11Discipline-Specific Assignments  

Writing Centers, writing-intensive courses, “linked” courses, portfolios, the writing process, peer critiquing, collaborative learning, journals—all have resulted from the Writing Across the Curriculum movement, or WAC, which has literally transformed approaches to teaching writing. Begun in the 1960s in Great Britain with researchers who studied composing processes of school children, the WAC movement in the United States takes many forms on college campuses but includes at least some of the above features.   
One of the main tenets of WAC is that students need to write literally “across the curriculum”—that is, in courses other than English. Indeed, many faculty now accept the responsibility to teach all students, but especially their majors, how to write according to the particular conventions of their disciplines. 

Therefore, you can expect to tutor students who are writing in disciplines unfamiliar to you. What can you do to help these students?

Some suggest that your best options are either to find someone else to work with the student, or to discover that you suddenly have a pressing engagement elsewhere! These people say that the best you can do is to help with surface-level features: grammar, punctuation, and spelling. However, other researchers point out that you may be the very best person to help such a student. As one unfamiliar with the content, you can tell the writer if the purpose of the paper and organization are clear, if any places confuse you, and/or if you need more information to understand a point. Since most undergraduate papers are written to a general rather than to a specialized audience, you are the perfect person to provide feedback.

First, you need to observe some general principles whenever you help anyone outside your own field.


Digging Deeper Assignments

For Further Reading

Bibliographic Sources




The Writing Center: Past and Present The Student/Tutor Relationship The Clueless Student The Unfocused Student The Disorganized Student The Underdeveloped Student The Unrevised Student The Unpolished Student ESL Strategies Research Strategies Discipline-Specific Assignments Documentation Styles Writing Center Ethics Writing Center Publicity

© 1999, 2000, 2002 Virginia Bower (Mars Hill College), Charlene Kiser (Milligan College), Kim McMurtry (Montreat College), Ellen Millsaps (Carson-Newman College), Katherine Vande Brake (King College). All rights reserved. This manual was made possible by a Culpeper grant from the Appalachian College Association; click here for information. If you encounter difficulties with these web pages, please notify kmcmurtry@montreat.edu.