Questions and Answers about Writing Classes and Requirements at SNL
|What writing classes does SNL offer?
SNL offers two academic writing classes: Writing Workshop and Academic Writing for Adults. SNL also offers creative writing, business writing and other writing classes every quarter. Here is a sample of these other writing courses:
- Advanced Elective: Write Where You Are -- Writing About the Places We Live
- Business Writing and Internet Communications
- Creative Ink
- Creative Writing
- Editing Yourself and Others
- Experimental Playwriting
- Professional Business Writing
- Thinking and Writing at Work
- Writing Together: Exploring Academic and Community Literacies (can be taken for the L4, Academic Writing, competence)
Please check the schedule to see what classes are being offered this quarter. SNL is a writing-intensive school, so you will have opportunities to work on your writing in most of your classes.
|What are the writing requirements at SNL?
SNL has only one writing requirement that must be satisifed by all students -- the L4, academic writing, competence. Students can complete the L4 writing competence either by taking and passing the Academic Writing for Adults course or by passing the Writing Proficiency Portfolio Exam. Some students are required to take Writing Workshop before Academic Writing for Adults if their placement essay indicates the need for this additional class.
|Why can’t I transfer in a class for the L4 competence?
SNL does not accept transfer credit for the L4 competence for two reasons.
First, because SNL is such a writing-intensive program, we want to make sure that your academic writing skills are current and robust.
Second, because of SNL’s competence basis and focus on experiential learning, writing assignments at SNL often differ from the kind of writing you may have been prepared for at other schools.
However, you may be able to transfer a writing course from another school for a different competence. Please discuss this option with your faculty mentor.
Academic Writing for Adults prepares you for success in your writing at SNL as well as helping you become a generally stronger writer.
If you believe you that have already mastered academic writing, you have the option of taking the Writing Proficiency Portfolio Exam. The proficiency exam is designed to make sure that those who pass it are as prepared for SNL writing tasks as those who successfully complete Academic Writing for Adults.
|How can I find out about the Writing Proficiency Portfolio Exam?
To pass the proficiency exam, you will need to submit essays in which you demonstrate your understanding of different writing genres, mastery of grammar, the ability to write thesis-driven essays, and knowledge of current citation rules. For more information on the proficiency exam, see http://snl.depaul.edu/StudentResources/Proficiency_Exams/Academic_Writing.asp
We asked SNL student Joan Travers to share some thoughts about her choice to take the Academic Writing for Adults course over the L4 Proficiency Exam. Her reflection follows:
One of the things SNL stresses to students in introductory classes is the writing intensive nature of the program. Not only do all the classes rely on writing as the primary form of expression and evaluation but so do the experiential ILP’s. This can be exceedingly intimidating to an adult returning to school, especially if that student hasn’t spent time writing in several years.
As a returning student myself, I found this to be incredibly daunting. At one of my first meetings at SNL, I was told that my writing skills were sufficient enough to take the L4 proficiency exam. And while I liked the price and the limited time commitment of the exam, I opted to enroll in Academic Writing for Adults. If such a high premium was placed on writing then I figured I could use the practice. Even if my skills were believed to be up to par, at least I would understand for myself the expectations actually needed for success in a class designed to concentrate solely on writing and the writing process.
Since I had a limited background in writing, having taken a few creative writing classes in the past, I was not completely comfortable with all my writing skills. I lacked the ability to write research papers and how to cite properly. Through taking this writing class, I was able to learn and practice some of these skills. I also grew confident in my abilities to express my ideas at a level necessary for SNL. And I learned techniques to help me overcome some of my apprehension I’ve always had about writing, like procrastination and proofreading.
As an assignment for the class, I tried my hand at writing my first ILP. I turned to my creative writing background and used some of the new skills and techniques I learned in the course to write a paper about my interaction with physical science and the environment during a skydiving experience I had. I started by writing about my experience as if telling the story or events, and then applied some technical research to explain the events. I used this as an opportunity to develop my research and citing skills, using the feedback I received from working with my writing teacher. The end product was not only an ILP I could submit for an additional class credit, but also an example that I have the ability and know-how to complete a satisfactory ILP.
So while this writing course took longer than a proficiency exam and cost a bit more, the benefits were invaluable. I learned new writing skills and got constructive writing practice, but ultimately I gained the confidence to be a competent student at SNL. This course helped me to write better, but also to manage my time better and to understand and respect the process of learning.
Click here to read Joan's skydiving ILP. Her essay, "My Skydiving Mishaps: A Quick Lesson in Physics," won a Writing Showcase award in 2010.
|How do I know which writing course to take?
During Learning Assessment Seminar (LAS), you will learn about the two options, Writing Workshop and Academic Writing for Adults, and then complete a Writing Placement Essay in which you indicate which course you feel best suits you. An SNL Writing Instructor will respond to your essay and advise you on which course to take.
Many new SNL students have rusty essay writing skills. Most can work this rust out in Academic Writing for Adults. Students referred to the Writing Workshop usually have a history of struggling with writing.
Incoming students who take the Writing Workshop will still need to take Academic Writing for Adults and should do so in the following quarter.
|What is Writing Workshop?
Writing Workshop is a four-credit class in which no more than ten students receive intensive, individualized and expert guidance on how to become more confident, efficient and effective writers.
Students at any point in their studies at SNL can take the Workshop to improve their writing and their mastery of the writing process. Students have taken the Workshop to prepare for Academic Writing for Adults, as additional support when enrolled in a writing-intensive course, to finish an Incomplete, and to work on Independent Learning Pursuits (ILPs) and Advanced Projects (APs). In collaboration with their instructor, each student develops and implements a plan to improve his or her writing. Students can earn the H-3-J competence in this course. They are also encouraged to use the Workshop to work on papers for competence in other courses or through the ILP process.
Upon successfully completing Writing Workshop, the student will be able to do the following:
- Assess his or her own writing and address areas of weakness
- Student can give a realistic and detailed assessment of his or her own writing.
- Student can identify specific strengths in his or her writing and writing process and knows how to leverage these strengths.
- Student can identify specific weaknesses in his or her writing and writing process and has strategies for addressing these weaknesses.
- Use revision to produce significantly improved final drafts
- While student may not be able to write fluent first drafts, student knows how to use the revision process to improve the organization, focus, mechanics and effectiveness of his or her writing.
- Final drafts are college level where minimally competent college level writing is defined as having the following components:
- A clear thesis, central point or dominant impression;
- Consistent organization and logical development, although it may exhibit occasional organizational or argumentative weaknesses;
- Provision of evidence with examples and/or supportive details that relate to the essay’s overall point, although all claims may not be fully supported;
- A general understanding of the reading’s central subject and point (when the assignment includes a reading/readings);
- Vocabulary, sentence and paragraph structures that are generally accurate – grammar and punctuation errors, though present, do not disrupt reading or inhibit clarity;
- ESL features, if present, add voice and do not inhibit reading – ESL-related problems with idioms or articles are minor;
- Words, facts and ideas from sources are cited, although there may be mistakes in the formatting of the citations.
- Demonstrate improvement in writing as documented in a writing portfolio. The writing portfolio will include the following:
- Initial examples of the student’s writing from before or at the start of the Workshop.
- The student and teacher designed “Writing Workshop Plan.” The plan should include clear, demonstrable goals.
- Evidence the student has accomplished the goals set out in his or her “Writing Workshop Plan” as well as the criteria listed here.
- The student’s plan for continuous writing improvement (see the next criteria).
- A final essay in which students cite the evidence in their portfolio to argue that they have met the Writing Workshop criteria and their “Writing Workshop Plan” goals and in which they reflect upon their learning in this Workshop.
- Present a plan for continuous, ongoing improvement of writing. Since writing is a life-long learning process, the student should leave this Workshop with a concrete plan for his or her ongoing development as a writer. This plan should include the following:
To develop this plan the student should have tried out the following resources by the completion of this Workshop: The DePaul Writing Center, a few online writing guides, and a writing handbook.
- Ideas about how to leverage strengths and address weaknesses;
- An explanation of where and how the student intends to seek out ongoing help with his or her writing;
- Goals for future writing accomplishments.
To learn more about Writing Workshop, please see “Writing Workshop: An Overview for Students.”
|What is Academic Writing for Adults?
Academic Writing for Adults is a required, four-credit class in which students earn the L4 competence. This class prepares students to succeed in their writing at and beyond SNL.
Students learn strategies for managing the writing process, working effectively with sources, combining experience with analysis and reflection, building an argument and writing persuasively.
Students also practice using writing as a tool for exploring, playing with and developing as well as communicating their ideas.
To view the Academic Writing for Adults syllabi, click here. Here is the Academic Writing for Adults competence statement and criteria:
L-4: Can use writing for college-level learning, thinking and communicating. Course: Academic Writing for Adults
- Understands there are many different types of writing and is able to adjust to conventions of a variety of genres, audiences and purposes with a particular focus on the conventions of academic writing, including formatting, standards of evidence, appropriate tone and style, and use of sources.
- Can write to explain, summarize, synthesize, reflect, argue, persuade, analyze, link experience and concepts, and demonstrate competence.
- Has control over grammar, syntax, and punctuation and can manipulate them to suit a particular rhetorical situation.
- Understands writing as an iterative process and can apply a repertoire of strategies for generating, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading papers that includes assessing and revising one’s own writing as well as eliciting and using feedback from others.
- Has a plan for continuous, ongoing improvement of writing that includes strategies for addressing problems, leveraging strengths, and mastering the writing genres related to one’s focus area.
|What is the difference between Academic Writing for Adults and College Writing?
Academic Writing for Adults replaced College Writing as the course offered for the L4 competence as of January 1, 2008.
|I already completed the L4 competence, but I am still having a hard time with writing, what should I do?
Writing is hard. Most writers will tell you that they have spent years perfecting their craft. Writer Thomas Mann said, “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Therefore, it is not surprising that even students who have completed Academic Writing for Adults continue to struggle with writing.
Research on student writers has shown that as students move into new content areas or writing tasks (like you might experience in Research Seminar, Advanced Elective or Advanced Project as well as classes in areas new to you), the skills they thought they had mastered suddenly seem to desert them.
So you are not alone, what can you do?
- You can self educate. There are wonderful resources for student writers on the Internet. Start by going to the Writing Help page of this website for an annotated guide to what you can find online to help you with your writing. Look also at How to Write a Paper page for many ideas on how to move through the process of generating ideas to completing a polished final draft.
- You can visit the DePaul Writing Center at the Loop or Lincoln Park campuses or online. Tutors at the Writing Center can help you with brainstorming, look over a rough draft, explain citation rules, give you advice on how to read more efficiently and even give you feedback on resumes, graduate school applications and creative writing. You can visit the Writing Center on a drop-in basis or set up a standing appointment. You can also e-mail a quick questions and papers for feedback.
- The Writing Center also offers tutor-led writing groups on Saturdays. For more information about this great way to keep working on your writing, see http://condor.depaul.edu/writing/what/WG/schedlocs.html
- You can enroll in the four-credit Writing Workshop class at any point in your studies at SNL.
- You can also take other writing classes at SNL, such as creative, business and professional writing.
|Should I go to the Writing Center or take Writing Workshop?
Briefly, Writing Workshop is more structured, more intensive and more expensive than the Writing Center. The table below summarizes the key differences between these two options
Tutors in the Writing Center are DePaul undergraduates or graduate students who have been nominated by teachers, interviewed by the Writing Center staff, and are or have taken an advanced class on Writing Center theory and pedagogy. In this class, tutors have a brief introduction to SNL and returning adult students. Some tutors are SNL students.
Writing Workshop Instructors are SNL faculty members who also teach Academic Writing for Adults.
Students can drop in to the Writing Center on an as-needed basis, or they can set up a standing appointment. Students who are self-directed and good at time management will do well with this option.
Students enroll in the four-credit Writing Workshop class. Students who need the structure of a class to keep on task will benefit from this option.
Tutors work with students one at a time.
Although a class, Writing Workshop is capped at ten students so that instructors can work with each student individually on his or her own writing needs.
Tutors work with students on whatever writing assignment or issue they bring to the Writing Center. Tutors are not editors and see their primary goal as helping students become better writers. This means they focus on helping students learn how to recognize and correct their own writing problems.
Students in Writing Workshop may also work on writing for other classes. Like the Writing Center, the primary goal of Writing Workshop is to help students become better writers. Because it is a class, Writing Workshop is more comprehensive than a tutor working with a drop in students can be.
Writing Workshop begins with a detailed self-assessment of the student’s writing strengths and needs. The instructor guides the student through this assessment. Then, the instructor works collaboratively with the student to build a plan for the course that targets the most critical issues in the student’s writing and makes sure the student learns how to manage the writing process.
The Writing Center tutors are available online and on the Loop and Lincoln Park campuses. While the Writing Center continues to work on expanding availability for SNL students, location and time may be a barrier for some students.
Writing Workshops are offered at each campus. Most campuses offer the Writing Workshop every quarter; a few offer it every other quarter.
The Writing Center is free!
Writing Workshop is a four-credit course.
|You cannot earn a competence from the Writing Center, but you can work on ILPs with the Writing Center tutors.
||You can earn the H3J competence in Writing Workshop.
|Where can I learn more about how to write a paper?
For tutoring help, see here.
For how to do specific SNL assignments, see here.
For help on specific writing problems or concerns, see here.
For how to work through the process of writing a paper, see here.
To understand what teachers are looking for, ask your teacher and see here.
on this Page
What writing classes does SNL offer?
What are the writing requirements at SNL?
Why can’t I transfer in a class for the L4 competence?
How can I find out about the Writing Proficiency Portfolio Exam?
How do I know which writing course to take?
What is the Writing Workshop?
What is Academic Writing for Adults?
What is the difference between Academic Writing for Adults and College Writing?
I already completed the L4 competence, but I am still having a hard time with writing, what should I do?
Should I go to the Writing Center or take Writing Workshop?
Where can I learn more about how to write a paper?