Develop student writing as a critical skill for professional success

September 8, 2015

Writing permeates the professional life of the academic community. We write to inform colleagues of our discoveries. Our scholarly reputations depend on our publications. We write grant proposals to obtain funding for our scholarly efforts. We write exams, handouts, and syllabi to teach and evaluate our students. We write bylaws, policies, and minutes to manage day-to-day university functions.

No one doubts that academics value writing skills. You might be surprised that the business world also regards writing as an essential skill. Human resource directors from 64 corporations associated with the Business Roundtable (an association of leading U.S. corporations in manufacturing, finance, services, and high technology) described writing as a “threshold skill” for employment and promotion (National Commission on Writing, 2004). Nearly all respondents described email as a writing task expected of all employees. Over 75% expected employees to make oral presentations with visual aids (such as PowerPoint). Between 59% and 70% expected employees to produce technical reports, formal reports, and memos and correspondence. 

Academic programs at the University of West Florida support these employer expectations for writing skills in several ways. The General Education curriculum and every set of learning outcomes for undergraduate and graduate programs include student learning outcomes that describe the ability to create clear, professional prose. Communication skills are the focus of the new Quality Enhancement Plan (Communication for Professional Success), which includes both speaking and writing under the umbrella of communication. All QEP projects will generate direct measures of student skill in writing or speaking based on a common rubric.

Consider using the QEP rubric to set expectations for writing quality, give students feedback, and evaluate writing quality when you assign writing in your class. You can use the entire rubric or you can select elements that are relevant to the writing goals for your assignment. Use these elements as part of a larger rubric that helps you evaluate other goals and expectations for the assignment.

CUTLA will offer a workshop on Friday, September 11, on how faculty can create a peer review and teach students to give useful feedback on writing. We will discuss the value of the QEP rubric and other rubrics to support a peer review process.


National Commission on Writing (2004). Writing: A ticket to work . . . or a ticket out: A survey of business leaders. College Board. [retrieved from]

UWF Quality Enhancement Plan: Communication for Professional Success
The writing rubric can be downloaded from this page. The link is located in the QEP Resources box just below the QEP proposal on the home page: (Resource no longer available)

9/9/2015 ecr