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Students in the university studies program are required to complete a Writing Based Inquiry Seminar (WBIS) class during their first year. Students develop their writing, critical reading and critical thinking skills in this course by exploring a single topic in depth. Students are expected to participate actively in their own learning through class discussions and group activities. The theme will vary, depending on the instructor.

Connect is the advanced writing course that will immerse students in the process of creating texts for different audiences and focus on developing the skills of rhetorical awareness, analytical reading, research, synthesis, and argumentation. Students will reflect and write about the personal and public roles of liberal education and their learning experiences in the University Studies Program. In addition, they will work to synthesize the USP’s three Signature Questions in the context of significant public issues.


WBIS Resources

Sample Syllabi

The following are actual syllabi used by instructors for their WBIS Courses, They have kindly shared their work for our use with their permission.

Course Development

  • Elements of a WBIS Syllabus provides detailed information for creating a first-year-student friendly syllabus for WBIS students.
  • Five Traits of Writing includes additional questions, a rubric for evaluation, and a rubric for self assessment.
  • The WBIS and ePortfolio Supplement document outlines the creation of your WBIS assignment that students will be required to reflect upon and upload to their ePortfolios, taking into consideration the Essential Learning Outcomes, WBIS Learning Outcomes, Signature Questions, and the overall USP portfolio process. It also includes a sample reflection assignment.
  • Information Literacy Resources for Quest Writing and Speaking Courses, compiled by librarian Ted Mulvey, provides information on what Polk can do for you, your students, and your classes to instruct students on information literacy.


WBIS courses include learning outcomes from both the “Oral and Written Communication” and the “Information Literacy” categories of the Essential Learning Outcomes. Speaking and writing instructors may find the American Association of Colleges and Universities “Written Communication,” “Oral Communication,” and “Information Literacy” rubrics useful in their course development and on-going dialogues.

Connect Resources

Course Development



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