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University Writing Program
In keeping with the mission of the school to prepare future leaders, communication is highly valued at SUA. Language is fundamental to effective leadership. The University Writing Program strives to give students an understanding of the principles of effective communication in written and oral English that will allow them to excel as writers, readers, listeners, and speakers. It strives to instill in students an appreciation for accuracy and precision in language and a devotion to lifelong learning in the fields of written and oral communication. The Program also strives to help students develop their capacity to reflect on events and information and to reason critically and objectively. Finally, the Program strives to develop in students a commitment to the ethical use of language under all circumstances.
The University Writing Program makes several assumptions about students, including:
- We believe that they are capable, intelligent people who have been writing for years, seeking challenging projects to strengthen their writing abilities.
- We regard our communication skills courses as important parts of students' college education, enabling students to participate in a new academic community, to practice the habits of mind and the writing and speaking strategies demanded by college assignments in a variety of disciplines.
- We assume that writing with meaningful feedback teaches writing. The subject matter of our courses is an action, one that is best taught by showing students how to write and then letting them practice, with appropriate guidance.
The University Writing Program focuses on writing, in particular, and communication in general as vehicles for learning. The Program's communication skills courses are based on Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), which addresses the writing and language used in the academy--specifically, the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
The WAC model SUA has adopted is multifaceted and comprehensive. All students are required to complete successfully Communication Skills (WRIT 101) during their first year and Advanced Communication Skills (WRIT 301) during their junior year. WRIT 101 is a generic WAC course which introduces students to the range of conventions, standards of proof, and ways of knowing that characterize the disciplines that make up liberal arts education. The course is divided into three areas of study: science, social science, and humanities. Students read, write, and give presentations that reflect the language of these three broad divisions.
Advanced Communication Skills is linked to select courses in the concentrations. Students enroll concurrently in a concentration course and its linked course. All activities in Advanced Communication Skills are based on work students do in their concentration course. The link not only makes writing, reading, speaking, and listening more meaningful and contextualized, it also provides students with feedback from two sources simultaneously.
Written and oral communication is further enhanced throughout the curriculum. Core, general education, and many concentration courses are designated as "writing and communication intensive." These courses engage students in a variety of language activities to help them grow as communicators. Students write papers, give presentations, and participate in small group discussions as part of their regular work.
Writing Program student learning outcomes are:
- To demonstrate understanding of the process of writing for inquiry, learning, thinking and communicating
- To produce work that recognizes the complex relationships among audience, purpose, and text, and among language, knowledge, and power
- To gain proficiency in rhetorical conventions in the context of specific disciplines and genres
- To exhibit knowledge of the collaborative and social aspects of the writing process
- To achieve competency and skill communicating orally and in writing
The University Writing Center
The University Writing Center is an integral part of all communication skills development at Soka University of America. The University Writing Center’s role in students’ university education is to engage students in dialogical thinking and to provide writing instruction in alignment with American academic standards. The Writing Specialists have advanced degrees and significant teaching experience, allowing Soka University of America to boast a more expertly trained Writing Center staff than typically found on U.S. college campuses.
Writing Specialists assist students primarily though one-on-one tutorials by appointment or on a walk-in basis, even by professor referral. During these 30-minute sessions, the focus is not merely “fixing” the paper but aiding skill development to help students to become self-reliant and critical learners, thinkers, readers, listeners, and writers To be clear, writing specialists DO NOT: 1) provide editing services, 2) accept papers that students drop off or email to be “corrected,” 3) appropriate students’ papers, 4) discuss or assign grades, or 5) help on take-home exams without instructor approval. Through session reports, specialists communicate with professors and track a student’s progress over time.
The Writing Center engages in other activities supporting communicative growth such as:
- Freshman and Sophomore Writing Exams, administered to identify students needing extra help and evaluate the University Writing Program.
- Extended Capstone Sessions, offered to seniors who desire weekly feedback on their capstone projects beyond what they receive from their Mentors.
- Assignment Discussion Groups, organized to help students in WRIT 101 to begin their assignments.
- Workshops, held periodically to target skill-building in specific phases in the writing process, vocabulary, grammar, and other skill areas.
- Instructional Handouts, created for students and faculty as quick reference guides on various topics. These are available on our resources page.
- Conversation Buddies, instigated to provide students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to build multicultural friendships and improve conversational English skills in a fun and low-stress way.
It must be stressed that the Writing Center does not simply provide remedial student services. Although basic language and writing instruction is offered, the Writing Center’s services benefit writers of all skill levels. They can be especially helpful to average and above-average student writers who seek to hone their skills as contributive participants in the American academic community. In fact, the Center may assist any member of the university community who desires to improve the quality of his or her writing by receiving additional reader input.
Writing Center student learning outcomes are:
- To gain an understanding of writing as a process that usually requires multiple drafts
- To gain rhetorical knowledge of how to write for different audiences, situations and purposes
- To gain the ability to address local and global level issues involved in writing
- To gain confidence in completing a range of writing tasks
The University Writing Center is located on the second floor of the library’s south wing. The facilities include three individual tutoring rooms complete with computers and reference materials, a comfortable lounge area, a conference room, a resource library, staff offices, and a work room. The Writing Center also maintains an online presence, not only to facilitate scheduling and reporting but also to provide resources after hours and expand our writing community. The Writing Center prides itself on creating a welcoming and stimulating intellectual environment for all seek it.
Please direct questions and correspondence to:
Soka University of America
University Writing Center
1 University Drive
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-8081