Writing Across the Curriculum – An Online Course in Computer Security
Neelu Sinha, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Writing fosters both critical thinking and student learning, serving as one of the most effective ways to understand a topic. Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) began in the late 1970’s, as a pedagogical reform movement in response to a perceived deficiency in literacy among college students. Over the past two decades universities have worked to broaden the scope of student writing from composition classes to classes in the students’ major. This paper chronicles the application of WAC into the discipline of Computer Science. The purpose of this study is to develop an online Computer Security course (for sophomores and juniors in Computer Science), under the umbrella of WAC, to help improve the students’ writing overall and focus on skills students require in upper level courses in the major. Developing this course as an online course (rather than a traditional face-to-face course) offers flexible configurability and scalability, features that are useful to prepare students for constantly changing real world security challenges. This paper includes all aspects of course design and insight into lessons learned. Results indicate that both the faculty and students benefit from such a writing intensive course. Reading and responding to the students’ writing enables faculty to gain valuable insights into the students’ thoughts, ideas, problems, and other issues. Students reported increased knowledge and comprehension of the subject material, deeper understanding of the conventions within Computer Science, improved analysis and reporting skills, ability to understand and present abstract concepts effectively, and skill in producing professional documents.