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This library guide is designed for Xavier faculty who are teaching a course designated as a Writing Flag course or who are interested in designing such a course.


This library guide offers resources about writing across the curriculum (WAC) and about writing in the disciplines (WID) for Xavier faculty who are teaching a Writing Flag course or preparing to submit the proposal.  Each of the three primary requirements for the Writing Flag  is outlined in more detail below.  Following the details about the requirements are links to web pages, videos, handouts, and other resources that will help faculty to understand and to meet the requirements of the Writing Flag.  Check back for additional material as we will continue to update the guide regularly. 

The current core requires students to complete one course with the Writing Flag to graduate.  The course carries the flag, and any flagged course will satisfy the core requirement.  Because core requirements do not specify number of hours for a Writing Flag course, we welcome proposals from all courses (including laboratory, internship, or practicum/clinical courses) that meet the requirements.

Direct questions to any member of the Writing Flag Committee:

Wendy Maxian--Chair (COMM), Steve Mills (CHEM), Stacey Raj (PSYC), Renea Frey (ENGL), Amy Whipple (HIST), Mia Rivolta (FINC)


Flag Requirement #1: Writing must be a substantial part of the course and its desired outcomes, with this component fully explained on the syllabus.

  • Student Learning Outcomes and/or goals for the course should directly address the development and practice of student writing.
  • Substantial time should be devoted to teaching the skill of writing. This might include direct instruction, online tutorials or modules, peer-review activities, class discussion about writing, and so forth.
  • Instructors of writing-intensive courses should use writing as a means of thinking, exploring and learning, and not solely as a means of assessment.  

Flag Requirement #2: Writing instruction and writing assignments should be integral to the course and should take place throughout the semester. Instruction should include attention to the process of writing as well as to the finished product.

  • Students should receive instructions in the conventions or expectations of the discipline, including matters of style, documentation, format, and research methods, and assessment should be appropriate to these expectations.
  • Students must receive ongoing and meaningful feedback on their writing, whether through instructor comments on rough or final drafts, via one-on-one conferences, or through other means.
  • At least one assignment should require revision, although revision of all work is strongly recommended. Depending on the discipline, instructors might give feedback on one document with the understanding that students will use this feedback to improve other, similar documents (such as a series of lab reports). Instructors proposing a Writing Flag course should explain how the requirement of revision will be met in the course.
  • This requirement may not be fulfilled solely through one long paper assignment, although it may be fulfilled if that long paper is divided into parts or scaffolded over the semester (proposal, outline, abstract, rough draft, etc.).

Flag Requirement #3: Writing must be a substantial part of the student's course grade, ideally at least 30% of the grade.

  • Each student should generate at least 15 pages of double-spaced writing (or roughly 3,750 words) and ideally 20 pages, including informal writing (eg., rough drafts, in-class writing to generate discussion, peer-review responses) as well as finished, formal writing.
    • This requirement takes into account that the definition of "substantial" writing varies among disciplines. A math paper, for example, may require fewer words, and more figures, than a literature paper.
    • Proposals for the Writing Flag should indicate in the cover letter how the amount and type of writing in the course leads to students completing a substantial amount of writing.
  • Writing criteria for assignments should be clearly stated (eg., on syllabus, on specific assignments, via grading rubric). Instructors might also provide samples or models of papers relevant to the assignment/discipline that can be the subject of class discussion.
  • Assessment of writing should not focus solely on grammar and correctness of the finished product but rather should consider content and rhetorical elements (such as purpose and audience of the assignment) as well.
  • In most cases, in-class essay exams are considered writing for correctness/assessment, and should not be counted toward the 30% requirement listed above.

Additional Recommendations for a Writing Flag Course

  • Writing Flag courses should typically be at the intermediate level (i.e., 200-level or 300-level) and ideally preceding a Capstone course; however, exceptions may be made based on the justification presented in the proposal.  Given early instruction in the process and discursive methodology of their discipline, students will have more meaningful opportunities to practice those processes prior to and during their capstone course.  Requests for flags for capstone courses must include a brief explanation of why no non-capstone courses can satisfy the requirements in the major.  ENGL 101 and ENGL 115 are not eligible as Writing Flag courses because they fulfill the core curriculum writing requirement; other writing courses are eligible for the flag.
  • Writing Flag courses should ideally be limited to 20 students to ensure adequate writing instruction as outlined elsewhere in this document.  Faculty requesting the flag for a course of more than 20 students must explicitly describe how they will give timely, substantive feedback to each student.
  • The course syllabus should explain the justification for the Writing Flag for the course, the writing-specific goals of the course, how those goals will be met during the course (e.g., revisions, peer-reviews, scaffolded assignments), and include a draft schedule of writing assignments.
  • In addition to formal and/or graded assignments, informal and/or ungraded assignments can be useful in developing writing skills.  Examples include journaling, free writing, developing concept maps, and small group exercises. 
  • A writing portfolio may be helpful documentation for students to review their writing progress, to determine patterns of writing strengths and weaknesses, and to serve as a repository for peer or instructor reviews, or perhaps periodic reflection by students on their writing.
  • Instructors should have at least one writing-focused individual consultation with each student.
  • Instructors are strongly encouraged to attend CTE writing-related events and workshops as well as other professional development opportunities that may enhance writing instruction.

Policy on retroactive credit

The Writing Flag committee discourages requests for the flag to be applied to courses that are already completed.  The reasons for this are threefold.

 1. We believe that the Writing Flag should be awarded to courses where the process of writing and the discursive methodology of the discipline are intentionally included in course design and where assignments are chosen to fulfill specific SLOs.

2. The committee is uncomfortable awarding credit after the fact because we cannot certify that the course as taught previously satisfied the requirements.

3. The committee feels that awarding retroactive credit opens a door that would allow students/advisors to seek credits for courses taught many years past.  There is no precedent for flag committees at Xavier to award flags retroactively.

Nevertheless, the committee recognizes that there are cases where exceptions are warranted.  In these cases, faculty teaching the course can apply for retroactive flag credit by describing the course, providing documentation showing that the course met all of the requirements for the Writing Flag, and explaining the circumstances that necessitate the exception.  This document should be approved by the department chair or program director and sent directly to the chair of the Writing Flag committee.  The chair will circulate the application to the members of the committee, and they will come to a decision.  Faculty applying for retroactive credit should be aware that retroactive credits will only be awarded in rare cases, and the decision is at the committees discretion only.