Credit: Marta Lukomska | Mustang News

Cal Poly’s Office of Writing and Learning Initiatives recently changed the options available for students to fulfill the Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR) — a CSU-mandated writing program that students must complete in order to graduate. 

Students may now submit a GWR portfolio in lieu of passing the Writing Proficiency Exam — a timed essay test in which students must successfully respond to a given prompt — or enroll in and meet the passing requirements of a GWR-certified upper-division course.

In order for students to fulfill GWR portfolio requirements, they must submit two writing assignments they have completed for an upper-division course, along with a 300-word “Writing Development Reflection.”

The two writing assignments must be at least 750-words each and demonstrate an ability to effectively respond to rhetorical situations with supporting points. Students must have earned a minimum of a C grade on each assignment and must have worked independently on each assignment.

However, students who do not have completed assignments that meet this criteria may submit two 750-word essays in response to two of the optional writing prompts for their portfolio instead, along with their Writing Development Reflection.

Students who are expected to graduate in fall 2020 have been added to the Canvas page where they may submit their portfolio before the deadline of Nov. 20, according to the GWR portfolio webpage.

Undergraduate students are encouraged to fulfill the GWR when they have reached junior standing (at least 90 completed units), preferably before their senior year, so that they have enough time to develop their writing proficiency before they enter the professional world.

Students who have junior standing and above will automatically be added to the Canvas page at the beginning of their expected graduation term. Due to limited resources, eligible students will not be added before then, according to Executive Director of the Office of Writing and Learning Initiatives Dawn Janke.

“I cannot add all 10,000 plus GWR-eligible students to the Canvas page at once because it will be difficult then to prioritize and complete portfolio evaluation in a timely manner based on a student’s [expected graduation term],” Janke wrote in an email to Mustang News.

However, exceptions may be made for students who need to fulfill the GWR before their expected graduation term in order to enroll in their senior project. In this case, students can to contact the Office of Writing and Learning Initiatives and request to be added to the portfolio page in advance.

Aerospace engineering junior Nick Ogden said that as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) student, he is glad the university is adding optional writing prompts to the portfolio because he does not have any upper-division writing assignments he could submit, and would prefer not to enroll in a GWR-certified course.

“I literally cannot fit another class into my schedule and still graduate on time,” he said.

CSU campuses are expected to replace the Writing Proficiency Exam with an increase in GWR-certified courses and a formalized portfolio program by fall 2021, according to Janke.

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