  Professors should provide written feedback on the assignments and provide optional conference times for students to seek input before the assignment’s completion.

  4. Faculty and Student Awareness of Departmental Rhetoric Program

    The CAS faculty have been dedicated to the college’s writing program and frequently discuss (albeit informally) best teaching methods.  The CAS chair will distribute the CAS rhetoric program to new faculty.  In addition, each year the department will review in a departmental meeting the “Current Needs” section in an attempt to keep the rhetoric program relevant and current.

    In addition to strengthening CAS faculty’s awareness of the departmental rhetoric program, CAS students should be aware of the department’s goals for written, oral, and visual rhetoric. Knowing the department’s goals for instruction in rhetoric and how rhetorical assignments will be graded will help students understand the various course structures, assignments, and the commonalties in the department.  The CAS Rhetoric Program should be available on the department’s Web site, and new majors should be referred to the program.

  5. Assessment

    During the course of overall departmental assessment, CAS will routinely evaluate how instructors are teaching rhetorical skills and how students are acquiring this knowledge.

    The goal of assessment is to discover if our students are meeting the general and specialized learning goals outlined above. The basic goal uniting all CAS tracks is for our students to communicate clearly to a given audience. Therefore, our assessment will ascertain if our students know the basics of clear communication, audience assessment, and audience adaptation.

    General Tools for Assessment
    • CAS 101 coordinator who will lead discussions among 101 instructors to ensure compatible learning goals and fair grading across the sections.
    • Distribution of Grading Criteria for Speeches (developed by the National Communication Assocation).
    • Distribution of Grading Criteria for Essays; Posters
      -- These criteria must be distributed in all courses that assign speeches, essays, or
      posters; also should be placed on departmental web page.

    Qualitative Analysis of Student Learning

    • Semester speech contest: All 101 and 200 students will be required to attend and write a speech criticism paper on one of the speeches delivered. A selection of criticism papers (a random 15%) will be collected at the end of the semester to evaluate student learning in CAS 101 and 200. 

    • 15% of student work in the following courses:
      • Sample of critiques written in 140 and 141
        -- Students are usually asked to evaluate a communication text during the course of the semester.  These would be ideal for departmental assessment. (See attached assessment criteria.)
      • Sample of papers written in 352 and 399.

    • A committee of three CAS faculty—representing different divisions–will review the work. The department chair will select this committee; committee members will serve two years. This will be the sole departmental duty for these committee members.

    Quantitative Analysis of Student Learning

    • Alumni Reporting

  6. Current Needs

    The following is a list of current departmental needs regarding its rhetoric program. Each
    year, the department should review this list and update it when appropriate.
    • In order to enhance the department’s commitment to written, oral, and visual rhetoric, more formal discussions about learning goals, assignments, and best teaching practices need to occur. For example, periodic departmental colloquia about instruction in rhetoric or displays of students’ visual rhetoric/media projects are two possibilities.

    • The department needs to create and than utilize assessment tools, including ways to fully evaluate teaching effectiveness. What combination of methods should the department use?  Who should be evaluated? How can we use assessment to provide insight into our teaching without it assessment becoming a work overload?

    • The department will expand its assessment of their Rhetoric Program to account for various productions, including oral presentations (perhaps a random 15% collection of student portfolios).

    • Better communication between the department and the College Writing Program. For example, more communication to college program about what is taught in basic rhetoric courses. Also, department would like more on-line resources for teaching and evaluating rhetoric.

    • Clearly identified sequencing of courses and rhetorical knowledge and skills gained at each level.

    • CAS faculty may wish to contribute to college workshops on grading oral and visual presentations and group work.

    • The creation of a course for students with severe communication apprehension.

Updated October 8, 2014.

The Biology Department’s Rhetoric Program is integral to its mission: “…to respond to our Creator’s call to investigate the diversity, organization, and functioning of the living world and to provide a Christian model for its study, care, and keeping” (Biology Department Mission Statement, 2005). One cannot investigate, study, care for, and keep the living world by one’s self; these are communal acts. Moreover, as a communal enterprise biology requires competency in scientific communication and rhetoric – writing and speaking in ways that inform, critique, and persuade. This is one of the celebrated hallmarks of a solid Calvin Biology education.

Our Rhetoric Program must guide students in our major programs from a typically meager grasp of biological communication to a professional level of rhetorical competency. Incoming students often have the perception that biological competency is essentially about mastery of scientific facts. Our task at the introductory level, then, is to help students learn that biological concepts are based on conceptual models, which in turn are based on interpretations of experimental data. Furthermore, these models and interpretations are based on underlying patterns of thinking and communicating. To comprehend the world of biology, scholars must master disciplinary conventions in visual, written, and oral rhetoric. Indeed, one cannot attain success in biology without becoming a careful reader and a critical thinker, skills a well-crafted writing program can develop (Quitadamo, Ian J., and Martha J. Kurtz. Learning to improve: Using writing to increase critical thinking performance in general education biology. CBE-Life Sciences Education 6 (2007): 140-154.). However, biological competency does not end at the disciplinary boundaries. Especially within the context of Christian liberal arts, it is also crucial to examine contemporary biological questions through the lens of other disciplines.  In our advanced courses, students need to exercise critical engagement in biology in ways that draw upon Calvin’s core courses and core Christian virtues. Biological communication at this level needs to reflect mastery of interdisciplinary critical thinking, analysis, and literary research skills – dealing deftly with a range of perspectives within the discipline and beyond. Thus, the goal of our Rhetoric Program is to hone students’ critical thinking so that they can contribute insightfully both to intra-disciplinary thinking and to wider conversations about contemporary biological issues.

I.    Compliance with the goals of the College Academic Rhetoric Program

  1. Frequency. Writing is a weekly habit in the Biology curriculum. At the introductory level, writing assignments focus on the learning process via learning logs (journals) or learning self-evaluations. These are meant to foster the type of reflective thinking and self-directed learning that characterize expert learners. Every test features at least one essay requiring higher-order thinking skills. Introductory courses also introduce students to the elements of biological research papers and to the principles and practices of visual and written rhetoric. Especially in laboratories, students learn the fine points of graphical representation of data, of figure legends, and of results summaries as tools of scientific communication. In our sophomore-level research course, students combine these rhetorical, technical, and literary research skills (using databases, critically reading papers) in writing a short research paper.

    In all of our 300-level courses students are expected to engage in some type of technical reflective, review, and/or research writing. Students also keep laboratory/field notebooks, the backbone of scientific record-keeping and integrity. These experiences culminate in the writing of a full research paper at the end of a semester-long project in one of our investigatory courses and in the writing of a full position paper in one of our senior capstone courses; both sets of courses typically involve oral presentation of the papers as well.

  2. Feedback. The Biology curriculum emphasizes feedback in the learning process. Formative and summative evaluations are vital parts of the learning cycle in our introductory courses. Formative assessments can combine individual and collaborative learning in the practice of evaluating written and oral rhetoric. Such feedback informs students and instructors of problem areas with conceptual comprehension. Summative assessments provide feedback on students’ mastery of the material (and force them to keep pace in their studies). Most instructors in our introductory courses offer students partial credit for revisions of some answers on tests. In this way, students are able to take advantage even of summative assessments as a form of corrective feedback.

    Feedback also occurs in a variety of other forms. When grading student writing assignments, instructors are encouraged to provide revision-oriented “minimal marking” comments, rather than just editing-oriented comments (Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001, p. 69f). Peer review plays an important role in the formal papers assigned in upper-level courses.  Rubrics are employed both in the peer-review process to facilitate revision and in the final grading by the instructor. Evaluation of research notebooks, which instructors are encouraged to do periodically throughout the course, also employs a rubric and “minimal marking” comments.

  3. Variety. Writing in biology takes multiple forms: expository essays, annotated bibliographies, technical reviews, research notebooks, research papers, white papers (i.e., short papers that emphasize the author’s rationale), and position papers (i.e., more extensive papers that critique various points of view). Audiences for these papers vary from general (the public, church groups, policy-makers, stakeholders, professions in biology-related disciplines, etc.) to very specific – perhaps just a handful of researchers who are collaborating on a project.  Likewise, there are different forums for oral presentations. By implication, then, biology students need to be competent in a wide array of written and oral communication venues in their associated technologies. The Biology curriculum emphasizes the fundamentals of written, visual, and oral rhetoric in its introductory courses, in order to prepare students to excel in a variety of scientific communication scenarios in our advanced courses. Finally, sub-disciplinary reading and writing helps to entice students to explore biology-related career tracks outside academia. 

II.   Integration throughout the major curriculum

Appendix A makes apparent the developmental progression of learning skills and communication skills in the Biology curriculum. From their very first introductory course to their capstone course, students in our major programs are engaging in formative, expository, and reflective writing. Short, frequent writing assignments and small group discussions in Biology 123, 195, and 224-225 emphasize mastery of key rhetorical and technical components: asking good questions; designing, conducting, and interpreting experiments; evaluating answers; listening to other perspectives; and making good logical arguments. In Biology 250 students are taught how to read original research papers and use database tools for literary research. Then they combine these skills with the previously-mastered rhetorical and technical components to write a short, high-quality research paper. In this way the elements of research, writing, and rhetoric taught in our introductory courses become the foundation for writing in our upper-level courses.

Building on the foundational writing skills, upper-level courses afford students opportunities to master a variety of genres of biology-related communication. Rubrics are available or in development for evaluating each type of writing in the context summarized below.

  1. Annotated bibliographies and other types of literature summaries. These are excellent tools for introducing the novice to an area of current research or to a range of perspectives on a biology-related topic in contemporary society. “Getting into the literature” in this way acquaints students with authoritative journals and researchers in a given field. By writing annotated bibliographies students learn how to research carefully, write concisely, and use standard documentation (typically modeled after the style used in a leading biological journal). In our Biology curriculum, this form of writing builds upon the technical components taught in our introductory courses and helps students to briefly evaluate different perspectives from the literature. For this reason, the writing of annotated bibliographies is often assigned during the early stages of research in investigative and capstone courses.

  2. Technical/critical review papers and grant proposals. Reviews may focus on state-of-the-art methodologies and their use to answer research questions or on our current understanding of a biological process or phenomenon. (Grant proposals typically combine both aspects.) Proposals and review papers may be extensive or very brief.  In addition to the research skills needed for writing annotated bibliographies, to write a good review or proposal students need to employ explanatory/rhetorical strategies. Critical reviews require that students do some of their own assessment of the topic as well. Thus, a strong conceptual grasp of the material is a prerequisite.  Visual models and diagrams are often invaluable too. For these reasons, instructors often assign reviews in 300-level (especially for students doing honors work) and investigative courses. Reviews are often communicated to the class via “journal club” discussions or PowerPoint presentations.

  3. Research notebooks and lab reports (short communications). Formal lab reports have been a mainstay in many introductory and advanced courses. Akin to a short communication paper, lab reports help students become more effective in interpreting and communicating the results of a particular experiment as it pertains to a larger body of knowledge. However, more instructors are now shifting towards research notebooks instead. Notebooks are written as detailed records of the entire experiment: the purpose, design, methodological steps, observations, results, and conclusions. As they are the backbone of scientific integrity, notebooks must be thorough, honest records that show mistakes and corrections. Yet, because they are generally used as references by others on the research team, they must be readable and well-organized. Indeed, these attributes are crucial for effective trouble-shooting as well. Occasionally, notebooks become legal documents when questions of intellectual property are raised (such as when a patent application is filed or when fraud is alleged). Because of their prominence in the profession and because their purpose is quite different from other forms of scientific writing, we are encouraging their adoption in more 300-level and investigations courses.

  4. Full research papers. Research papers are the culmination of the process of experimentation, and thereby are an essential communal component in science. While students gain some experience with elements of full research papers in their introductory courses, they do not generate a cohesive body of data dealing with one phenomenon. Even in Biology 250 (a required course that introduces students to the research process), the data set is minimal and capable of supporting only a very small research paper, akin to a “short communication.” The logical place, then, for assigning full research papers is in the investigations courses where each student conducts a semester-long project. These papers are expected to conform to the norms and style of manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals, and as such, should themselves be subject to peer-review prior to submitting the final draft. In this way student gain an understanding not only of what it takes to prepare a publication-quality manuscript, but also an inkling of the scrutiny manuscripts receive prior to publication.

  5. Persuasive essays, white papers, and position papers. The intent of this genre of biological literature is to inform and persuade. Good argumentation skills are essential, as is knowing and connecting with one’s audience. White papers (short papers emphasizing the author’s rationale) and position papers (critical analyses of various stakeholder perspectives), being the most sophisticated of the genre, typically address topics of interest to different sub-disciplinary audiences or to professional and general audiences. They require careful research and intellectual sophistication, as different audiences have different expectations of what makes for appropriate visual rhetoric and what makes for particularly persuasive arguments – or not. Capstone courses and other upper-level courses that explore contentious issues in biology make effective use of this type of writing assignment, often drawing upon college core courses and core virtues as well. Students may be expected to communicate their position to the class via a PowerPoint presentation.

  6. PowerPoint and poster presentations. These types of presentations are extremely popular at scientific conferences, and thus it is fitting that students master these forms of communication. Formats for such presentations can vary, depending on the nature of the audience.  However, in all cases these must be concise. They should contain key elements of a research paper: introduction, experimental design, data, interpretations, and conclusions. Posters and slides should contain a minimal amount of wording, be organized in a logical flow, and demonstrate effective use of visual and written rhetoric. Posters in particular should “tell the story” so that readers can comprehend it even if the author is not present. Poster presentations are expected of summer research students enrolled in Biology 399, and are occasionally employed in other research scenarios as well. PowerPoint presentations are expected of students at the end of most investigations courses.

III. Consideration of the role of departmental offerings in the core

The Biology Department offers three non-majors courses that fulfill the Living World core: Biology 111, 112, and 115. Biology 123 is a Living World core course in the major programs offered by our department, but it is also available to non-majors. These courses typically require writing in the form of essays, exploratory writing, and poster or PowerPoint presentations. The role of these assignments is to give students some experience with scientific reasoning, scientific rhetoric (especially visual rhetoric), and critical thinking. 

Biology 364 (intended for the International Development Studies program) satisfies the Global/Historical Studies core. This course requires reflective and persuasive writing on a variety of sustainability subjects. Reflective writing in this course is typically comprised of essays, journals, and/or critical reviews. Essays and white papers comprise the persuasive writing component. In addition to exhibiting basic competence in scientific rhetoric and communication, both types of writing should involve critical analyses of biological research.

IV. Faculty awareness and development. 

  1. A descriptive summary of the Biology Rhetoric Program will be posted on the department’s website and included in the Student Manual for all majors in the department.

  2. The full Rhetoric Program document will be handed out to new faculty members. It will be the Rhetoric Program liaison’s responsibility to review this document with them, and encourage their input regarding any clarifications, revisions, or improvements.

  3. The Rhetoric Program liaison will offer assistance to Biology faculty in designing problem-based writing assignments and other tasks that spur critical thinking (Bean, pp. 73-214) and in evaluating student writing with an eye towards coaching the writing process (Bean, pp. 217-265). This can be conducted one-on-one or via departmental colloquia.

  4. Each year the Biology Department chair will convene a departmental colloquium at which the Biology Assessment Committee will review our Rhetoric Program assessment data and open the floor for dialogue regarding the program.

V.  Assessment

The Rhetoric Program liaison and the Biology Assessment Committee will convene a senior panel, initially every other year, and develop an alumni survey (emailed to a subset of recent alumni) to be administered in alternate years.  Together with the assessment data from the ETS’s Biology Major Field Test, these senior panels and alumni surveys will inform the committee’s periodic review of the Biology Rhetoric Program, thereby assisting in strategic planning.

Appendix A: Learning & Communication Skills in the New Biology Curriculum

Biol 123: Challenges in Contemporary Biology
  • Semester hours: 4
  • Learning/vocational skills: Learning how to learn; evaluating information
  • Communication skills: Learning log; critical analysis (asking questions, evaluating answers)
Biol 224: Cellular & Genetic Systems
  • Semester hours: 4
  • Learning/vocational skills: Mastering biological concepts; problem-solving; critical thinking
  • Communication skills: Elements of a research paper (figures & tables, methods & results sections, intro & discussion sections); reflection papers
Biol 225: Ecological Systems & Evolution
  • Semester hours: 4
  • Learning/vocational skills: Mastering biological concepts; problem-solving; critical thinking
  • Communication skills: Elements of a research paper (figures & tables, methods & results sections, intro & discussion sections); reflection papers
Biol 250: Biological Inquiry
  • Semester hours: 3
  • Learning/vocational skills: Critical thinking
  • Communication skills: Scientific communication (critical analysis)
Biol 3XX
  • Semester hours: 11 – 12 total
  • Learning/vocational skills: Integrative & in-depth courses; place-based experiences
  • Communication skills: Scientific communication (written & oral rhetoric—see Section II)
Biol 35X/385/390/399
  • Semester hours: 4
  • Learning/vocational skills: Advanced research skills
  • Communication skills: Scientific review & research papers; oral presentations
Biol 394/395/396
  • Semester hours: 3
  • Learning/vocational skills: Integrative studies re-evaluating issues raised in BIOL 123; career planning
  • Communication skills: Position paper & oral presentation
Chemistry & Biochemistry

A central focus of our mission in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is to “engage[e] students in becoming responsible Christians equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and virtues that will allow them to be of service in scientific professions.”1 Effective written, oral, and visual communication skills are a vital aspect of such service. Indeed, chemists engage in a wide variety of types of communication, ranging from informal laboratory notebooks and research presentations which are read and heard only by one’s immediate colleagues, to formal research papers and presentations, grant proposals, patents and books that have wider audiences. Some chemists communicate to a broader public audience by publishing review articles, expository essays, or even popular science articles and books.

To learn to communicate effectively, our students must receive ample instruction in written, oral, and visual rhetoric. In addition, they need to be adequately trained in literary research skills. Our department has a long history of emphasizing rhetorical skills in our curriculum.  We continue that emphasis through this new Writing Program, with additional emphasis on improving feedback from instructors to students, and instruction in literary research skills.

This document summarizes current practice in our department, and outlines methods to assess the program and to improve it by increasing feedback. The program’s compliance with the main goals of the Calvin College Academic Writing Program – frequency, feedback, and variety in the instruction of rhetoric –is addressed first. Then, the variety of rhetorical assignments given to majors, minors, and non-majors in our program is briefly summarized. Finally, goals for faculty awareness and assessment of the Writing Program are described.

I.  Compliance with the Goals of the College Academic Writing Program

Frequency. Rhetorical abilities are acquired and perfected through regular practice; therefore, we offer students in our program many opportunities to hone their skills. Throughout the program, students write informal reports almost weekly in each of their laboratory courses. Students write one or two formal reports each semester after the second year, and all 300-level courses require at least one oral presentation per semester and/or some type of formal writing.

Feedback. Professors are encouraged to provide individual feedback on writing assignments and oral presentations. This was a weak point in our prior program; students rarely had the opportunity to respond to feedback by re-submitting papers, and feedback was often given at the end of the semester when students were least likely to use it effectively. This issue is addressed and remedied in our current program. We will implement a systematic process by which students receive ample feedback on their first formal writing project in the program, and faculty will be reminded and encouraged by the department’s Writing Program Liaison to provide more feedback on assignments given later in the program. 

Variety. A variety of different types of writing, including literature reviews, proposals, and expository essays, are introduced to department majors and minors in their 3rd and 4th years. Students are also given opportunities to practice their oral and visual rhetorical skills during the last half of the program. Research literacy is also emphasized in many these upper-level assignments.

II.  Integration of Rhetoric Instruction Throughout the Major Curriculum

Laboratory reports. Students are introduced to the written lab report during their first semester of General Chemistry, where they are required to write informal reports that are turned in before they leave lab. These reports are graded by the laboratory assistant, who may provide some feedback regarding the quality of student writing.  Informal lab reports are required almost weekly in all subsequent lab courses. As students progress in the program, the requirements for informal lab reports become more rigorous, and feedback and assessment is provided by the laboratory instructor rather than by the teaching assistant.

Formal lab reports are introduced in the second year of the program during the Organic Chemistry laboratory. Toward the end of the two-course sequence, students write a formal lab report in the format of a published journal article. This is their first introduction to professional-style writing, and we aim to provide more instruction and feedback than is currently offered at this point. Students will be required to turn in rough drafts of portions of their reports for instructor feedback at least twice during the writing process. They will also be encouraged to edit their reports to address the issues highlighted by instructors before they turn in the final draft. Students who are struggling with this type of formal writing will be referred to the Rhetoric Center for additional assistance.

Students continue to write one or two formal reports per semester in subsequent years, each time receiving feedback and assessment from the course instructor. Substantial instruction in writing formal lab reports is given in Chem 304 or 317 (all majors and minors pass through one of these courses), and in those courses students are required to submit an initial draft of their first formal report for extensive instructor feedback prior to their final draft. In Chem 317, students are required to incorporate information from the primary literature into their formal reports. The instructor demonstrates for them how to obtain this information by searching literature databases such as SciFinder Scholar. Furthermore, majors who elect to obtain an ACS (American Chemical Society) certified degree, or to earn an honors degree, enroll in Chem 395 where they are required to write a formal research report, including references to primary literature, that is evaluated by three faculty members, revised, and then filed for ACS accreditation review.

Other Varieties of Discipline-Specific Writing. During the last two years of the program, students are introduced to a variety of written rhetorical genres. In Chem 323, students write literature reviews that require them to research current topics in chemistry and biochemistry, utilizing both primary and secondary literature resources. These assignments, as well as others described below, provide students with experience using literature databases such as SciFinder Scholar and PubMed. The Chem 323 assignment is particularly intensive, with students meeting with the professor at least once during the process, performing peer reviews, and receiving extensive feedback from the professor.

Students are introduced to the process of writing research proposals in Chem 329 and 325.  These assignments also require extensive use of literature research databases, and greatly enhance student’s abilities to read and critique scientific literature.

In our capstone course, IDIS310, students are introduced to yet another genre of written rhetoric. In that course, students write an expository research paper on a topic related to the history or philosophy of science.

Oral and Visual Rhetoric. Third and fourth year students are given many opportunities to practice the art of oral rhetoric, with opportunities to practice both formal and informal presentations of varying lengths. Several courses, including Chem 318, 325, 329, 330, and 383, require students to make short (10-15 min.) informal presentations about journal articles, research techniques, or their own research projects. Students in Chem 324 are given an opportunity to make a long (50 min.) presentation, and students in Chem 395 give a 20 minute formal talk at the weekly departmental seminar which is attended by all departmental majors, minors, and faculty. 

Many of our students also gain experience with visual rhetoric as they present the results of their independent research projects in poster format. All of our summer research students present posters at Calvin’s annual Fall Science Festival, and many of these students also have opportunities to present their posters at regional or national conferences.

III.  Rhetoric Instruction in Departmental Offerings in the Core

Writing is a powerful tool for learning, as it facilitates critical thinking, enhances metacognitive skills, and helps students view course material and the discipline in a larger context. Thus, we frequently use “writing-to-learn” exercises, such as reflection pieces, journal entries, and short in-class writing assignments in our core courses (Chem 103, 104, 101, and 115).  Generally, these assignments are not carefully scrutinized by the instructor. Occasionally, however, instructors do assign more traditional writing assignments that are assessed more rigorously and graded for content. Students in core courses such as IDIS 160, IDIS/GEOG 191, DCM, and Chem 271 and 103H are also given opportunities to learn course content and practice their rhetorical skills through the use of oral and poster presentations.

IV.  Faculty Awareness and Development

Information regarding the department’s Writing Program will be readily available to both faculty and students; this document will be provided to new faculty and posted on the department’s website. New faculty will be introduced to the Writing Program by the Writing Program Liaison who will discuss expectations regarding the provision of faculty feedback on rhetorical assignments and encourage the use of grading rubrics. Awareness of the program will also be heightened by its regular assessment (see below). The department’s Writing Program Liaison will be responsible for reminding faculty of their responsibilities regarding the program and its assessment, especially regarding the provision of adequate feedback on formal lab writing assignments and the need to save copies of student papers for departmental assessment.

Faculty will be encouraged to take advantage of development opportunities, such as writing workshops and conferences, which will be announced and promoted by the Writing Program Liaison at department meetings.

V.  Assessment

A written assessment report will be filed and discussed by the department every 5 years, beginning in 2012. The report will be written by a committee consisting of two members of the Assessment Committee, the Writing Program Liaison, and one or two other faculty members.  The report will have two components: a descriptive assessment, and an outcome assessment.

Descriptive assessment. The committee will survey faculty to assess whether the rhetorical assignments described in the Writing Program are up-to-date, and whether significant changes have been made in the manner in which assignments are graded and feedback is provided. The committee will also study the College Writing Program guidelines to determine if any criteria need to be addressed during the next assessment period. Finally, the descriptive assessment will also include a summary of the results of exit and alumni survey questions regarding the department’s instruction and practice of rhetoric. If needed, the committee will propose changes to the program to reflect any changes in criteria, assignments or feedback.

Outcome assessment. The committee will assess several samples of student writing and oral rhetoric, including formal laboratory reports, literature review essays, and oral presentations. Grading rubrics, like those in the appendix, will be devised by the committee in order to help them accomplish this task in a semi-objective and quantitative manner.

Formal laboratory reports. The Writing Program assessment committee will assess student progress in learning to write formal lab reports by reviewing six formal lab reports written by students during their last year in the program. The Writing Program liaison will collect an assortment of formal research reports written for Chem 304, 317, 325, 330, and 395. The reports should be copies of first drafts, without any revision following feedback from instructors. The committee will then assess the reports using a common rubric.

Literature Review Essays. The committee will assess six literature review essays written in Chem 323. Again, it will be the responsibility of the Writing Program Liaison to collect these papers from the instructors of Chem 323. The committee’s assessment will focus on student abilities to effectively communicate scientific concepts, and the committee will use a common rubric.

Oral Presentations. The committee will write an assessment of student outcomes in oral rhetoric based on 1) faculty assessment of Chem 395 presentations, and 2) reports filed by faculty who require oral presentations in their courses. Chem 395 oral presentations will be assessed, using the standard rubric in the appendix, by all faculty in attendance at seminar. The completed rubrics will be collected by the Writing Program Liaison, who will write a short summary of the faculty assessment.  Individual professors who require oral presentations in their courses will also write short assessments of student outcomes. The Writing Program Liaison will remind them of this responsibility each semester, and the assessment reports will be read by the assessment committee.

Course Numbers and Titles

Chem 101: The Molecular World
Chem 103: General Chemistry I
Chem 104: General Chemistry II
Chem 115: Chemistry for the Health Sciences
Chem 201: Analytical Chemistry
Chem 253: Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry
Chem 261: Organic Chemistry I
Chem 262: Organic Chemistry II
Chem 271: Environmental Chemistry
Chem 281: Laboratory in Environmental Chemistry
Chem 295: Chemistry Seminar
Chem 304: Physical Chemistry for the Biological Sciences
Chem 317: Physical Chemistry I
Chem 318: Physical Chemistry II
Chem 323: Biochemistry I
Chem 324: Biochemistry II
Chem 325: Advanced Organic Chemistry
Chem 329: Instrumental Methods for Chemical and Biological Sciences
Chem 330: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
Chem 359: Seminar in Secondary Teaching of Chemistry
Chem 383: Laboratory in Chemistry
Chem 395: Independent Study/Research Seminar
IDIS 161: Energy: Resources, Use and Stewardship
IDIS/GEOG 191: Introductory Meteorology
IDIS 310: History of Physical Science


1.  Department Mission Statement, 2003, located at G:\Assessment-StrategPlan\Mission Statement.

2.  Bean, J. C. Engaging Ideas:  The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass, 2001.

3. Kovac, J. and Sherwood, D. Writing Across the Chemistry Curriculum: An Instructor's Handbook.  Upper Saddle River, NJ  :  Prentice Hall, 2001.


The Classics Department affirms the goals set out in the college’s Academic Writing Program: to improve the quality of students’ writing, to enhance their ability to learn through writing, to make them adept in the genres of writing most germane to their major discipline, and to develop proficiency in oral and visual rhetoric appropriate to the discipline.

We present the following guidelines with the understanding that instructors are free to adapt them according to their own pedagogical judgment. Similarly, since students develop their skills at different speeds and in various ways, we are prepared to accommodate those differences in a reasonable manner. At the same time, all faculty members in the department are expected to plan their syllabi with careful attention to the frequency, variety, and quantity of writing assigned in each course.

General Guidelines    

One of the four major learning objectives for all of our majors is that “Students majoring in classics will develop proficiency in doing the several kinds of writing that characterize scholarly writing in foreign languages and the humanities: i.e. written translations from Greek or Latin into English, some composition from English into Greek or Latin, informal journaling, brief essays for tests, formal critical essays, and research papers.” Therefore,

  1. Every course in the department will include writing assignments that factor significantly into the student’s grade.
  2. Each course will include exercises in a variety of oral, visual, and written rhetoric.
  3. The frequency of such exercises will ensure that students are always preparing, completing, or revising their writing or in-class presentations.   
  4. Each formal writing assignment will include an explanation of its purpose, clear guidelines for its form and content, and a rubric for grading.
  5. Students will receive prompt, personal, and detailed feedback on their formal writing.
  6. Copies of each major’s formal papers & exams will be retained in a portfolio for program assessment.

Guidelines for Core Courses 

  1. Greek and Latin courses at the 100- and 200-levels (foreign language core) will include reading aloud in the target language, daily written translations from Greek/Latin to English, daily oral recitations in class, some translations from English to Greek/Latin, informal writing-to-learn exercises in class, opportunities for audio-visual presentations, and essay questions on some tests.
  2. Classics 211, 221, and 231 (literature and fine arts core) will include formal writing assignments totaling at least 15 pages, beyond tests and informal exercises. Students will be trained to meet the requirements of clear expository prose, close analysis, rigorous argumentation, technical accuracy, and proper form. In mythology and classical art, particularly, students will be expected to demonstrate their skills in identifying and analyzing images from the material culture of Greece and Rome.

Guidelines for Greek & Latin courses at the 300-level 

  1. Like the lower-level language courses, these courses will include reading aloud in the target language, daily oral recitation and written translations from Greek/Latin to English, some translations from English to Greek/Latin, informal writing-to-learn exercises in class, opportunities for audio-visual presentations, and essay questions on major tests and exams.
  2. In addition, each of these advanced courses will include formal writing assignments totaling at least 15 pages in which students will be required to engage with both primary and secondary texts, so that they can develop and demonstrate “research literacy” appropriate to the discipline by the time of their graduation. These assignments may include critical book reviews, reflective essays, and/or a research paper. Faculty members may at their discretion schedule individual conferences, encourage or require revised drafts, or set separate deadlines for submission of topics, bibliography, and various drafts. Through these assignments students should become proficient in using the research tools and methods that are specific to the discipline (see appended “research literacy” Upper-Level Outcomes from the Academic Writing Program Advisory Board).
  3. Through their writing and reporting assignments in these advanced classes students will develop and demonstrate their knowledge of classical culture: i.e. of the main figures and movements in classical literature, history, religion, and material culture from Homer (8th century BC) to the early middle ages (5th century AD).
  4. Through their writing and reporting assignments in these advanced classes students will develop and demonstrate their ability to engage with classical culture: i.e. to demonstrate their proficiency in researching and interpreting ancient texts and material culture and to articulate some of the ways in which a Christian might reflect on that ancient world and its reception, particularly in contemporary culture.

Grading Rubrics

The department maintains a collection of grading rubrics that reflect the standards of our writing program and are suitable for assignments in our courses. Faculty may choose a rubric from this collection or devise one of their own that fits our shared goals for student writing & presentations.

Faculty Awareness and Development

The department chair and/or new faculty mentor will ensure that newly hired members of the department become versed in its writing policies and expectations. Allmembers of the department will commit themselves to adapting their own practices as needed to meet these expectations. In addition to the collection of rubrics mentioned above, the department will maintain a collection of writing/reporting assignments and course syllabi that have succeeded in accomplishing our goals.

Classics students will have access to this description of our writing program, including sample rubrics that reflect faculty consensus on the grading of written work in our department.


The department maintains an assessment portfolio for each major with copies of graded tests, papers, and exams. This portfolio is stored in a locked file in the department office. Every year the faculty review the portfolio of each graduate and evaluate our success in helping them achieve the stated goals of the program. We mark each portfolio according to the rubric attached below (see the second objective: proficiency in writing), and we report a summary of this assessment in our annual State of the Department report.

The department’s writing program will be reviewed at least every ten years as part of its comprehensive program review.

(Revised July 2012)

Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science is committed to equipping its graduates to pursue vocations in computing1, and we believe that these vocations require fluency in written, oral and visual rhetoric. This document presents the forms of rhetoric commonly deployed in the computing field, the department program for helping its students develop fluency in these forms of rhetoric, and the assessment instruments we will use to evaluate the effectiveness of this program.

Rhetoric in Computing

Computing requires fluency in the following forms of communication:

  • Technical Writing - Technical writing comprises a variety of forms of writing in science and technology. The most important forms of technical writing for computing are as follows:

    • External documentation includes the technical specifications and manuals produced throughout the process of designing and developing software systems. Examples include requirements specifications, users guides and reference manuals.

    • Expository writing in computing includes journal articles, technical analyses, proposals and electronic communication.

  • Programs and Internal Documentation - Programs and internal documentation can be seen as forms of communication between the programmer, the computer, other programmers and end users. While it may be unusual to consider programming and code documentation as such, they are language-based, they have clear communicative intent, and they must be developed using common rhetorical strategies such as audience analysis, revision and review.

  • Technical Presentation - Technical presentation comprises a variety of forms of formal oral communication, including design presentations and system demonstrations.

These forms of communication also require research fluency in computing, which includes a knowledge of the technical computing literature and an ability to find and use technical reference documentation.

Rhetoric in the Major Curriculum

The major programs in the Department of Computer Science guide students toward proficiency in the four forms of rhetoric given in the previous section. All the programs share four courses that will serve as the focus points for our writing program:

These courses play central roles in the departmental rhetoric program as shown below. It also shows the “key” assignments through which the department will assess its writing program.

CS 108
  • Level: Introductory
  • Topic(s): Programs & internal documentation
  • Project(s): Final project
CS 262
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Topic(s): External documentation; programs & internal documentation; technical presentation
  • Project(s): Documentation; system; final team presentation
CS 384
  • Level: Advanced
  • Topic(s): Expository writing
  • Project(s): Final research paper
CS 394 or 396/8
  • Level: Advanced
  • Topic(s): External documentation; programs & internal documentation; technical presentation
  • Project(s): Documentation; system; final team presentation

At the introductory level, students must be able to demonstrate developing competence in programming/internal documentation (see above). CS 108 introduces them to these rhetorical activities through the following key assignment:

  • Students are required to design and write a final project, with clear code and internal documentation. Students prepare for this final project by doing weekly lab and homework exercises.

This CS 108 assignment is graded by the instructor and the grader according to the department grading rubric2. The preparatory assignments are also graded in a similar manner, with feedback given both in writing and orally in class.

At the intermediate level, students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in external documentation, programming/internal documentation and presentation for a complete software system. CS 262 introduces them to these activities through a team project that includes the following key assignments:

  • They must produce external documentation that includes: a requirements specification, a design specification and an on-line help system. These documents are produced in a continuous cycle of drafts and revisions throughout the semester with periodic feedback provided through reviews from members of other teams, the grader, and the instructor. The nature of the documents is discussed in class and there are completed projects from previous semesters provided as examples. These documents include both written and visual elements.
  • The program code and internal documentation are also produced iteratively over the semester, with periodic feedback provided by reviews from fellow team members, the grader, and the instructor.
  • The final team presentation includes a presentation of the system and a live demonstration. Student teams prepare for this presentation by doing a preliminary design presentation.

All of these CS 262 team assignments are graded by the instructor and the grader according to the department rubric2. The relative contributions made by individual team members is assessed based in part on semester-end comments provided by fellow team members.

At the advanced level, students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in all rhetorical forms. The key assignments at this level are as follows:

  • Students in CS 384 are required to write an issue-based research paper. Students prepare for this by completing smaller writing exercises throughout the semester, receiving feedback from the instructor both in writing and orally in class.
  • Students in CS 396/398 take two semesters to build a significant system that includes the same rhetorical elements included in the CS 262 project at the intermediate level (i.e., the system, its documentation and a final presentation). The project teams will be mentored by members of the department partners council 3.

These assignments are graded by the appropriate instructor according to the rubric2.

Rhetoric in the Core Curriculum

The department relies on the core curriculum to help its students develop proficiency in oral and visual rhetoric4. This program focuses more on computing-specific rhetoric.

The department currently participates in one category of the core curriculum: Foundations of Information Technology (IDIS 110 & CS 108). This course includes rhetorical components, but it is not currently part of the department's rhetoric program.

Faculty Awareness and Development

Current faculty members will discuss the department rhetoric program as part of the process of creating the annual state of the department report. New faculty members encounter the program when they participate in these discussions. In addition, new faculty see the key assignments and rubrics included in the course materials they typically inherit when they start at Calvin. This specification is made available on the department website.


The list of outcomes for the department's assessment plan5 includes a requirement that graduates have “the ability to communicate effectively through speaking and writing”. To evaluate how well we are doing with respect to this outcome, the department curriculum committee will review the previous semester's student work on the key assignments listed in the table above with respect to the department grading rubric2.

The curriculum committee will report the results of its review to the department along with any recommended modifications to the writing program itself. The department chair will include a discussion of the review in the state of the department report.

The Department of Computer Science has a degree program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). As part of its ABET accreditation cycle, the department will collect representative examples of all assignments in all classes throughout the program once every six years. The ABET visitation team will review them as they see fit.

Next Steps

Steps to consider in the future are, in order of decreasing importance:

  1. Add the creation and maintenance of student portfolios to the department advising program. Include the key assignments described above as part of these portfolios.
  2. Add more details on how research fluency for computing will be developed and assessed. This should include consideration of the creation and use of reference materials, and the use of the standard computing literature.
  3. Do a better job disseminating this specification to faculty, particularly new faculty (e.g., by producing on-line sets of information for new faculty).
  4. Integrate the department's core courses into this writing program.

End Notes

1 See our mission statement at
2 See our department grading rubric at
3 Our partners council is described here:
4 See the “Rhetoric in Culture” core category at Note that BCS majors are required to take oral rhetoric rather than visual rhetoric for this core category.
5 See our assessment plan at


This document discusses the principles and practices by which the economics major pursues the goals of the College Rhetoric Program for fluency in research and written, oral, and visual rhetoric. We have organized this discussion around the essential standards of the college program.

  1. Frequency and variety
    Our 200-level courses include a mix of reflection essay assignments, Christian perspective reflection essays, and academic article summary assignments (and other academic-journal-keeping). Some also assign public policy proposal statements, writing Op-Ed pieces, current economic news article summaries and analysis, country/ firm/ industry case studies, topical group or individual wiki pages, and group presentations. Our 300-level courses include essays on all exams (normally two midterms and a final), and a term research paper. Most 300-level courses also assign reflection essays and longer case study/academic article review assignments; several assign presentations, book reviews, and assignment-types listed above for 200-level courses. The required 300-level research methods course assigns a literature review (as do some of our other course term papers) and many statistical lab reports (as do our required intermediate theory courses). The required 300-level senior seminar involves several new academic essays assigned for each class meeting, substantial (2000 word) essay exams, several hour-long presentations for each student, and a structured research paper with opportunities for revision. 

    The rhetoric assignments in each course are of course related to the student learning objective of that course, which are available as a separate document.

    By passing through the required courses in the major, all students will have several experiences of each sort of rhetoric assignment, with special emphasis on reflection essays, academic article summaries, essay exams, extended case studies/article reviews, and research papers. It would not quite be accurate to say that students in our 300-level courses are always working at some form of assigned rhetoric, but it is nearly so.
  1. Feedback and Revision
    All of our rhetoric assignments offer the experience of feedback. Several of our courses emphasize revision, especially the required research methods course (a shorter midterm paper leads toward the final term paper) and the senior seminar (daily essays lead toward the essay exams and research paper). Peer review is also an essential part of the senior seminar and required advanced theory courses. Some courses, including the required research method and intermediate microeconomic theory courses, require consultations with the professor in the initial stages of development of the term research project.
  1. Integration throughout the major curriculum
    1. 151/221/222, 230s-240s: We acquaint students with basic research skills, including the Hekman Library’s sites developed for our discipline, and build on the research and writing skills that are taught in English 101/RIT. Our purpose is to build comprehension of the characteristic emphases and values of rhetoric in the economics discipline.  We also help students use economic theory to develop their voices as citizens, especially concerning economic topics and concerns.
    2. 320s-40s: In these intermediate and advanced level courses, we lead students progressively through the various kinds of writing and other forms of rhetoric that characterize the discipline. In particular, we orient students to economics-specific research databases, indexes, data sources, peer-reviewed journals, standards for analysis and presentation, and architectures of expression (such as the structure of a typical peer-reviewed published research paper). We compare the characteristics of writing in the economics discipline with those taught in English 101.
    3. Senior capstone course. In this course, students synthesize what they have learned in the major, including what they have learned about good, discipline-appropriate rhetoric. The term paper assignment specifically draws together knowledge of the Christian tradition with knowledge of the discipline. Students also have the opportunity to reflect upon, revise, and submit a research project started in an earlier course.
  1. Faculty Development
    All faculty are in agreement with this rhetoric program for the economics major, and are periodically involved in its review and revision.  It is reviewed by the department, along with our written student learning objectives, at a department meeting early in the fall term, and is available in a “policies” folder on the department common drive. We also have developed an assessment protocol, described below, that ensures regular review and discussion the types of rhetoric assignments that work best for each type of course and for the major as a whole. We maintain contact with our research librarian, Katherine Swart, when course development and revision involves research issues. We also regularly sponsor departmental faculty development opportunities, usually at least two each year, that bear on pedagogy and curriculum development, which have implications for written, oral, and visual rhetoric.
  1. Assessment
    We have developed a three-year cycle for assessment of our courses: the capstone one year, principles courses the next, and 230-346 courses in the third year. Our rhetoric program is assessed as part of this overall department assessment. The assessment involves relating measured outcomes to our written student learning outcome goals and their metrics, and also descriptively assessing our program by reviewing and discussing the type of rhetorical skill development opportunities that are currently being practiced in the courses.

Revised by the Department of Economics, November, 2014


In considering the implementation of the W-course system in the Engineering Department it was felt that no one single course seemed adequate for the depth of writing activity and goals of writing enriched courses. Instead, we would like to propose that the engineering department be given the status of a writing enriched program which offers a writing enriched experience already throughout the curriculum.

One of the driving concerns for the engineering department since the inception of the BSE degree has been how our curriculum conforms to standards set by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This is an organization which is primarily made up of representatives from the various professional societies. In its "Criteria for Accrediting Programs in Engineering in the United States," ABET states that "competency in written communication in the English language is essential for the engineering graduate. Although specific coursework requirements serve as a foundation for such competency, the development and enhancement of writing skills must be demonstrated through student work in engineering courses as well as other studies." Although the engineering program has evolved somewhat over the years, this commitment to quality writing has been designed into the curriculum from the very beginning.

The major sources of exposure of students to writing within the engineering program follow a thread beginning in the freshman year and continue in each year through the senior year. We feel that it is important that the student learn from day one that English (and the accompanying writing skills) is not viewed as a second language within the engineering profession. An outline of this exposure follows:

Engineering 101:
The students are given a "Creativity Kit" containing common household items such as paper clips and rubber bands, along with a set of task specifications for performing a particular task. When handing in the completed product, students are also required to write an evaluation of their design, critically evaluating its weaknesses and suggesting improvements.

A much larger assignment is the concept design project. Students are divided into groups of 3-4 and given a problem which they must research and propose an engineering solution. While doing the research and design, the students must submit written task specifications and a detailed plan for completion of the project. These items are reviewed and returned with comments, but are not graded. A written paper is the final product in which they set forth their design goals, refined task specifications, design alternatives, and analysis of their final design. They are encouraged to show critical thinking in this evaluation by pointing out both the strengths and weaknesses of their design. These papers are usually 10-15 pages in length.

Engineering 284:
This is the first engineering laboratory course, which students take in their sophomore year. It carries a 1/4 course credit and accompanies the introductory electronic circuits class. The technical material in this course closely corresponds to the lecture material in ENGR 204 and is designed to reaffirm the theory presented in lecture with "hands on" exposure in lab. An additional goal is to explore different techniques for modeling physical phenomena and determining the merit of one approach over another. While these comparisons can be done to some degree through quantitative measures, students are also asked to communicate "what it means." It is too easy to get lost in the mathematics in some classes and lose perspective, and writing is used as a tool for retaining perspective.

The course is also used to teach students how to write a technical report. ENGR 284 is ideal for this, since it is a core course in the engineering curriculum and a common approach to style and content can be used for all students. They are assigned three "formal" writeups in the semester and three "informal" writeups. The informal reports center on writing up a summary of the experiment results and a statement of accuracy. The format is similar to that of a technical memorandum in industry. The formal writeup is a full report, requiring introduction, procedure, results, analysis, and conclusions. For these reports a rough draft is required initially, and most of the credit is given for completion of the assignment. The rough drafts are critiqued and handed back to students for re-writes with a final draft due one week later for the majority of the credit. On the first such formal report, students are required to make an appointment with the instructor for personal feedback after the final draft has been graded. These reports are usually 5-10 pages of text (with another 5-10 pages of graphs, tables and data), and students are urged to write clearly and concisely to avoid excessive page count.

Junior Technical Writing Seminar
In the junior year, engineering students begin a concentration in either electrical, mechanical, or civil engineering. During this year, the students have few, if any courses in common between the concentrations. One common point, however, is that all concentrations have a lab course in the spring of the junior year. For the first formal lab report of the semester, students will be given a personal appointment to review their writing with the instructor. The length of these reports is again on the order of 10 pages.

In addition to typical lab and term paper writing in several courses, a technical writing seminar is given in which professional technical writers are invited in to talk to students. This seminar is followed up by taking a lab report from each student from a laboratory course in their concentration. This report is submitted to the technical writing team for evaluation and eventually returned to the students with comments. Students judged deficient must resubmit revised work and eventually complete this requirement satisfactorily for graduation.

The Senior Design Course
The senior design sequence of courses is a year long capstone design course required of all engineering students. All three concentrations are once again brought back together in an interdisciplinary environment for a full-scale design project. Students are for the most part allowed to choose their own design groups of 4-5 and are required to find their own projects (subject to faculty approval). This effort leads up to the Engineering Banquet in early May where the prototype designs are publicly displayed.

ENGR 339:
In this part of the senior design sequence the students form groups, find projects, and work toward an initial goal of producing a project proposal and feasibility study by the end of the semester. As the projects develop, assignments are made to write task specifications, alternate design descriptions, a preliminary design description, cost and time planning reports, a preliminary evaluation of feasibility, and further refined task specifications. These materials are treated as rough drafts leading up to the completed feasibility study and are handed back to students after evaluation without grading.

At one point, all written materials in their current state of refinement are sent to an engineering consultant for review. This is followed up by a personal visit in which the consultant spends two hours with each group reviewing their project.

In addition to the already mentioned assignments, students are required to keep a design journal detailing a comprehensive account of their project activities. This serves as a record for their own future reference on the project and is also a convenient tool for feedback from the faculty. To accomplish this, students buy a journal with duplicate pages so that they can tear out a copy of their work to hand in for weekly evaluation. This evaluation takes the form of commenting both on the quality of the journal and the project work itself. The journals are not graded until the end of the semester. The length of the journals at the end of the semester can vary depending on the nature of the specific project, but a general rule of thumb which seems to quite effective is that a high quality journal will be in the 25-40 page range.

Near the end of the semester, a Project Proposal and Feasibility Study is written incorporating all of the rough draft elements developed throughout the semester. This report is then graded both on technical merit and on the effectiveness with which the ideas in the proposal are communicated. These feasibility study reports are required to be no longer than 25 pages, excluding charts, graphs, and appendices.

ENGR 340:
This second semester course concentrates more on the design and prototyping aspects of engineering, but an in depth report is required at the end of the semester, and the weekly journal evaluations continue. Many elements of the feasibility study, such as goal statements and task specifications, tend to add continuity in the writing of the first and second semester reports. Grading is once again based both on the technical aspects of the design as well as on the written communication of the design. A target length of this report is also set at 25 pages, and the daily log books by the end of the year are 60-100 pages.

It is also part of this proposal that the courses specifically targeted as part of the Engineering department writing program be designated in the college catalog along with appropriate course content descriptions.


The English Department Writing Program attempts to describe and guide the use of writing across courses and sections in order to meet the goals that the English Department shares with the Academic Writing Program: to improve students' writing (especially in genres typically practiced in the study and teaching of language and literature) and to enhance students' ability and opportunity to learn through writing.

As we describe our Writing Program, we set some basic requirements for all courses and sections, but we do not indicate, for example, every course in which a creative writing piece is assigned. For many of our courses we teach too many different sections, taught by several different instructors, to stipulate requirements for all sections without excessively determining individual instructors' choices. Furthermore, many sections enroll too many students to require, for example, conferences of all students. Consequently, we outline the minimal amounts and kinds of writing in all sections as well as likely assignments in various sections. As we establish this contract between ourselves and our students (as well as future teachers in the English Department), we recognize the fact that each student develops skill in written rhetoric at a different pace and through different routes than others, and we promise to do all that we can in each course to meet the needs of each student.

Writing in Core Courses

1. English 101. Although members of the English Department teach this course, it is more appropriately considered as part of the college's Academic Writing Program than the English Department Writing Program. As such, the course should continue to be shaped by the broader needs of the Academic Writing Program, initiating students to the practices of written rhetoric that they will continue to develop across the disciplines. The English Department publishes a Guide to the Teaching of English 101, which articulates the "Common Aims" of the course. These demonstrate that English 101, like other elements of the Academic Writing Program, employs frequent writing of a variety of formal and informal genres as well as regular and plentiful feedback, both written and oral (all English 101 teachers hold conferences with each of their students).

2. Core Literature Courses. Recommended courses in the English Department that fulfill the core requirement in literature are English 205, 210, 211, 215, 216, 217, 218 and 219. It is our expectation that all sections of these courses will require at least one formal composition and one essay examination (occasionally an individual instructor may vary from this guideline if he or she can meet goals of the writing program through different methods; for the sake of sharing information among colleagues and being accountable to one another, individuals should notify the departmental Curriculum Committee of such variances). Students in all sections of these courses will receive feedback from the teacher and will be encouraged to confer with their teacher.

Writing in the English Major

If a student could somehow contrive to complete an English major with teachers who assign the least amount of writing, that student would compose roughly 100 pages of formal writing for at least 12 different assignments. More realistically, majors will write over 150 pages for 14-15 assignments, writing in every class. Majors will also take at least one essay exam in every class and will write informal assignments (including journals, in-class responses, e-mail responses, annotations, and reviews) in most of their classes. Furthermore, they will receive written feedback from their teacher in all classes and will be encouraged to confer with their teacher in every class. In some classes (roughly one in four) they will receive comments from peers and/or will be allowed or required to submit revisions.

1. Introductory Courses. In English 210, 211, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219-the likeliest entry courses for majors-students are introduced to the essential aims and forms of writing about literature as they begin to work on their own writing about literature. They also practice some limited uses of writing to enhance their learning; these may be any of the kinds of informal writing mentioned in the preceding paragraph. (See also the description of these courses under "Core Literature Courses.")

2. Other 200-level courses. In these courses students will continue working to improve their own writing and using writing to improve learning (five of the non-core 200-level English courses are, in fact, writing courses). It is our expectation that every section of a 200-level English course will require at least one formal composition, and most will require some informal writing. As explained in the section on "Core Literature Courses," individual instructors may sometimes choose other kinds of writing assignments but must not lose sight of the main goals of the Departmental Writing Program.

3. 300-level courses. At least one formal composition is assigned in every 300-level English class, and informal assignments are given in most classes. Students continue the kinds of writing done in 200-level courses, but greater emphasis is placed on literary, linguistic, or pedagogic research (which is typically required for at least one formal assignment in each 300-level class). Assignments are also of a greater variety, including critical analyses, creative papers, book reviews, web-pages, portfolios, teaching units, and group projects. Conferences are required in roughly one-third of 300-level courses.

4. English 395 ("Senior Seminar") and English 359 ("Seminar in Principles of and Practices in Secondary English Teaching"). Students in both these seminars complete a major writing project. These projects call on students to use the rhetorical tools that they have been learning throughout the major and thus move them further into the kind of practical, critical, and scholarly work that they may do professionally. At least one conference with the instructor, for the purpose of discussing some facet of writing, is required of each student in English 395. The student teachers in English 359 should feel free to discuss their writing with either their student-teaching advisor or the instructor of 359; these students are also required to have at least one conference to discuss their writing with the instructor of their required English 357 class.

A Broader Vision of Rhetoric

Although this document focuses on written rhetoric, the current practices in our department make it appropriate to address rhetorical skills more broadly. The English Department Assessment Program includes "Speaking and Listening" in the "Skills" section of our objectives, thus calling on our students to develop some expertise in oral rhetoric. Several members of the department also require students to compose web pages, which demand both effective visual rhetoric and careful use of the rhetorical potential of hypertext. We both accept and encourage these assignment practices; however, we must also insist that if students are to use oral and visual rhetoric to complete assignments in our department, they should be taught how to do so effectively.

A possible first step toward such instruction would be to concentrate on the common rhetorical choices made in written, oral, or visual formats-choices, for example, of audience, purpose, focus, organization, detailed evidence, style, and correctness. Students could be instructed in the various ways in which they have different options and different reasons for selecting among options when using written, oral, and visual rhetoric-or combinations thereof. The effort would be to help students translate their skill in making rhetorical choices in written texts into the multi-rhetorical decisions they make in electronic texts.

Faculty Experience

All members of the English Department share a long-term commitment to the teaching of writing; all have taught writing courses, many have taken part in writing-across-the-curriculum seminars, and many have taught "writing-enriched" courses.


Assessment of the English Department Writing Program will be an ongoing part of the English Department Assessment Program. Much of our Writing Program describes rather than prescribes the kinds and amounts of formal and informal writing, as well as the opportunities for feedback (written and oral) and revision. Therefore, one part of our Departmental Assessment Program will be to determine if the frequency, variety, and feedback that we currently enjoy in our Writing Program remains at the current level. One of the regular responsibilities of Departmental Assessment will be to inform the English Department if it should need either to adjust its requirements in order to maintain the accuracy of the descriptions herein or to revise its Writing Program.


I. Compliance with the goals of the College Academic Writing Program

The Department of French has the following as its mission statement:
In acknowledging the privileged role in the created world which language and culture play in achieving God's purposes and in recognizing the responsibilities of Christians to serve God and others in every aspect of life, the Department of French is committed to teaching language, literature, and culture; to providing appropriate service related to such teaching; and to engaging in scholarly exploration of the French language and francophone literatures and cultures.
The Department of French offers courses of study for students interested in continuing their work on the graduate level, for those interested in careers in which foreign language plays a key role, and for those interested in teaching French at the secondary or elementary school levels. Within these contexts writing and oral expression are essential skills. We therefore foster writing and oral skills in our courses at all levels.

In our courses the majority of written and oral expression occurs in French. Because the goal of our courses is not only to develop critical thinking but also to instill accuracy in grammatical structures and in vocabulary choices, there is typically a dual objective linked with our oral and written assignments: that of content and of language accuracy. By the time our students finish a major we expect that they will be able to write in French at the advanced-low to mid level and speak at the advanced-mid to high level according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The complete guidelines may be accessed on-line from the French Department website ( Unless otherwise stated, all written and oral assignments referred to in this document are completed in French.

A. Frequency.
Students are required to write in every French course from French 101 or French 111 through the 300-level courses. French courses can be divided into four groups:

  • Group one: the core-level courses (French courses numbered between 101 and 202)
  • Group two: advanced skills courses required of majors and minors (French 215, Advanced Conversation and 216, Advanced Grammar)
  • Group three: literature and culture courses at the 200 level beginning with French 217 (required of majors and minors)
  • Group four: advanced literature courses at the 300 level (required of majors).

Students in every course must write often. In the core-level courses students typically write short compositions either as homework assignments or on tests. Students frequently write sentence-length discourse as part of homework assignments. Some core-level courses require students to write weekly journals in English (French 111, 112, 113). By the fourth semester core-level course (French 202) students must progress from paragraph to multi-paragraph and essay-level writing. In the second group of courses (French 215 and 216) much time is spent on developing written and oral skills in French through a short research paper, an oral presentation and written compositions on chapter tests (French 215) and bi-weekly essays and revisions of those essays (French 216). Every literature and culture course requires regular writing throughout the semester, typically through daily homework assignments, reaction papers, and formal writing assignments (analytical essays, explications de texte, research papers).

B. Feedback.
Faculty members provide detailed feedback to students in each of these courses. Faculty typically grade students’ work with a twofold objective: increasing language accuracy and encouraging clear and substantive writing. Some courses integrate peer-review and discussion in order to give students feedback from their peers. Many courses also give students frequent opportunities for revision of written work. In courses such as the Multisensory Structured French core courses for at-risk students (French 111-112-113) students must revise and correct all written homework until it is free of errors. In French 216 (required of majors) revisions are required on compositions throughout the semester. Students’ errors are underlined and marked with a code letting them know the type of error they have made. In French 219 students must rewrite essays and research papers in order to clarify arguments and more clearly express ideas. In French 217 student essays are graded with a rubric that draws attention to the many aspects of writing, namely, the organization of thoughts, appropriate length of the essay, quality of research, substance, bibliography, precision of vocabulary and grammar, and quality of style (see supplement # 4).

C. Variety.
Students are exposed to a great variety of rhetorical skills in the French major. Both formal and informal writing are required of students in all courses for the major. Types of rhetorical skills that students will encounter in the French major include but are not limited to:

  • Journal entries in English and in French
  • Practice in creating a thesis sentence and bibliographies
  • Paragraph essays as part of daily homework
  • One-page informal summaries and reaction papers to daily literature readings
  • Compositions included as part of tests/exams
  • Short formal essays on texts (one page)
  • Formal analytical essays addressing a literary theme or issue
  • Formal research papers
  • Explications de texte (critical textual analyses)
  • Oral testing in which students must formulate coherent responses in French
  • Oral presentations in front of class
  • Group skits presented in front of class

II. Integration throughout the French major.
French students are expected to master increasingly sophisticated oral and written tasks as they progress through the French major.

A. French 215, 216 and 217.
French 215, Advanced Conversation, French 216, Advanced Grammar, and French 217, Introduction to French Literature, are required of all French majors and minors and are typically taken early in the major. French 215 focuses heavily on spoken French and gives students practice with oral presentations while requiring students to write a research paper using library resources. Students also receive practice in writing paragraph-length discourse in French. French 216 focuses mainly on written French and gives students extensive instruction in grammar and writing. Students must write a series of formal page-length essays with revisions throughout the semester. Students also keep weekly journals in French. French 217 introduces students to French literature spanning a chronological range from the Middle Ages to the present and also gives students in-depth guidance in the writing of a formal essay.

B. Literature and culture courses at the 200 level.
Students in the major typically take three of the literature and culture courses at the 200 level. These courses give students frequent opportunities to practice the writing and rhetorical skills introduced in 215, 216 and 217. Some examples of typical assignments are explications de texte, formal essays, research papers, oral presentations to class and reaction papers.

C. Literature courses at the 300 level.
Students in the major complete at least three courses at this level. Courses at this level typically require students to continue improvement in their informal writing skills with daily summaries and reactions to assigned readings and to hone their formal writing skills through essays of literary analysis and research papers. Students at this level must demonstrate confidence in accessing secondary sources on literary texts through WebCat and major literary databases such as the Modern Languages Association Bibliography. Students are also expected to be able to speak in paragraph-length discourse when defending a position during class discussions.

D. Senior capstone course.
The French Department currently does not offer a capstone course for its majors. Many French majors have a second major in another area such as English, Spanish, Business, or History, and they complete their capstone requirement in that major area. Students who do not have a second major beyond French typically complete an Integrative Studies course in an area such as Philosophy.

III. The role of French offerings in the core.
There are three possible course tracks in French for students wishing to complete the foreign language core requirement: the regular four-semester sequence (101-102-201-202), the intensive sequence (121-122-123) and the Multisensory Structured French for at-risk students (111-112-113). Each of these sequences requires students to practice writing and rhetorical skills with in-class writing assignments, oral presentations or speaking tests, compositions, journal entries (in English), test composition questions, the creation and presentation of skits, etc. Typically students master writing sentence-length discourse in French in the first course of each sequence and move on to paragraph-length discourse in French by the middle to end of the core sequence.

IV. Faculty awareness and development.
The French department regularly hires adjuncts and part-time faculty to teach core-level courses. The department chair provides each adjunct with a textbook and a schedule of a certain number of chapters to complete in the core courses being taught. Typically faculty who have already taught these courses share course materials with the new adjunct or part-time faculty. The department liaison will provide these faculty members with a copy of the French Department Writing Program and will meet with new faculty members as needed.

Regular full-time faculty members in the department regularly participate in campus workshop offerings and integrate resources into their classes. Department members regularly have informal discussions about course strengths and weaknesses in the French program and share successful strategies and materials. The Department liaison for the Writing program will periodically initiate discussions on the writing program during department meetings.

V. Assessment.
The French Department has included the following section on writing proficiency and assessment within its Student Learning Objectives and Assessment Plan (proficiency levels are listed according to ACTFL guidelines):

Writing Proficiency


  • Students seeking a French major will develop the ability to perform the following tasks in writing: routine social correspondence, paragraph-length discourse (several paragraphs in length), respond in writing to personal questions, simple letters, brief synopses and paraphrases, summaries, descriptions and narrations in paragraphs in three major tenses (i.e., present, past, future). Over the course of their program, they will develop the ability to write with more significant precision and detail, social and informal business correspondence, descriptions and narrations, concrete aspects of topics of particular interest and special fields of competence, though under time constraints and pressure writing may be inaccurate.



a) Students will be initially assessed in French 216 Advanced Grammar and Composition, a required course for all majors and a prerequisite for advanced literature and culture courses.  Through a portion of the final exam, students will be assessed according to the goals described in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Students will attain writing proficiency at the intermediate-high level.)

b) During their junior or senior year, students will be required to pass a proficiency exam that includes a composition. Students will be expected to demonstrate advanced-low to mid level writing proficiency.  It is expected that some students will attain writing proficiency at the advanced-high level, due to study abroad or in immersion programs in North America.

Assessment of the Writing Program

The French Department will assess its writing program with a written report every five years as part of the five-year strategic plan process. The report will be written by the Writing Program Liaison and one other faculty member.  The report will have two components: a descriptive assessment, and an outcome assessment.

VI. Supplemental documents.
Attached are documents showing typical assignments and methods of feedback provided to students in French courses.

  1. French 215, Advanced Conversation: research paper and oral presentation on a francophone country or region.
  2. French 216, Advanced Grammar: excerpt taken from the French 216 syllabus that addresses regular writing assignments and their revisions.
  3. French 217, Introduction to French Literature: class hand-out giving guidance on forming a thesis sentence.
  4. French 217, Introduction to French Literature: formal essay grade sheet.
  5. French 312, French Prose I: formal research paper assignment


The History Department is committed to the goals set out by the college’s Academic Writing Program: to improve the quality and effectiveness of students’ writing, to enhance their ability to learn through writing, and to make them familiar with and practiced at the genres of writing most germane to the discipline in which they are majoring. We especially welcome AWP’s concern for developing students’ research fluency, which the department has always sought, and its emphasis on integrating various types of writing into course design and execution, the better to have writing serve the development of critical thinking, active learning, and mastery of the modes and substance of historical study.

We will give new attention to the mandate to help students develop competency in oral and visual rhetoric. Our efforts individually and collectively will aim to challenge and encourage students to greater participation in their learning and surer command over the creative and analytic modes of communication appropriate to the discipline. Recognizing that the standards for formal writing in history are not specific to the discipline, we are also committed to teaching and upholding the requirements of clear expository prose, close analysis, rigorous argumentation, technical accuracy, and proper form.

We set out the following expectations on the understanding that individual instructors may surpass them, may alter them to fit the needs of a particular class, and should always be free to meet them in ways compatible with their own pedagogical preferences. We recognize, further, that some students will develop writing skills at a different pace and through a different route than others, and we commit ourselves to accommodating these differences in a reasonable and equitable manner. At the same time, all department faculty will plan their courses keeping in mind the demonstrated benefit for learning of the frequency and variety as well as quantity of writing required.

General Guidelines

In particular courses as well as in our curriculum as a whole, we aim to meet the department’s official Goals and Objectives of teaching “effective written communication” and engendering a “close familiarity with the process of historical research and writing.” Therefore,

  1. All courses in History shall entail writing assignments that factor significantly in determining the student’s final grade.
  2. All courses will aim to use a variety of informal as well as formal writing exercises to maximize engaged, effective historical learning for students of varying interests, majors, and vocational plans.
  3. Midterm and final examinations shall normally include a substantial essay component.
  4. In the course of the major, History students will have adequate occasion to develop critical competency in the exercise of oral and visual rhetoric.
  5. As students advance through the major, the department shall monitorthe process by which they develop skill at communicating in the genres appropriate to the discipline.

Guidelines for Core Courses

  1. History 151-152. Students will write 10-15 pages, beyond examinations and informal exercises, in at least two of the followinggenres: the critical book (or film) review, the research report, and the reflective essay. Over the course of the term student writing, whether formal or informal, will engage significantly with both primary and secondary texts. Faculty may at their discretion encourage or require revised drafts for any or all of these papers.
  2. Courses in other core categorieswill follow the specifications for a 200- or 300-level course in the major. 

Guidelines for Courses in theMajor

200-level courses
At this level students will be introduced to a more sophisticated analysis of the historical past and of history as a mode of inquiry and understanding. They will become more practiced at dealing with primary and secondary sources and will be expected to integrate the two in their writing. They will be encouraged to investigate the possibilities and limits of different modes of writing (about) history, including genres typically categorized as ‘creative’ as well as analytical. These courses will normally entail 12-15 pages of formal writing beyond examinations and informal exercises. Students may be expected to deal with oral and visual materials as historical evidence and with oral and visual modes of historical presentation. Faculty are encouraged to requirerevised drafts and to teach the research/revision process by setting separate deadlines for submission of topic, sources, and different drafts.

300-level courses
At this advanced level of historical study, History majors can be expected to engage in either a significant amount of primary research or a sophisticated critique of secondary interpretations on a topic, or both, and to render its results in 15-20 pages of formal writing beyond examinations and informal exercises. Each student will be expected to demonstrate knowledge of how the processes of reading and writing history are shaped by their contexts (temporal, social, and geographical location, and philosophical or religious perspective). Students will be required to investigate the possibilities and limits of different modes of writing (about) history, including genres typically categorized as ‘creative’ as well as analytical. Students will be expected to deal with oral and visual materials as historical evidence and with oral and visual modes of historical presentation. Faculty are urged to requirerevised drafts and to set separate deadlines for submission of topic, sources, and different drafts.

Methods and theory courses
HIST 294 (Research Methods in History) seeks to ensure that majors have assimilated a sound understanding of and practice in the genres of standard historical writing: the critical review, research report, and critical bibliography. Students are expected to write 10-12 pages beyond classroom exercises and will demonstrate mastery of conventional notation. From their work in this and other courses they will, at the completion of the History major, have demonstrated their ability to work critically with archival, visual, and electronic, as well as more conventional published printed sources.

HIST 394 is a research seminar devoted entirely to the design, research, writing, and a formal oral presentation of an article-length (20-30 pages) paper based on primary sources. Faculty must require revised drafts and set separate deadlines for submission of topic, bibliography, and completed drafts. The revision process also entails peer review and critique of fellow students’ papers.

HIST 395, as the capstone course in the major, is the venue where students demonstrate their proficiency in matters of secondary interpretation. They are to write, besides examinations, 15-20 pages of critical reflection on the construction and representationof historical understanding. Faculty may encourage revised drafts and require formal oral presentations. 

Faculty Awareness and Development

The department chair and/or new faculty mentor will ensure that newly hired members of the department become versed in its writing policies and expectations. Allmembers of the department will commit themselves to adapting their own practices as needed to meet these expectations. Inter alia this will entail that the department: (1) purchase for common use several copies of John C. Bean, Engaging Ideas (Jossey-Bass, 2001) or a similar handbook, (2) devote one meeting a semester for the two years after adoption of this statement to discussing the principles behind and different modes of implementing the new writing policy, and, partly in consequence of that, (3) create a portfolio of assignments and exercises that faculty have used to carry out the statement’s mandates. With mutual consent, different faculty members may volunteer to develop special expertise in one set or another of exercises outlined in the handbook so that, across the department, its different rubrics will be field-tested within our particular matrix of needs and expectations. Thus, both an oral and a written body of experience will emerge to help all members experiment more confidently in supporting their teaching with a broader array of writing assignments and class presentations.

Finally, History majors will be given copies of the department’s writing policies, including grading rubrics that reflect faculty consensus of how written work is to be evaluated in History courses.


During the third year under the revised policy, the department’s curriculum committee will conduct a survey to determine the extent and consequences of changes in members’ writing pedagogy to date. The results will be presented to and discussed at a department meeting and a consensus articulated as to the successes achieved, frustrations encountered, and adjustments needed either to the policy, its patterns of implementation, or both. A second department-wide inventory, including an appropriate survey of current-student and recent-alumni opinion, will be taken in year 5 under this policy and revisions formally proposed and ratified as needed. This periodic assessment, along with the continuing expansion of the department’s writing-resource portfolio, is intended to sustain continuing discussion of writing pedagogy, upon which discussion the success of this policy chiefly depends.

The department will also maintain an online portfolio for each student majoring in history. This portfolio will include a paper the student has composed for courses taken in the department at each of the 100, 200, and 300 levels. The faculty evaluation of each paper will also be included in this portfolio. In addition, the department will continue to maintain the collection of capstone research papers each major writes and maintain a file of the faculty evaluations of these papers.


Under these goals and guidelines, students in History will graduate having composed between 135 and 200 pages of formal writing in their major. Their learning will have been sharpened and sustained along the way by frequent writing exercises calibrated to improve effective communication. They will have had ample opportunity to explore different voices and modes of presenting, interpreting, and reflecting upon history.  They will be practiced at the process of planning, editing, and revising their compositions. They will know historians’ criteria of good research and critical reflection and will be well practiced at rendering these in formal prose that meets high standards of clarity, coherence, efficiency, and proper form. Together, these experiences will have primed them for real achievement in their vocations as citizens and professionals, to which ends of Christian liberal arts education the History Department wholeheartedly subscribes.



A main priority of the college writing program is the frequency and variety of writing assignments students will complete during their study at Calvin.  Each department is responsible for its share of these assignments in both major and non-major courses.  Given the very large number of students who are active in its courses, ensembles, and studios, the music department bears a special responsibility in this task. 

Yet, music can be a recalcitrant subject for writing—analytical prose tending toward dense and complex jargon, and critical writing lapsing into vague, subjective description.  Writing assignments in non-major classes may be open-ended and thus prove challenging for students, but these serve to force students to grapple with their thoughts and to be able to articulate them.  Such assignments range from journaling and response papers about ensemble repertory, to concert reviews/reports and listening analysis in the Core music appreciation/history classes.

  1. Frequency.  Writing about music is a challenge that accentuates the need for a wide variety of types of writing assignments, so that students have opportunities to face the subject from many angles.  The department ensures, therefore, that its music majors and minors have these opportunities for structured thought through writing in a wide variety of classes spanning six different areas of musical study – applied lessons, ensembles, theory/composition, history, appreciation, and pedagogy.  During any given semester, music students will be involved in at least three (often four) of these areas.  They definitely will, therefore, in the words of the Criteria, “always be at work on some writing project” pertaining to music.  Of course, a critical balance of assignments must be maintained so that students will not only write about music, but often more importantly understand and analyze works toward the goal of producing and reproducing actual music, either in musical score (another form of writing) or on the performance stage (another form of communication).
  1. Feedback.  As will be discussed in Roman numeral II below, this element occurs throughout the department in a number of ways.  In general, professors employ a variety of means to insure frequent feedback:  use of the Rhetoric Center, peer review, re-write opportunities, and of course their own written and/or oral comments.  Following are just a few examples of the guidance and mentoring that take place in this regard:
    1. In Theory II students are given a series of short writing assignments of increasing complexity, which are marked with specific suggestions for improvement..
    2. Music 390 (Independent study) for Music History and Theory Concentrates developing and writing an extensive research or analytical paper in stages with feedback from the instructor.
    3. Program notes written by students in preparation for recital performances.  These begin with students getting used to speaking about their pieces in studio classes, receiving feedback from students and faculty, then translating that information
    4. Music 359 (Seminar in Music Methods) for Music Education majors preparing a paper on teaching philosophy which, with guidance, is revised and expanded in the wake of their practical experience.
  1. Variety.  As is stated above, writing requirements in the music department span six different areas – lessons, ensembles, theory/composition, history, pedagogy, and appreciation.  In each of these areas, students are given writing assignments that are to reflect that particular area of musical study.  Therefore, writing in lessons and ensembles will typically take the form of a discussion of a particular piece from the perspective of a student describing the various musical, technical, stylistic, dramatic, and interpretative challenges being encountered on the journey toward public performance.  Such writing may then culminate in program notes for an audience written from the unique perspective of the performer, someone who has extensively wrestled with the piece in the practice room.  Writing for theory/composition is primarily more analytical in nature, discussing the intricacies of what make a piece work from the smallest to the largest of scales, and also involves the actual writing of music.  The style of writing changes once again for those in history classes wherein the continuity (and lack thereof) of style from one period of composition to another is researched and highlighted.  Finally, in such classes as Music 339 (listed above) and Music 308, students reflect on their own music and teaching philosophies.  Thus, papers in this area tend to more significantly explore their own personal beliefs as to how they will engage, promote, perform, and teach music through their career and life pursuits.


A.  The basic major/minor sequence

All music majors have the following courses in common (those indicated by asterisks being required of minors as well):

*Music 105  Introduction to Music  [also fulfills Core arts requirement]
*Music 108  Music Theory I
Music 207/213  Music Theory II
Music 208  Music Theory III
*Music 205  Music History and Analysis I
Music 206  Music History and Analysis II  [minors take Music 204  Music History 1750-
Music 305  Music History and Analysis III
Music 308  Order, Meaning, and Function

Taken together, these courses form an integrated six-semester sequence in Music History, Theory, and Criticism.  Assignments in Music 105 require students to begin moving beyond merely impressionistic writing and subjective response, while assignments in Music 308 require both a solid background in music history and theory, and a mature reflective stance on music as vocation.  Starting in Theory II and continuing in Theory III, students submit a variety of written assignments in which they are expected to describe and analyze musical passages in clear and precise prose.  The variety and complexity of these assignments gradually increases as their ability to use analytic prose strengthens and new musical styles and techniques are introduced to them.  Each of the History and Analysis courses will include a few short writing assignments (or oral presentations) such as essays, reports on composers or genres, position papers, concert reports, and persuasive letters to a friend.  The written component of the history/theory sequence gives students the new experience of writing within the discipline (i.e., to their colleagues), and of addressing a wider public from within the discipline.  The paper on vocation in music in Music 308 would then be the final writing project required of all majors.

B.  Culminating written project for Music Majors

The Music 308 paper on vocation is important for all majors, but the department insists that each major have a culminating project exploring the type of writing most suited to the student’s future goals. This will be a large written project in the student’s area of concentration.  Each of these projects would be written under the supervision of faculty in the student’s area, with considerable feedback and guidance from the professor, and with an expectation that the first draft is never the final product.  (General Music Majors should be encouraged to take as an elective one of the courses that would require such a project or an independent study in an area that suits each student’s main interests.)

Music Theory/Composition Concentrates will develop and write an extensive analytical paper as a Music 390 (Independent study), supervised by their primary instructor in theory or composition.  This project will necessarily be done in stages, and the instructor will provide feedback on the work in progress.  In the course of revision and rewriting, the student may be encouraged to consult others on the history and theory faculty as well.   (This proposal would add Music 390 to their program listed in the catalog.)

Applied Music Concentrates will prepare extensive program notes as part of the requirement of their senior recital.  This writing assignment will be overseen by their applied instructor, or—if the instructor is on the adjunct faculty—may be overseen by the head of the applied area or by a designee within the department. In the course of revision and rewriting,  the student may be encouraged to consult members of the history and theory faculty as well.  At the option of the student, this project may be undertaken in the course of a Music 390 (Independent Study).

Music History Concentrates will develop and write an independent research paper as a Music 390 (Independent study), as already specified in the catalog, to be supervised by their primary instructor in music history.  During the work on this project, and the instructor will provide feedback on the in-progress drafts.  In the course of revision and rewriting, the student may be encouraged to consult others on the history and theory faculty as well.

Music in Worship Concentrates will develop a philosophy of music in worship in an extensive paper for Music 336 (History and Philosophy of Music in Worship; non-majors enrolled in Music 336 may have an option for a different sort of assignment).

Music Education majors will prepare a paper on teaching philosophy in Music 339 (School Music), to which they will return in Music 359 (Seminar in Music Methods) to revise and expand in the wake of their practical experience.

The intermediate and advanced courses in the various major have written assignments that serve directly to prepare a student for the culminating project.

C.  Writing assignments in Applied Music courses

Applied music courses are unlike courses in any other academic department—combining intense training of the body with training of the mind and its aesthetic sensibilities.  Writing can too easily be squeezed out of an applied course because of other pressing demands.

      1. applied lessons:  The department will require any student intending to perform in a Recital Hour to submit with their program information a short written program note (no more than 4 sentences) about the work to be performed.  This will be included in the program; if no such note is submitted (or if it is unsuitable) the student will not be allowed to perform.   All students preparing “half-recitals” (Junior recitals, non-required recitals, and recitals by non-performance concentrates) will be required to supply program notes with their program information, and are encouraged to use any of the faculty as resources as they prepare this.

        In addition, the department encourages applied instructors to assign a written response, character study (for an aria), or musical analysis as part of applied lessons.  This may be done when deemed appropriate, and would be more likely in the later years of study of an advanced student. 

        Note:  the primary objective of applied lessons is to develop the skills and intuition necessary for the performance of a variety of repertory.  It must be stressed here that writing is a means to an end, and the point of such an assignment is not the writing itself (that is, to be drafted, written, and rewritten with feedback from the instructor); rather it is to make the student more aware and able to articulate in words the musical process which he or she deals with in performance.

      2. conducting courses:  a wide variety of assignments have proven successful: self-critiques (based on video analysis), and also critiques of professional conductors; analytical/critical papers about the music being studied or of particular problems posed to the conductor; in more advanced courses; rehearsal reports and subsequent performance reports

      3. music ensembles:  some written component is expected each semester:  free response papers, journals, or reflection papers, particularly those that would draw connections to other disciplines.  Again, the primary objective of an ensemble is musical performance together; these written assignments are secondary, and will generally not go through a formal process of drafting and revision.

III.  Departmental Core Courses

The Music Department offers the following courses for core-credit primarily for non-music majors/minors:

Music 103: Understanding and Enjoying Music
Music 106: American Music
Music 107: World Music
Music 238: Music and Community

All of these courses share the following writing and rhetoric assignments:

  1. concert reports
  2. an oral presentation and/or written mini-paper

IV.  Faculty Awareness & Development

The Music Department commits itself to bring the Writing Program to the attention of its faculty members in the following ways:

  1. at least bi-annual discussion of the Writing Program at a music faculty meeting, with pre- and/or post-discussion at our departmental Curriculum Committee, and sharing of sample rubrics for assessment of our Writing Program goals
  2. raising awareness of the Writing Program in the mentoring of new full-time faculty members
  3. sharing the Writing Program document of our department with each new part-time instructor
  4. encouraging our faculty members to attend music pedagogy conferences and to explore new ways to meet the objectives of our Writing Program

V.  Assessment

The curriculum committee of the department is responsible for the implementation of the departmental Writing Program.  The Music Department office will maintain a portfolio for each music major (with an appropriate checklist of major projects, resumé, etc.) which will be reviewed before the student’s final semester; it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the portfolio is complete.  These portfolios will be retained after a student has graduated to aid in the overall music program assessment.

Assessment procedures will be both formative and summative for individual students. Periodic evaluation of the program as a whole will also be conducted.

The following methods of assessment are recommended to the faculty for individual projects.

A writing sequence that includes some or all of the following:

  1. Student turns in a brief proposal that is evaluated by the professor with suggestions and guidance when appropriate
  2. Student writes first draft
  3. Engages in self evaluation using a recommended departmental rubric
  4. Engages in peer evaluation using a recommended departmental rubric
  5. Student makes revisions and submits draft 2 to the professor for evaluation
  6. Student revises paper and submits final draft for summative evaluation

Throughout this process, students will be encouraged to utilize the resources at the rhetoric center.

Professor grades paper using one of the recommended departmental rubrics. Grade is determined by the score derived using the rubric. Comments relating strengths and weaknesses of the paper are also encouraged. Students will be given the rubric and grading scale when the paper is assigned.

The music department will collect and record rubric data from the following key assignments.
  1. Music 105 – reflective or research paper
  2. Music 308 – Vocation paper

These assignments reflect writing at the beginning and end of the music major program. The curriculum committee will review this rubric data for all graduating music majors to determine the effectiveness of the program. Any weaknesses of student writing will then be addressed by the committee and faculty as a whole. A brief report will be made available to the writing committee upon request. Over the next two years, the department will consider adding other assignments to this list that may include projects from music theory, history, or education.


I. Compliance with Goals of the College Rhetoric Program

A. Introduction
Nursing faculty members attempt to be responsive to the current needs of society and the profession of nursing. Major forces in the nursing and health care community, criteria for accreditation from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), and the foundation of our Reformed perspective assist us in shaping the rhetoric program in the Department of Nursing.

As faculty members, we believe that graduates of a Christian liberal arts college must have a broad vision of their vocation and their role as members of society. We are educating our students not only as members of the nursing profession but also as members of the world community, working to build Shalom in lifelong Christian service to God and to others. Our graduates will have memberships in many different communities, not just the nursing community. Therefore, graduates of the Calvin College Department of Nursing should be able to communicate with purpose and commitment, demonstrating ownership of their ideas. We should be assisting them to find their voices and to communicate with conviction and emotion.

Our desire is to prepare entry level baccalaureate nursing graduates with the skills and abilities necessary not only to function, but to excel and provide leadership in their profession. Nurses require information literacy and excellent written, oral, and visual rhetoric. They must be able to communicate with clients, groups, and members of the health care team, and they need to have research fluency.

As nurses move into more community based settings and function in more independent professional roles, we believe that effective rhetoric skills are more critical than ever to our graduates’ success in their vocations. At times, it is the nurse’s role to provide a voice for the “voiceless” in advocating for justice, particularly in the provision of community based / community focused care with underserved populations. It is also critical to provide evidence based practice.

B. Attention to the full range of rhetoric-related skills in the Nursing Major
The AACN Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice provide criteria for baccalaureate graduates’ competencies in communication and research fluency. Nursing programs are required to assure student competence in the scholarship of Interprofessional Communication and Collaboration for Improving Patient Health Outcomes (Essential V) and Evidence-Based Practice (Essential III). These essentials require nursing programs to prepare students in the full range of rhetoric related skills including: writing, speaking, visual conveyance and information literacy. In response to the AACN Essentials and the recommendations from the Calvin College Rhetoric Program, the Calvin College Nursing Department has identified two expected student outcomes concerning rhetoric related skills. At the conclusion of the curriculum, the student will be able to:

  • Integrate evidence from research into nursing practice
  • Communicate effectively in partnerships with diverse individuals, families, communities and in collaborative relationships with other health care professionals.

II. Appropriate pedagogy
Content related to communication (writing, oral rhetoric and visual rhetoric) and information literacy (research fluency) are integrated across the four semesters of the nursing program intentionally by incorporating the following strategies:

A. Variety
Nursing students are assigned a variety of both high stakes and low stakes exercises to develop rhetorical skills in the nursing major. Examples of exercises used to develop rhetorical skills are listed below:

  • Writing: Formal papers, nursing care plans, a health policy brief, a letter to a legislator, completing reflective writing / journaling based on practicum experiences and self-evaluations of practicum performance
  • Oral Rhetoric: Presentations to peers, group teaching assignments in practicum settings, poster presentation to peers and professional audiences, group work
  • Visual Rhetoric: Developing PowerPoints and posters for presentations, creation of educational materials for use in practicum
  • Information literacy: Evaluating website credibility; receiving a library orientation to expose students to the use of nursing databases to access research and evidence based practice information; completing evidence based practice worksheets; performing research review assignments where students develop a clinical question, find research related to this question, and determine the level of research evidence for the research; sharing research with peers in practicum post conference time.

B. Frequency
Students practice rhetorical skills regularly in theory, strategy / skills lab, and practicum courses. For example, students use rhetorical skills weekly during their practicum experience: documenting in the electronic health record, writing nursing care plans, completing evidence based practice worksheets, searching databases for research, evaluating research strength, and writing reflection papers. Students also write self-evaluations of their communication skills at several different points during each semester.

C. Feedback
Rhetorical skills are evaluated and assigned a practicum grade during and at the conclusion of each practicum course. Other rhetorical assignments during the semester are part of the course grade in nursing theory and strategy courses. Students typically have multiple formal or informal assignments each semester. At several different times across the curriculum, students receive feedback on assignments and are encouraged to revise their work in order to refine their rhetorical skills. For example, students receive weekly feedback while writing formal care plans in practicum courses and are given feedback at several points across the semester while completing their research poster in N379.

III. Integration throughout the nursing major
Students are taught rhetoric skills during pre-nursing courses which are typically taken the first two years of the four year nursing program. Courses in English and Communications Arts and Sciences (CAS) teach general characteristics of rhetoric. Because nursing is an upper division major (Junior and Senior year, 4 semester professional sequence), we build upon the foundation provided in pre-nursing courses to teach students the unique rhetoric used by the discipline of nursing. Expectations for rhetoric competencies progress from simple to complex across the four semesters of the nursing major.

A. Writing
Theory and strategy coursework:
In the first semester of the program, students are introduced to research and writing in a style consistent with the profession of nursing. The nursing department has made a rubric for professional writing in nursing that clearly articulates expectations for major, minor, and journal / reflection papers. This rubric is included in every syllabus that has writing assignments. The advantage of this rubric is that it prepares students for professional writing in the first semester of their nursing coursework and holds them accountable to that standard across the nursing curriculum. This allows students to refine their writing until it becomes part of their professional identity.

In semester one, students complete a 6-8 page writing assignment in APA format with a student partner. Beginning students form pairs for this process to promote discussion and give feedback to one another as they write the paper. In addition, students write a 2-3 page reflection paper on sustainability in nursing, and complete 12 brief written exploration assignments which allow them to reflect on content that they are learning. In the lab, students practice writing nursing care plans and they are asked to write self-critiques of their skill acquisition.

During semester two, students continue to develop professional writing skills. They write a 6-8 page paper on a perinatal complication, in which they need to use at least 5 peer reviewed nursing articles. Students are evaluated in this assignment on format, content, style and the mechanics of writing. They also write case study analyses and complete a research summary. In semester three, students have two 1-2 page reflection assignments. The first assignment is a reflection on the Reformed Christian World View and Adult Nursing practice. The second assignment requires them to interview a nurse, write a summary of the response, and reflect on how a nurse engages in service to the discipline of nursing and the broader community.

In the final semester, students prepare several written papers that are relevant to the profession of nursing. In N377, students write a health policy brief. In this 3-4 page formal paper, the student is asked to summarize a large amount of complex details on a health issue in such a format that both lay and professional audiences can identify stakeholders, understand main concerns, identify potential solutions and anticipate future issues of the health concern. In addition, students are asked to write a 4-5 page reflection paper comparing community based nursing and community focused nursing as methods of health care delivery. In the capstone course, students write a philosophy of nursing paper, a personal vocation plan, and an essay to defend a position related to health care. Two of the formal papers written in the 4th semester also serve as outcome measures for the nursing major: the Philosophy of Nursing paper in N380 and the Comparison of community-based nursing and community focused nursing in N377.

Practicum coursework:
During the first semester practicum course, students learn to develop and write the most frequently used document in professional nursing practice, a client centered nursing care plan. In the second and third semesters, students write care plans on a weekly basis and faculty provide feedback on the accuracy and clarity of the writing. By the time of the practicum experiences in the 4th semester, students are expected to document these plans on the official client record. This is meant to be done independently with minimal guidance from their preceptor nurses.

B. Oral and Visual Rhetoric
In the first semester, students present findings of a nursing research article to their peers. They also provide individual client teaching to both an adult and child in the practicum setting requiring them to utilize both oral and visual rhetoric during these encounters. During semester 2, students are asked to develop these skills further through short classroom presentations and through leading practicum conferences. During semester 4, students expand their oral and visual rhetoric skills by learning how to communicate effectively with the entire health team in a professional manner consistent with the discipline of nursing. In the Capstone Course, small groups prepare a seminar which they present to their classmates and faculty member. Each student also provides a presentation in a manner that mimics the format found at a professional conference. Lastly, students create a poster on evidence based practice and present their work to hospital staff members, college peers, and other faculty members at a Calvin College poster presentation session.

C. Information literacy
Due to the importance of evidence based practice in nursing, course objectives related to information literacy have been carefully integrated across the nursing curriculum. In the first semester of the nursing program, students are expected to describe the relationship between nursing practice, theory, and research; list the steps of the research process; and utilize nursing research in developing evidenced based practice in community based and mental health nursing. Assignments that students are asked to complete to help fulfil these objectives include but are not limited to: evaluating a website for credibility; completing a library orientation where they are exposed to CINAHL, PubMed, Cochrane and AHRQ; writing a formal paper where they are graded on properly citing sources using APA format; discussing nursing research articles in practicum that are relevant to practice; and completing an evidence based practice assignment where student are asked to formulate a clinical question pertinent to the topic of the day, find research evidence to respond to this question, appraise the research/evidence, and identify appropriate ways to integrate this evidence into practice.

Second semester, students are expected to discuss systematic reviews of nursing research and utilize nursing research to design evidence based practice. Assignments that students are asked to complete to help fulfil these objectives include but are not limited to: completing an evidence based practice presentation and searching for a quantitative study, meta-analysis, or randomized control trial on a specific topic, summarizing the study and identifying the level of evidence.

Third semester, students are expected to discuss the process of quantitative research as it pertains to adults in the context of their families and communities and use nursing research to design evidence-based practice in caring for adult clients in the context of their families and communities. The following assignments are completed by students to help fulfill these objectives: analysis of 3 nursing research articles relevant to caring for adult clients; application / identification of current nursing research in practice; and completion of tests that measure knowledge.

Fourth semester, students are expected to integrate evidence from research into nursing practice. Assignments that students are asked to complete to help fulfill these objectives include but are not limited to: incorporation and application of evidence-based practice articles into care planning, practice, and presentations; demonstration of evaluating the research literature in a poster project; incorporation of the highest level of research in developing a health policy brief; presentation of a population focused issue using the highest level of research; analysis of a qualitative research article for trustworthiness and integrity.

IV. Faculty awareness and development.
The nursing department curriculum committee will be the Rhetoric Program Liaisons who will serve as the primary contact between the RAC committee and the department.

Information regarding the Departmental Rhetoric Program will be given to new and existing faculty. This document will be placed in the faculty handbook and will be posted on the Rhetoric Program website. When new faculty members are oriented and begin teaching in the Nursing Department, their assigned mentor will review the written guidelines of the Rhetoric Program for both the college and the department. The Faculty Development committee of the nursing department will include a review of this document as part of the departmental faculty orientation. This will assure that all faculty members have current guidelines and information about competencies, evaluation, and grading of rhetoric assignments within the department of nursing.

The following resources on rhetoric are valuable for faculty:

The nursing department curriculum committee will regularly revisit and assess their rhetoric program every 3 years. This will be part of the department’s Plan for Ongoing Improvement (POI). The curriculum committee will also connect with the college librarians yearly to stay up to date on resources the library has to offer.

Many faculty members attend annual conferences in nursing education where new ideas for educational strategies are available. These often include development of writing, oral, and visual rhetoric and information literacy. Conferences assist faculty with staying up to date on rhetoric related information.

V. Assessment.
The nursing department’s rhetoric related program outcomes are listed below, followed by the way they are measured.

  • Program outcome for information literacy:
    • “Integrate evidence from research into nursing practice”
    • This program outcome is measured by the poster presentation in N379
  • Program outcome for writing, oral and visual rhetoric:
    • “Communicate effectively in partnerships with diverse individuals, families, communities and in collaborative relationships with other health care professionals.”
    • This program outcome is measured by the Position Paper Presentation Grade in N380 (measures oral rhetoric) and the Community-Based/Community-Focused paper grade in N377 (measures written rhetoric). In November, 2016 the nursing department added a new outcome measurement for visual rhetoric. Visual Rhetoric will be measured by the poster presentation in N379. A category will be added to the grading rubric to assess whether the poster used a visual design template that clarified the organization and content of the research presented. Two assessment questions will be added: 1. To what extent does the overall visual design clarify the organization and findings? 2. To what extent does the poster use graphic elements (tables and figures) that effectively convey the key findings of the research?”

These evaluation measures are included in the department’s Plan for Ongoing Improvement (POI). The measures are assessed yearly by the Evaluation Committee and documented in the student expected outcomes table. This table is housed on the “R” drive.

In addition, the department evaluation committee documents what graduates say about their preparation for practice including rhetorical skills as well as what their employers might wish to offer about our graduates’ skills. Furthermore, the Evaluation Committee regularly seeks input from our communities of interest: hospitals, clinics, community centers, graduate programs etc. regarding student performance, which includes an assessment of rhetorical skills. Both graduate feedback and community of interest feedback are reviewed as part of the POI and recommendations for change are made when appropriate. Our goal is to be responsive to input regarding our students’ abilities to use their rhetorical skills.

Lastly, the Nursing Department collects information regarding rhetoric assignments, both formative and outcome achievement, when each course is evaluated as indicated in our POI. At this point in time, every course is evaluated yearly in a Calvin nursing faculty organization meeting during Spring or Fall departmental workshops.

A summary report of the assessment and evaluation results for the department of nursing’s rhetoric program will be provided to the college Rhetoric Program when requested.

Political Science

The Department of Political Science emphasizes research, writing, and analysis in all of its courses, and alumni surveys consistently suggest that these skills are some of the most valuable outcomes of our curriculum. To this end, all of our courses require significant analytical work in a variety of forms, as described below. This document serves the following purposes:

  • The department seeks to provide guidance for new and current faculty members regarding the kind and number of research and writing assignments expected in courses of different levels to establish more uniform expectations concerning the workload of students at different points in the major.
  • The department seeks to give its majors a clear overview of the goals of both the Political Science major and International Relations major with respect to writing, speaking, and visual rhetoric as well as research literacy. Students will have a clear sense of the expectations for their written work at various points in their major, and a better grasp of the feedback opportunities they will encounter.
  • The department seeks to strengthen existing efforts to integrate elements of oral and visual rhetoric and research literacy into our teaching, so that our majors will be equipped with these tools when they enter the workplace.
  • The department seeks to strengthen existing efforts to integrate the assessment of written, oral, and visual rhetoric and research literacy in our departmental assessment program.

I. Compliance with the goals of the College Rhetoric Program

The following describes the typical type, length, frequency, and feedback methods for writing assignments in various types of courses:

POLS 101
  • Information literacy: Comparative case studies
  • Written rhetoric: Reflection/response papers; written examinations
  • Oral rhetoric: Policy presentations; simulations; debates
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 16 – 20
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments; peer evaluation
POLS 110
  • Written rhetoric: Brief analytical essays; written examinations
  • Oral rhetoric: Simulations; debates
  • Assignments: 2 or more
  • Total pages: 12 – 16
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments
POLS 207, 214
  • Information literacy: Homework assignments; in-depth case studies; comparative case studies
  • Written rhetoric: Reflection/response papers; research papers; written examinations
  • Oral rhetoric: Simulations; presentations
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 16 – 20
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments
POLS 240
  • Written rhetoric: Reflection/response papers; analytical essays; written examinations
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 12 – 16
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments
POLS 251
  • Information literacy: Homework assignments; intensive research project
  • Written rhetoric: Research paper
  • Oral rhetoric: Research presentations
  • Visual rhetoric: Research presentations
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 20 – 24
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments; peer evaluation
POLS 202, 208, 209, 212, 218, 228, 234, 237
  • Information literacy: Policy analysis; in-depth case studies; comparative case studies
  • Written rhetoric: Reflection/response papers; written examinations
  • Oral rhetoric: Presentations
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 16 – 20
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments; peer evaluation
POLS 276, 277, 279
  • Information literacy: Intensive research project
  • Written rhetoric: Research paper; written examinations
  • Assignments: 2 or more
  • Total pages: 16 – 20
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments
POLS 304, 307, 309, 318, 319, 321, 322
  • Information literacy: Policy analysis; in-depth case studies; comparative case studies; research projects
  • Written rhetoric: Research papers; policy papers; written examinations
  • Oral rhetoric: Presentations
  • Visual rhetoric: Presentations
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 16 – 20
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments
POLS 306, 310
  • Information literacy: In-depth case studies
  • Written rhetoric: Analytical papers; written examinations
  • Oral rhetoric: Presentations
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 10 – 12
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments; peer evaluation
POLS 380
  • Written rhetoric: Reflection/response papers
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 10 – 16
  • Feedback and assessment: Direct feedback
POLS 390
  • Information literacy: Annotated bibliographies; intensive research project
  • Written rhetoric: Reflection/response paper; research paper
  • Assignments: 1 or more
  • Total pages: 12 – 24
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments
POLS 399
  • Information literacy: Intensive research project
  • Written rhetoric: Reflection/response papers; research paper
  • Oral rhetoric: Simulations; presentations
  • Assignments: 3 or more
  • Total pages: 16 – 24
  • Feedback and assessment: Returned drafts; written comments

II. Faculty awareness and development

  1. The Department of Political Science makes this document available to students and faculty on the College’s website and encourages its faculty members to review this document in advance of preparing syllabi, in designing assignments, and in advising.
  2. The Department of Political Science maintains an online file containing syllabi, writing assignments, student handouts, grading rubrics, and other materials and encourages its faculty members to review these materials in advance of preparing syllabi and in designing assignments.
  3. The Department of Political Science sets aside one meeting each year to discuss best teaching practices and recent teaching challenges.
  4. The Calvin Teaching and Learning Network provides faculty development opportunities, teaching resources, and faculty mentoring. In addition, the Provost’s website includes a section containing Teaching Development Resources.

III. Assessment

The Department of Political Science will set aside one meeting per year to discuss the department's progress in achieving the goals laid out in this document. The Department will review its Rhetoric Program every five years in conjunction with the department’s regular assessment practices, which include rubrics assessing the competency of each graduating senior in areas of oral rhetoric, written rhetoric, and research literacy.


Revised October 2017.


Success in the field of psychology requires many skills in written, oral, and visual rhetoric. Because our students pursue many different vocational paths, it is important that they are prepared to communicate effectively to many different audiences. They must be able to communicate both empirical and theoretical findings to a variety of groups, in written, oral and visual formats.
We have three goals in our departmental rhetoric program. The first goal is to have graduates able to present psychological research and theories accurately and persuasively to multiple audiences. Our second goal is to provide students with opportunities to master scientific writing and presentation, including literature reviews, critical evaluation and application of psychological theories, and discussion of empirical results. For students who plan to attend graduate school in psychology, we have courses designed to give additional preparation for scientific presentations in both oral and written formats, as these are the most common methods for distribution of findings to wider audiences. Finally, we provide opportunities for integration of psychology with the Christian faith.

Our department requires a high degree of written work and oral presentation, in multiple formats: essay tests, group project presentations and papers, literature reviews, lab reports, and case study interviews and reports, all with an emphasis on learning APA style. Our departmental policy is that all formal writing and oral presentations (except in Psychology 151) are graded on writing style as well as substantive content.
This document summarizes current priorities within the Psychology Department, and outlines assessment strategies for refining and improving our Program. First, we discuss our compliance with the goals of the College Academic Rhetoric Program. Next, we outline the types of rhetorical assignments given to both majors and non-majors. Finally, goals for faculty development and assessment of our Rhetoric Program are discussed.

I. Compliance with the goals of the College Academic Writing Program

Because writing fluency is often based on frequent attempts of writing, rather than length of each assignment (Bean, 2001), the Psychology department requires multiple writing assignments in each course, and uses many different formats. Essay tests are part of almost every course, and all courses require some form of written and/or oral assignment as well. There are five courses required of all majors: Introductory Psychology (Psych. 151), Statistics and Research (Psych. 255 and 256), Capstone course, and a 300 level lab course. Since most Introductory psychology students have not had English 101 or are taking it concurrently, we have not focused attention on formal writing at that level. Nevertheless, the majority of the introductory sections have some sort of written work. The remaining three courses have specific writing requirements. The specifics are outlined below:

    • Psych. 151: several writing assignments are assigned, including research reports, reaction papers, essay tests, and book reports.
    • Psychology 255 and 256, Statistics and Research: introduction to APA style of writing, including format, section headings, developing themes, transition, citations, and references. Students are also given training in research literacy specific to our discipline. Students turn in multiple drafts of their research paper so that feedback is given throughout the semester.
    • Psychology 33X: Several lab reports are written in APA style.
    • Psychology 399, Capstone Course:
    • Other examples from elective courses:
      • Psychology 201, 213, and 322: Case study interview paper
      • Psychology 207: review of ethnic minority coming of age novel, group presentation, review and methodological critique of an evaluation program
      • Psychology 220: group oral and visual presentation, presenting both sides of a controversial issue, based on empirical sources in Psychology
      • Psychology 211: case studies, and reaction papers
      • Psychology 280: social history interview report
      • Psychology 356: major research report in APA style is completed – this involves multiple drafts that include 2 drafts of a proposal and 2 drafts of a final paper.  Students are also required to give an oral presentation at a state, regional or national professional meeting. 
      • Psychology 380: reflective paper and oral and visual report

Giving students detailed feedback and opportunities to improve their writing skills is essential to our students, particularly in scientific writing. Several professors give students the opportunity to turn in first drafts up to a week before the final draft is due, in order to improve both stylistic and substantive weaknesses in their papers. We do not have such a program in place for all of our oral reports, although feedback is given to presentation outline and sources, and in Psychology 356 extensive feedback is given for oral presentations. Feedback is required in several classes (i.e., 256, 356, 399), where multiple drafts are required. This is essential for learning to write lab reports and report scientific findings.

A variety of written assignments are required, including lab reports, literature reviews, case study interviews, reaction papers, reflective essays, and intervention plans. These assignments reflect skills utilized by professional psychologists. Oral and visual assignments are also part of many classes, including individual and group presentations, web documents, and PowerPoint Presentations. Research fluency is expected in many 200 level courses, and all 300 level courses. In Psychology 255 and 256, students are taught research literacy skills, including the use of data bases to find research, how to choose appropriate research, and fundamentals of APA style.

Students in Psychology are given multiple opportunities to perfect both written and oral presentation skills, with the goal being to move students into more complex and professional skills. Papers and presentations increase in complexity throughout the program. Presented are three examples describing the progression expected in written and oral presentation skills, each example relating to a major goal:

  1. Translate psychological research and theory general audiences. Students are required to discuss psychological research and theory in every course in our program. Beginning with Psychology 151, students write reaction papers to different research findings and psychology theories. These papers tend to be quite brief and focus on a single finding or theory. As students progress through the major, they are required, both through essay tests and written assignments, to discuss multiple findings simultaneously, compare several theories, and present these discussions in more scientific manner. In many of our 200 300 level courses, research papers are required, where students must synthesize a body of empirical research, and resolve how studies might produce contradictory findings.

    Students also progress in oral presentation. In Psychology 204 and 220, students are required, while in a small group, to research both sides of a controversial topic in either child development or marriage and family issues, and present this debate to the class. Students are given a fair amount of assistance in finding relevant research and theory, as well as several chances for feedback before they make their presentations. In our Internship 380, students also present a challenging issue to the class, and are required to work more independently. They must present research and theory, as well as integrate Christian perspectives in their discussion of this issue.
  1. Master scientific writing and presentation, including literature reviews and discussion of empirical results, or translating psychological theory and research to expert audiences. Many students find scientific writing quite challenging, and need multiple opportunities to master this skill. Beginning in Psychology 256, students write short lab reports and results sections. In lab courses which all students are required to take, students must complete a more formal report, a lengthier literature review and results section is required. In our advanced research methods, which 20% of students take, students create their own research project, and complete a complete literature review, as well as a results and discussion section, following the standard format of empirically peer-reviewed publication in our discipline. These reports are reviewed multiple times by both faculty and peers, and are presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association meeting every spring. This experience provides an outstanding opportunity to understand how research is collected and disseminated within the field of Psychology.

    • five page essays integrating developmental research with Biblical perspectives
    •  writing case studies addressing spiritual dimensions of disorders
    • writing a reflection paper on the experience of attending a minority church
    • critically reflecting on a reading on integration of psychology research with theology, and issues such as mind/body/soul
    • comprehensive review and methodological critique of evaluation programs of a specific type (i.e., DARE, abstinence vs. comprehensive sex education, etc.).

This integration culminates in our capstone course, where students develop a thesis paper, written in APA style (non-majors can choose another style if clearly stated). Their thesis statement, outline and source-list are all given feedback throughout the semester. Students must stake out a position and employ evidence to sustain their argument, using an appropriate variety of evidence. Students are graded on the progression of the argument, use of empirical, theoretical, Biblical, theological, and/or philosophical evidence. During Psychology 399, students also interview a professional, Christian psychologist (often from a non-reformed tradition). They must conduct a professional interview with this psychologist, and identify his or her integration framework, as critically interact with this position. They also present an overview of their findings to the class.

Because writing is an important tool to increase both learning and critical thinking, we use writing exercises in our Psychology 151 as chances to learn and master key psychological concepts. Reflection papers, journal articles, and in-class essays are frequently used. Several professors require a summary and reflection paper of several models of integration, based on an article by Jones (1986), summarize each perspective,  and select the perspective in which they were raised.

During Psychology 399, students are given a multiple opportunities for feedback as they develop a professional-level paper and formal interview procedure.

The department faculty is well-prepared and well-motivated to teach courses with writing components. Five members of the department have already taught four different writing-enriched courses and will continue to incorporate the writing-enriched pedagogy into these courses. At least four members have attended the summer faculty seminars on writing.

Information regarding the Departmental Rhetoric Program will be given to new and continuing faculty. This document will be provided to new faculty, and posted on the departmental website and the Rhetoric Program website. New faculty will be introduced to the Writing Program by the Rhetoric Program Liaison, who will discuss expectations regarding the provision of faculty feedback on rhetorical assignments and encourage the use of grading rubrics.

Students will also be provided with information about the Departmental Rhetoric Program. Students are also given an APA guide, and we plan to develop a guideline for scientific writing as well.

The Rhetoric Program Liaison is responsible for reminding faculty of their responsibilities regarding the program and its assessment, and will schedule a review of the program every three years.

Faculty are responsible to provide assessment data as needed, and are encouraged to take part in writing workshops and conferences, which will be announced by the Rhetoric Program Liaison at department meetings.

Our department will assess both oral and written rhetoric at several points during our curriculum. Our goal is to implement one assessment measurement each year, beginning in 2008.

200-level courses

  • Assess the oral presentations made during 220 (Marriage and Family) and 209 (Developmental II). A common rubric will be developed that will be used to assess both sets of presentations. (2009)
    • Goal assessed: present psychological theory and research accurately
  • Assess the final research report written in 256 (Research Methods). This is a required course, where all students are required to develop a full psychological report in APA style. (2008)
    • Goals assessed: present psychological theory and research accurately, and master scientific writing and presentation, including literature reviews, critical evaluation, and application of theory, and discussion of empirical results

300-level courses

  • Assess the final research report in 356 (Advanced Research Methods). This course is not required, and is taken by 15% of our students. Students complete a full psychological report using APA style. We will use the same rubric that was developed for 256, in order to assess progress. (2008)
    • Goals assessed: present psychological theory and research accurately, and master scientific writing and presentation, including literature reviews, application of theory, and discussion of empirical results
  • Assess the final paper for 399 (Capstone class). This will allow us to assess a comprehensive literature review and reflective essay completed by all of our majors. (2010).
    • Goals assessed: present psychological theory and research accurately; master scientific writing and presentation, including literature reviews, application of theory, and discussion of empirical results, and demonstrate integration of the Christian faith
  • Assess the oral presentations made during 380 (Internship practicum). This course is not required, but is taken by 35% of our students. The rubric will be similar to the one used in our 200-level assessment. (2009)
    • Goals assessed: present psychological theory and research accurately, and demonstrate integration of the Christian faith


Bean, J.C. (2001). Engaging ideas: The professors guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active
learning in the classroom
. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Jones, S. L. (1986). Relating the Christian faith to psychology.  In S.L. Jones (Ed.) Psychology and the Christian faith: An introductory reader (pp. 15-33). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.


A. Background and Rationale

In accordance with its mission as a Christian liberal arts institution of higher learning and in recognition of the need for students to write clearly in professional life, Calvin College established its writing program with a view to ensuring that student writing in the college’s curriculum meets appropriate levels of expected competence.  Across the curriculum, students are required to learn to write and write to learn (writing to learn includes learning to read effectively).  To achieve its goal, the college has implemented various institutional measures (director of the writing program, faculty development seminars, an expanded Rhetoric Center) and has instituted departmental writing programs, wherein writing is conceived not as a product but as a process.

B. Department Implementation and Requirements:

The Religion Department must consider the needs of two groups of students, namely, the general student body taking two basic core courses in the department (one at the 100 level, the other at the 200 level), and department majors.  Therefore, the department has built a gradual and incremental writing program which focuses on the general needs of all students and the particular writing needs of majors.  In this way, students master basic skills and assignments before going on to more complex work.  The department’s requirements are as follows:

  1. Because the needs of all students must be addressed (clear thinking, perceptive reading, articulate written expression, and feedback that can be acted upon in subsequent work), all students in 100 level courses are to submit at least six pages (1500 words) of carefully monitored formal writing (i.e., graded with attention to content, structure, style, grammar and mechanics in order to provide the student with feedback).  The writing should be of at least two different kinds (e.g., summary, analysis, case study, comparison, book review, research/thesis papers).  Informal writing is also encouraged (e.g., self-expressive essay, contemplative essay, journal, timed in-class responses).

  2. All students in 200 level courses must meet the same requirements as 100 level classes, but are to write at least eight pages (2000 words) or carefully monitored formal writing.  200 level requirements should also account for the presence of majors and their preparation for formal research papers in 300 level courses.

  3. Because of the level of intellectual engagement and the specific needs of majors (who comprise the majority of enrollment), all students in 300 level courses are to write at least ten pages (2500 words) of carefully monitored formal writing.  A research/thesis paper is required.

  4. Because each Religion major is to receive individual attention with respect to his or her writing, and in preparation for the department’s seminars, all department majors are to do W-designated work in one course in their departmental concentrations (exclusive of 100 level courses, 357 and 396).  This work should normally be done during the junior year.  This requirement is listed in the College Catalog, is to be explained to majors by their department advisers, and must be formalized early in the semester with a contract specifying the requirements.  Signed copies of the fulfilled department contract must be forwarded by the professor to the Registrar for inclusion on the student’s AER.  The requirements for the W-designation are as follows:
      • The current minimum competency requirement in the English department;
      • a diagnostic essay in the first two weeks of the course;
      • significant faculty instruction and feedback on writing, including faculty-student conferences;
      • students are required to read Joseph M. Williams, Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace (Longman, 2003); familiarity with Booth, et. al., The Craft of Research (Chicago, 2003) is strongly advised;
      • at least fifteen pages (3750 words) of carefully monitored formal writing in at least two different assignments;
      • a revision component (with the provision that up to one-third of written work required for the course can be revised work);
      • writing requirements for the course are to count for at least twenty-five percent of the final grade.

  5. To give each major the opportunity to synthesize skills mastered in previous courses, and as both a fitting capstone activity and an important preparatory activity for those students intent on post-baccalaureate study, all majors must complete Religion 396, the senior seminar (or Religion 357 for teaching majors).  Writing requirements are as follows:
    • The primary component of the senior seminar is a substantial research/thesis paper of at least twenty pages (5000 words);
    • students are required to read Booth, et. al., The Craft of Research (Chicago, 2003).

The Sociology Department understands writing as a crucial component of the education process.  Having revised its writing program in 2002, the department here reaffirms this commitment and further adjusts its program to meet the new curricular goals of the College and to comply with the criteria outlined by the Academic Writing Program's Advisory Board in February 2004.  As stated in the 2002 document, the “Department Faculty believe that writing is not only a constructive mechanism for more profound learning, but also a tool for the development of clear thinking and articulate speech.”  In light of the Academic Writing Program Advisory Board’s February 2004 document, the sociology department has revised its writing program in order to meet the new college curricular goals.  Department faculty remain committed to teaching writing throughout sociology courses and support the addition of oral and visual rhetoric to its considerations.  When honed, written, visual, and oral communication skills will improve student’s critical thinking skills, and ultimately make students more effective agents of change and renewal.

Rationale for the writing proposal
The department believes that a standardized writing program will be beneficial to the department and its students in the following ways:

  • Faculty will have a complete knowledge of the structure of the departmental writing program and will be better informed as to how individual courses are used to serve those ends/expectations and contribute to a sequencing of writing expectations at the department level. 
  • Faculty will have a clear sense of the types, length, and frequency of writing that sociology majors are doing in all the sociology courses, and therefore a better understanding of “reasonable” writing requirements.
  • Faculty will be aware of the integration of research fluency in the writing process.
  • Students will have a clearer sense of departmental writing expectations and research requirements
  • Students will follow a comparable progression of writing and research expectations within the major and will have an opportunity to increase writing competence through the program. 
  • Students will develop skills for writing and research that enhance effective communicating in further academic study or in public service.

I. Compliance with the Goals of the College Academic Writing Program.

Summary of Sociology Department Writing/Rhetoric Program

SOC 151
  • Book review
    • Number of pages: 5
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Peer review
  • Essay exams (x3)
    • Number of pages: 1
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Book review
    • Number of pages: 5 – 7
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Research project
    • Number of pages: 5 – 10
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 153
  • Interview paper
    • Number of pages: 8 – 10
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Essay exams (x2)
    • Number of pages: 8
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 210
  • Group research project
    • Number of pages: 5 – 7
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Short papers (x3)
    • Number of pages: 3
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Book review
    • Number of pages: 5 – 7
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Essay exams (x2)
    • Number of pages: 4
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 250
  • Journal entries (x6)
    • Number of pages: 10
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor comments
  • Test essays
    • Number of pages: 6
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Academic paper
    • Number of pages: 5 – 7
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 252
  • Reading summaries
    • Number of pages: 9 – 18
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Written comments
  • Group project
    • Number of pages: 10 – 15
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Written comments
  • Research project
    • Number of pages: 10 – 15
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Written comments with revisions
SOC 253
  • Case studies (x2)
    • Number of pages: 2 – 4 total
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Oral group presentations
    • Length: 15 minutes
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments; peer evaluation
  • Essay exam questions (x2)
    • Number of pages: 8
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Reading responses (x25)
    • Number of pages: 1/2 per article
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor comments
SOC 255
  • Test essays (x2)
    • Number of pages: 1
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Structured research report
    • Number of pages: 20
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 302
  • Literature review
    • Number of pages: 5
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Mass transit journal
    • Number of pages: 5
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Essay exams
    • Number of pages: 10
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Community project reflection
    • Number of pages: 6
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 303
  • Essay questions (x3)
    • Number of pages: 3
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Reading responses (x30)
    • Number of pages: 1 per article
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor comments
  • Research paper
    • Number of pages: 15
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor comments on drafts and final grade
SOC 304
  • Essay questions (x3)
    • Number of pages: 3
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Literature review
    • Number of pages: 8 – 10
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Book review
    • Number of pages: 5 – 6
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 306
  • Short papers (x3)
    • Number of pages: 3
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Ethnographic interview/theory integration paper
    • Number of pages: 8 – 10
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Essay exam questions (x2)
    • Number of pages: 4
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 308
  • Reflective writing
    • Number of pages: 13
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Book review
    • Number of pages: 4 – 6
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Final exam
    • Number of pages: 8 – 10
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Essay exam
    • Number of pages: 4
    • Location within semester: Beginning
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Report
    • Number of pages: 4
    • Location within semester: Middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Research/presentation
    • Number of pages: 6 – 8
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
SOC 311
  • Reading responses
    • Number of pages: 1 per reading
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Research project
    • Number of pages: 15
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback and grade
SOC 316
  • Weekly journal
    • Number of pages: 2 per week
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback (check or check-plus)
  • Literature review
    • Number of pages: 15
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor verbal feedback on annotations handed in during process; instructor feedback on final paper
SOC 317
  • Artifact assessment
    • Length: 5 pages; 5 – 8 minute oral presentation
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Thesis-driven research paper
    • Number of pages: 15
    • Location within semester: Middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor verbal feedback on annotations/draft; instructor feedback on final draft
SOC 318
  • Reading responses
    • Number of pages 1 per reading
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback
  • Research project
    • Number of pages: 10
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor feedback and grade
SOC 319
  • Essay questions (x3)
    • Number of pages: 4
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
  • Paper
    • Number of pages: 6
    • Location within semester: End
    • Feedback type: Instructor grade with comments
SOC 395
  • Integrative papers (x3)
    • Number of pages: 4 – 5
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Written feedback on final product
  • Weekly reflection papers
    • Number of pages: 2 – 3
    • Location within semester: Beginning/middle/end
    • Feedback type: Used for discussion in seminar
  • Perspectival paper/presentation
    • Length: 20 pages; 15 minute presentation
    • Location within semester: Checkpoints throughout the semester; due at end of semester
    • Feedback type: Brief written feedback at checkpoints; peer review of rough draft; input from class at presentation; written comments for instructor on final paper

II. Integration throughout the major curriculum.

151 -- In the introductory course, writing methodologies will build off of the knowledge gained from writing and research taught in English 101.  Further, informants/interview methodologies and ethnographic writing styles will be introduced. 

255 – In this course students are introduced to statistics and computer applications within the social sciences.  Students will be introduced to writing styles in empirically based research.

318 – The social theory course assumes a strong background in writing, and uses the semester to further develop literature based research methods through a lengthy, written theoretical paper. (See the “Research Objectives” at the end of this document)  In this course requirement the hope is that students will strengthen their ability to integrate theoretical orientations with real world issues.

320 – The social research course further develops the format of scholarly writing styles in both qualitative and quantitative research.  Students develop skills in literature reviews, as well as data collection and analysis.  Formal oral presentations are given to organizations involved in the research project. (See the “Research Objectives” at the end of this document)

395 - In the sociology capstone, students are provided with an opportunity to understand and analyze the implications of a Reformed worldview with the basic assumptions and concepts of the discipline of sociology. (See the “Research Objectives” at the end of this document)  In particular, the perspectival paper requires that students bring together these two large areas of inquiry.  This requirement is intentionally open-ended to allow students a wide berth in pursuing an area of concern that is of interest to them personally and/or professionally.  Students are required to present their findings through oral and written venues, building from what they have learned about writing in their previous coursework. 

III. Consideration of the role of departmental offerings in the core

The department has six courses in the core curriculum:  151 and 210 are placed within the Societal Structures in North America core category.  153 is in the Global and Historical core category.  Soc 250 is housed in the Persons and Community category, and 395 is in the Integrative category.  The frequency and diversity of rhetoric requirements in Sociology 151, 153 and 210 are well suited for students not majoring in sociology.  Sociology 250 has added a more discipline-based approach to rhetoric in sociology, but still maintains a diversity of writing assignments.  Sociology 395 reconsiders not only the core themes within the major but also requires written skills developed in students throughout the major.   

IV. Faculty Awareness and Development

  1. The Department’s Rhetoric Document will be incorporated into the faculty packet that is distributed to all new faculty.  The assigned mentor for the new faculty member will be responsible to review the document with the new faculty. 
  2. The Department’s Rhetoric document will be available for faculty and students on the department’s web site.
  3. New majors will be encouraged to refer to the department’s web site and review the rhetoric document.
  4. The department’s rhetoric liaison will be responsible for reminding faculty of their responsibilities regarding the Rhetoric Document, and in particular the requirement for adequate feedback and the need to save copies of student papers for department assessment.
  5. The department will review/assess the Rhetoric Document every five years. 
  6. The department will maintain a high profile of the Rhetoric program by using scheduled departmental development meetings to discuss rhetoric program. 
  7. The department’s rhetoric liaison will announce campus-wide development opportunities to the department. 

V. Assessment

A Rhetoric Committee will be formed with the rhetoric liaison as the chair of the committee as well as two additional department members.  The committee will assess the Department Rhetoric Program every five years. Every five years a written report will be prepared by the committee and presented to the department.  The report will have two aspects:

  1. Descriptive Assessment
    1. Results of alumni and senior exit survey questions regarding the writing program.  The senior exit questionnaire will also ask a series of open-ended questions about students’ experiences with writing and rhetoric related to specific assignments.  The goal of these questions will be to assess what assignments were most useful to students in learning to write in a discipline-specific manner.
    2. Results of a survey of department member’s compliance with and observations of the writing program.  The survey will include questions that consider changes in course content, and course pedagogy/assignments to the current campus rhetoric standards. 

  2. Outcome Assessment
    1. Committee review of selected assignments:  The committee will assess five freshman student writing assignments from 151. The students will be students likely to declare a sociology major.  The five students will be tracked through out the major and have writing examples collected from each required course in the major.  These sample portfolios will be used by the committee to determine whether student’s writing skills have improved in the course of the sociology major. 
    2. Grading rubrics will be composed and used for students in these assignments as well as used by the committee in determining improvement. 

  3. A rubric for oral presentations will be used by students in preparing oral presentations.  Professors who require oral presentations will be responsible to compose a brief assessment of student’s oral presentations based on their fulfillment of the requirements in the rubric.  These brief assessments will be collected by the rhetoric liaison. 

The Spanish Department is committed to the goals set out by the college’s Rhetoric Across the Curriculum program in concert with those of Information Literacy: to improve the quality and effectiveness of students’ participation in rhetorical activities in general; to enhance their ability to gain in knowledge, skill and virtue through rhetorical practice; and to make them familiar with the research skills and rhetorical practices that are suitable to given levels of engagement with the disciplines our department features.
The Spanish Department also affirms its commitment to using oral, written and visual rhetoric to foster language acquisition on many different levels, in concert with these goals. Therefore, incrementally, rhetorical projects that foster acquisition goals give way to assignments and activities that focus more sustainedly on objectives we share with other humanities departments. Nevertheless, given our necessary emphasis on language acquisition throughout the major, and the known efficacy of certain practices, this document showcases written and oral rhetoric over other modes, providing illustrative benchmarks for new faculty and students.

The following standards are laid out with the understanding that individual instructors may enhance them according to their judgement and pedagogical preferences. The challenge of helping individual students to grow must always be considered with this in mind: the multiple efficacies of rhetoric as a learning tool and the superior preparedness of the graduating student who has learned to use it well.

General Guidelines

The department’s Student Learning Outcomes Overview indicates that students will reach “appropriate levels in speaking, reading and writing Spanish,” and that they will gain those by engaging thoughtfully and ethically with the Hispanic World. Rhetorical practices in the department provide students with the opportunity to participate ever more creatively and dialogically with both language and knowledge, and the practices of information literacy that each level affords should keep pace with enhanced rhetorical strategies. To that end,

  1. All courses in the department feature rhetorical assignments that contribute significantly to final grades.
  2. All courses include a variety of exercises that enhance students’ general rhetorical growth on all levels. These include informal and formal writing activities and assignments, informal and formal oral activities and assignments, and intentional and integrated use of aural (hearing) and visual rhetoric.
  3. All courses endeavor to feature rhetorical strategies and evaluative tools that enhance student’s growth in knowledge and ethics, and engage their individual growth as human beings and vocational agents.
  4. Examinations include appropriate rhetorical components. Special attention is given to creating examinations which feature appropriately complex written rhetoric that progressively incorporates analytical and critical components.
  5. Professors (informally) consider throughout the semester whether their use of rhetorical strategies is effective and thorough, and make adjustments as necessary.
  6. Professors ensure that students understand the rationale and goals of the departmental RAC program.
  7. Rhetorical strategies and assessment activities build intentionally on those employed in prerequisite coursework.
  8. The department uses common assessment strategies at strategic points to evaluate the development of all students in critical areas.

Guidelines for Core Courses

101-102: In these basic courses, students practice both oral and written rhetoric. Beyond informal exercises, students participate in weekly communication groups and write at the paragraph level.

121-203: Beyond informal exercises, students participate in weekly communication groups, are given oral exams, and sometimes give presentations in Spanish. Students produce paragraph-length discourse. Formal writing assignments (three 250-400-word essays) feature rewrites with significant professorial feedback on content (see link for sample rubric). Aspects of oral and visual rhetoric are regularly featured to enhance linguistic and cultural knowledge.

Guidelines for On-campus 300-level Courses

301-302: All rhetorical exercises of these “bridge” courses, and especially writing, advance students from describing in the present and simple past tense to arguing, hypothesizing and developing and demonstrating good critical thinking in Spanish. The writing projects in 301 and 302 also prepare students for the rigorous “process” writing that they do in every advanced-level class in the Spanish department. Since students are readying themselves to produce written rhetoric that is like what they do in humanities courses in English, formal writing assignments in 301 and 302 are designed to teach students how to write several different types of narrative prose. Students write three to five two-page compositions per semester, some of which contain a peer evaluation component and a professorial evaluation of the first and second drafts. Instructor feedback for both drafts includes commentary on content, organization, expression and grammar, and students learn to contribute interesting and culturally relevant information effectively and logically using the writing style in question. Informal written assignments include reflection papers, which allow students to express themselves more personally in the target language.  Aside from in-class work, oral production includes up to one-hour weekly oral communication groups with native speakers. Students demonstrate their oral ability in up to two exams each semester. Aspects of visual and oral rhetoric are regularly featured to enhance language and cultural knowledge.

308-309: These courses advance both students’ communication skills and the level of critical expression that they are able to sustain in Spanish.  Assignments are thus longer and more complex than in 301 and 302, and prepare students for even longer and more complex rhetorical engagement in our most advanced classes. Whereas rhetoric is used more or less equally as a means of language acquisition and gaining in cultural competency in the lower levels, in 308 and 309 the emphasis is more on acquiring knowledge and improving more advanced rhetorical skills within the context of ethical information sharing. Analysis of visual rhetoric can appear on exams or be featured in papers. Oral rhetoric exercises include a formal oral presentation. Feedback on the oral presentation relates to language use, content, critical analysis and the connections students make with themes and content present in the rest of the course. Written rhetoric forms a more significant part of the class. Students regularly submit homework comprising short-paragraph responses; more formal written assignments include essay-length answers on exams. A final 5 to7-page written assignment marks the most formal written assignment. Students complete this assignment in stages, submitting first a proposal, then a revised proposal and annotated bibliography followed by a first and second version of the paper itself.  This assignment allows students to learn the process of academic writing in the fields of culture, history and literature, with frequent professorial feedback and suggestions. Additionally, it gives them the opportunity to research and write a critical piece on an aspect of history or literature using both primary and secondary sources, and prepares them for similar work in more advanced courses in the department.

310: This course features informal exercises and oral and visual rhetoric in similar ways to 308 and 309.  Likewise, writing projects are of similar length and have similar motivations. Students in 310 complete observation and reflection journals, write summaries and reviews of scholarly articles, and prepare a final research project which requires an oral interview with a native Spanish speaker as well as traditional academic research.

340-341: Although the focus is linguistics, these courses feature informal exercises and oral and written rhetoric in similar ways to 308-310. In 340, students must complete two to three linguistic analyses, which include essay-format responses. Spanish 341 students write a research paper, which requires them to engage experimental studies in Spanish linguistics, review previous research, and provide their own original results.

370s: These topics courses are interdisciplinary in nature, but usually feature a linguistics or humanities orientation. Rhetorically, they build on appropriate intermediate courses. Regardless of focus, they all aim to include: longer and more frequent formal oral work, regular informal writing assignments, and a longer final research paper, than 308-341. Through oral and written discourse, students are expected to demonstrate sophisticated levels of information literacy, having learned to use primary and secondary sources intelligently and ethically, and having learned how to contribute their own knowledge to a dialogue.

395: The capstone course is the most rhetorically rigorous class in the major. It features the same kinds of rhetorical activities and assignments as the 370 classes do, but with more frequent formal oral assignments and two major writing assignments. Both of these feature more analytically rigorous work and original thought, and at least one requires original research. As students prepare themselves in this course to engage rhetorically in their professions and post-collegiate life, the rhetorical work takes on necessarily self-reflective and vocational considerations, but in a way that interweaves advanced critical thinking skills and sophisticated expression of topics involving both knowledge and Christian ethics.

Faculty Development and Awareness

The following measures will be maintained or implemented:

  1. The department chair and/or new-faculty mentor will ensure that newly hired members of the department become versed in its writing policies and expectations.
  2. All members of the department will continue to show commitment to our common goals, adapting when necessary.
  3. Faculty will continue to discuss the implementation of the RAC program at given levels, and course coordinators will ensure consistency, for example through shared rubrics and discussion of strategies and assignments.
  4. Assigned members of the department will oversee the development of departmental participation in the Information Literacy across the Curriculum program and ensure its development within RAC.
  5. In line with ILAC goals, the Spanish Department will continue to build its connections with library liaisons, and when appropriate to solicit their help in teaching information literacy to students.


The department will continue with the practices outlined above, improving upon them when necessary. Additionally, this year, the departmental Curriculum Committee consider the more intentional inclusion of RAC (and ILAC) goals in course and program SLOs, and from there in assignment descriptions and evaluative rubrics.  

Updated December 2015. 

Speech Pathology & Audiology (SPAUD)

Speech pathologists and audiologists are constantly communicating with clients, caregivers, and other health professionals, but our SPAUD students generally enter the department with little to no experience of the types of communication they will be required to employ in their profession. As evidence-based practice has become increasingly emphasized in our disciplines, students must also become adept at quickly accessing relevant research articles and assessing them for relevance and quality. One advantage of our curriculum is that most of our students take the same courses in a standard progression; thus, we can plan a rhetoric and information literacy program that gradually builds their rhetorical and research skills.

I. Appropriate Goals for Rhetoric Across the Curriculum

Frequency and Variety

In our freshmen and sophomore classes, we require a variety of rhetorical products, including brochures, lab reports, essay questions on tests, scientific article summaries, informal reflections, research papers, and assignments which introduce them to the conventions and style of scientific writing. During these years, we work at introducing students to scientific writing by focusing on particularly elements of APA-formatted articles in different classes and by asking students to analyze the rhetoric of scientific articles.
In our junior-level classes, students become much more engaged with understanding how knowledge is created in our discipline, and they use evidence they gather themselves to write papers in APA format. They also produce more informal writing in response to readings and give at least one oral presentation. In SPAUD 370 (Introduction to Clinical Practicum), our students begin producing many of the descriptive and evaluative reports that will be a major aspect of their clinical work.

During their fourth and fifth (graduate) years, both the frequency and variety of rhetoric they produce and consume increase. Students write research proposals, critiques of scientific studies, evaluation reports and reflective papers on their own process of evaluation, evaluation of clinical tests and interventions, case study reports, and essays relating to disability. They also write short “writing to learn” responses in classes on a regular basis as they learn to describe a client with conventional terminology. Students also give regular oral presentations of case studies or evaluative reports.

Feedback and Revision

We use both formative and summative assessment in our courses. For example, in phonetics lab, students have to read a number of scientific articles and answer questions about both the content and the style of writing. They particularly focus on the methods section of these articles in the hopes that they will use this knowledge in writing their formal language analysis at the end of the semester. Most professors also allow students to hand in drafts of their paper (well ahead of the due date) if they want feedback for revision. We also encourage all professors to use a rubric modeled on the one in the Appendix so that students can recognize what the department deems to be excellent writing.

As a department, we plan to expand students’ opportunities to revise their written work. As mentioned before, many of us allow students to hand in an early draft of large paper assignments, but few students take advantage of this opportunity. Consequently, our SPAUD 311 Child Language Development class now requires all students to revise their initial paper in response to the professor’s comments.

II. Integration throughout the major curriculum

Since SPAUD students generally proceed through our classes in a regular order, we have planned a clear scaffolding of knowledge and skills in our freshmen and sophomore courses that our later classes can build on. In general, the rhetoric assignments of the undergraduate classes focus on introducing students to the reading and writing of scientific articles and APA writing style. Their graduate classes have a greater variety of many small “writing to learn” assignments, informal and formal oral presentations, and longer research proposals.

The following table summarizes the goals that are and will be used to plan and assess our rhetoric program.

Freshman orientation
  • Learning objectives: Instruct students to buy APA manual
SPAUD 101: Intro to SPAUD
  • Learning objectives: Use writing to clarify thoughts in class
  • Strategies: 1-minute quick writes
SPAUD 210: Anatomy and Physiology
  • Learning objectives: Learn about different genres of writing about disorders (peer-reviewed journal, magazine or newspaper article, Wikipedia article, authoritative website, and a commercial website); students with great mechanical difficulties in their writing will be identified and a graduate student will work with them in the fall of their sophomore year
  • Strategies: Brochure comparing genres of online writing about a particular disorder
SPAUD 216: Phonetics
  • Learning objectives: Write a methods section; use linguistic evidence
  • Strategies: Two lab assignments in which they read a scientific article and analyze the methods section rhetorically; a formal paper analyzing the language and English dialect of a non-native speaker
SPAUD 217: Speech Science
  • Learning objectives: Read current research articles; revision of writing; summarize scientific articles
  • Strategies: Draft and final summary of a current article in speech science; reflection paper on God’s design for human speech
SPAUD 218: Hearing Science
  • Learning objectives: Read current research articles; summarize and compare scientific articles
  • Strategies: Comparison of two current hearing-science articles on selected topic
SPAUD 311: Child Language Development
  • Learning objectives: Write a scientific article based on own research; write a literature review; research skills; present data from language analysis written in a “Results” format; oral presentation of data
  • Strategies: Scientific article analyzing linguistic data in two drafts; revision after instructor feedback; language sample analysis written up as Results section and presented to class orally with visual aids; “writing to learn” in class
SPAUD 343: Neuroscience
  • Learning objectives: Use oral rhetoric to explain disorder
  • Strategies: Oral presentation and paper
SPAUD 344: Audiology
  • Learning objectives: Think critically and write about disability
  • Strategies: “Living with hearing loss” experience and paper
SPAUD 345: Aural Rehabilitation
  • Learning objectives: Write a literature review; research skills
  • Strategies: Long research paper
SPAUD 370: Intro to Clinical Practicum
  • Learning objectives: Learn to write SOAP notes; learn to write evaluation reports
  • Strategies: Many short “writing to learn” assignments in class and as homework
SPAUD 384: Speech Sound Disorders
  • Learning objectives: Learn to write assessment report; critical Thinking
  • Strategies: Case study assessment report; reflective essay on language and dialect variation
SPAUD 385: Language Disorders
  • Learning objectives: Learn to write assessment report; learn to produce a handout for a therapy approach
  • Strategies: Case study and therapy strategy presentation
SPAUD 501: Diagnostics
  • Learning objectives: Critical thinking
  • Strategies: Reflective paper on disability; short “writing to learn” assignments in class
SPAUD 503: Language Disorders I
  • Learning objectives: Research skills; learn to critique studies on interventions
  • Strategies: Summary and critique of study on language intervention technique
SPAUD 506: Aphasia
  • Learning objectives: Critical thinking; revise writing; learn to evaluate intervention techniques through research and practical experience; oral presentation skills
  • Strategies: Draft and final version of faith and inclusion essay; intervention technique: paper, handout, and presentation; weekly 10-minute “writing to learn” in response to readings; “writing to learn” in class
SPAUD 504: Language Disorders II
  • Learning objectives: Research skills; learn to summarize articles and critique them; learn to write evaluation reports; critical thinking about process
  • Strategies: Scientific article summary and critique; evaluation report and reflective paper that describes decision making and process of evaluation; intervention portfolio; “writing to learn” in class
SPAUD 505: Research Methods
  • Learning objectives: Write a literature review; write a formal research proposal; research skills; development of research question; present research proposals formally
  • Strategies: Annotated bibliography; research proposal (2 drafts); revision after instructor feedback; formal oral presentation of their research proposal
SPAUD 522: Neurocognitive Disorders
  • Learning objectives: Critical thinking
  • Strategies: Essay reflection on personal account of traumatic brain injury
SPAUD 523: Dysphagia
  • Learning objectives: Oral presentations of case studies in groups; writing detailed descriptions of therapy activities
  • Strategies: Group presentation of oral case study; short writing assignments in response to readings; written description of therapy activities including materials, procedures, and goals
SPAUD 599: Critical Reflections in SPAUD
  • Learning objectives: Critical thinking
  • Strategies: Weekly journals about clinic experience; weekly in-class writing responses to readings; long research paper; short oral presentation
SPAUD 541: Clinical Practicum
  • Learning objectives: Critical thinking about integration of faith and work
  • Strategies: Essay on demonstrating their faith in their externships and future career
SPAUD 508: Speech Sound Disorders
  • Learning objectives: Research skills: finding evidence for therapy intervention; evaluate evidence for therapy interventions
  • Strategies: Presentation and summary of evidence-based intervention approach
SPAUD 510: Fluency Disorders
  • Strategies: No writing or speaking assignment
SPAUD 520: Motor Speech Disorders
  • Learning objectives: Oral presentations of case studies in groups; write detailed evaluations of motor speech tests
  • Strategies: Group presentation of oral case study; short writing assignments in response to readings; written description and evaluation of motor speech tests; “writing to learn” in class
SPAUD 521: Voice
  • Learning objectives: Oral presentations of case studies in groups; write detailed evaluations of motor speech tests; write useful summaries of articles to present to peers working with client
  • Strategies: Group presentation of oral case study; short writing assignments in response to readings; summarize an article to present to clinical peers; “writing to learn” in class
SPAUD 512: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Learning objectives: Oral presentations in groups
  • Strategies: Oral presentations of case studies in groups
SPAUD 524: Cleft and Craniofacial Disorders
  • Learning objectives: Research skills: finding evidence for therapy intervention; evaluate evidence for therapy interventions
  • Strategies: Presentation and summary of evidence-based intervention approach

III. Faculty awareness and development

The SPAUD Department will make this document available to students and faculty on its departmental website. All faculty will be encouraged to review this document before designing syllabi and preparing assignments.

IV. Assessment

The SPAUD Department will set aside one departmental meeting each year to discuss our rhetoric program and evaluate its effectiveness. We will also look at the section of our general department assessment survey that asks alumni about how well they were prepared for writing in their career.

Revised February 2016.