Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) always focuses on faculty and student support. Such support takes years to develop. The three historical phases below show how WAC at NIU has continued to help you and your students.
1989-1999: Getting Started
In 1989-1990, NIU secured state funding to start WAC support. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the English department hired a WAC coordinator to open a small Writing Center in Reavis Hall. During this period:
- Funding began for faculty workshops and retreats.
- Faculty applied for small grants to initiate WAC projects.
- A small cadre of English teaching assistants helped support WAC in various departments and three colleges.
- WAC distributed a newsletter and designed a website to provide faculty with tips for integrating meaningful writing activities in their classes.
- About 50 faculty formed a loose network to exchange ideas about teaching WAC.
- The Writing Center provided feedback to around 300 student writers annually.
1999-2009: Building the Program
In 1999, faculty and students wanted more. WAC leadership worked on establishing a University Writing Center (UWC) to serve all of NIU. WAC started to evolve.
- WAC asked representative faculty from all seven colleges to form an Advisory Committee.
- WAC did a study on writing at NIU to request a consultant-evaluator visit from the national Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA).
- The CWPA consultant-evaluators prompted NIU to ask the Illinois Board of Higher Education. (IBHE) for funding to establish and operate a UWC and develop WAC.
- The UWC opened in 2002.
- The Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Design (FDID) helped WAC expand faculty workshops.
- The School of Nursing (SON) obtained a $3,000 WAC grant to develop portfolio assessment.
- Assessment Services set up the University Writing Project to help other faculty and departments assess student writing.
- WAC joined First-Year Composition (FYC) in the Inter/National Coalition on Electronic Portfolio Research (NCEPR) to develop a baseline e-portfolio in FYC.
- Federal and IBHE grants enabled Rockford public high school teachers to enroll in NIU courses on teaching WAC.
- By 2005, around 650 faculty integrated writing in courses, 2,000-3,000 student writers received feedback and 500 FYC students attended class in the UWC's high-tech classroom annually.
- Faculty began to publish research on the impact of WAC in degree programs and the effects of writing-to-learn in secondary grades.
2009-Present: Curricular Change
A campus-wide Baccalaureate Review led NIU to call for quality-enhancement projects in the curriculum. WAC and the UWC responded to faculty's, students', parents' and stakeholders' concerns about writing.
- WAC and UWC submitted a proposal to NIU's Strategic Initiative to increase UWC staffing and enhance curricular support for faculty who taught WAC.
- WAC recruited faculty feedback to design a version of the Association of American Colleges and University's VALUE rubric on writing.
- The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and the University Writing Project funded 41 faculty to participate in a three-year project, using the adapted rubric to assess WAC outcomes.
- WAC joined faculty on the Task Force on Progressive Learning in Undergraduate Studies (PLUS) as a consultant.
- WAC and FYC collaborated on the PLUS Task Force's request to incorporate WAC into composition courses to ease students' transitions into writing in their majors.
- WAC and the UWC submitted a proposal to the PLUS Task Force to support better funding of the UWC and establish an upper-division baccalaureate writing requirement.
- Faculty in NIU's colleges accepted the proposal.
- WAC has continued to collaborate with the FDID to meet faculty requests for workshops on developing writing-infused courses that satisfy the writing requirement.