Information for Department Chairs, Associate Deans, and SJSU Senate

What Are We Planning to Do?

To implement this directive, SJSU will temporarily offer a Directed Self Placement alternative for students to help them select their 100A (3 units) or 100W (3 units) course for Fall, 2020.

Why A Directed Self Placement? Why Not Just Put All Students in 100W?
We are developing a guided Directed Self Placement (DSP) system so students can make the best choice for themselves. Many of our students benefit from the extra writing instruction they receive in 100A, and we want to make that option available to them. Click here to see a PDF copy of theWST Directed Self Placement exercise.

What is the Difference Between 100A and 100W?
100A is an extra semester of writing instruction, available to students who need more practice in academic writing before enrolling in 100W. 100A prepares students for 100W through extensive practice in drafting, feedback, and revision to demonstrate writing competency. 

100W is an advanced, upper-division writing course designed to introduce students to writing in their disciplines. Students learn writing and appropriate contemporary research strategies and methodologies to communicate effectively to both specialized and general audiences.

Are DSP Systems Any Good? Do They Put Students in the Right Course?
Research from across the country, as well as our own experience here at SJSU at the Frosh level, consistently shows that DSP systems are very effective in placing students in the course that aligns with their educational needs.

What Do Students Do in the WST Directed Self Placement Exercise?
The Directed Self Placement exercise helps students do the following:

1. Reflect on their experiences, strengths, and weaknesses as a writer.

2. Learn about 100A and 100W courses at SJSU -- both the content of the courses and the expectations instructors have for students who choose to enroll in these courses.

3. Choose the course that is right for them.

Is SJSU Weird For Temporarily Suspending the WST? What Do Other CSU Campuses Do?
Not at all. Within the CSU, only SJSU and CSU Stanislaus currently require students to complete a Writing Skills Test before enrolling in an upper-division, writing-intensive course in their discipline. Most campuses require students to take 1-3 upper-division classes to satisfy the GWAR requirement.

How Will We Monitor and Assess the DSP System? How Will We Know If It's Working?
We will collect data on student choices and correlate that with their success in 100W and other upper-division courses. We will also measure progress toward graduation and other milestones over the next two years to see how the DSP process affected our students.

Like we said above, this DSP system will remain in place only for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. After that, we plan to return to the old WST system while we study our experience with the DSP.

If you would like to join us on the WST DSP study team, please contact Tom Moriarty at

What Support is Available for Students Who Need Extra Help?
The Writing Center offers one-on-one tutoring for students in all classes, both face-to-face and online. In addition, the Writing Center offers workshops throughout the year on writing-related topics.

For faculty members, the Writing Center offers resources and workshops for use with your class, along with opportunities to apply to work with embedded writing tutors who are assigned to work exclusively with your class five hours per week.

For more information about the Writing Center and its services, visit:

What About Registering for Other SJSU Studies
Courses (Areas R, S, and V) That Require the WST?
After completing the WST Directed Self Placement, students may register for all other courses that require the WST, as long as they have earned at least 60 units total and satisfied one of the following writing prerequisites:

- A grade of C- or better in an A3 General Education course.
- A grade of C- or better in English 1B, English 2, or Humanities 2B.
- EC2 transfer credit (which means a student successfully passed a second-semester composition course at a community college).


How Is All This Going to Work in PeopleSoft?

We will modify the current requirements (called "holds") that prevent or allow students to enroll in 100W.

What Are The Current Holds on 100W?
Currently, students must have a passing score on the WST (7 or higher) or a grade of C or better in 100A in order to register for 100W.

And What Will Change?
The WST and 100A holds will be dropped. But students must still have earned 60 units and satisfy one of the following prerequisites in order to enroll in 100W:

- A grade of C- or better in an A3 General Education course.
- A grade of C- or better in English 1B, English 2, or Humanities 2B.
- EC2 transfer credit (which means a student successfully passed a second-semester composition course at a community college).