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Core Requirements

Writing Program

 

Core Commitment to Writing

With the inception of the Millsaps Core Curriculum, the Millsaps faculty charged the Core Council with approving core courses that "are intended to foster development of the general abilities of a liberally educated person." One specified core ability was "the ability to express one's thoughts and feelings coherently and persuasively through written. . . communication." To make certain that students develop their writing ability, the Core Council urges that all faculty teaching in the core assign writing to their students in all core courses. As a guide to the faculty, the Core Council has established the following requirements and guidelines for writing in core courses.

 

Core Writing Requirements

1. REQUIREMENTS FOR WRITING IN CORE 1

IDST 1000: Introduction to Thinking and Writing

IDST 1000 is the foundation course for the development of writing skills. Each section should require students to:

  • write 10,000 words (approximately 40 typed pages), of which 3,500 words (14-15 typed pages) will be carefully revised and edited. This is three pages of writing formally or informally every week.
  • have at least five writing assignments.
  • begin their writing proficiency portfolio with a minimum of four pieces of writing from IDST 1000, including their self-assessment paper and a paper using documentation.

2. REQUIREMENTS FOR WRITING IN CORE 2-5 TOPICS COURSES

Core Topics courses provide our students with instruction in writing that complements and builds on the work in IDST 1000. Core 2-5 courses will require students to:

  • write 5,000 words (approximately 20 typed pages), of which 1,500-2,500 words (7-10 typed pages) will consist of a paper or a series of papers and will be carefully revised, edited and documented where appropriate. This is about a page and a half of writing formally and informally every week. Revision is an important element of writing in Core Topics courses. However, it is equally important to teach students to revise on their own as a part of the process rather than to depend on the teacher's response to every assignment. Therefore, the Core Council requires the following: In Core 2 and 3, the revision of at least one significant writing assignment must be supervised by the instructor. In Core 4 and 5 students will begin to learn to revise on their own. To ensure that careful revision is taking place, instructors will collect evidence of revision (notes, drafts, peer reviews, etc.) with the finished paper.
  • have at least 4 different writing assignments. The informal writing may include a journal, daily response papers, and other such writing. The formal writing may be a paper or spread over several assignments. Students will develop library skills and teachers will teach proper documentation of sources in all Core classes, but only in Core 3 is a formal research paper (from 7-10 pages) required.
  • write one paper in Core 3 in their freshman year for the Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Core 3 teachers will flag, on their syllabi, the piece of writing which they will assess for the portfolio. Usually this will be the inquiry/research paper, which all Core 3 courses are required to include.
  • request assessment for papers written in Core 4 and 5, if they wish to add such papers to their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers of Core 4 and 5 will flag, on their syllabi, the piece of writing which they willing for the writing portfolio.

See Part 11 of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including discussion of revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of writing assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

3. WRITING IN HERITAGE

Heritage has comparable requirements for writing as do the Core 2-5 courses. Heritage will require its students each semester to:

  • write 7,500 words (approximately 30 typed pages) each semester. In the second semester 1,500-2,500 words (7-10 typed pages) of these 7500 words will be carefully revised, edited and documented. This is about two pages of writing formally and informally every week.
  • have at least 4 different writing assignments. The informal writing may include a journal, daily response papers and other such writing. The formal writing may be one paper or spread over several assignments.
  • submit one paper from the second semester of the course for the Writing Proficiency Portfolio. The Heritage staff will flag, on the Heritage syllabus, the piece of writing they will assess for the Writing Portfolio. Usually this will be the inquiry/research paper that all second semester freshmen are required to write.

See Part II of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including a discussion of revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of writing assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

4. WRITING IN CORE 6

Core 6 courses in the social and behavioral sciences play an important part in the development of writing skills. Core 6 courses should require their students to:

  • write 3750 - 5,000 words, approximately 15-20 pages, of which 1,500-2,500 words (7-10 typed pages) will consist of a paper or a series of papers and will be carefully revised, edited and documented where appropriate. This is about a page of writing formally and informally every week. Revision will be a part of writing in Core 6 courses.
  • have at least 3 different writing assignments. The informal writing may include a journal, daily response papers and other such writing. The formal writing may be one paper or several papers. A research paper is not mandated.
  • request assessment for a paper written in Core 6, if they wish to add such a paper to their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers of Core 6 courses will flag, on their syllabi, the piece of writing they will assess for the Writing Portfolio.

See Part II of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including a discussion on revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

5. WRITING IN CORE 7, 8 and 9

These courses in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science also have the responsibility to foster the development of students' writing ability. But the writing should be appropriate to the course material and the discipline. Although Core 8 courses are encouraged to include writing in their courses, only Core 7 and Core 9 courses are required to do so. Teachers of Core 7 and Core 9 courses will require their students to:

  • write 2,500-3,750 words (approximately 10-15 typed pages). This is less than a page of writing every week.
  • have a variety of writing assignments that include revisions where appropriate. Such assignments may include analytical essays, laboratory or others reports, case studies, surveys of research, explanations of problem solving, one-minute essays or other timed, in-class writing, research journals, essays from examinations and others.
  • Additionally, students may request assessment for a paper in Core 7 or 9 (or Core 8 if an appropriate assignment is included in the professor's planned assignments for the course) if they wish to add such a paper to their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers of Core 7,8, or 9 courses will indicate on their syllabi, the piece of writing that is available and suitable for assessment for the Writing Proficiency Portfolio.
  • revise or expand one selected piece of writing, if the students wish to submit writing from the course for their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers will flag, on their syllabi, which piece of writing they will assess for the Writing Portfolio.

See Part II of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including discussion on revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of writing assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

6. WRITING IN CORE 10

Students will generally have completed their core and their writing proficiency requirements in their sophomore year. Passing the proficiency requirements is an indication that students have reached minimal levels of writing proficiency at the lower division level. Research, however, indicates that students can easily regress unless they are challenged to continue writing at more advanced levels as they progress in their majors. Each department will, of course, decide how they will ensure the continued growth of their students' skills. The writing mandated in the Core 10 course merely provides a "capstone" experience to core and departmental writing requirements.

All Core 10 courses must include a reflective paper of at least five pages. It need not be a research paper, but the assignment will draw upon students' critical thinking skills, that is, their ability to think in complex ways, to bring multiple perspectives to bear upon an issue, and to make well reasoned judgments. Other writing assignments are left to the discretion of the teacher.

A student who double-majors may be required to write two reflective-paper assignments. This will happen if the reflective papers assigned in the Senior Seminars of both majors are also a requirement of each major. However, to satisfy the Core 10 requirement, a student need only write one reflective paper.

Noting a need for more uniformity in the required reflective paper, the Core Council has adopted the following suggested writing assignment. It strongly recommends that Core 10 faculty use this assignment, but realizes that specific course considerations may not allow the use of this assignment in certain situations.

Writing portfolios will be returned to all students enrolled in Core 10 courses as a help for students reflecting back on the totality of their liberal arts education. The Core Council also asks that all reflective papers be submitted to its office where they may be used in the future as part of a comprehensive assessment of the College core curriculum.

Suggested Core 10 Reflective Paper Assignment:

This paper should be based on thoughtful, evaluative reflection of your experience at Millsaps College. Focus your attention on the specific texts you have read, courses you have taken, the academic challenges you have confronted, the social experiences that left a deep impression on you, the professors who taught you and perhaps influenced you in some way, the adventures you have undertaken. What were your hopes and expectations before you came to Millsaps? Have these hopes and expectations been realized, changed? If so, how? In what way? Has your work in the (Physics, English, etc.) major complemented your Millsaps Core coursework and has it aided you in achieving your hopes and expectations on a more personal level? Do you believe that you have obtained a good liberal arts education at Millsaps College with its emphasis on specific liberal arts abilities? How? Why? Do you feel prepared to move on to the next phase of your life? You may find it helpful to consider readings about the value of the liberal arts introduced to you in Core 1 or other Core courses.

Your paper will be evaluated in the depth and specificity of your analysis as well as on the clarity, creativity and organization of your prose. Length: Five pages or more. Please hand in three copies.

Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award

The Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award will be given each spring for the best Reflective Paper written to satisfy the Core 10 requirement during the academic year. The Award is intended to encourage students to reflect on the value of their education in the liberal arts.

The Laney Award will be presented at Commencement and will carry a substantial cash prize. Submitted papers will be reviewed by a faculty panel to determine the best paper. The best paper along with other selected papers from those submitted will be published annually. These papers will be given to every incoming freshman the following fall, and the best paper (and perhaps other selections) will be required reading.

Deadline: Any student may submit his or her Core 10 reflective paper to the Core office in order to be considered for this award. A late-April date will be set each year.

Length: The usual expectation is that Core 10 papers will be from 4-5 pages. For the purposes of this award, papers may not exceed 8 typed, double-spaced pages.

Judging: Papers will be reviewed anonymously by a committee of four faculty members, including the Writing Director (who will chair the committee) and one faculty member from each division of the College (appointed by the Dean of the College).

Disposition of Papers: In addition to the winning paper, the top ten or twelve papers will be printed and collected each year for the next freshman class to read. The papers will also be published on the College Web site so that everyone has access to them.

Criteria: In judging papers, the committee will consider the quality of thought and expression, as well as the writer's ability to relate the Core experience to the major and to the wider context of the liberal arts.

Format: All papers must be neatly typed (word-processed) on standard white paper with a cover sheet including the student's name and the title of the paper. The student's name should appear nowhere else in the manuscript. In the Core office the cover sheet will be detached and a number will be assigned to each for the purposes of anonymity.