Experiences with Writing Assignments in Upper-Division Computer Science Courses

Document Type


Publication Date

October 1999

Publication Title

Teaching in the 21st Century: Adapting Writing Pedagogies to the College Curriculum

First Page


Last Page





When I arrived at Butler University in the Fall of 1991, I discovered the writing-across-the-curriculum program (WAC), directed by Dr. Carol Reeves. At Butler, all students must take a writing-intensive course during their junior or senior year. Preferably that course should be in the student’s major. At Butler, WAC’s primary duty is to approve courses as writing-intensive and to train faculty to competently offer such courses. As an eager new faculty member, I dutifully signed up for the training, despite my fears about using writing in computer science courses. I had never taught a course that involved writing, and I did not know how to grade writing assignments. I was not certain that writing could or should be used in upper-division computer science courses as it is in upper-division humanities courses. Perhaps fellow computer scientists feel the same way.