WAC in the Community Colleges

Community colleges have been actively engaged with WAC from the start of the movement. Terry Collins and Suzanne Hofer's annotated bibliography on "interdepartmental responsibility for the teaching of writing skills," completed in 1976, identifies several WAC or WAC-like efforts then in progress at two-year institutions.

  • In 1974, Ann Laster and Nell Ann Picket described an approach that involved teaching first-year composition in partnership with 13 departments at Hinds Junior College.
  • In 1975, Harvey Weiner reported on efforts by writing faculty at LaGuardia Community College to work with and develop materials for faculty in other departments to support college-wide efforts to upgrade writing skills and to support learning in disciplinary courses.
  • In 1976, E. Lee Gershuny and Daniel Rosich described an interdisciplinary course at the Borough of Manhattan Community College that used writing assignments to explore connections between English and data processing.

The growth of interest in WAC among two-year institutions parallels that of four-year institutions. In 1988, Barbara Stout and Joyce Magnotto reported the result of a survey of 1,270 institutions that were members of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges. The 401 survey responses indicated that two-year colleges were engaged in WAC in roughly the same percentages as other higher-education institutions:

Almost one third of the survey respondents reported that their colleges have WAC programs. This percentage is consistent with other recent estimates of WAC programs at colleges and universities (see the Appendix in this volume and Kinneavy, 1987). Survey responses from 111 community colleges indicated that they are planning or considering writing across the curriculum. The remaining 169 of the 401 responding colleges do not have programs. Eleven reported discontinuing their programs, and one reported reinstating a program after a lapse. (p. 22)

While the institutional reward structures for community colleges pose their own set of challenges to those who seeks to launch and support WAC programs, the level of engagement with WAC has continued to be similar to that of other institutions (see Blau, 2010; Hughes-Wiener & Jensen-Cekalla, 1991; Reiss, 1996; Rose & Theilheimer, 2002). The experiences of Donna Reiss and her colleagues at Tidewater Community College highlight challenges and opportunities that shape work at many two-year institutions.

Video: Donna Reiss recalls key moments in the development of WAC at Tidewater Community College. View the video at https://youtu.be/qQxTwBY0f3c.