2013 Glossary and Notes

Below are explanations of terms used in the Census. When a term has a discipline-agreed upon definition, we used it. However, certain terms remain contentious in the field, so we explain how and why we use them below.

Basic Filters Terminology

  • Carnegie Classifications

    are an established framework for classifying colleges and universities in the United States. The Census uses the classification information listed by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
  • The Catholic Consortium

    are colleges and universities who may be members of the NSSE consortium of the same name.
  • The Geographic Regions

    of the Census were determined by the seven regions of the Two-Year College English Association (TYCA).
  • Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)

    are institutions designated by the federal government as serving specific racial and ethnic minorities. The Census received enough response from four types of MSIs (see below) to allow searches for data on those types of instructions. We have also included an option to search all seven types of MSI, which includes the four types below, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs), and Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian Serving Intuitions (AANHs).
    • Asian American, Native Alaskan, and Pacific Islander Serving Intuitions (AANAPISIs)

      have a student body that is at least 10% Asian American, Native Alaskan, and/or Pacific Islander and have received a Title V AANAPISI grant.
    • Hispanic Serving Intuitions (HSIs)

      have a student body that is at least 25% Latino/a and have received a Title V HSI grant.
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

      are federally designated institutions that served a black population before 1964. The Census received enough responses from HBCUs to allow searches of them as a category in the four-year survey, but not in the two-year survey.
    • Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs)

      have a student body that is at least 40% Black and have received a Title V PBI grant. The Census received enough responses from PBIs to allow searches of them as a category in the two-year survey, but not in the four-year survey.
  • Small Liberal Arts Colleges (SLACs)

    are institutions that are members of the SLAC-WPA Consortium, which are small liberal arts colleges that also belong to the Annapolis Group.

Question Terminology

  • Administrative positions

    are defined by which site of writing the person administers rather than by the generic term writing program administrator (WPA) or the title of a position on a given campus.
    • Chief Academic Officer (CAO)

      may be the dean or provost of an institution.
    • Director of Writing

      was an option added to the responses after we coded the “other” responses from a number of questions. Respondents explicitly noted that a director of writing oversaw a particular site of writing, but the Census at this point does not have a shared definition for this classification. It is because of this lack of definition that data on the classification of these positions or their job responsibilities are not included in this iteration of the Census.
    • First-Year Writing Director (FYWD)

      is an explicit position that administers or directs the first-year writing requirement. This does not include a department chair, CAO, or director of writing.
    • Learning Center Director (LCD)

      administers or directs a learning center with writing tutors, which may or may not include a designated writing center.
    • Solo Writing Administrator (SWA)

      is the only writing professional at an institution and often directs all sites of writing. This classification was not utilized when a chair or CAO oversaw the administrative tasks of a particular site of writing such as WAC or FYW.
    • WAC Director (WACD)

      is an explicit position that administers or directs the writing across the curriculum program.
    • Writing Center Director (WCD)

      is an explicit position that administers or directs the writing center.
  • Basic Writing programs

    include any instructional courses for students who need extra learning support. Models for basic writing courses include:
    • The Directed Self-Placement Model

      of basic writing, in which students are given information about the course options, and they place themselves in one of several first-year writing courses/tracks.
    • The Intensive Model

      of basic writing, in which students are placed in an intensive version of the standard first-year writing course.
    • The Mainstreaming Model

      of basic writing, in which all students are placed in the standard first-year writing course; students can get support for writing through the writing center and other tutoring options, including additional help from the professor.
    • The Prerequisite Model

      of basic writing, in which students take a non-credit bearing course that must be passed before taking the credit-bearing first-year writing course.
    • The Stretch Model

      of basic writing, in which students take the standard first-year writing course over two semesters rather than one.
    • The Studio Model

      of basic writing, in which students take the standard first-year writing course, but they have additional small group meetings with an instructor.
  • First-Year Writing (FYW)

    programs are any required first-year courses that include instruction in writing. Types of FYW courses include:
    • First-Year Composition (FYC)

      which are first-year writing courses taught by faculty, adjuncts, or TAs in an English Department or Writing program/department.
    • First-Year Seminars (FYS)

      are first-year courses where writing is an explicit goal, but the course is not an official writing requirement.
    • First-Year Writing Seminars (FYWS)

      are WAC-based first-year writing course taught by faculty from across the disciplines.
    • Other Types of FYW

      courses include first-year Writing Intensive (WI) courses and/or first-year “Core” courses, such as great books courses.
  • Hybrid WAC/WID

    includes elements of both writing across the curriculum and writing in the disciplines programs.
  • Institutional Home

    refers to the administrative unit that hosts a particular site of writing.
  • Sites of Writing

    describes the different places on a given campus where writing is explicitly required, administered, or supported. We utilized this term in both surveys to allow different types of institutions to identify where writing instruction and support take place because some institutions do not have a formal writing program.
  • Writing Fellows Programs

    employ undergraduate or graduate students to serve as course-based peer writing mentors; writing fellows may be assigned to particular non-writing classes.
  • Writing Intensive Courses (W or WI)

    are a writing requirement that extends writing beyond first-year writing. Each institution has its own criteria for what constitutes a WI course. Some schools refer to these courses by other names such as writing-enriched or writing-enhanced courses.




Note 1:

When used in the Census, as in much of the field, the term WPA is meant as a general term for anyone who administers any part of a writing program. In conducting the Census, we discovered that the term is fraught with misunderstanding as many who administer different sites of writing do not consider themselves WPAs.



Note 2a:

Some respondents reported on the 2012-13 academic year.



Note 2b:

Some respondents reported on the 2012-13 academic year. Others had to adjust data because their institution is on trimesters or quarters system



Note 3:

In questions about writing majors or minors, the Census includes results in which respondents indicated that a writing concentration as an option in a larger major, usually a larger English major.



Note 4:

This question uses a box-and-whisker plot to visualize quartiles. The range of responses is represented with the two whiskers and the line in the box represents the median.



Note 5:

Respondents answered based on their own definitions of these terms.