FASW FAQ

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Proposing a W Course in FAS

What is a W course at SFU?

A W course is a Writing-Intensive course that adheres to five specific criteria, and which has been approved by SFU's Program Undergraduate Curriculum Chairs. 


The five criteria are as follows:

  1. Students have opportunities to use writing as a way of learning the content of the course and are taught to write in the forms and for the purposes that are typical of the disciplines and/or professions, in ways that are clearly distinguished from remedial and foundational skills courses.
  2. Examples of writing within the disciplines are used as a means of instruction about typical structures, modes of reasoning, styles of address, and the use of technical language and of evidence.
  3. Students receive appropriate feedback and response to their writing that is based on explicit criteria and is directed at improving the quality of their writing.
  4. Revision is built into the process of writing for formal assignments, usually in terms of revisions of the same paper, or alternatively, in revisions accomplished through successive similar assignments.
  5. At least half the course grade is based on written work for which students receive feedback.


There is more specific information about each of the 5 criteria on the SFU website at http://www.sfu.ca/ugcr/files/Criteria_Explanation_Nov04.html

How do I make my course a W course?

W-designated courses must be approved by the University Curriculum Office. All designation requests must have both departmental and Faculty approval before being considered.

To request a new W course, or to modify a current course to include a W-designation, you must complete and submit a proposal.



What do I need to complete a proposal?

You need:

  • a course description
  • evidence that your course will meet the 5 W criteria
  • a course syllabus, including assignment breakdown
  • a sample activity or assignment
  • a marking scheme or grading rubric for the sample assignment
  • a completed course proposal form


Here are some sample W course proposals that were approved:


How can the FAS W Resource Coordinator help me?

Chantal Gibson, FAS W Resource Coordinator, can help you to:

  • understand the requirements of a designated W course at SFU
  • prepare and submit your W course proposal
  • identify areas in your current course where you already use writing-intensive activities
  • identify opportunities to incorporate writing-intensive activities
  • write and submit your W course proposal
  • guide TAs in marking and providing feedback on writing assignments (through workshops and/or resources)
  • access resources to help you with your course planning, design, and teaching


Chantal can be reached at cgibsonb@sfu.ca or 778.782.7503.


If you belong to another Faculty at SFU, please consult your Faculty's Writing Coordinator.