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Through FWIS, I’ve enjoyed teaching my favorite French films and novels, many of which raise controversial questions that lead to spirited discussions and papers in which students feel they have a stake. Because the classes are capped at 15 students, all of whom are in their first year, they quickly form into tight communities. I get to know each student’s strengths and weaknesses and work with each individually on writing and presenting. I keep up with many of my former students, and it is rewarding to hear that years later they are still making connections between texts and films from class and their life experiences.
— Melissa Bailar, Associate Director of the Humanities Research Center

We welcome your participation in the First-year Writing-Intensive Seminar (FWIS) program! FWIS affords you a unique opportunity to introduce first-year students to interesting questions or problems in your field of study, to support their transition to college–level writing and speaking, and to shape their early experiences at Rice.

WHY FWIS?

Flexibility.  Design your own syllabus and assignments to achieve FWIS learning objectives.

Enrollment.  FWIS courses are capped at 15 first-year students to facilitate relationships between students and faculty, to encourage small group discussion, and to provide students with substantive feedback on their writing, speaking, and visual communication.

Training and Support.

  • Participate in a week-long, communication pedagogy seminar for first-time FWIS instructors.
  • Meet individually with the CWOVC's professional staff to get advice about working with first-year students, constructing a FWIS course syllabus, or designing communication assignments.
  • Attend occasional FWIS workshops on special topics such as "Giving Feedback on Writing" or "Working with Second Language Writers."  
  • Join the FWIS community and share what you learn about teaching a communication-intensive course with colleagues from across campus.

Incentives.  Take advantage of faculty incentives, which include a trained TA or a modest research stipend.
 

STEP 1: DESIGN YOUR FWIS

The Foundation.  A FWIS is a content-based, 3 credit-hour seminar that may focus on any topic. However, writing and communication pedagogy must play a significant role in the assignments and grading. Instructors design their own syllabi and assignments based on the FWIS learning objectives. Browse descriptions of FWIS courses.

Credit towards Major.  FWIS courses may count toward major requirements at the discretion of individual departments.

Distribution Credit.  All FWIS courses count for distribution credit in one of the three areas (D1, D2, or D3).
 

STEP 2: PROPOSE YOUR FWIS

  • Write a 2 - 3 paragraph description of your proposed topic
  • Define course goals related to the content
  • Review the FWIS learning objectives and explain how your FWIS will be communication intensive
  • Briefly describe communication assignments
  • List examples of readings
  • Indicate scheduling preference (e.g., MWF 10:00-10:50, Fall 2016)
  • Choose incentive
  • Request your chair’s approval
  • Submit to Elaine Chang, the Program Coordinator of the Program in Writing and Communication (ElaineChang@rice.edu)

The following sample proposals may help in crafting your own.

If you have questions about the FWIS program or would like to discuss your ideas for a course proposal, contact Dr. David Ferris (ferris@rice.edu), the associate faculty director of the FWIS program.
 

HELPFUL FAQS

When should I submit a FWIS course proposal?
In November a call goes out on PRESFAC for new FWIS course proposals for the next academic year. Course proposals are due in mid-December. Note that the deadline for graduate students' FWIS course proposals occurs in the spring semester. 

What is the review process for new FWIS course proposals?
All new FWIS course proposals are discussed by a committee composed of tenure-track and non tenure-track faculty from the Program in Writing and Communication and its Faculty Advisory Board. Proposals are also reviewed by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Chair of the Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum. Approved course proposals are then sent to the appropriate Dean to review for distribution credit. This process ensures that FWIS courses are content-driven, communication-intensive, rigorous, appropriate for first-year students, and aligned with the distribution credit guidelines. 

My department has a large 100 or 200 level survey class. Can I teach an independent section of this course as a FWIS?
Yes. It will require a new course number under the FWIS designation. FWIS courses cannot be cross-listed.

Can I send my students to the CWOVC for assistance with their FWIS assignments?
Yes. Students receive assistance through individual consultation and should make their appointments here.

If I decide to teach a FWIS instead of a departmental course, will my department be compensated to hire a replacement instructor?
Replacement funding for core departmental courses is at the discretion of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

I want to participate in the FWIS training seminar again. Can I still receive the stipend?
We welcome your repeated participation in the seminar, though you are eligible to receive the stipend only once.

Will my FWIS TA be from my own department?
Not necessarily. Faculty who elect to have a TA will be assigned a graduate student trained to teach writing and communication.