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For Faculty

Teaching with Writing

Writing is key to helping students learn, clarify, organize, and articulate important concepts, ideas and information.  The philosophy behind “Communicating Through Writing” and “Writing Emphasis” courses at UTK is that students improve as writers through practice, particularly when they are provided with instruction and guidance relevant to their assigned tasks.

To help faculty effectively design and integrate writing opportunities into their courses in ways that will help students learn and master course materials, the information below provides useful resources about teaching-with-writing across the disciplines.

How can the Writing Center help students in your course?

There are a variety of ways faculty in any course on campus, 100- to 400-level in any discipline, can make use of Writing Center services:

  • Let students know about the Writing Center by including information about its location and hours and this web page on your syllabus.
  • Make an announcement about the Writing Center at the beginning of the semester.
  • Refer students to us at any time, either informally or formally.
  • If you wish to require that individual students (not entire classes) come by at some time during the semester, have your students ask for a “Proof of Attendance” form from us.
  • Please do not refer or require an entire class to the Writing Center.  Because of the volume of students we serve, we are unable to help students effectively when an entire class is required to come in.  If you’re thinking about having some of the students in your class come to the Center as a requirement, please contact the Writing Center director first (; 974-8266) to make arrangements.

It is always helpful for us to have a written description of the assignment your students are working on.  Send one with the student, or e-mail it to the director (

Is the Writing Center only for “bad” writers?

Some people mistakenly think of the Writing Center as a “remedial” service.  However, while we certainly can and do help writers who have demonstrated some kind of writing “problem,” we work with ALL writers at all levels of ability and training.  For example, many honors students seek out feedback from the Writing Center because they are committed to producing excellent written work.  As all faculty know from firsthand experience, all writers benefit from the opportunity to engage in conversation and receive feedback about their writing.

What is the “IW” grade, and what is the procedure for giving it?

The Undergraduate Catalog includes the following passage about the “IW” grade:

If a student cannot fulfill the requirements for a course because of an inability to communicate in writing, the instructor will give an “IW” to designate “Incomplete due to writing.”  Student work requiring revision shall be sent to the Writing Center Director.  Any student who receives an “IW” should contact the Writing Center Director for instruction.  The Writing Center will determine the appropriate requirement for remediation.  Upon the Writing Center Director’s recommendation, it will be returned to the instructor who will change the student’s grade accordingly.  As with other incompletes, the student will have one calendar year to make up the deficiency before the grade automatically changes to reflect failure for the course.

Should you determine that a student in your course has demonstrated sufficient mastery of course material but demonstrates insufficient written communication skills, the IW may be an option.

When you assign the IW grade, send the Writing Center an IW Referral Form.  This form includes instructions and the information we need from you about the terms you have established for the student to work on in order to remove the IW.