FAQs for the Wake Forest DSP

  •  What is the Directed Self-Placement (DSP) Process?

The DSP asks students to read source text material, write an evidence-based argument in response to a writing prompt, and answer ten reflective questions about their experiences as writers.

  •  How long will the DSP take?

Students vary in their timing to complete the DSP. You will want to leave time over the course of a week to complete the process. For example, you can think about this in terms of (1) an hour or two a day for a couple of days to read and re-read the articles and take notes; then (2) several hours over the course of a few days to write, re-write, and revise your essay; and finally (3) twenty minutes or less to submit your essay online and answer the reflective questions. As with essays in college courses, many students are more successful at identifying weak or incoherent arguments or examples when they allow themselves time to complete a draft of the essay and then go back to it a day or so later. The reflective questions should be answered thoughtfully but will not take long.

  •  Who should take the DSP?

All entering, first-year WFU students complete the DSP. Students with AP and IB credit are exempt from WRI 111, but they still complete the DSP for guidance vis-a-vis other writing courses.

  •  When should the DSP be completed?

The 2014 DSP prompt and links will be available June 1, 2014. Students should complete the DSP by June 16, or, if admitted later, within one week of receiving their Wake username and password.

  •  What are the goals of the DSP?
    • Provide students with first-hand experience with a sample of the reading and writing expected in their first years at WFU, prior to students’ course registration.
    • Strengthen the reference point for advisers’ and professors’ conversations with students about their writing.
    • Allow actual examples of students’ writing and reflections to help inform institutional decisions related to student writing.
  • Should I use outside evidence in addition to the articles in my essay?
    • The DSP prompt asks you to engage with the two articles provided as your source for evidence. If you have found something else highly relevant that serves your argument, you can choose to use it. But your primary evidence, or all of it, should come from the articles, since that is what this rhetorical task (see prompt) is asking you to do.
  • How will the DSP be used?
    • Students’ own recognition of their unpreparedness or preparedness to complete the DSP process is the most important outcome of the DSP: students should thoughtfully consider their recent reading and writing experiences and needs as they select a first writing-intensive course. It is much harder after the first year to ensure students get enough practice and help with reading and writing skills, and students often feel behind in their upper-level courses if they do not develop a solid, university-level reading and writing foundation in their first year.  It is thus all the more important that students select the first course(s) that will best serve their needs, and so they should reflect on the DSP process as they consider their first-year writing-intensive course options (see http://college.wfu.edu/writingprogram/directed-self-placement/whats-the-best-first-year-writing-course-for-me).
    • Students’ responses to the reflective questions are used by the DSP Team to offer a course recommendation to students which is sent via email.
    • Students’ responses to the reflective questions can be used upon request by the Office of Academic Advising to help students select the best first writing-intensive course for them.
    • Essays written in response to the DSP will be sent to the professor of each student’s first writing-intensive course (WRI 107, WRI 105, WRI 111, WRI 210, or FYS) and, in many cases, incorporated into the course.
    • Data gathered from the DSP will be analyzed to learn more about students’ strengths and weaknesses as writers and to improve writing instruction and curriculum at WFU.
  •  What happens to students who do not complete the DSP?
    • Students who do not complete the DSP by June 16 will receive little guidance as to the nature of the writing they will be asked to do in their first-year courses, and they will be given a late date by which they need to complete the DSP
    • Students who do not complete the DSP by the assigned date may lose their place in their preferred writing course.
  • What about AP/IB credit?

AP (scores of 4 or 5 on the Language or Literature examination) and IB scores (of 6 or 7 on the higher examination) can exempt students from WRI 111 (formerly English 111).  Most students choose to use those scores, because they receive AP credit and exemption from WRI 111. These students often still want to make sure they receive enough university-level writing practice and guidance in their first year.  If this is true for you, you can consider:

  1. Taking both FYS and WRI 210 or WRI 212 in your first year.  Sections of each course are offered in both spring and fall, and you may take the courses in any order. Note that WRI 210 is an advanced writing course that is designed to offer students practice in and exposure to advanced writing and rhetoric, especially as it extends beyond the first year and into a variety of university disciplines, while WRI 212 focuses on literary nonfiction and the art of essay writing (see course descriptions). WRI 210 or WRI 212 fulfill elective college credit toward graduation, are each a gateway course for the Writing Minor, and can offer a strong, writing-focused prelude to the FYS or other courses in which students are asked to write.
  2. Taking FYS and seeking extra help such as Writing Center guidance as you work on your papers in the FYS and any other writing-intensive courses you take.
  3. Taking WRI 111, with the understanding that this means waiving your AP / IB credits.  Please discuss this possibility with Professor Aull, Professor Lancaster, or Dean Boyle before making this decision.