College Writing Proficiency Criteria

Why College Writing Proficiency?

College Writing Proficiency, or CWP, has been a Goucher tradition for over 35 years. This college requirement ensures that Goucher graduates leave college with marketable writing skills and habits, contributing to the college’s mission of preparing students to live lives of inquiry and creativity including a lifelong engagement with critical and analytical thinking.

The Process

Students will submit a portfolio consisting of:

1.) 2 academic essays equaling between 10-15 pages of writing. (Creative work such as fiction, poetry or screenplays is not suitable for submission for CWP).

  • Essays should be either thesis-driven and/or have a clear focus and purpose
  • Essays should do more than just summarize and report: they should argue, evaluate, analyze or solve a problem.
  • Essays should incorporate primary and secondary sources (as appropriate to given audience and purpose), some of which are scholarly and academic.

2.) A cover letter, introducing and contextualizing your submissions. The cover letter should:

  •  introduce and contextualize the essays submitted
  • discuss their purpose, intended audience, and discourse community
  • discuss other relevant rhetorical choices made, including revision choices. 

Portfolios are then randomly assigned two readers, who read the submissions with a rubric of nine criteria, and then individually decide whether or not the portfolio has earned CWP. If the readers disagree on their decisions, a third reader is brought in.

What Proficiency Means (and what we look for when we read)

Proficiency is more than getting an A on an essay: it is a high degree of skill or expertise. We look at writing both locally at the level of sentences and paragraphs (grammar, usage, style, register, and tone) and globally (content, structure, organization). Additionally, we want to see essays that incorporate and elaborate upon a variety of appropriate, credible sources (including some academic and scholarly sources) that are incorporated effectively and cited and documented correctly.

Revision is key: students are strongly encouraged to revise and edit their work multiple times before submission. They can make appointments with our faculty, and with tutors at the Writing Center, who are trained to work with portfolios.

When to submit: Deadline for students in their 2nd or 3rd year at Goucher, that have not achieved CWP, must submit portfolios by 5:00 pm on Thursday, May 7, 2020

Seniors who are resubmitting portfolios should do so on a rolling basis on or before Friday, May 1. Note: Seniors who are currently enrolled in WRT 201 have an extended deadline as per class policy

Submit your portfolio

Proficient Portfolios will demonstrate the following Student Learning Outcomes:

Students should be able to:

  • Develop strategies for drafting, reviewing and revising to improve  (a) global issues with development, structure, voice, register and the quality of the evidence, analysis and/or argument purpose, audience, and genre and  (b) local issues of precision and conformity to the conventions of Edited American English for the given purpose, audience, and genre.
  • Choose an appropriate register for the given purpose, audience, and genre.
  • Demonstrate rhetorical awareness and an awareness of different genres and discourse communities and their conventions, and write essays that reflect this understanding of transfer.
  • Demonstrate an ability to develop a specific thesis, purpose, and/or focus that analyzes, argues, synthesizes, speculates, evaluates, and/or reflects (and does not merely report or summarize) for the given purpose, audience, and genre. 
  • Choose and implement effective organization strategies at the sentence, paragraph, and global levels for the given purpose, audience, and genre.
  • Effectively develop their writing with substantial, convincing evidence from credible, appropriate sources for the given purpose, audience, genre and discourse community.
  • Correctly employ appropriate citation and documentation (for example, MLA, APA or Chicago Manual Style) and employ correct use and appropriate amount of direct quotation, paraphrasing, and summarizing for the given purpose, audience, and genre.
  • Find, analyze, interpret, evaluate and create multimodal texts for the given purpose, audience, and genre.