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Writing Flag

Depending on their major, students will be required to take two to three Writing Flag courses in order to graduate. (Check with your advisor to make sure you know how many Writing Flags have been implemented for your degree program.)

The Writing Flag requirement helps students improve their:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Understanding of course content
  • Ability to formulate ideas in writing
  • Ability to write in the style of a particular discipline

For a class at UT to satisfy the Writing Flag, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Students must write regularly (several times during the semester) and complete writing projects that are substantial
  • Students must receive feedback from the instructor to help them improve their writing, and be given an opportunity to revise at least one assignment
  • Students’ writing must make up at least one-third* of the course grade.
    *For three-or four-credit courses. For two-credit hour courses, at least one-half of the course grade should be based on Flag content. For one-hour credit courses, the whole course grade (100%) should be based on Flag content.
  • Large lecture classes will typically not meet the requirements for the Writing Flag, because the instructor cannot provide adequate personalized, revision-focused feedback for every student. Under special circumstances, exceptions may sometimes be made for larger courses if they provide enough trained TAs to maintain a 25:1 or lower student/instructor ratio.

For a course to qualify for Flag credit students MUST revise work based on feedback from the instructor or the TA. The course must be structured around the principle that good writing requires re-writing. Students must receive meaningful feedback from the instructor (or teaching assistant) so they can improve successive drafts.

Writing Flag courses do more than just improve your writing skills. In a survey of 23,000 college students, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) found that “When courses provided extensive, intellectually challenging writing activities, students engaged in more deep learning activities such as analysis, synthesis, and integration of ideas from various sources, and they grappled more with course ideas both in and out of the classroom. These students also reported greater personal, social, practical, and academic learning and development” (NSSE press release, Nov. 10, 2008).

What is a Writing Flag class like?

Each instructor will use writing in unique ways to enhance the class for students. You may write a short paper every week, for example, or you may have four or five projects that build into a single detailed report. You may be asked to write in class daily or to post messages on a class Web forum. You may work collaboratively with other students on writing projects. All of these activities are designed to help you master course content and hone your writing skills.