Writing Center ~ Faculty Resources


How can writing skills be emphasized consistently through the Core Curriculum when disciplines differ so much?

Indeed, some writing assignments may differ in the ways they gather information or conduct research, in their styles of documentation, or in the specialization of language according to their disciplines. However, WAC embraces the notion that most writing assignments, regardless of discipline, require the student to consider purpose and audience; to use the writing process to plan, shape, draft, revise, edit, and proofread; to develop a thesis, arrange and organize ideas; to use supporting evidence; to develop paragraphs; to read and think critically; to reason correctly and logically; to argue effectively and to write effective sentences; to choose words well, use correct grammar, spell correctly; and to use correct punctuation and mechanics. (Adapted from Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers.) Top of Page

What faculty resources does the Writing Center offer to enrich writing across the curriculum?

Faculty members are encouraged to send students to the Writing Center for individual writing consultations, specific writing problems on the Grammar Bugaboo Check Sheet, and Bugaboo Bee Points List. The Writing Center Library offers many pedagogy tools to enrich writing in the classroom. We offer the writing newsletter, Rhema: The Living Word. In addition, the Writing Center offers a downloadable set of Power Point slideshows professors are welcome to use in their classes.

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Writing-Enriched Courses across the Curriculum

The Writing Center supports writing-enriched courses (cumulative writing requirement of 10 to 20 pages or more, revision, and Writing Center involvement) across the curriculum, including Core classes, upper-division classes in the majors, graduate-level classes, and SPS courses. We also offer on-line teaching resources, a newsletter, surveys, and Writing Center Library reference tools on writing pedagogy to encourage across-the-curriculum dialogue. Top of Page

What are the guidelines for ENGL 120C Persuasive Writing, ENGL 220C Researched Writing, and ENGL 300C Literary Perspectives?

Persuasive Writing, Researched Writing, and Literary Perspectives are the English Department’s three Core Curriculum Courses. CORE 102C: Writing-Intensive Cornerstone (3 units) Guidelines for CORE 102C Writing-Intensive Cornerstone Catalog Description: This course is open to Freshmen only.  A writing-intensive introduction to university life and learning, and to the academic and social skills needed for success.  Includes instruction in basic reading and writing skills with a diversity right curriculum, social outings, and a community service component.  A failing grade must be made up prior to advancement to the Sophomore level.  Students will be placed into this course with a 450 or lower SAT Verbal score or a 17 ACT score or lower.  Students without SAT/ACT scores are required to take the First-Year Language Assessment during Orientation Week.  This course must be taken prior to ENGL 120C, and both this course and ENGL 120C must be passed before a student can take ENGL 220C. Students will be able to . . .

  • Demonstrate basic sentence-level and paragraph-level writing skills.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of grammar rules in writing assignments.
  • Use appropriate tone and diction for a focused subject / audience.
  • Engage in peer-editing and other revision-based activities.
  • Develop academic and social skills for college success.
  • Understand how to use the campus library and peer-reviewed journal databases.
  • Develop competencies in diversity-related knowledge, self-examination, and personal & social engagement.

ENGLISH 120C: Persuasive Writing (3 units) Guidelines for ENGL 120C Persuasive Writing, First-Year Level College Composition Catalog Description: Exposition and argument at the college level. The course emphasizes writing, revising and editing, reading, research skills, and mechanics. Course must be passed with a “C” (not “C-“) or better to enroll in ENGL 220C. Students with a Verbal SAT score of 570 or higher or an ACT score of 28 or higher may place out of this course into ENGL 220C. Students will be able to . . .

  • Write for a college-level audience.
  • Use appropriate tone and diction for focused subject / audience.
  • Develop a multi-level purpose statement (thesis / hypothesis).
  • Develop a persuasive analysis using argumentation strategies.
  • Write in a stylistically compelling and grammatically accurate expository style.
  • Summon relevant, coherent, well-organized evidence to support claims.
  • Recognize logical fallacies and use inductive / deductive reasoning.
  • Analyze and evaluate informational texts.
  • Demonstrate the ability to write a visual media analysis.
  • Avoid plagiarism by understanding specific examples studied & discussed.
  • Use citation styles appropriate to the discipline(s).
  • Write at least 20 cumulative pages of persuasion (revisions included).
  • Use one or more of the following collaborative revision processes: Portfolios, individual conferencing, peer-editing, workshopping, and/or Writing Center.
  • Use a writing handbook and/or on-line writing guides.

ENGLISH 220C: Researched Writing (3 units) Guidelines for ENGL 220C Researched Writing, Sophomore-Level College Composition Catalog Description: Prerequisites: ENGL 120C and, when required, a passing grade in ENGL 111 or Core 102C. Interpretive and analytic writing, including several problem-solving research-based papers investigating topics related to class themes. The course emphasizes writing, revising and editing, reading, analytical skills, and computer technology (word processing, Internet research) and reinforces those skills learned in ENGL 120C. Taught in the computer lab. Must be passed with a “C” (not “C-”) or better to fulfill the core curriculum requirement. Students may receive credit for English 220C by taking research and writing courses offered by departments other than English that meet standards set and approved by the Core Curriculum Committee. Students will be able to . . .  

  • Write for a college-level audience.
  • Apply critical thinking and writing skills from ENGL 120C such as argumentation strategies.
  • Evaluate, integrate, & cite relevant information from credible secondary sources.
  • Understand how to paraphrase, summarize, quote directly, and cite secondary sources.
  • Use information technology for research.
  • Create, edit, and publish on-line digital texts.
  • Write article reviews.
  • Compose an annotated bibliography.
  • Avoid plagiarism, with specific examples studied & discussed.
  • Use a citation style appropriate to discipline.
  • Demonstrate the ability to critique visual culture.
  • Write at least 25 cumulative pages of researched writing (revisions included).
  • Use one or more of the following collaborative revision processes: Portfolios, individual conferencing, peer-editing, workshopping, and/or Writing Center.
  • Use a writing handbook and/or on-line writing guides.

ENGLISH 230C: Literary Perspectives (3 units) Guidelines for ENGL 230C Literary Perspectives, Sophomore-Level Introduction to Literature Catalog Description: Introduces the student to a variety of literary genres as well as diverse authors, cultures, and experiences. This course also covers the tools and concepts necessary to the understanding and interpretation of literature. Students engage in classroom discussion, write papers, and take a variety of quizzes and exams. Students will be able to . . .

  • Understand and interpret literary expressions in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, drama and/or film.
  • Consider literature as a venue of conversation for issues central to human experience.
  • Apply college-level critical reading and analytical writing abilities to projects.
  • Engage the diverse world of ideas through a perspective of Christian faith.
  • Understand terms and methods central to the study of literature as an academic discipline.
  • Demonstrate socio-cultural awareness through writing projects, assigned readings, and class discussion.

Core Curriculum Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Student Learning Outcome How this course fulfills SLO  (examples)
1 Integration of Faith and Learning: Understand and develop a biblical worldview informed by a Pentecostal perspective, integrating faith with learning, as demonstrated through entrance and exit self-reporting (in the first and last of required religion Core courses) and integrative essays. Faith Integration Essay
2 Cultural Competency and Citizenship: Understand how to be an effective local, national and global citizen, expanding knowledge of and respect for diverse cultures, measured through entrance and exit attitudinal surveys, course work in diversity enriched and government courses, reflective essays on international educational experiences, local community service, and field Reflection Essays, Intercultural Interviews, Field Experience Report, Service Learning Essay
3 Communication: Develop effective, college-level-appropriate communication skills, focusing on writing in response to texts and on oral presentations, as evidenced by the MAPP entrance and exit exam, and graded or panel-judged essays and oral presentations in the Core Curriculum and in academic majors. Class Discussions, Oral Presentations, Multimedia Presentations
4 Critical Thinking: Develop qualitative and quantitative critical thinking skills as measured by the MAPP entrance and exit exam and student coursework. Research Assignments, Annotated Bibliographies
5 Holistic Living: Establish a holistic view of health and living as measured by nationally-normed surveys and the final exam in the required Lifetime Health and Fitness Core course and by other student coursework. Reflection Essays
6 Information and Technology: Develop foundational technology skills that allow one to locate and evaluate the integrity of information, and to understand the ethical uses of information, as measured through the assessment of guided library projects, training sessions and exams on plagiarism, and research papers and projects. Digital Storytelling, Researched Writing, Moodle Activities

Recommended Handbooks

Composition instructors may use a combination of one or more of the following writing guides.

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How do I propose an ENGL 220C Researched Writing substitution?

Students may receive credit for English 220C Researched Writing by taking research and writing courses offered by departments other than English that meet standards set by the Core Curriculum Committee and approved by the committee. Faculty should complete and submit the ENGL 220C Researched Writing Substitution Form to the Core Curriculum Committee Chair and the Writing Center Director. Top of Page

How can I incorporate the Writing Center into my course syllabi?

Professors are encouraged to cut and paste the following “blurb” into their syllabi. TRADITIONAL UNDERGRADUATE Writing Center Consultants work with students one-on-one at any stage of the writing process. They can help organize notes, develop outlines, revise thesis statements, and work on various aspects of your revision. Our Christ-centered, culturally responsive, collaborative learning environment offers constructive feedback with the long-term goals of improved writing and critical thinking skills. The Writing Center is located in Heath 241 and is available Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays, 9a.m. to 1 p.m. Closed during Chapel Hour. Appointments are required. GRADUATE/SPS On-Line Grad/SPS Writing Center Consultants offer electronic feedback at any stage of the writing process. They provide guidance for atomistic and holistic revision with the long-term goals of improved writing and critical thinking skills. Please e-mail your writing projects to gpswritingcenter@vanguard.edu. The on-line Writing Consultants aim for a 72-hour turnaround. Face-to-face writing appointments are also available in Heath 214.  Please e-mail writingcenter@vanguard.edu to request a face-to-face appointment. Top of Page

What are some examples of writing assignments for each discipline?

  • Writing in the Natural and Technological Sciences: Science reports or “laboratory reports,” writing research proposals and abstracts, or writing a science review or a paper about published information on a scientific topic.
  • Business Writing: Writing and formatting a business letter, a job application letter, a c.v., or a memo.
  • Writing in the Social Sciences: Writing a case study, writing an abstract, reporting the results of primary research, keeping a journal, writing an analysis of a historical document or policy, writing an ethnography, writing interviews and questionnaires, writing a letter to the editor.
  • Writing about literature and other humanities: Reaction papers, interpretations, comparisons, critiques, book reviews, film reviews, journaling, freewriting.

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What are some ways I can give helpful feedback about writing?

You can use a writing checklist (below) to help you target common errors of organization. You can even require the students to use the writing checklist in proofreading or peer-editing their papers. For a large class, you might consider giving in-depth writing comments on only one paragraph of each essay without telling students ahead of time which paragraph it will be. You will help students recognize patterns by noting errors that crop up most frequently instead of giving cluttered feedback by marking every single error.

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What are Bugaboo Bee Points and how do they help faculty with evaluating essays?

Bugaboo Bee Points are thirty different writing errors that pop up frequently in students’ writing. Professors are welcome to download the list of Bugaboo Bee Points and use the numbered rubric to deliver response assessments for student writing. The numbered rubric is meant to increase the efficiency of assessments (especially for faculty members teaching courses with heavy writing loads) and help students become stronger writers. For example, “#2” may be written in the margin of a student’s paper instead of the phrase, “needs an apostrophe to indicate possession.” When students receive their graded papers, they may refer to the Bugaboo Bee Key to assist them in correcting the numbered mechanical errors. As part of the Writing Center’s ministry of friendly accountability and heuristic encouragement — to help students become active stewards of their own learning — a Writing Consultant will award one Writing Center Stamp per accurately revised paper. Students should handwrite their corrections on the papers to verify authorship. Professors also have the option of assigning reward points (extra credit) for each correctly revised paper, worth one Writing Center Stamp. Top of Page

What is a Writing Portfolio?

Writing Portfolios help students keep their writing projects together to perceive continuity in their learning. Students’ progress with writing skills are periodically evaluated in the Portfolios. Faculty colleagues use the Portfolio Referral Form to refer students. You may require Portfolio students to receive stamps for their written projects, homework, and completion of Grammar Bugaboo activities. Consultants write up Portfolio Session Reports about students’ individual appointments. The Writing Center Director assesses the Portfolios during the semester using the Portfolio Evaluation Form. Writing Portfolios ultimately engage students in process-oriented, independent learning. Top of Page

What are the differences between revising, editing, and proofreading?

“Revising involves adding, cutting, replacing, and moving around material. Editing includes correcting surface features for technical correctness in the final draft. Proofreading means repairing typed or handwritten errors in the final draft” (Troyka 83).

What are common grammatical errors that crop up in the student writing?

As you edit, you’ll notice the errors listed below. You may choose to use the symbols in the left-hand column, if you wish, but helping the student to recognize wrong grammatical patterns is more important than teaching them to recognize the editing symbols. The ones highlighted in bold are likely to be ones you’ll find most frequently.

Symbol Grammar Errors
c/c A comma is necessary with a conjunction between two independent clauses.
W/w Wrong word was used here.
W/wp Wrong preposition was used here.
w/c Meaning is evident, but the wrong word was chosen for it.
frag. Incomplete sentence (sentence fragment lacks a subject and verb). Example: On the green table in the corner of my aunt’s living room. Revision : A Bible rested on the table in the corner of my aunt’s living room.
c/s Comma splice. Two independent clauses were joined improperly with a comma only. Example: A Bible rested on the table, I saw it lying open. Revision: A Bible rested on the table. I saw it lying open. Or: A Bible rested on the table; I saw it lying open. Even Better: I saw an opened Bible resting on the table.
f/s Fused sentence. Two independent clauses were joined improperly without a comma. Example: A Bible rested on the table I saw it lying there. Revision: See above revisions.
c/ss Comma in the sentence was used improperly or omitted improperly.
/ / Sentence needs parallel structure. Example: In my walk with Christ, I have learned the importance of praying, spending time in the Word, and to rest in our Father. Revision: In my walk with Christ, I have learned the importance of praying, spending time in the Word, and resting in our Father.
awk. Sentence meaning is obscured by awkward working or sentence structure.
M/m Misplaced modifier. Phrase or clause modifying another element in the sentence is misplaced. Example: The patient returned to the hospital where she needed treatment in a taxi sent by her church. Revision: Riding in a taxi sent by her church, the patient returned to the hospital where she needed treatment.
d/m Dangling modifier. The phrase or clause modifying another element in the sentence is missing the element to which it is referring. Example: Walking into the pastor’s office, a large Bible caught my eye. Revision: A large Bible caught my eye as I walked into the pastor’s office.
p/s Person shift. The paper’s audience address has shifted from first person (I) or third person (he, she, they) to second person (you).
prep/s Preposition at the end of the sentence. A preposition must come before its object in a sentence unless it is in a question.
s/v Subject-verb agreement. The subject and the verb do not agree in number or person. Example: High levels of spiritual warfare causes damage to the church body. Revision: High levels of spiritual warfare cause damage to the church body.
pro/agr Pronoun agreement. The pronoun does not agree with its antecedent in number or person. Example: A student must study hard if they want to succeed. Revision: A student must study hard if he or she wants to succeed.
pro/ref Pronoun reference. The antecedent to which the pronoun refers is unclear. Example: When the customer set the cake down on the glass counter, it collapsed. Revision: The cake collapsed when the customer set it down on the glass counter.
w/m A word or phrase is missing.
w/f Word form. The word is correct, but the form is incorrect.
v/f Verb form. The verb is correct, but the verb is incorrect.
v/t Verb tense. The verb is correct, but the tense is incorrect.
sp Spelling error.
slang Slang usage. A slang phrase or term was used when a more formal or academic term should have been.
punct. punctuation error
cliche Trite expression. Needs writer’s own original meaning or phrase offered instead.

You’ll probably also find that a lot of students are misplacing apostrophes.

What about parts of speech?

The basic parts of speech are nouns (name of a person, place, thing, or idea), pronouns (word used in place of a noun), verbs (express action or being), adjectives (modifies or describes a noun or pronoun), adverbs (modifies or qualifies a verb), prepositions (a word placed before a noun or pronoun to form a modifying phrase), conjunctions (join words, phrases, or clauses), and interjections (a word used to express surprise or emotion).

What about basic sentence patterns?

The basic sentence patterns include different arrangements of subjects, verbs, objects, and complements; questions and commands; sentences with delayed subjects; passive and active constructions (I hit the ball vs. the ball was hit to me); subordinate word groups such as prepositional phrases, subordinate or dependent clauses, adjectival and adverbial clauses, verbal phrases, and appositive phrases.

What about basic sentence types?

The basic sentence types include simple (one independent clause with no subordinate clauses: The church prayed.), compound (composed of two or more independent clauses: The church prayed and the church fasted.), and complex (one independent clause with one or more subordinate clauses: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy).

How do the writing and editing checklists help students learn basic parts of speech, grammar, and basic sentence structure?

By devoting classroom time to explaining the terms on each list and requiring the students to edit each others’ papers for the errors before submitting them to you, they not only learn to recognize grammatical patterns but also practice revising them. Top of Page

What are some fun ways to teach revision?

You can allot in-class time for students to peer-edit their papers. Use a Peer-Editing Sheet. What is peer-editing? Students pair up and switch essays, editing them according to the above rubric (or your own preferred peer-editing sheet). Students are usually grateful for an opportunity to polish up their work before submitting the final version.

Sample peer-editing questions

  • What is the main point of this writing project?
  • Is it clearly stated?
  • What suggestions can you make concerning continuity of thought?
  • Do transitions aid logical flow?
  • What parts need more development, explanation, support with examples?
  • Are there parts where the essay digresses? Where?
  • What did you learn by reading this writing assignment?
  • What recurring errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation do you find? How else might you improve this essay?

You can bring in a “fake” student essay (one you made up ahead of time) for collaborative in-class revision, then discuss what strategies were used in revising it. You can allow the students to work on revising the essay in small groups. At the beginning of class, distribute little slips of paper with the same ungrammatical sentence on each and ask the students to recognize the error and revise them. This is not only a way to target common errors, but also a fun way to take attendance: Collect the slips at the end of class for your records. In addition, next class, you can put the original sentence on the board along with several effective revisions the students created. The class can discuss why the revisions were effective. Students often look forward to seeing whether their sentences will appear on the board! Top of Page

The Writing Center Start-Up Kit – How do you start a Writing Center?

To start your own Writing Center, you’ll need a cheerful space with good lighting, comfortable furniture, and computers with word processing, e-mail, and internet access. You’ll need a mission or philosophy statement conveying the Writing Center’s purpose and vision within the academic structure of the university. The Writing Center should be located in an accessible, academic setting for students like the library, or in our case, the English Department. You’ll need to hire a staff of Writing Consultants, determine qualifications for hiring, design an application, and acquire a budget to pay your staff, unless they are volunteers. You’ll need a budget for office supplies, computer equipment, reference books, writing handbooks, and research style guides. You’ll create writing handouts to supplement student learning. You’ll need a website. You’ll create Student Surveys and Faculty Surveys to help determine what skills need attention. If your staff is large enough, you may run writing workshops. For the Writing Consultants, you’ll prepare training materials on writing pedagogy, conferencing etiquette, and your Writing Center’s policies. You may order a Writing Center ink stamp to mark your reference materials, handouts, and students’ papers to confirm visits for those professors requiring them. You’ll advertise through brochures, posters, and bookmarks. You’ll create an at-a-glance Consultant Availability Chart so you can see who’s working when. You’ll purchase a colorful binder for the Appointment Schedule where students sign up for their appointments. You’ll gather data to report educational effectiveness, usage, and institutional impact. You’ll need a telephone. Last but not least, with God’s grace, you already have prayer, a heart for seed-planting, and hearts ready to receive. If there are no computers, no budget, and not even a quiet room, take heart! Here, for instance, is an outdoor Writing Center garden, sunshine without walls in Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. For more on starting a writing center and understanding the concept of a writing center, on-line resources are available from the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA). Top of Page