University Guidelines and Expectations

The following are Fresno State’s guidelines for using writing in GE and W courses. These are minimum guidelines, and they are the starting point by which courses are reviewed. They do not, however, express pedagogical best practices. The guidelines simply give a minimum requirement for faculty to reference when designing the writing component in their courses.

GE Courses

The General Catalogue offers the following basic guidelines for writing in GE courses, which can also be found in the online General Catalogue:

The university's General Education Program requires that almost all courses in the program have substantial iterative writing assignments.

All Foundation courses except those in Quantitative Methods (B4) and all Breadth courses will require iterative writing assignments totaling at least 1,000 words.

All upper-division courses (IB, IC, ID, and MI) will require iterative writing assignments totaling at least 2,000 words.

A list of Foundation, Breadth, Integration, and Multicultural/International courses can also be found on the online General Catalogue.

W Courses

The Academic Policy Manual offers the following guidelines for W courses:

  1. The W course should be grounded in writing pedagogy. Subject area content (i.e. Anthropology and Interpretation, or Business and Ethics) provides a framework for the class so students and instructors can engage in academic conversations as a means of performing academic literacy.
  2. Students will write a minimum of 5000 words total in at least 5 different writing tasks. A minimum of two assignments will require multiple drafts in which the student participates in writing workshops.
  3. The W course will require one writing textbook or equivalent that features strategies for researching, planning, organizing, drafting, revising, and editing (e.g. The Penguin Handbook, by Lester Faigley: Pearson/Longman, ISBN 0 536 45587 2). The text should support student understanding of writing as a process of decision-making, with particular attention to genre conventions specific to the subject area.
  4. Faculty will provide multiple forms of feedback to students about their writing. Research in writing indicates rubrics, teacher revision demonstrations, and student-teacher conferences are among the most successful methods of feedback. Student writing will be returned in a timely manner.
  5. The instructor’s criteria for evaluating student writing will be explicitly articulated. Assessment in the writing course should focus on both substance and form, validating students’ use of substantive elements like coherence, argument, explanation, analysis, interpretation, complexity of thought, and effective use of information as well as conventions of grammar and usage.
  6. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn W course credit.
  7. Students must complete the lower division writing requirement before they enroll in a W course. Additionally, students should complete at least 56 units prior to enrolling in a W course.
  8. Following C4 guidelines, enrollment in each W course will be limited to 25 students per section.