Writing-in-the-Profession

In their final semesters, cadets increasingly take up more sophisticated writing challenges, in their chosen majors as well as in courses that especially prepare them for officership. Firsties often undertake Grand Challenges and other culminating experiences, many of which foreground collaborative authorship as well as multimodal composition (such as performing digital or graphical design and oral presentations). Many Cadets construct theses and capstone projects for their majors that also represent significant writing achievements; often such projects unfold in academic courses that fulfill the WiM requirement. Other departments identify courses earlier in the major as 'WiM' while nonetheless also fostering environments where cadets are called upon to produce exceptional writing as they near graduation.

In addition to its support of these culminating efforts, the Writing Program specifically designates two firstie core courses as "WiP" (LW403: Constitutional and Military Law, MX400: Officership). Like WiC courses, these courses selectively implement the Writing Program's Pedagogical Model to ensure that cadets are prepared to write and communicate successfully as Army officers to all audiences and across multiple channels. Cadets are asked to consider the relevance of the writing processes and practices they have honed over four years to an increasing number of routine and special writing and thinking challenges they are likely to face as officers.

A key distinction between the SWEs that cadets complete for WiP courses and those within all other courses linked to the Writing Program, is that failure to demonstrate writing proficiency via their SWEs may result in failure of the course. Cadets in WiP courses whose initial SWE submissions are marked non-proficient by instructors must revise their work to the instructor’s satisfaction, or they either fail the course (MX400) or risk failure (LW403). To support their revision efforts, they may enlist a full range of support resources, including the Mounger Writing Center.

Writing-in-the-Profession (WiP) Curricular Standards

  1. Completed in the firstie year by all cadets (2 courses). WiP courses stress the practice of professional writing, speaking, and communicating directly relevant to officership. Passage of WiP depends, to varying degrees, on the demonstration of proficiency on the SWE that all WiP courses include. 
  2. Section sizes are limited to 18. Relatively small sections and manageable grading loads aid selective implementation of the WPWP Pedagogical Model. 
  3. Syllabus includes statements that explain the importance of a) writing as a student learning outcome for the course and b) further learning resources available to cadets (including the Mounger Writing Center). Item a references USMA Academic Program Goals and is authored by the Program or Course Director, as appropriate; item b is supplied by the WPWP. 
  4. Writing is a significant component of classroom instruction. The WPWP Pedagogical Model is employed selectively (≥3/7 enumerated approaches). Course Directors and faculty determine which approaches their courses include, how to meet the intent of those approaches, and how often those approaches occur.  
  5. At least one major assignment, where possible and appropriate, requires a recursive writing process. Graded writing and speaking assignments are distributed throughout the term to enable cadets to build rhetorical knowledge incrementally; they are designed to encourage iterative drafting and substantive revision in response to feedback. 
  6. Faculty respond to cadet writing with timely, detailed, and personalized feedback. The usage of rubrics devoid of comments tailored to individual writers does not constitute appropriate feedback. 
  7. Cadets author substantial amounts of finished writing, individually or collaboratively, as appropriate to the discipline. Ungraded prewriting and drafting tasks, while valuable to the writing process, do not count as ‘finished’ writing. 
  8. A minimum of 50% of the final course grade derives from individually-authored writing or communication assignments, one of which is designated as an SWE. If cadets are not marked “proficient” upon instructor assessment of the SWE, they must revise the SWE to the Instructor and/or Course Director’s satisfaction, or they fail the course (MX400) or risk failing the course (LW403).