Writing Program

About

Writing Program at Millsaps College

The Millsaps College Writing Program is one of the College's hallmarks. Recognized as one of the premier writing programs in the country, we are known for making Writing Across the Curriculum work. That means that we take writing seriously, and we work hard to ensure that every student has plenty of opportunities to improve writing skills. We also work one-on-one with faculty members to support their use of writing in their courses.

In addition to personal support to both students and faculty members, our Writing Program is supported by a Writing Center and a Writing Proficiency Requirement. The Writing Center, staffed by student tutors, is open five days a week and is here to serve any student writer at any stage of the writing process. The Writing Proficiency Requirement is a portfolio requirement, consisting of seven papers written at Millsaps and assessed on a five-point scale. The fact that writing proficiency is a graduation requirement at Millsaps is a concrete statement of the importance we place on writing.

All of this happens through the work of Dr. Anita DeRouen, Director of Writing and Teaching, and Maegan Sayles, Administrative Assistant to the Writing Program.

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Millsaps College Writing Center

Millsaps College Writing Center
Millsaps College Writing Center

Mission Statement

The Millsaps College Writing Center seeks to engage writers in all stages of the writing process and to encourage intellectual growth through writing. Our purpose is to provide support and guidance to all Millsaps writers as they pursue their writing goals across and beyond the curriculum.

Current Students

Visit the Millsaps College Writing Center's Course Connect page (link to come) to access:

  • Upcoming Workshops
  • Handouts and Other Writing Resources
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Staff Bios
  • And More!

Hours and Locations

John Stone Hall 102A
Monday–Thursday 3–9 p.m.
Tuesday & Thursday 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

Library Study Rooms 204/205
Sunday–Thursday 7–10 p.m.

Contact

Email the Millsaps College Writing Center at writingcenter@Millsaps.edu.
Writing Center Director Liz Egan can be reached at eganee@Millsaps.edu or 601.974.1308.

The Writing Program and Writing Portfolio

Writing is central to the Millsaps experience, and maintaining a Writing Center on campus is just one of many ways the Writing Program cultivates strong writers at Millsaps College. One graduation requirement that all Millsaps College students are expected to fulfill is the Writing Portfolio, which is administered through the Writing Program (not the Writing Center). For questions or to learn more about the Writing Portfolio, email millsapswritingprogram@millsaps.edu.

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Writing Across the Curriculum

The intent of the Writing Program is to support all faculty as you use writing in your courses at Millsaps. With our writing intensive Core 1, IDST 1000/1050: Introduction to Thinking and Writing course and other Core courses, we work to develop a coherent, scholarly atmosphere in which students develop competent and effective means of written communication.

To this end, the Millsaps Writing Program has adopted a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) approach designed to offer clear and effective writing instruction in the initial writing intensive course—IDST 1000/1050—and to support and extend that instruction through other writing intensive courses in all disciplines on campus. Other courses on campus, including upper level courses in all three divisions and every major on campus, ought also to contribute to this campus-wide emphasis on one of the primary liberal arts abilities: written communication.

The Writing Across the Curriculum approach that the Millsaps Writing Program uses operates on the simple philosophy that writing is a skill requisite to every academic pursuit. It is not the domain or responsibility of single faculty members, departments, or divisions. It is a campus-wide, holistic approach to teaching writing. In short, from the earliest WAC theorists to contemporary post-process theorists, the consensus in this WAC strain of writing theory and pedagogy is this: that students can neither be injected with writing skills nor vaccinated against poor writing habits in one single course; that the writing process and, therefore, the teaching of writing is a recursive process; that students learn to write most successfully in environments in which their writing skills are measured in all courses and in which good writing habits are reinforced in various courses and by various instructors.

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Core Requirements

Core Commitment to Writing

With the inception of the Millsaps Core Curriculum, the Millsaps faculty charged the Core Council with approving core courses that "are intended to foster development of the general abilities of a liberally educated person." One specified core ability was "the ability to express one's thoughts and feelings coherently and persuasively through written. . . communication." To make certain that students develop their writing ability, the Core Council urges that all faculty teaching in the core assign writing to their students in all core courses. As a guide to the faculty, the Core Council has established the following requirements and guidelines for writing in core courses.

 

Core Writing Requirements

1. Requirements for Writing in Core 1

IDST 1000: Introduction to Thinking and Writing

IDST 1000 is the foundation course for the development of writing skills. Each section should require students to:

  • Write 10,000 words (approximately 40 typed pages), of which 3,500 words (14-15 typed pages) will be carefully revised and edited. This is three pages of writing formally or informally every week.
  • Have at least five writing assignments.
  • Begin their writing proficiency portfolio with a minimum of four pieces of writing from IDST 1000, including their self-assessment paper and a paper using documentation.

2. Requirements for Writing in Core 2-5 Topics Courses

Core Topics courses provide our students with instruction in writing that complements and builds on the work in IDST 1000. Core 2-5 courses will require students to:

  • Write 5,000 words (approximately 20 typed pages), of which 1,500-2,500 words (7-10 typed pages) will consist of a paper or a series of papers and will be carefully revised, edited and documented where appropriate. This is about a page and a half of writing formally and informally every week. Revision is an important element of writing in Core Topics courses. However, it is equally important to teach students to revise on their own as a part of the process rather than to depend on the teacher's response to every assignment. Therefore, the Core Council requires the following: In Core 2 and 3, the revision of at least one significant writing assignment must be supervised by the instructor. In Core 4 and 5 students will begin to learn to revise on their own. To ensure that careful revision is taking place, instructors will collect evidence of revision (notes, drafts, peer reviews, etc.) with the finished paper.
  • Have at least 4 different writing assignments. The informal writing may include a journal, daily response papers, and other such writing. The formal writing may be a paper or spread over several assignments. Students will develop library skills and teachers will teach proper documentation of sources in all Core classes, but only in Core 3 is a formal research paper (from 7-10 pages) required.
  • Write one paper in Core 3 in their freshman year for the Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Core 3 teachers will flag, on their syllabi, the piece of writing which they will assess for the portfolio. Usually this will be the inquiry/research paper, which all Core 3 courses are required to include.
  • Request assessment for papers written in Core 4 and 5, if they wish to add such papers to their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers of Core 4 and 5 will flag, on their syllabi, the piece of writing which they willing for the writing portfolio.

See Part 11 of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including discussion of revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of writing assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

 

3. Writing in Heritage

Heritage has comparable requirements for writing as do the Core 2-5 courses. Heritage will require its students each semester to:

  • Write 7,500 words (approximately 30 typed pages) each semester. In the second semester 1,500-2,500 words (7-10 typed pages) of these 7500 words will be carefully revised, edited and documented. This is about two pages of writing formally and informally every week.
  • Have at least 4 different writing assignments. The informal writing may include a journal, daily response papers and other such writing. The formal writing may be one paper or spread over several assignments.
  • Submit one paper from the second semester of the course for the Writing Proficiency Portfolio. The Heritage staff will flag, on the Heritage syllabus, the piece of writing they will assess for the Writing Portfolio. Usually this will be the inquiry/research paper that all second semester freshmen are required to write.

See Part II of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including a discussion of revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of writing assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

 

4. Writing in Core 6

Core 6 courses in the social and behavioral sciences play an important part in the development of writing skills. Core 6 courses should require their students to:

  • Write 3750 - 5,000 words, approximately 15-20 pages, of which 1,500-2,500 words (7-10 typed pages) will consist of a paper or a series of papers and will be carefully revised, edited and documented where appropriate. This is about a page of writing formally and informally every week. Revision will be a part of writing in Core 6 courses.
  • Have at least 3 different writing assignments. The informal writing may include a journal, daily response papers and other such writing. The formal writing may be one paper or several papers. A research paper is not mandated.
  • Request assessment for a paper written in Core 6, if they wish to add such a paper to their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers of Core 6 courses will flag, on their syllabi, the piece of writing they will assess for the Writing Portfolio.

See Part II of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including a discussion on revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

 

5. Writing in Core 7, 8 and 9

These courses in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science also have the responsibility to foster the development of students' writing ability. But the writing should be appropriate to the course material and the discipline. Although Core 8 courses are encouraged to include writing in their courses, only Core 7 and Core 9 courses are required to do so. Teachers of Core 7 and Core 9 courses will require their students to:

  • Write 2,500-3,750 words (approximately 10-15 typed pages). This is less than a page of writing every week.
  • Have a variety of writing assignments that include revisions where appropriate. Such assignments may include analytical essays, laboratory or others reports, case studies, surveys of research, explanations of problem solving, one-minute essays or other timed, in-class writing, research journals, essays from examinations and others.
  • Additionally, students may request assessment for a paper in Core 7 or 9 (or Core 8 if an appropriate assignment is included in the professor's planned assignments for the course) if they wish to add such a paper to their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers of Core 7,8, or 9 courses will indicate on their syllabi, the piece of writing that is available and suitable for assessment for the Writing Proficiency Portfolio.
  • Revise or expand one selected piece of writing, if the students wish to submit writing from the course for their Writing Proficiency Portfolio. Teachers will flag, on their syllabi, which piece of writing they will assess for the Writing Portfolio.

See Part II of this manual for further discussion on teaching writing, including discussion on revision techniques, and for a listing of various kinds of writing assignments suitable for core courses in every division.

 

6. Writing in Core 10

Students will generally have completed their core and their writing proficiency requirements in their sophomore year. Passing the proficiency requirements is an indication that students have reached minimal levels of writing proficiency at the lower division level. Research, however, indicates that students can easily regress unless they are challenged to continue writing at more advanced levels as they progress in their majors. Each department will, of course, decide how they will ensure the continued growth of their students' skills. The writing mandated in the Core 10 course merely provides a "capstone" experience to core and departmental writing requirements.

All Core 10 courses must include a reflective paper of at least five pages. It need not be a research paper, but the assignment will draw upon students' critical thinking skills, that is, their ability to think in complex ways, to bring multiple perspectives to bear upon an issue, and to make well reasoned judgments. Other writing assignments are left to the discretion of the teacher.

A student who double-majors may be required to write two reflective-paper assignments. This will happen if the reflective papers assigned in the Senior Seminars of both majors are also a requirement of each major. However, to satisfy the Core 10 requirement, a student need only write one reflective paper.

Noting a need for more uniformity in the required reflective paper, the Core Council has adopted the following suggested writing assignment. It strongly recommends that Core 10 faculty use this assignment, but realizes that specific course considerations may not allow the use of this assignment in certain situations.

Writing portfolios will be returned to all students enrolled in Core 10 courses as a help for students reflecting back on the totality of their liberal arts education. The Core Council also asks that all reflective papers be submitted to its office where they may be used in the future as part of a comprehensive assessment of the College core curriculum.

Suggested Core 10 Reflective Paper Assignment:

This paper should be based on thoughtful, evaluative reflection of your experience at Millsaps College. Focus your attention on the specific texts you have read, courses you have taken, the academic challenges you have confronted, the social experiences that left a deep impression on you, the professors who taught you and perhaps influenced you in some way, the adventures you have undertaken. What were your hopes and expectations before you came to Millsaps? Have these hopes and expectations been realized, changed? If so, how? In what way? Has your work in the (Physics, English, etc.) major complemented your Millsaps Core coursework and has it aided you in achieving your hopes and expectations on a more personal level? Do you believe that you have obtained a good liberal arts education at Millsaps College with its emphasis on specific liberal arts abilities? How? Why? Do you feel prepared to move on to the next phase of your life? You may find it helpful to consider readings about the value of the liberal arts introduced to you in Core 1 or other Core courses.

Your paper will be evaluated in the depth and specificity of your analysis as well as on the clarity, creativity and organization of your prose. Length: Five pages or more. Please hand in three copies.

Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award

The Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award will be given each spring for the best Reflective Paper written to satisfy the Core 10 requirement during the academic year. The Award is intended to encourage students to reflect on the value of their education in the liberal arts.

The Laney Award will be presented at Commencement and will carry a substantial cash prize. Submitted papers will be reviewed by a faculty panel to determine the best paper. The best paper along with other selected papers from those submitted will be published annually. These papers will be given to every incoming freshman the following fall, and the best paper (and perhaps other selections) will be required reading.

Deadline: Any student may submit his or her Core 10 reflective paper to the Core office in order to be considered for this award. A late-April date will be set each year.

Length: The usual expectation is that Core 10 papers will be from 4-5 pages. For the purposes of this award, papers may not exceed 8 typed, double-spaced pages.

Judging: Papers will be reviewed anonymously by a committee of four faculty members, including the Writing Director (who will chair the committee) and one faculty member from each division of the College (appointed by the Dean of the College).

Disposition of Papers: In addition to the winning paper, the top ten or twelve papers will be printed and collected each year for the next freshman class to read. The papers will also be published on the College Web site so that everyone has access to them.

Criteria: In judging papers, the committee will consider the quality of thought and expression, as well as the writer's ability to relate the Core experience to the major and to the wider context of the liberal arts.

Format: All papers must be neatly typed (word-processed) on standard white paper with a cover sheet including the student's name and the title of the paper. The student's name should appear nowhere else in the manuscript. In the Core office the cover sheet will be detached and a number will be assigned to each for the purposes of anonymity.

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Core 1 Guidelines

Core 1 Manual: Writing at Millsaps (PDF)

Core 1 Courses

Our Core 1 IDST 1000/1050: Introduction to Thinking and Writing course offerings and their designated audiences are the following:

  • Core 1 IDST 1000 offered fall only for traditional freshmen
  • Core 1 IDST 1050 offered fall and spring for transfer students
  • WritProg 1000 offered spring by recommendation

Unsatisfactory Progress with Core 1 or Writing Proficiency

  • If you do not pass Core 1 IDST 1000 or 1050: you must retake the course the next time that it is offered.
  • If you pass Core 1 IDST 1000 or 1050, but your writing is assessed below proficient: you will be recommended to take WritProg 1000.
  • If you pass Core 1 IDST 1000 or 1050, but your writing is not proficient: you will be required to take WritProg 1000.
  • If your writing still is not proficient upon your completion of WritProg 1000: you will be required to take an intensive writing course at Millsaps during summer school. Whether or not you continue at Millsaps will depend upon your performance in this course.
  • If you do not pass WritProg 1000, your continuance at Millsaps will be determined in consultation with the Director of the Writing Program and the Dean of the College.

Appeal Procedures

If you believe that the final assessment of your writing portfolio is inaccurate, then you may appeal the decision of the assessors by consulting the Director of the Writing Program. Your case will then be considered by the Writing Council, in consultation with the Dean of the College.

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Proficiency Requirements

The Writing Proficiency Requirement

To graduate from Millsaps College, all students must complete the Writing Proficiency Requirement. In other words, before you can receive your diploma, the Writing Proficiency Requirement must be completed.

The Writing Proficiency Requirement consists of two parts:

  1. Completing the Writing Portfolio by submitting 6 papers by the end of your second year; and
  2. Receiving a rating of Proficient from the Writing Program. (See "Evaluation Form")

Part 1: Four Steps to Completing Your Writing Portfolio:

Year 1, First semester

  • Complete and pass the required Core 1: Introduction to Thinking and Writing (IDST 1000/1050), AND submit clean copies of papers 1-3 to your instructor. The instructor will then assess (See "Evaluation Form") and submit them to the Writing Program Office to begin your Writing Portfolio.
  • If you do not pass Core 1, you will be required to repeat the course the next time it is offered (See "Further Guidelines and Procedures").
  • If you complete Core 1 but your writing has been assessed "below proficient," you may be recommended to complete an additional writing course, WritProg 1000: Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric (See "Further Guidelines and Procedures").
  • If you complete Core 1 but your writing has been assessed "well below proficient," you will be required to complete WritProg 1000: Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric (See "Further Guidelines and Procedures").

Year 1, Second Semester

  • First-year students required to take Core 3 or Heritage must submit a clean copy of a 4th paper to your instructor, who will then assess (See Core3/Heritage evaluation form) and submit it to your portfolio in the Writing Program Office;
  • Any student NOT required to take Core 3 or Heritage must submit a 4th paper with a completed cover sheet to the Writing Program Office in John Stone Hall (See below or click here for more information).

Year 2, Semesters 3 and/or 4

All students must submit papers 5 and 6 with completed cover sheets to the Writing Program Office in John Stone Hall.

  • One paper must have been written in Core 6-9 or any appropriate course in the Science Division or Else School of Management.
  • The remaining paper may come from any other course taken at Millsaps College.

NOTE: When you have submitted the required 6 papers, Part 1 of your Writing Proficiency Requirement (completion of your Writing Portfolio), is satisfied. However, to fulfill Part 2 of the Writing Proficiency Requirement, your portfolio must also be assessed as proficient.

Part 2: Portfolio Assessment

  • Proficient: If your Writing Portfolio is assessed "Proficient," you will be notified through email, and your portfolio will be returned to you in Senior Seminar. (See Evaluation Form and Assessment Procedure below.)
  • Below Proficient: If your Writing Portfolio has been assessed "Below Proficient," you will be notified through email and given instructions on how to proceed. (See Evaluation Form and Assessment Procedure below.)NOTE: If you fail to complete this process as outlined, your pre-registration and/or registration process may be blocked. For further Explanation of Guidelines and Procedures, see below.

Explanation of Guidelines and Procedures

Year 1, First Semester

During your first semester at Millsaps, you will attend the required Core 1 course - either IDST 1000 (for first-year students), or IDST 1050 (for non-traditional and transfer students). In Core 1, you will write at least 3 papers. Your Core 1 professor will ask you to submit clean copies of these 3 papers at the end of the semester. Your Core 1 professor will then assess (See Core 1 Evaluation Form) your writing on a scale ranging from "Well below" to "Well above Proficient" and submit your folder (provided by the Writing Program), containing the 3 papers and completed evaluation form, to the Writing Program Office in John Stone Hall. Note: A copy of the assessment is also sent to your advisor, whom you may ask for insight into your initial writing proficiency status.

If your Core 1 professor has serious concerns about your writing proficiency status at this point, you may either be recommended or required to take an additional writing course, WritProg 1000: Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric (See "Further Guidelines and Procedures"). Note: If you have not been recommended or required to take WritProg 1000 but want to continue working on your writing, you can choose to take WritProg 1000. In addition, at any point in your writing process - while taking any course or writing for any purpose, including personal statements for graduate school - , individual tutoring sessions are available in the Writing Center.

Year 1, Second Semester

Students required to take Core 3 or Heritage: During your second semester at Millsaps, you will enroll in either a Core 3 Topics course or the second semester of Heritage. In each course, your professor will designate a paper as the one to be assessed for the portfolio. Your professor will then assess (See Core3/Heritage evaluation form) this paper, consulting your Core 1 assessment in order to see if your writing continues to improve. Both this paper and its assessment will then be added to your portfolio on file in the Writing Program Office.

Students NOT required to take Core 3 or Heritage: Students from IDST 1000 (for first-year students) or IDST 1050 (for transfer students) who have completed their Core requirements elsewhere must submit 3 papers written at Millsaps to their Writing Portfolios, in consultation with the Director of the Writing Program. The 3 papers may come from any courses taken at Millsaps, including a Core 6-9 or any appropriate course from the Science Division or the Else School of Management. These 3 papers, in addition to the 3 submitted from IDST 1000 or IDST 1050, will complete your portfolio. However, to fulfill the Writing Proficiency Requirement, your portfolio must also be assessed Proficient.

Year 2, Semesters Three and Four

You will need to submit two papers. At least one of those papers must come from a course in Core 6-9 or any appropriate course from the Science Division or the Else School of Management. The other paper may come from any course taken at Millsaps College. These 2 papers, in addition to the 3 from Core 1 and Core 3 or Heritage, will complete your portfolio. However, to fulfill the Writing Proficiency Requirement, your portfolio must also be assessed Proficient.

Procedure for Submitting Papers:

  1. Select the paper[s] that you would like to submit to your writing portfolio.
  2. Print out a cover sheet for each paper, or pick them in the foyer of John Stone Hall.
  3. Complete your portion of the cover sheet.
  4. Ask your professor to sign the cover sheet and to include any additional information.
  5. Submit your paper with the cover sheet to the Writing Program Office, JSH.

NOTE: The responsibility for submitting the required papers to your portfolio is yours. If your portfolio has not been completed by your 5th semester, your pre-registration or registration may be blocked. In addition, if your Writing Proficiency Requirement has not been met by your senior year, you may not be permitted to take Senior Seminar, and ultimately, you may not be allowed to graduate.

Assessment Procedure (See "Evaluation Form")

Once your writing portfolio is complete (contains the 6 required papers), it will be assessed by the Writing Program Director.

  • If your portfolio is found to be "Proficient," you will be notified by email that you have completed the Writing Proficiency Requirement. The Office of Records will also be notified.
  • If your portfolio is assessed "Below Proficient," you will need to make an appointment with the Writing Program Director to review the portfolio.

NOTE: If your Writing Proficiency Requirement has not been met by your senior year, you may not be permitted to take Senior Seminar, and ultimately, you may not be allowed to graduate.

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