SpeakWrite Principles

  • Engagement. When students speak and write purposefully and thoughtfully in their classes, they’re engaged. They are ready to enter conversations in their fields and in their communities. They are developing a critical skill, valued by employers and society, that is a hallmark of an Arts and Sciences education.
  • Practice. Effective communication is a complex activity that cannot be mastered in a single course. It is the responsibility of the entire academic community. Students need practice conveying the knowledge they gain as they complete their majors. 
  • Discipline-Specific Knowledge and Abilities. People write and speak with a particular purpose, to a particular audience, in a particular context defined by particular conventions. Speaking and writing in the majors is most effectively guided by those with discipline-specific expertise.
  • Support. A community that sustains effective communication needs the insights of a cross-disciplinary advisory board and access to multimedia/Web resources, peer consultants, and workshops that respond to discipline-specific needs.
The Eberly Writing Studio is available as a resource, consultant, and partner for faculty teaching SpeakWrite courses--and their students. You will also find additional resources throughout the SpeakWrite website.

SpeakWrite Course Approval Process 

As we make the transition from a university-level “W” requirement to a deeper integration of communication skills and expectations/practice across the Eberly College, SpeakWrite courses will now be reviewed at the college level under the new and more flexible guidelines based on the principles above. [Note: Brand new courses will still need go through the usual Senate process for approval. Once a new course has Senate approval, departments can then apply for College-level designation as a SpeakWrite course.]

The approval process consists of two simple steps and you can typically expect a response to your SpeakWrite course submission within 10-15 working days. If you do not receive a reply within that time, please send a follow-up query.

  • Include the course name and number in the subject line (e.g. ENGL 301 for SpeakWrite Certification)
Step 1: Submit a copy of the syllabus in Word to SpeakWrite@mail.wvu.edu.
  • Include at least one communication skills goal 
  • Use the yellow highlighter function to draw attention to components related to SpeakWrite activities, grade percentages, and feedback or support. 
  • Note the grade percentages associated with SpeakWrite activities (totaling a third or more of the final grade)
  • Show where/how students receive feedback or support and opportunities to improve
  • [Optional] Consider directing your students to some of the resources on the SpeakWrite website such as the Studio pages and handouts.
  • [Optional] Consider using the PACT graphic and/or the four key PACT questions related to purpose, audience, conventions, and trouble spots.  You will find links to the graphics below.
Step 2. Include a brief note in your e-mail that addresses these questions:
  • Is the course intended for majors only or will it be available to students outside the major?
  • Who will teach the course?
  • What is the department’s plan for assuring all sections of the course will meet SpeakWrite expectations? (Please remember that SpeakWrite designation is at the course level rather than at the individual section level.)
  • Do you want to provide any other context that may be helpful to the review?
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    SpeakWrite Syllabus Statement (optional)

    We hope faculty will signal their commitment to fostering effective communication by including a syllabus statement.  Here is a sample statement for a SpeakWrite course that has a substantial speaking and/or writing component--but feel free to adapt this or create your own version.

    [Course name and number
    ] has been designated as a SpeakWrite course by the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. As part of the Eberly College’s commitment to fostering effective communication skills, this course will:
          • Emphasize informal and formal modes of communication
          • Teach discipline-specific communication techniques
          • Use a process-based approach to learning that provides opportunities for feedback and revision
          • Base a substantial portion of the final grade on successful spoken and/or written performance [please specify 33% or more]
    For more information about the SpeakWrite program, please visit SpeakWrite.wvu.edu. 

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    SpeakWrite Common Language: PACT

    The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences is committed to fostering students’ abilities in writing, speaking, visual presentations, and multimedia communication by helping students become aware of four key questions that shape responses to many situations:
    • Purpose: What exactly do I want to happen as a result of this communication?
    • Audience: Who is reading, listening, or viewing?
    • Conventions: What is expected in this context?
    • Trouble-Spots: What could get in the way of my goals?
    There are certainly other ways to approach writing and speaking.  A single acronym will never capture all the ways in which we create, explore, discover, and share ideas and insights.  However, a common language used across several contexts can help students analyze many of the writing and speaking situations that they will encounter in their classes, in their work, and in their community.
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    PACT Graphic & Sample Syllabi

    • Integrate either of these (optional) graphics into your own document:
    • Refer to a few sample syllabi (with SpeakWrite components highlighted in yellow) if you need ideas:
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    SpeakWrite Certified Programs/Majors™

    When SpeakWrite courses constitute 50% or more of a graduating student's program of study (typically six  SpeakWrite courses among those required for the major), that program is eligible to be SpeakWrite Certified. The certification is done at the college level through the department's annual assessment process.

    Students completing a SpeakWrite Certified Program will automatically meet the university's and college's effective communication skills requirement.

    Program certification will need to be complete by early in the spring semester if a program is to be listed as SpeakWrite Certified in the subsequent academic year's catalog. (I.e., if a program is to be listed among the first round of SpeakWrite certified programs in the Fall 2016 Undergraduate Catalog, program certification will need to be complete by early Spring 2016.)

    SpeakWrite Certified Programs will have a certification statement included on the major page in the catalog and students may also include the statement on their résumés.  The following is a working sample of a catalog statement:

    • T he Biology Bachelor of Arts is a SpeakWrite Certified Program™.  SpeakWrite Certified programs incorporate and develop students' written, spoken, visual, and mediated communication skills across the curriculum.
      The following three guidelines apply to programs:
      1. Program-wide Emphasis. SpeakWrite activities are meaningfully and intentionally embedded into half or more of the courses and curricula across the unit's major program(s) of study.
      2. Explicit Program Learning Outcome(s). The Program Learning Outcome Goals for the major (on which annual assessment activities are based) include at least one communication skills goal.
      3. Connection to Assessment. Department-level assessment reports for a SpeakWrite-certified program annually include a measure of effective communication outcomes for students in the major (e.g., faculty-defined criteria used to assess a sampling of projects; collections of perceived learning based on surveys, focus groups, self-assessments, etc.).
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        SpeakWrite Program Certification Process

        Submit an application in Word to SpeakWrite@mail.wvu.edu.
        • Include the program name in the subject line (e.g. History BA Application for SpeakWrite Program Certification)
        • State the program learning outcome goal (or goals) for the major that explicitly references communication skills; this language probably exists already your department's annual assessment report.
        • Illustrate/describe how SpeakWrite approved courses constitute half or more of the courses in the program of study that students pursuing this degree will take before graduation.  To do this step, you might simply copy and paste text from the "Requirements and Catalog Information" box in the Undergraduate Catalog.  Highlight SpeakWrite certified courses in yellow.
        • Identify at least one assessment measure that will help your program see how students are doing in achieving the program's effective communication goal(s). This is your starting point; your measures will evolve from year to year.
        Sample Program Applications. Please see the Communication Studies Application for SpeakWrite Program Certification or the Biology Application for SpeakWrite Program Certification.  Each should open in a new window as a PDF.
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        SpeakWrite Affiliated Major

        Programs that do not seek or are not ready for SpeakWrite Program Certification may apply SpeakWrite affiliation when they wish to:

        • endorse their commitment to SpeakWrite principles (see the top of this page);
        • affirm that commitment through one or more Program Learning Outcome goals that explicitly references communication skills; and
        • require students to complete at least six SpeakWrite certified courses (typically English 101 and 102 or English 103; and four additional SpeakWrite courses in the major, as designated in the pull-down menus in DegreeWorks.  One of the four additional courses may be the capstone course, assuming it has been SpeakWrite certified.
        SpeakWrite Affiliated Programs will have a statement included on the major page similar to the following:

        • The Department of Political Science is a SpeakWrite Affiliated Program™, committed to fostering and assessing students’ written, verbal, visual, and mediated communication skills. The Political Science  major requires its Bachelor of Arts program graduates to complete ENGL 101 and 102 (or 103), and a minimum of four additional SpeakWrite Certified Courses as a part of their programs of study.

        SpeakWrite Program Affiliation Process 

        Submit an application in Word to SpeakWrite@mail.wvu.edu.
        • Include the program name in the subject line (e.g. Physics BA/BS Application for SpeakWrite Affiliation)
        • State the program learning outcome goal (or goals) for the major that explicitly references communication skills; this language probably exists already your department's annual assessment report.
        • Illustrate/describe how program graduates will complete complete ENGL 101 and 102 (or ENGL 103) and four additional SpeakWrite certified coursesTo do this step, you might simply copy and paste text from the "Requirements and Catalog Information" box in the Undergraduate Catalog.  Highlight SpeakWrite certified courses in yellow.
        • Identify at least one assessment measure that will help your program see how students are doing in achieving the program's effective communication goal(s). This is your starting point; your measures will evolve from year to year.
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          Programs who are neither certified nor affiliated will need to specify at least two additional SpeakWrite Certified courses™ to complete the Writing and Communication Skills requirement.  Please complete one of the following statements and submit to Joan.Gorham@mail.wvu.edu

          • [Name of major] students complete the Writing and Communication Skills requirement by completing ENGL 101 and 102 (or 103) and two SpeakWrite Certified Courses™:  XXXX 123 and XXXX 456.
              • EXAMPLE:  Social Work BSW students complete the Writing and Communication Skills requirement by completing ENGL 101 and 102 (or 103), and two additional SpeakWrite Certified Courses™:  SOWK 320 and SOWK 494.
                                                  OR

          • [Name of major] students complete the Writing and Communication Skills requirement by completing ENGL 101 and 102 (or 103) and two of the following SpeakWrite Certified Courses™:  XXXX 234,  XXXX  345, XXXX 456, XXXX 457, XXXX 458.
              • EXAMPLE: Religious Studies Bachelor of Arts students complete the Writing and Communication Skills requirement by completing ENGL 101 and 102 (or 103) and at least two additional SpeakWrite Certified Courses™ selected from: RELG 219RELG 223RELG 230RELG 231RELG 301RELG 310RELG 482
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