The West Point Writing Program
Signature Writing Events (Overview, Design Guidelines, Assessment Policies)
Every course linked to the Writing Program includes one assignment that its Course Director explicitly designates as a "Signature Writing Event" (SWE). SWEs usually occur in the latter stages of a course, allowing time for Cadets to develop as thinkers and writers in the discipline at hand. Moreover, such events are almost always prepared writing assignments, enabling Cadets to engage in a full writing process. Whenever possible, these events build on the ideals of "Signature Work" as defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities: they provide opportunities for Cadets to take greater ownership of their educations and demonstrate learning within a field by formulating original, innovative contributions to problems they themselves define.
Cadets' SWEs should represent their best work; as such, they offer important measures of cadets' progress in specific
genres and disciplines. Collectively, the SWEs that Cadets complete across their coursework yield a sense of their development as writers in general. Cadets who repeatedly fail to demonstrate proficiency on Signature Writing Events, no matter the grades they receive in the events or courses themselves, will be directed by the WPWP to further learning opportunities (potentially including STAP courses) that develop them as writers.
1. The SWE represents a significant writing assignment in the course, as determined by the Program or Course Director.
2. The basic assignment for the SWE is standardized across the course, though variation across sections is permitted in terms of specific prompts, datasets, or supporting materials.
3. The SWE is individually authored and documented according to relevant guidance in the DAW.
4. The SWE concludes in the Cadet’s dual submission of a final product to his or her instructor and to his or her Cadet Writer ePortfolio (CWP) via BlackBoard. Cadets are responsible for submitting their SWEs to the appropriate folders in their BlackBoard course. On uploading their SWEs to BlackBoard, they must also enter a brief reflective comment (ungraded) in which they describe their writing process and analyze the strength and weaknesses of their product. The Writing Program, not faculty, manages Cadet Writer ePortfolios.
5. In addition to whatever feedback and grades they render to Cadets, faculty must complete a digital WPWP Assessment Rubrics in our Academy Management System (AMS) that separately assesses the writing proficiency of each Cadet as demonstrated in the SWE.
Faculty use a differently-formatted version of the rubric below, via their Grades Center in AMS, to evaluate all Cadet SWEs. They rely on their knowledge of conventions and expectations appropriate to the assignment to complete this assessment, which is separate and independent from the grade and feedback they otherwise render cadets. (Cadets may fail assignments yet demonstrate writing proficiency and vice versa.) The purpose of the rubric is to enable the Academy to track the development of Cadets as writers across the curriculum. Cadets access the results of the rubric through AMS and BlackBoard after the conclusion of every semester.
Consequences: Cadets marked as "Not Proficient" on one SWE receive messaging from the Writing Program on the importance of writing effectively and on additional resources available to advance their development. Failure to demonstrate overall proficiency on more than one SWE across WiC, WiM, and WiP coursework will trigger a WPWP review of the Cadet's ePortfolio, whereupon cadets will be directed to take on additional development as appropriate (potentially including STAP courses in writing).