Writing Competencies

Student writing at IU Northwest is expected to reflect the following basic competencies:

1. The purpose of the writing should be evident; the directions of the assignment followed appropriately.
2. Topics need to be narrowed to a manageable scope.
3. Ideas should be stated clearly and thoroughly discussed: the reader shouldn't have to infer meanings. Information presented should be accurate and complete.
4. The tone, diction, and structure of the writing should reveal a sense of audience.
5. Material should be organized and presented in a sensible manner.

  • An introduction should lead the reader smoothly into the body of the writing.
  • Adequate transitions should be used to connect ideas as they develop in the writing.
  • Support paragraphs should stay with the main point of the writing and relate clearly to each other.
  • A summary or conclusion will often be necessary to reemphasize the writer's central idea and attitude.
6. A thesis should be present (or clearly implied) which shows the writer's point of view and/or purpose, and all material in the writing must be relevant to that thesis. Various rhetorical strategies should be used to advance that thesis. (Examples of such strategies could include cause and effect, comparison and contrast, definition, process, analysis, persuasion, illustration, classification, description, and narration. Skills such as hypothesis testing and summary recall should be exhibited when appropriate.)
7. Sentences should be fluent and clear on first reading. Their construction should be varied, their form concise.
8. Word choice should be varied and accurate in denotation and connotation. Word choice should reflect awareness of audience and purpose. (For example, use of first person, jargon, or contractions in many instances is allowable, at other times not.)
9. Grammatical and mechanical errors should be avoided. These errors would include

  • Shifts in verb tense, improper verb endings, lack of agreement between subject and verb.
  • Failure of pronouns to agree with their antecedents and unclear pronoun references.
  • Sentence structure errors, which would include fragments, run-ons, and comma splices.
  • Punctuation errors such as incorrect use or omission of commas, apostrophes, quotation marks, and end marks.
  • Capitalization errors.

10. Attention should be paid to misspellings of common words and/or frequent misspellings of difficult words.
11. The writing should be accessible and neat, showing a sense of the importance of presentation.
12. Students must understand that plagiarism includes using another person's words, ideas, or information without proper citation. (See Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct) Instructors will supply students with preferred citation formats or direct them to reference works.

These basic competencies do not preclude other criteria depending on the instructor's standards, the circumstances of the writing, or the nature of the assignment.


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