The Writing and Critical Thinking (WCT) Programme at the NUS University Scholars Programme (USP) has made its mark on the international stage, becoming one of only four recipients, and the first in Asia, to win a 2018-2019 Certificate of Writing Program Excellence from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). The CCCC, a professional association of college and university writing instructors in the US, is a constituent organisation within the National Council of Teachers of English.
USP Senior Lecturer Dr Mark Dean Brantner, Coordinator of the USP Writing Centre, explained that the WCT is a pioneering writing programme at NUS and in Singapore. “It was established at the inception of USP and it is…an integral component of the USP curriculum,” he said. Upon recent revisions of the curriculum to keep current with larger trends in the teaching of writing and critical thinking, as well as to better suit USP’s diverse and interdisciplinary faculty and curriculum, the WCT team tried for the award. “We were fortunate to get it on the first try and we were very excited and a little surprised about that,” Dr Brantner recounted.
The judging committee commended the efforts made to connect the writing curriculum to both the discipline of writing studies and to the local context. It particularly noted the small class sizes of 12 per section which allowed “robust, individualised feedback and attention to student writing, as well as the publication of undergraduate student writing”.
“This award is external validation of the quality of instruction that students receive in writing and critical thinking as part of USP. It comes from an organisation that includes experts in North America, Europe and Asia. The award acts as a benchmark that measures our writing and critical thinking programme against equivalent programmes, and acknowledges our strengths as an intellectually rigorous programme,” said Dr Brantner. He and WCT Coordinator Dr Yew Kong Leong received the award on 15 March at the 2019 CCCC Annual Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.
Dr Brantner shared that looking forward, the team hopes to continue to monitor and safeguard their successes, continue with their best practices and ensure these benefit the students in the programme.
The CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence was established in 2004 and honours up to 20 writing programmes a year.