Graphic by Megan Eloise/The Gazelle

Possible changes to Writing Program with new proposal

Released to the student body on Oct. 21, the new Writing Program proposal intends to create a mandatory, semester-long writing seminar to be taken in ...

Nov 14, 2015

Graphic by Megan Eloise/The Gazelle
Released to the student body on Oct. 21, the new Writing Program proposal intends to create a mandatory, semester-long writing seminar to be taken in either the fall or spring semester of the first year.
Currently, students are either placed into the Analysis and Expression course or straight into a writing intensive Core based on a writing evaluation completed before arrival to campus. The proposed program would see all students, regardless of writing proficiency, undertake a writing class taught by a member of the Writing Program faculty.
Marion Wrenn, director of the Writing Program, said that this proposal was the outcome of conversations that had been occurring since the beginning of the Writing Program, two years after NYU Abu Dhabi was established.
Wrenn described the new proposal as “a foundational step that would serve all of the students and … bring them together in a writing experience which is different than disciplinary writing, different than writing in the Core.” The seminar would have students complete around 50 pages of polished writing over the course of the term.
The proposal seeks to equip students with tools in writing, such as developing a thesis statement, identifying a motive and integrating sources and evidence. Wrenn identified these skills as contributing to the disciplinary nature that characterizes the program, but also distinguished the program as teaching skills that would be foundational for majors.
Sophomore Max Eckert suggested that classes on disciplinary writing would be useful.
“Writing in the arts and humanities is a completely different writing style as it is in the sciences,” said Eckert. “If you were able to pick from these writing classes that would be offered, they would be assigned a discipline. I think that would be great — not this blanket style.”
The proposal also outlines that students would be placed into classes regardless of their previous experience with academic writing.
Senior Ben Leb was optimistic about this component, but stressed that its success would depend upon the classroom environment.
“I guess the questions that are involved are — how do you have a good class discussion given that there's different levels of writing skill?” said Leb.
Ken Nielsen, Associate Director of the Writing Program, also noted that the success of the new program would depend upon the ability to engage students across levels.
“We need to make sure that the material is rich enough so that those who are perhaps better prepared than their colleagues will still have something interesting to read and think about in that class,” said Nielsen.
According to the proposal, faculty members will identify students who may be in particular need of further English language and writing instruction. The faculty member and student can then collaborate to craft an individual learning plan for the semester.
Eckert noted that the success of the new program would also depend upon the interaction between students and instructors and faculty.
“I think by also concentrating on staffing the classes adequately with skilled writing assistants ... I think there is an opportunity for distinguishing or challenging each class member individually,” said Eckert.
The expansion of the writing program will require hiring one or two more faculty members for the Writing Program, according to Wrenn, and would still require Writing Fellows to be integrated into the program as individual instructors.
Leb noted that with the termination of the GAF program, the Writing Program proposal would require the integration of whatever succeeds the GAF program.
“You can't teach good writing classes without good writing teachers, and we just got rid of 30 of them,” said Leb.
Eckert also stressed the value of student input, after the Town Hall held to discuss the writing proposal along with the Core Curriculum was attended by just 20 students.
“The Town Hall, in my opinion, could have been advertised or made more widely known,” said Eckbert. “But still, at the same time, students need that spirit to say that this is my university and I want the people who come after me to have a wholesome experience.”
The proposal is still open for comment until it goes to a faculty vote, scheduled for Nov. 22, and those wishing to comment can contact Marion Wrenn at
gazelle logo