This requirement and definition presume that students registering in W courses have met a basic competency standard. Foundations of Academic Literacy (FAL X99) has been developed to address the writing needs of students not ready for W courses.


A W course is one that fulfills the following conditions:

  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 (see Criterion 3).

On these criteria, courses that require written assignments but do not provide explicit instruction on writing would not qualify as W courses.