Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

Leadership & Administration for GWAR

Three entities provide faculty leadership and guidance for campus administration of the GWAR: the University Writing Committee (undergraduate), the Faculty Coordinator for the Writing Proficiency Screening Test (WPST), and the Graduate Council (graduate). The Vice Provost provides administrative leadership and support for the GWAR.

The University Writing Committee is a standing subcommittee of the University Educational Policies Committee and is comprised of seven members of the faculty (two members must be from the Department of English and the balance representing the colleges); the Faculty Coordinator serves ex officio. The UWC oversees policy development related to undergraduate GWAR, oversees the development, regularly reviews the effectiveness, and approves the continuation of all WP courses. The University Writing Committee also responds to special appeals or petitions from students regarding the GWAR.

The Faculty Coordinator for the WPST organizes the administration and scoring of the WPST for undergraduate students and, in partnership with the Writing Center, gives support and advice to students prior to the test administration and subsequently in case of an unsuccessful attempt.

The Graduate Council is a standing committee of the Academic Senate and is comprised of graduate program coordinators from each department that offers a master's or doctoral degree, a graduate student representative, and an executive secretary (the Vice Provost). The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the College Deans, the Dean of Library Services, the Director/Coordinator of the Graduate School, and the chief administrative officer of Research and Sponsored Programs serves ex officio. At the graduate level, students can satisfy the CSU writing requirement by (a) satisfactory completion of the course designated by the department as assessing writing proficiency in standard English; or (b) satisfactory completion of an alternative plan adopted by the department and approved by the Graduate Council. In addition, the thesis, project, and comprehensive examination serve as evidence of graduate-level writing proficiency.

Implementation of GWAR

The specific policies for implementation of the GWAR.pdf and Frequently Asked Questions were updated in 2006-07 following faculty review and extensive campus discussion.

Writing Proficiency Screening Test (WPST)

The Writing Proficiency Screening Test (WPST) is administered four times a year. The test is designed to measure and ensure basic student writing competence and students' preparation for upper-division writing in their discipline. Students are required to respond in essay form to a single prompt within ninety minutes. The prompts are developed by the Faculty Coordinator in consultation with the University Writing Committee and tested for reliability and validity before use in actual WPST administrations. Faculty members and other qualified readers score the tests in dual independent readings. Significant differences in scoring are resolved by a third reading. Students are advised of their status as soon as practicable. Students who do not pass the WPST are given advice and options to ensure their subsequent successful performance. Further information and Frequently Asked Questions about the WPST are available on the WPST website.

Writing Proficiency (WP) Courses

Writing Proficiency (WP) courses are developed by faculty within the context of their disciplines. The courses are approved and are subject to regular review and recertification by the University Writing Committee. The criteria for WP courses are four-fold:

  1. WP courses have curricular content (that is, they are not "merely" writing courses).
  2. WP courses integrate writing with the rest of the course in both content and pedagogy.
  3. WP courses provide meaningful assessment of and developmental feedback on writing.
  4. WP courses include instruction and appropriate warnings about plagiarism.

As courses within the discipline, each WP course is expected to meet these WP criteria in a manner appropriate to disciplinary requirements for writing skills. The course shall be regularly offered and shall have enrollments capped at 25 students to ensure sufficient individual attention and assessment

Policies & Procedures for the GWAR

CSU Systemwide

Stanislaus State



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