The Writing Across the Curriculum office supports faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants teaching UB Curriculum courses in the Communication Literacy, as well as writing and communication instruction across the campus.
Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in the Disciplines [WID] represent interrelated approaches to undergraduate writing instruction that have been practiced in American universities for decades. At the core of the WAC/WID approach is the recognition that the kind of writing and communication expected of undergraduates cannot be understood as a single general skill and as such the goals we have of our students as writers cannot be fully met by a single course (e.g., a first-year composition class). With this in mind WAC/WID programs, such as our Communication Literacy 2 requirement, add a layer of writing instruction into general education in which students are introduced to the specific genres and communication practices of their majors.
WAC/WID courses are taught by departments across a university campus with the understanding that faculty in those departments are experts in the communication practices of their field and its related professions and best know the expectations they have for students as they progress within their major. At the same time, it is acknowledged that these faculty have little familiarity with teaching writing. The reality is that very few faculty outside certain specializations in Education, English, and a few other departments receive much formal training in writing pedagogy. It would be a practical impossibility to have all students taught to write by faculty who were specialists in rhetoric and composition in the way that, for example, all students who take biology are taught by biologists. And even if it were possible, those writing specialists would still not be experts in the kinds of writing practiced in disciplines across the campus as one cannot become an expert writer in a field without having expert disciplinary knowledge and the opportunity work as an expert in that field. So instead, the strategy of WAC/WID programs is to provide faculty with an understanding of best practices in writing pedagogy and support those faculty with their integration of those practices into the courses they teach.
With this in mind, a WAC office, like this one, serves as a kind of clearinghouse and mediator for the latest scholarship and best practices in WAC/WID. Much like a technical writer translates expert STEM knowledge for various non-experts (corporate executives, managers, factory workers, customers, etc.) providing those audiences with the specific information that they need when they need it, we keep on top of the research and disseminate that knowledge to you through forums, workshops, and this website. We also facilitate communication among faculty on our campus so that we can share local knowledge as we seek to understand the particular challenges of teaching the UB student body.
The Writing Across the Curriculum office pursues the following objectives:
Alex Reid is an associate professor of English specializing in digital rhetoric and professional-technical communication. Having served ten years as a writing program administrator, including seven years as director of first-year composition at UB, Alex has knowledge of professional development, curriculum development, and program assessment. His scholarship includes research on ePortfolios, graduate education in digital literacy, composition theory, professional writing curriculum development, and using technologies in writing classrooms.