Guide to Writing a WAC Award Application

We’ll give you help putting your application together!

The best teachers sometimes struggle to describe their teaching on paper. So our WAC team offers optional resources to help your application shine:

  • one-on-one application help with Chris Manion. He's the WAC program director, and he has years of experience helping instructors incorporate writing in their classes. So he can help you see your application through the evaluation committee's eyes. To book a session with Chris, email
  • a podcast featuring last year’s winner (and current WAC team member) Tamara Roose reflecting on her teaching
  • a blog post, copied below, written by a recent judging panel, giving practical tips based on past winners for improving your application.

How to Write a Standout WAC Award Application

Hey there, WAC award applicant. We sympathize with you. We're not just members of OSU's Writing Across the Curriculum Team--we’re also fellow graduate students. So we, too, have stared down awards applications and wondered, “Is this what the judges want? What do the judges want?"

We'd like to answer those questions. We’re taking you behind that mysterious curtain. Together, we analyzed winning and losing applications from previous years. Then, we identified standout features from the strongest applications. Below, we describe those features and give advice for integrating them into your application.

If you haven’t already, though, start by reviewing WAC Award Call for Applications. That will give you context for these suggestions!

Brainstorm student learning challenges that you've addressed in your classroom.

Have you ever had to be inventive in the classroom? It's a rare and valuable thing. If you're an awesome graduate teaching associate--the kind that recognizes student problems and creates new and original solutions--you might be so inventive that you don't pay much attention to your own awesomeness. We want to help you think about moments of awesomeness from your teaching!

Your WAC Award application presents an opportunity to consider the ways that you've used writing to address the problems that students face in your classroom. As you begin your application cover letter, think about this question:

In your years as a graduate teaching assistant at Ohio State, have you ever created an original, writing-based solution to a challenge that your students faced?

As you answer this question, take five minutes to do some low-pressure free writing to generate a list of episodes about students overcoming challenges with writing.

Select some significant episodes.

As you review your freewrite, choose experiences that responded to a problem of significance in your teaching field. Ask yourself,

How would I explain the significance of this episode to an academic outside of my field?

Take brief notes on the reasons why one or more episodes were crucial, pivotal, or important for students' broader understanding of the field.

Highlight your own improvement.

Nobody starts off with perfect teaching skills. The best graduate teaching associates solicit feedback and learn from their experiences. As the final step in preparing to write your application, choose an episode in which you actively learned from the strengths and weaknesses of your teaching.

Make note of feedback you solicited or found in order to continue improving your teaching methods.

Include your documents.

By now, you've outlined an episode from your teaching career at OSU that highlights the way you spot student learning challenges, create innovative solutions based on writing, connect those solutions to greater issues in the field, and improved on your existing techniques.

Since these are all based in a specific course time within a course that you've taught, we would like to see the syllabus and assignment/activity that you gave to your students.

Choose the syllabus and assignment/activity that are relevant to your teaching episode
(If you feel that the assignment/activity is too cryptic or vague for someone outside your field to understand, include a brief paragraph explaining how it fits into the context of the course.)

Write your cover letter.

Congratulations! You're almost done. Now you simply need to describe your notes in a cover letter, one-to-two pages long, addressed to our selection committee.

Now we recommend that you get some expert feedback from someone who can help you describe your experiences teaching writing, as well as an expert who understands what past applicants have done to win: our WAC program director, Dr. Chris Manion.

Contact Dr. Chris Manion at <> to help brainstorm and/or revise your application.

The Bottom Line:

The five steps we’ve suggested for creating a standout award application all follow a central theme: it’s all  becoming a teacher who uses writing to make a big impact for students in your field. If you can tell us a compelling anecdote about that, and provide supporting documents, we’ll be excited to review your application.

And don’t forget to apply by the February 28th deadline!