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Abstracts of Presentations at the WAC 2010 Conference

Abstracts of presentations at the WAC 2010 Conference appear below as a single, large document which we hope may therefore be conveniently searched. Abstracts are alphabetized by the last name of the proposing presenter, which may not be obvious in the case of panels. Note that session numbers are provided.

A shorter list of presentations, not including the full abstracts, also organized alphabetically by proposing presenter, is available at this link.

A pdf version of the conference program, organized by session, can be downloaded via this link. (Please note that these abstracts and the list of presentations have been edited to reflect those presentations actually given at the conference. The pdf version of the program has not; it remains in the form in which it was originally distributed.)


10 E—Individual Paper
Assessing Faculty Development in Writing Across the Curriculum Courses

  • Joyce Adams—Brigham Young University

This presentation will include an assessment of faculty development for instructors teaching discipline-specific writing courses.

The English Department at Brigham Young University is consolidating its offering of composition courses that will satisfy the university advanced writing course credit. The resulting jettison of the Writing in Social Sciences course will impact approximately 600 Social Science students each year. To address this loss, the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences has been creating discipline-specific advanced writing courses. For example, psychology students have a new course that serves as a general introduction to writing in psychology, taken typically by sophomores. The instructors for the new psychology course are psychology graduate students. The instructors receive training prior to teaching the new Writing in Psychology course and have weekly in-service meetings. But how do we know that these student instructors, or other instructors in similar situations, have the training they need to help students with their writing? What training methods are most helpful? What training can we offer to maximize strengths to benefit and capitalize on improved student writing? This presentation will include an assessment of faculty development for the current psychology graduate students and for faculty teaching other discipline-specific writing courses, and will include, but is not limited to, the effectiveness and value of weekly training; clinics offered by General Education; classroom visits made by the Writing Supervisor; classroom visits made by the instructors to English Composition classrooms and to other Psychology 303 classes; assigned texts; and the provision of ready-made syllabi, assignments, and rubrics.


09 G—Organized Panel
Writing and the Factory: A Collaboration Between the Mind and Body

This presentation will address how factory workers' mind and body work can contribute to the practices and process of composition.

After WWII, there was the influx of new kinds of students in higher education. Many institutions responded by developing basic writing programs. The make-up of the student body of higher education is likely to undergo another dramatic change. With the current economic crisis and the shift from a post-industrial to a service-oriented economy, manufacturing jobs are being increasingly cut. Those industrial workers who lose their jobs need to undergo new training in order to prepare for new kinds of work. Much of this re-education is likely to occur in 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. And while these potential new students may lack the kinds of writing skills many professors currently demand, we do not believe that re-establishing the strength of basic writing programs will be an effective solution. Cross-curricular writing programs should not merely be accepting of students with different skills and abilities but should instead adjust to most effectively utilize some of the embodied skills, literacies, and intelligences such new students would likely bring with them from previous work experiences. This panel presentation will, therefore, address what some of those skills, literacies, and intelligences are and how writing programs across the college curriculum can take full advantage of them. The focus of our analysis will be on the embodied work done by workers in industry and the subsequent connection formed between mind and body. This presentation, through the stories of individuals in industry and the analysis of their experiences, proposes an alteration of what counts as doing writing.

The Mind and Body in Writing

  • Elena Adkins—Michigan State University

A Ph.D. student in rhetoric and writing with a concentration in composition and pedagogy will present justifications for why and how cross-curricular writing programs can utilize the perspectives experiences and abilities such students would bring with them. Presenter 3 is going to discuss how writing, possibly like engineering in an automotive factory, could incorporate practices that forge a stronger connection between the body and the brain as an alternative to current teaching methods. A re-conceptualization of writing across the curriculum would not only help students coming into schools with similar abilities and experiences to the other presenters but could also improve the nature of writing instruction for many other students as well.


03 E—Individual Paper
Single Source Content Management: Implications for WAC Programs

  • Rebekka Andersen—University of California, Davis

Single Source Content Management (an information development methodology that enables writers to create content once and reuse it many times) has profound implications for how WAC courses prepare students to be critical thinkers and writers in their disciplines; the presenter will highlight some of these implications.

Organizations’ increasing need to create and use content more efficiently is behind their growing adoption of single source content management (SSCM), an information development methodology that enables writers, from technical communicators to engineers to marketing and training specialists, to create content once and reuse it many times. Using a markup language such as XML, writers create stand-alone pieces of content not tied to a particular format and then reuse the content in different outputs (e.g., Web page, PDF) for different audiences and purposes. SSCM can cut information development costs, reduce duplication efforts, and increase process efficiency. When implemented with a critical, rhetorical approach, SSCM can also help organizations readily access and reuse content, increase knowledge sharing, and achieve communication goals. SSCM, however, radically changes writing, review, and communication practices. For example, subject matter experts no longer review whole documents tailored to a specific rhetorical situation; rather, using CM tools, they review content “chunks” to be used in various information products by various audiences in various contexts. In this presentation, the presenter will highlight implications of SSCM for WAC programs. She will demonstrate the business case for SSCM and how it is changing organizational writing practices. SSCM, she will argue, has profound implications for how WAC courses prepare students to be critical thinkers and writers in their disciplines. Students in management, information science, information technology, engineering, and communication fields, in particular, need complex problem solving and technology critique skills, as well as practice in developing reusable, usable content through rhetorically-sound methods.


05 B—Organized Panel
Powering Up Your WAC Program: Practical, Productive Ways to Use Assessment Data from NSSE’s Consortium for the Study of Writing in College

  • Paul Anderson—Miami University
  • Robert Gonyea—National Survey of Student Engagement
  • Chris Anson—North Carolina State University

WAC leaders from various colleges and universities will explain how they are using national data and their own institution’s data to increase the scope and effectiveness of their WAC programs.

A research partnership between the Council of Writing Program Administrators and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has identified three practices that increase students’ self-reported gains in general educational outcomes, gains in personal and social development, and engagement in deep learning activities. These results were achieved using 27 questions about writing that institutions can append to a regular NSSE administration. The questions, which have already been used by more than 150 colleges, provide an actionable form of assessment. Supplemental analysis can be conducted using a parallel set of questions for faculty that can be appended to the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE). In this session, WAC leaders at several institutions will describe the various ways they are employing the national results and data from their own institutions to increase the scope and effectiveness of their programs. The audience will be invited to discuss additional strategies that they have used or plan to use. The two sets of 27 questions may also be used independently of NSSE and FSSE at no cost, so the strategies can be used by any institution in the US and other countries.


06 E—Organized Panel
Big Rubrics and Weird Genres: The Futility of Using Generic Assessment Tools Across Diverse Instructional Contexts

Through examples of the assessment of specific, highly discipline-based genres of writing and speaking, this session argues for the universal abandonment of generic assessment rubrics and practices.

In October of 2009, a query appeared on a large national listserv in composition asking for advice about the development of a single, all-purpose rubric to assess writing across the poster's entire institution, a university of almost 6,000 students representing 79 majors in half a dozen broad disciplinary areas. The query is not new: for years, many colleges and universities have shared an interest in finding or developing a single rubric or set of criteria that could be used to assess writing in virtually any curricular context. Interest in “all-purpose” assessment usually has its genesis in a desire to establish common goals for communication and gather institution-wide data as simply and uniformly as possible: it seems a lot easier to create one set of standards that drives everyone's attention to communication abilities than to become entangled in localized assessments tied to varied, even idiosyncratic practices in specific colleges, majors, or departments. We argue, however, that such generalized standards are not only undesirable but impossible to create and implement in any meaningful way. Our presentations in this session are informed by dozens of years of experience working with faculty, administrators, and students on communication instruction (writing and speaking) in highly specific curricular contexts. Drawing on theories of writing and speaking assessment, we demonstrate the advantages of shaping assessment around local conditions, including discipline-based genres and contexts, specific and varied communicative goals, and the embeddedness of communication instruction in particular “ways of knowing” within disciplines and subdisciplines (Carter, 2008). By sharing analyses of unique genres of writing or speaking and the processes that faculty and administrators have used to create assessment protocols for those genres, we support contextually-based approaches to assessment and argue for the universal abandonment of generic rubrics.

Contextual Dependencies in Faculty Evaluation of Student Writing Across the Disciplines: Toward a New Model

  • Chris Anson—North Carolina State University

In current models, the process of evaluating writing, whether in classrooms or on a large scale, relies on assumptions of stability in the application of explicit standards to individual performances. Evaluation is about normativity regularity consistency and duplication of application. Epitomized by the 25-minute SAT writing test, written products are autonomous artifacts to which evaluative criteria can be applied without regard to context beyond the domain of the task itself and a rubric that depends upon stable linguistic discursive and rhetorical features. Recent scholarship, however, is providing new perspectives on situated learning that lead to a contestation of this model. Studies of students' engagement in multiple communities of practice (e.g. Prior, Roozen, Russell) provide evidence of the ways that remediation, repurposing, and vernacular literacies influence students' writing. On the instructional side, studies of teacher evaluation (Rutz, Anson, Broad, Prior) are unearthing the multiple sources of experience, values, literate and pedagogical histories, and goals for learning that shape teachers' response and evaluation practices across disciplines. Partly by way of overview for the panel, I will describe an alternative model of evaluation informed by this new scholarship. To illustrate the model, I will draw briefly on case studies of teachers evaluating writing in several disciplines. In these studies, teachers developed assignment-specific evaluation criteria that move well beyond generic “standards” by referencing various unique genre- and situation-specific characteristics. However, their evaluations reflect additional contingencies that provide compelling evidence for the impossibility of using generic standards to evaluate specific WAC assignments.

Why, Your “Well-Developed” Looks Nothing Like Ours!: Working Toward Accurate Writing Assessment in the Disciplines

  • Pamela Flash—University of Minnesota

Successful students learn quickly that writing is defined and assessed according to various systems of value and interpretation. Writing that earns them praise as a piece of persuasively-developed analysis in a Political Science course might well be roundly criticized by Mechanical Engineering professors as hopelessly abstract and beside the point. The policy brief they write for their Introduction to Ecology course may share no discernible attributes with the dramaturgy notes they write in their Introduction to Theatre course. In this panel segment, I will argue that valid writing assessment within academic disciplines may controvert the use of cross-disciplinary assessment tools. To do so I will draw upon data gathered from the four-year Writing-Enriched Curriculum Project I lead at a large RI university, and specifically on its process for helping faculty members accurately define, assign, and ultimately assess writing in their courses and throughout their majors. This process begins with an online survey in which instructors, students, and external affiliates begin to describe the writing expected of them and/or that they expect using a set of generic characteristics, abilities, and genres. Survey results then serve as prompts to further investigation as faculty members within academic units set about interrogating tacit assumptions and expectations and ultimately agreeing upon lists of writing expectations. In this way they come to see what students already sense, namely, that “logically organized,” “well developed,” or “persuasively argued” are not only insufficient descriptors of the writing they expect but may in fact name attributes they actively discourage.

Measuring the Intangible: Assessing Relational Genre Knowledge in Disciplinary Settings

  • Deanna Dannels—North Carolina State University

The debate between discipline-specific and generic assessment of communication competencies has always existed; yet in an economic climate that seems to value efficiency and cost-cutting measures, this debate emerges with increased intensity. In this paper, I argue that there are some aspects of oral communication competence that are contextual, usually taken for granted, and evolutionary and thus would be challenging (if not impossible) to measure from a generic perspective. Those aspects that are particularly difficult to grasp measure and predict are relational in nature--specifically the real and idealized relational identities and interactions that oral genres invoke. Oral genres that are preprofessional in nature bring increased complexity to this equation, as they necessitate attention to both academic and simulated workplace relational identities and interactions. In this paper I examine the potential for measuring these complex aspects of oral genre learning-- essentially, for measuring “relational genre knowledge” (Dannels 2009). Specifically, I will describe the concept of “relational genre knowledge,” discuss potential differences in desired relational interactions and identities for discipline-specific genres, explore pilot measurement tools that can capture relational hues of oral genre learning, and identify questions for future development of these kinds of discipline-specific assessment tools.

Developing Assessments for Communication in the Disciplines: A Case Study in Landscape Architecture

  • Amy Housley Gaffney—North Carolina State University

Movements such as writing in the disciplines and communication in the disciplines highlight the belief that disciplines vary in what is considered competent communication. Based on this concept of disciplinary specificity, assessment of communication abilities should likewise be developed in light of disciplinary variation. Within design disciplines (e.g., landscape architecture), students regularly take part in a highly specialized speaking opportunity: the critique. In this environment, students are not only asked to explain their design concepts and processes, but also to interact with faculty and outside professionals who provide feedback. Given the highly specialized nature of the communication genre in which these students are asked to participate, it is vital that students are evaluated on criteria specific to the genre of critiques. To that end, I will describe my development of a method to assess the communication of students in landscape architecture based on a set of five empirically derived competencies specific to the design critique. I will explain the process of translating the competencies into measurable criteria as well as the utilization of the criteria in order to examine students’ changes in abilities as a result of instruction. Through this discussion, I will highlight the ways in which discipline specificity became increasingly important in assessing students’ communication in design critiques.


04 F—Individual Paper
Pressure, Pick Lists, and Patient Care: How and Why to Teach Writing to Future Nurses

  • Audrey Appelsies—University of Minnesota
  • Linda Herrick—University of Minnesota

The presenters explore how, as one faculty said, the “many, many masters that nurses have” impinge on the teaching and learning of writing in university classrooms.

The Nursing program’s participation in the University of Minnesota’s Writing-Enriched Curriculum (WEC) project is the focus of our paper. We discuss the divergent and often conflicting conceptions of writing held by nursing faculty and how these conceptions were shot through with the hierarchies and power relations that characterize nurses’ work. Our paper also traces the work faculty did to create and support a closer alignment between their writing assignments and the work of nurses in the field. Meeting transcripts, interview data, and surveys of faculty, students, and professional affiliates demonstrated divergent views of how to use writing to best teach future nurses. While the majority of participants acknowledged that writing is very important to the scholarly and professional work done in the discipline, it is not clear that they were talking about writing in the same ways. Students noted that “there are a lot of useless writing activities that take the focus away from delivering patient care.” Nursing affiliates characterized their daily writing in contradictory ways: some reported that “the bulk of our day involves writing of some form” while others said that “the only thing I write on a daily basis is my signatures on orders.” Nursing faculty saw the potential of writing assignments to develop skills in using computer-based pick lists and foster analytical thinking in time-sensitive and high-stress environments. We explore how, as one faculty said, the “many, many masters that nurses have” impinge on the teaching and learning of writing in university classrooms.


02 C—Individual Paper
From Math Student to Mathematician: Training Summer Research Students to Write as Mathematicians

  • Patrick Bahls—University of North Carolina Asheville

The presenter examines the ways in which student participants in a summer math research program grow as writers and, through their writing, as practitioners of the discipline.

The literature on the assessment of summer research internships in the sciences is sparse, and there is practically nothing known about the efficacy of discipline-specific writing instruction that takes place during such internships. Robust studies of such writing instruction are often difficult to perform, given the relatively small number of internships in which intentional writing instruction takes place, and the small number of students who participate in such programs. My talk will focus on the writing instruction given to students taking part in the NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates program for mathematics students that I have run during the summers of 2007, 2008, and 2009. During the past two summers participating students received highly intentional instruction on producing professional mathematical writing in various genres, including mainstream research articles, expository papers, and presentation slides. During six of each program’s eight weeks the students were challenged to write progress reports and give conference-style presentations on their work. As students progressed through the program, their writing became clearer, more coherent, and more sophisticated, even as they felt themselves becoming more and more a part of the professional mathematical community. Through examining the students’ written work, we will trace the students’ development during the summer as professional writers of mathematics. Furthermore, analysis of students’ responses to surveys on the writing instruction they received during the summer will allow us an understanding of the students’ own perceptions of their increasing maturity as mathematical authors. The study of both students’ written products and students’ perceptions on writing will allow us to understand the parallels between students’ formation as writers and their sense of themselves as scientists.


07 A—Individual Paper
Extending a Writing Center Assessment Culture Across The Curriculum

  • Kim Ballard—Western Michigan University

This presentation explores cross-curricular faculty participation in context-based writing center assessment and stresses how and why writing center assessment differs from writing assessment.

Though writing centers constantly assess writing and writing problems as a way to determine rhetorical principles students need to learn, the writing center community has tended to distrust program assessment. Some writing center professionals have suggested the primarily purpose of program assessment is to convince uninformed administrators of the program value (Lerner,”Counting Beans” and “Choosing Beans”), while others have tied writing center assessment to specific writing program outcomes (Johnson-Shull and Kelly-Riley; Johnson-Shull and Wyche) rather than to the wide-ranging efforts of full-service writing centers that interact with writers from across the curriculum. Johanek suggests naive views about stories math can tell cause many writing center professionals to eschew quantitative research and assessment. This presentation rejects such notions. It details a writing center assessment focused on direct student learning, which taps experts from across the curriculum as evaluators of portfolios that capture the work students accomplish in a writing center and the results of that effort in their post-writing center revisions. I will demonstrate how such assessment can help faculty from across the curriculum understand the unique pedagogy of writing centers, which can help them understand and accept the developmental nature of students' writing acquisition.


02 C—Individual Paper
Teaching Evolution: A Renewed Faith in the Value of Writing

  • Erin Barley—Simon Fraser University

Low stakes writing assignments were used in a third year evolution course to increase student engagement, understanding of evolutionary concepts, and the development of critical thinking skills.

Verhey (2005) argues that “evidence suggests most high school graduates, and even most college graduates, are cognitively unprepared to think effectively about evolution.” The first barrier to teaching evolution is that course information and ideas can conflict with beliefs (especially religious) held by some students. A second barrier is that many students lack critical thinking skills, a cornerstone of evolutionary biology. To complicate things further, the process of critical thinking itself can be at odds with a faith based way of knowing. The challenge is then to engage students and teach them to think critically while at the same time being sensitive to, and respectful of, diverse views in the class. To address these challenges, I developed a series of low-stakes writing assignments in a third-year evolution class. The marking structure provided students with the freedom to take risks without any effect on their course grade. In this talk I will (1) discuss how the assignments contributed to student engagement, understanding, and the development of critical thinking skills, (2) discuss the insights I gained from reading student assignments, and (3) present students’ own views on the role writing played in shaping their understanding of evolution.


08 I—Organized Panel
When General Education and Writing Programs Collide

Faculty members from the Roger Williams University Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric,and Composition address issues raised as part of an outcomes-based general education reform.

Members of the Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition at Roger Williams University discuss the challenges and opportunities of embracing, rejecting, or refining a proposed outcomes-based general education program reform. Panelists include an architect of the reform program, the writing program coordinator, and a quasi-fyc-abolitionist. Among the issues raised will be the roles of the program and the department in the general education reform, departmental politics and turf wars, and the changing face of an evolving department. As a department, our identity is closely tied to a required, two semester writing sequence. Our teaching load is almost entirely situated within the current general education program. The proposed reform could threaten to destabilize that identity by potentially dispersing responsibility for teaching writing across the curriculum. Dr. Campbell will explain the role she envisioned for writing in the new reform, and the negotiations that led to the current construction of the general education program. Dr. Madritch will address the impact of general education reform on the writing program’s own outcomes and on the relationship between the writing program and the wider curriculum. Dr. Bender will discuss the tensions between programmatic identity and departmental identity as it relates to teaching beyond the program sequence. WPAs, WID/WAC faculty, and general education administrators are likely to find value in these presentations and the discussion we hope will ensue.

Embracing Outcomes: Don't Fence Me In

  • Paul Bender—Roger Williams University

In early 2009, I began an informal survey of the types of writing instruction happening across the Roger Williams University campus commissioned by my department and funded through the Provost’s office. I was also asked to join the General Education Reform Committee. Over the course of the next semester, I came to see the potential for outcomes-based general education reform and outcomes-based departmental reform as an exciting opportunity for my department. Freed from the requirement to run a two-section-required Writing Program, we could teach discipline specific courses in our concentration and perhaps develop a major. Courses which were once unable to run because of low enrollment would now be open to any number of students needing writing credit. Much to my surprise, however, I found my department skeptical and even resistant to outcomes-based writing classes taught by other departments. Wasn’t that the point of a Writing Across the Curriculum program? Aren’t we getting exactly what we were hoping for? My primary institutional identity has been tied to a first year writing sequence. With what looks like a wide-open field in front of us, I’m begging--don’t fence us in.

Salient Moments: Designing for Learning

  • Jennifer Campbell—Roger Williams University

In the spring of 2006, RWU began working on its third strategic plan--this one titled “RWU 2020” a double nod toward the future and toward clear vision. The task force dedicated to reviewing the core curriculum generated discussions that resulted in a theoretical revisioning of general education “to provide layered, cumulative opportunities for individual and collaborative discovery, reflection and practice all throughout the baccalaureate experience.” But the revision also necessitated pragmatic restructuring of (some) of the academic programs that deliver it and none have been more profoundly affected than my own department of Writing Studies. My part in our panel discussion will be to provide a brief overview of the salient moments in the process of “Gen Ed Reform” by which we shifted, as a liberal arts university, from discipline-based to outcome-based goals. I will present a brief overview of the former core curriculum the place of Writing Studies within it and the concurrent program objectives; a brief description of the process of reform, with attention to generative writing as method insofar as this impacted my own optimism; and finally, a description of tentative and final plans, ending with different possibilities for configuration of writing program.

Managing Change

  • John Madritch—Roger Williams University

As the writing program administrator for RWU’s first-year writing program, I find myself pulled in competing directions due to campus-wide general education reform. As untenured WPA, I experience pressure from several of my departmental colleagues who want me to resist change and to protect our institutional “turf”, but I also see the possibility--if not probability--of using general education reform to expand the culture of writing across the university. As program director, I fear that our rigorous program outcomes will be diluted as our writing objectives get transformed into the more general outcomes of a “communications” requirement but I also recognize the value of allowing--rather, expecting--other faculty to share responsibility for writing instruction across the campus. And as “manager” of the program’s sizable part-time faculty, I wonder about how to integrate adjuncts into the new general education curriculum just as I also hope that any reform efforts could improve potentially exploitative labor conditions. In my presentation, I will explore these tensions and the ways in which they have been managed so that I and others might learn from this particular instance of institutional change.


05 I—Organized Panel
Engaged Learning through Writing: Physical Therapy Assisting Program

Faculty in the Physical Therapy Assisting Program describe how they develop and use “quality writing experiences” throughout their highly structured curriculum to enhance learning in this health professions degree program.

Students at our small college (~2000 students) earn degrees primarily in allied health professions. Each of these programs (such as Nursing and Physical Therapy Assisting), meet rigorous professional accreditation standards in addition to those of SACS, our regional accreditation body. In addition, students who complete the degree work for these programs have to pass rigorous licensure exams before they can practice in their profession. Although the accreditation agencies recognize and value communication skills, and our college emphasizes communicative competence in its Core Curriculum, the realities of the professional program curricula--the sheer quantity of material to master and the pace--leave little time or space for “adding writing” to a course. This panel will describe how faculty in the Physical Therapy Assisting Program integrate what we call “quality writing experiences” throughout their 4-semester course sequence to enable and enhance specific kinds of learning in individual courses; to promote the connections and among courses; and to enable, enhance, and demonstrate the expansion and mastery of learning from course to course and from semester to semester. We will share examples of assignments and activities, examples of the wide range of student writing, and results of our assessments so far. In addition to the 15 minutes designed for audience questions and comments, we will ensure that our panel “presentations” allow more time for discussion, prompted by questions we have about improving our program design and assessment.

What is Engaged Learning through Writing?

  • Glenn Blalock—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter will chair the panel and will describe the College's new Engaged Learning through Writing Initiative, a program designed to enable and enhance students' significant learning by developing and integrating what we are calling “quality writing experiences” in courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum. Though this may sound as though it is another WAC program that emphasizes writing to learn, we have designed it to be more. Building on the recent work of scholars such as Russell, Prior, and Bazerman, we are reconceiving writing as a “protean” tool and emphasizing the ways students learn to “use” that tool to enhance, demonstrate, and effectively use specific kinds of learning. Across campus the focus is not on how students will become better writers; instead, we are focusing on how students are able to use writing more effectively for various purposes and in various contexts. This distinction may seem overly subtle, but it is especially important in our institutional context.

Using Writing to Enhance Learning in the PTA Program, Part I

  • Marty Aime—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter, focusing on classroom-based lecture and lab experiences, will share specific examples of the assignments and activities that we developed, describe how they are quality writing experiences that focus on specific kinds of learning and specific learning outcomes, and discuss how these writings were used for evaluating students and for assessing courses and the program.

Using Writing to Enhance Learning in the PTA Program, Part II

  • Leah Geheber—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter, focusing on clinical and community-based learning experiences, will share specific examples of the assignments and activities that we developed, describe how they are quality writing experiences that focus on specific kinds of learning and specific learning outcomes, and discuss how these writings were used for evaluating students and for assessing courses and the program.


07 I—Organized Panel
Engaged Learning through Writing: From the Core to Nursing

Faculty teaching introductory biology, introductory psychology, and two courses in nursing describe their uses of writing and their focus on the transfer and expansion of knowledge and skills.

By May of 2010, our college will have completed the initial implementation and assessment of our Engaged Learning through Writing Initiative (ELWI), a program designed to enable and enhance students' “significant” learning by developing and integrating what we are calling “quality writing experiences” in courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum. Although students at our small College (~2000 students) earn degrees primarily in allied health professions, with the School of Nursing enrolling the large majority of our students, we have a strong general education core curriculum and we offer B.S. and B.A. degrees as well. Our ELW Initiative is meant to support and strengthen the necessary articulation between the core curriculum and the advanced professional programs as well as the rigorous horizontal and vertical alignments required among courses and outcomes within the various professional programs. This panel focuses on 4 courses that are part of the initial ELW implementation, 2 core curriculum courses and 2 courses from the Nursing curriculum. These presentations will describe how we are using quality writing experiences to enable and enhance specific kinds of learning in these courses and explore how these uses of writing are supporting our larger goal of promoting transfer of skills and knowledge. We will ensure that our panel “presentations” allow extra time for discussion, prompted by questions we have about expanding our uses of writing and about how to improve the “transfer” and expansion of knowledge and skills from course to course and semester to semester.

Why Engaged Learning through Writing?

  • Glenn Blalock—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter will serve as chair of the panel and will describe the College's new Engaged Learning through Writing Initiative. Though this may sound as though it is another WAC program that emphasizes writing to learn, we have designed it to be more. Building on the recent work of scholars such as Russell, Prior, and Bazerman, we are reconceiving writing as a protean tool and emphasizing the ways students learn to use that tool to enhance, demonstrate and effectively use specific kinds of learning. Across campus, the focus is not on how students will become better writers; instead, we are focusing on how students are able to use writing more effectively for various purposes and in various contexts. This distinction may seem overly subtle, but it is especially important in our institutional context.

Engaged Learning through Writing: Introductory Biology

  • Natalie Lenard—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter will describe the quality writing experiences she has developed for her Introductory Biology course, share examples of student writings, and discuss her assessment of these activities. All students intending to apply for the Nursing program must take this course, and the Nursing curriculum assumes and depends on students bringing with them a certain mastery of this course content. This presenter will discuss how her uses of writing are helping students fulfill those expectations.

Engaged Learning through Writing: Introductory Psychology

  • Michael Dreznick—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter will describe the quality writing experiences he has developed for his Introductory Psychology course, share examples of student writings, and discuss his assessment of these activities. His course is one of the core curriculum courses that students must complete.

Engaged Learning through Writing: Pediatric / Obstetric Nursing

  • Michele Walley—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter will describe the quality writing experiences she has developed for a team-taught course in Pediatric and Obstetric Nursing. She will share examples of student writings and discuss her assessment of these activities. Because the Nursing curriculum is very carefully aligned (horizontally and vertically), she will discuss the challenges of designing writing experiences that build on and build toward the knowledge and skills that students are expected to master as they progress through the curriculum.

Engaged Learning through Writing: Issues in Nursing

  • Valerie Schluter—Our Lady of the Lake College

This presenter will describe the quality writing experiences she has developed for a course in the BSN degree program called Issues in Nursing, meant to serve as one of the capstone classroom courses in the BSN program. She will share examples of student writings, and discuss her assessment of these activities. Because the Nursing curriculum is very carefully aligned (horizontally and vertically) she will discuss the challenges of designing writing experiences that build on and build toward the knowledge and skills that students are expected to master as they progress through the curriculum.


03 C—Individual Paper
Penning a Science Narrative: Assessing WAC as Curriculum Support

  • Jeanne Bohannon—Georgia State University

This quantitative study seeks to determine what effects, if any, an implementation of WAC tasks into a high school science curriculum will have on standardized science test scores and educational outcomes.

Given the trend towards greater weighting of standardized test scores in America’s public schools, the researchers of this study found a need existed to describe the plight of U.S. students’ failing scores on these tests and explore alternate test preparation instruction that might raise those test scores. The researchers used quantitative methodology and empirical instruments, including control/experimental groups, a pre-test/post-test model, and a t-test analysis to determine whether or not science test scores would be positively impacted by the implementation of writing prompts into a state-aligned science learning unit. The researchers were particularly interested in whether or not scores of female students would be impacted. Based on total subject and sex-specific data analysis between the two groups, the researchers found a significant difference between the post-test scores of the control group and the experimental group that received the writing instruction. Due to subject selection and the standardization of content we assert that these study findings can be generalized and replicated.


03 G—Individual Paper
Blogs: Learning through Writing in a Networked Community

  • Katherine Bridgman—Florida State University

This presentation will incorporate both the presenter’s personal experience with this assignment as a graduate student and her experience integrating this approach into her own classroom with undergraduates. She will include illustrative personal narrative as well as a multimedia presentation that explores blogging as a space in which students write to learn and write to enter a broader community.

Blogs have largely been discussed in terms of their contributions to community building within the classroom (Warnick). In particular, these discussions have focused on the use of blogs as new locations for class discussion and student journaling. In this presentation I suggest that approaches such as these rely on the preemptively restrictive spatial metaphor of blog as container. This approach to student blogging stops short of taking advantage of a genre that can be embraced as providing a location in which students can see their writing to learn contextualized in broader networked communities. It is with this in mind that my presentation will discuss the introduction of blogs as nodes through which students write to learn and write to enter broader, contextualized dialogues. I will outline a specific assignment that calls on students to create and maintain their own blog for an extended period of time during the course of a semester. Using blogs in this way facilitates the creation of a new space that extends beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom -- boundaries that are maintained in traditional journaling assignments. I will argue that student blogs can both contextualize the knowledge circulating within classrooms across the curriculum and encourage students to take ownership of this knowledge as they begin to put it in dialogue with a broader community of intellectual peers. Finally, I will suggest that as a means of evaluating this activity we ask students to map the communities that they have entered.


01 C—Individual Paper
Encouraging Communication: Including Faculty in a Workshop for Navigating the Ph.D.

  • Marilee Brooks—Michigan State University
  • Elena Adkins—Michigan State University

Michigan State University (MSU)’s Writing Center and Graduate School cosponsor a two-day workshop for Ph.D. students facilitated by a Writing Center consultant. The presenter will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the workshop as it exists and discuss reshaping the workshop to include the faculty advisors of Ph.D. students.

As the facilitator of the two-day Navigating the Ph.D. workshop at MSU, I am interested in reshaping the workshop to include faculty advisers of Ph.D. students. The workshop was designed to help students develop an individualized plan for their Ph.D. studies, especially writing the dissertation. The first workshop is a broadly focused on the trajectory of Ph.D. work, focusing on time management, forming and working with committees, and comprehensive exams, while the second workshop is more focused on writing the dissertation. By including faculty, students will be better served since specific information about the guidelines, deadlines, and requirements for each of the University’s graduate programs is not available at the Writing Center. This is especially true of disciplinary conventions of dissertation-writing in different programs. Students come to the workshop believing they will get specific information about what they need to write, but they need discipline-specific writing instruction. In my presentation, I will outline the current format for the workshop and explain potential changes. I am hoping that by including faculty advisers we will gain a greater understanding of the processes that contribute to Ph.D. completion.


02 D—Individual Paper
Cross-Pollinating Tutorial Approaches in a Hybrid Writing Center

  • Jackson Brown—Stephen F. Austin State University

This presentation examines a group tutorial model in the writing center.

When our writing center (WC) piloted a computer science (CS) tutorial program this fall, I was taken aback by the casualness with which CS tutors conducted program writing consultations. Floating from computer to computer, tutors offered only intermittent guidance to small groups of clients, requiring students working on similar projects to tutor each other, in effect, while CS tutors circulated throughout the lab. I was impressed, moreover, by how CS clients, adjusting to writing in a completely new (computer) language, learned under this tutorial model as effectively, seemingly, as our freshman composition clients in their development as writers, despite the latter receiving more intensive, one-on-one tutorials. Inspired, writing tutors and I experimented with the possibility of applying a similar “floating” tutorial model to writing consultations through a service-learning project we conducted at the local high school. Presenting a series of college admissions essay revision workshops, tutors and I adapted the CS tutorial approach by (1) focusing on a limited number of writing techniques, (2) having students work primarily client-to-client rather than tutor-to-client, and (3) dropping in on conversations between students, offering direction and encouragement as needed. Positive feedback and results from this project influenced us to reevaluate our WC’s praxis of writing consultation. This presentation will reflect on lessons learned from these experiences and address the relevant literature to outline the qualitative and theoretical underpinnings our WC’s newly initiated tutor-led peer-review workshop series, which employs a client-to-client tutorial model in group consultations with freshman composition clients.


08 D—Individual Paper
Influences of Academic Practice on the Production of Text

  • Marcia Buell—Northeastern Illinois University

The presentation explores how practices in art and design and mathematics influence how writers constructed texts in other fields.

The theory behind Writing to Learn within the WAC movement posits that the use of writing can facilitate the learning of academic and other practices (Emig, 1977), but may suggest that the influence of writing is unidirectional, in that the writing is instrumental to building academic skills. In this presentation, the speakers use ethnographic data to argue that learning can flow in the other direction as well, so that engagement with academic practices might also serve the development of writing abilities in disciplinary and more general ways. This notion suggests that influences and transfer of practices stem from multiple streams of activity (Prior, 1998). The first presenter addresses how Lindsey, a graduate student in English education, drew upon strategies for physically manipulating images that she had developed when studying design as a high school student and undergraduate to help her see and shape a difficult analytical paper in a graduate level English seminar. The second presenter discusses how Carmen, an undergraduate majoring in mathematics, came to understand thesis-driven writing through the principles of mathematical proofs. As she learned to articulate how mathematical understanding was driving her thinking, she could then see ways to organize papers she wrote for non-mathematical classes and develop strategies that shaped a progression of written text. Through these examples, the presenters suggest that investigation of textual and non-textual practices outside of what is traditionally defined as writing can help students, teachers and researchers to understand productive, but invisible, practices linked to textual construction.


W C—Pre-Conference Workshop
Past, Present, Future: Making High School-College WAC Collaborations Work

  • Pamela Childers—The McCallie School
  • Jacob Blumner—University of Michigan-Flint

Through an interactive workshop participants will be actively involved in designing creative solutions to the continuous problem of underprepared students of writing in colleges and universities through successful cross-institutional WAC/writing center partnerships.

Every day we read about the gap between high school and college writing, how high schools are not preparing students for college writing, and that high school-college partnerships would be the most effective way to solve this problem. This workshop will reflect on past and present high school-college collaborations through writing centers and WAC programs before challenging participants to design plans for collaborations that will last in the future. Going beyond the essential problems of time, schedules, and funding, the workshop will empower participants to design lasting programs to bridge the high school-college writing gap. Participants will be guided through a study of ways in which programs have worked successfully and have then failed or stopped for a variety of reasons. They will be given different scenarios as role-playing devices to determine how WAC/writing center programs could implement successful collaborations, as well as time for creative brainstorming. By generating such guidelines participants will all leave with some possible alternatives to apply to their own institutions and those in their region.


05 E—Organized Panel
WAC/WID Faculty Strike Back: Reasserting the Importance of the Humanities in Today’s Vocationally Oriented Universities

Faculty from a maritime university and an aeronautical university discuss methods used in the attempt to reinject humanist ideals into the writing-intensive classroom.

Career colleges have long been attended by students wishing to just “get in, get out, and get a job.” Whether teaching to future merchant mariners or pilots, each of the presenters has taken into account the vocationally oriented nature of their institutions, but has felt additional pressure to make their humanities courses more pragmatic. To the presenters, “Writing in the Disciplines” has become, ironically, a much-loved label used by those who want to see less art and more skill, less philosophy and more rhetoric, and less dialectic and more doxa, taught in the classroom. The three presenters argue, in different ways, in defense of the humanities: that philosophical, bake-no-bread approaches to real life issues (i.e. “What do I want to be when I grow up?”) are vital tools for long-term survival in the post-college world (even for colleges themselves), and should be framed as such. Conversely, they assert that the cultural aspects of a vocational field are just as much a part of a “discipline” as, for example, an entry in a ship’s log, or a letter of inquiry.

The Humanities and the American Mariner: Good Shipmates in a Globalized World

  • Julie Chisholm—California State University Maritime Academy

The international maritime world is changing rapidly and not in ways that benefit the American sailor. For most of the 20th century, students came to an American maritime university to become career sailors. Today, many come because they still think they’ll become career sailors; they may not be aware that the American commercial maritime industry has been in steady decline for the last fifty years. Jobs have disappeared in the new face of a globalized economy and the “skills-work”-focused pedagogies common to maritime schools simply cannot keep students competitive. This paper contends that in order to move forward, the American maritime university must look back to John Dewey’s emphasis on intellectual flexibility, collaboration and abstract thought. Speaker One will assert that the writing-intensive classroom is an ideal place for the reintroduction of “ideas work” to the vocationally minded curriculum, and will outline several methods currently employed in her rhetoric and composition courses at the California Maritime Academy.

Teaching Brave New World to Tomorrow’s Pilots

  • Ashley Andrews Lear—Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, like many similar technical schools, has evolved into a degree-granting institution in order to better serve a more highly educated work force. However, students in these evolving programs find the increasing educational requirements of a university degree, as opposed to a technical degree, to be obstacles rather than learning experiences that will, in some way, lead to growth and maturation in their professional and personal lives. In response to this need for clarity, the university has lengthened its mission statement to include language emphasizing the role of the university in fostering “responsible graduates capable of examining, evaluating and appreciating the economic, political, cultural, moral and technological aspects of humankind” (”Embry-Riddle’s Mission”). The General Education program that has grown from these newfound goals includes courses in literature, history, and rhetoric. This paper will focus specifically on the value of teaching a writing-intensive literature course in this environment, using Brave New World as an example text, and on the ways in which professors can convey the greater benefits of such classes to their students through content and instructional methods. Speaker Two hopes to show the contributions of “right-brained” courses to the lives and professions of degree-seeking students at a technical university.

The Technical Humanitarian

  • Michael Perez—Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

This presentation explores the premise that a fusion of technical communication and humanitarian pedagogy into one active process--of technical and ethical awareness--can become useful beyond covering the requirements of a core curriculum course. Speaker Three’s semester-long project in a business communication course dedicated to creating a non-profit business model explores the marriage of environment and pedagogy, while utilizing the most practically charitable intellectualism appropriate for business audiences. As a business and technical communications instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, part of Speaker Three’s ongoing concern has become not to deliver merely what the student requires to create and refine professional documents, but to encourage the adoption of applicable technology founded in humanitarian precepts. Speaker Three hopes that this paradigm will become an ongoing imperative for students, in both career and life, and that students will begin to see themselves at the center of a world-in-progress, one emphasizing benevolence, ethics, and profound humanity.


02 F—Individual Paper
Genre Awareness, Academic Argument, and Transferability

  • Irene Clark—California State University Northridge

This presentation will report on a project that focused on helping students acquire “genre awareness” as a means of enabling them to make connections between academic argument as presented in first-year writing classes and the writing genres they encounter in other disciplines.

Although it is generally acknowledged that many students are unfamiliar with academic reading and writing, both before and after entrance to the university (Beaufort 2007; Carroll 2003), considerable scholarly debate continues about what sort of writing and reading should be privileged given differences in writing needs across the disciplines. At present, a number of writing programs focus on academic texts that may be considered a form of argument, the assumption being that academic writing, broadly defined, is a genre that will have relevance for students throughout their university experience. Nevertheless, as is noted by a number of scholars, we have only limited research about which facets of academic literacy transfer into, within, and beyond the first-year college writing course. This presentation will report on a project that focused on helping students acquire “genre awareness.” It will argue that genre awareness can enable students to make connections between academic argument as it is presented in a first-year writing class and the writing genres they encounter in other disciplines, helping students learn to examine texts for transfer cues, so that they will be able to adapt what they know to other writing genres. Involving six first-year writing classes, the project utilized surveys distributed at the beginning and end of the semester, scaffolded assignments designed to foster genre awareness, and an analytic, reflective essay in which students discussed the insights into genre transferability they acquired.


06 D—Individual Paper
Best Practices for Prospective Pre-tenured WPAs

  • Naomi Clark—University of Missouri

This presentation explores how graduate students can best prepare for the challenges they might expect to encounter as pre-tenured writing program administrators, thus identifying the best return on their present time investments.

For graduate students in rhetoric and composition, a career in writing program administration is a tempting, but thorny, proposition. On one hand, working in a WAC program offers a stimulating cross-disciplinary breadth to our work and the opportunity to see our theoretical work implemented in practice, not to mention the enticement of enhanced compensation. At the same time, the demands of WPA positions and the common perception of program administration as service rather than scholarly activity threaten the success of achieving tenure. Such factors complicate the decision-making process as graduate students prepare for their careers by engaging in relevant coursework and research, with an eye to job postings for new rhetoric and composition PhDs. This presentation explores how graduate students can best prepare for the challenges they might expect to encounter as pre-tenured writing program administrators, thus identifying the best return on their present time investments. Using Helmbrecht and Kendall's chapter, “Graduate Students Hearing Voices,” in Dew and Horning's Untenured Faculty as Writing Program Administrators: Institutional Practices and Politics (Parlor Press, 2007) as a starting place, this presentation explores graduate students’ involvement with writing programs. Is this sort of in-the-trenches training sufficient preparation for jobs after graduation or are there other concerns aspiring WPAs should be attending to? What types of graduate preparation have been most helpful? Least helpful? The presenter answers these questions by reviewing recently published work on the topic and reporting on interviews with select writing program administrators.


09 E—Organized Panel
Interdisciplinary Partnerships for Faculty Writing Groups

This presentation will describe an interdisciplinary partnership between a writing center and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation to develop faculty writing groups. Additionally, presenters will discuss techniques for connecting faculty writing group experiences to their work with student writers in the classroom.

Faculty writing groups are beneficial in two key ways: (1) advancing the belief that writing is a social activity and (2) fulfilling a primary Writing Across the Curriculum goal of helping faculty see connections between their own writing and that of their students. In fall 2009, the Writing Center at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus (DPc) pursued an inquiry from the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) to find a way to support the writing needs of its faculty. Motivated to explore how faculty’s local construction of academic writing in a collaborative setting can encourage them to understand literacy as a social practice, the Writing Center helped CONHI create faculty writing groups to support writing for a variety of reasons while also providing faculty with opportunities to reflect on ways they assign, evaluate, and discuss writing with their students. Moreover, we asked ourselves: if faculty could be influenced to take up a more sociocultural perspective in their own practice of writing participation, then how might this influence how they approach their students’ writing? This presentation will describe philosophies behind developing the faculty writing groups, steps taken to train facilitators and organize groups, and evaluative methods co-designed by the Writing Center and CONHI colleagues. This presentation will also explore how these support systems affected faculty engagement in writing groups, which were founded on the theoretical understanding that literacy is a social practice (Gee, Street) as well as their approaches (Street, 2009; Thaiss & Zawacki, 2006) to student writing.

Sociocultural Approach to Faculty's Literacy Practices

  • Angela Clark-Oates—Arizona State University

This presenter will discuss how the facilitators of the faculty writing groups were trained using a sociocultural approach to literacy practices.

Building Faculty Writing Groups with Classroom Connections

  • Lisa Cahill—Arizona State University

This presenter will describe the model of the faculty writing group used at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. In addition she will describe the rationale behind the design of the faculty brown bag seminars on writing pedagogy.

College-Level Faculty Writing Support

  • Nancy Moore—Arizona State University

This presenter will describe the context in her college for initiating faculty writing groups as well as the methods used to evaluate the impact on faculty participants.


09 H—Organized Panel
WAC Times Three: Aftermath of a Year-long Faculty Seminar

Three small-college faculty (from math, psychology, and English) present the pedagogy and assessment results of their efforts during two years following a research-based WAC seminar led by the writing center director.

As faculty who use writing in the classroom, it is our hope to encourage better student writing by devising better assignments. To this end, our college funded an attempt for more rigor and attention to goal-based writing on campus. That is, in Spring 2007, our small, four-year liberal arts college embarked on the WAC Faculty Workshop, a serious extended inquiry into using a systematic approach to designing purposeful, goal-oriented, student-centered writing assignments. We used an approach based on earlier work in designing writing assignments across the curriculum (Cochran, Bray, & Devine; Purves, et al, 1984; c.f. Bloom, 1956). Our goal was to design writing tasks that call for high engagement and higher-order thinking skills. We considered cognitive, social, and rhetorical dimensions of writing tasks; designed appropriate support for the students; and created task- and goal-specific evaluation plans. In this talk we will share some survey findings about our faculty, outline the multiple-step workshop plan, showcase two sets of WAC assignment-evaluation materials in mathematics and psychology, and discuss the assessment of these materials. We end by asking participants to create a writing question appropriate for a discipline-specific cognitive goal and sharing some WAC resources we have created.

Setting the Agenda and Evaluating a Research-based WAC Program

  • Cynthia Cochran—Illinois College

The first talk discusses the relevant background of our college and its faculty and introduces the theoretical and pragmatic elements of a year-long WAC faculty workshop. In designing a workshop to serve the needs of our students, I recognized that our faculty share at least two goals: to reach subject-matter goals through writing assignments, and to ensure that time spent grading papers is worth the effort. In discussing the workshop, I will offer a conceptual model of WAC outreach that may differ in approach from similar workshops in other colleges. For example, we based our plans on research in writing the college mission, and research of our own faculty. After a brief explanation of our theoretical underpinnings, I will explain the work I did with my colleague (Adam Porter, Religious Studies, Illinois College) to design a workshop to help participating faculty who have very different agendas. The workshop was extremely successful. Its artifacts include designs for new writing assignments and assignment sequences, evaluation rubrics, peer review guidelines, and other instructional material. To illustrate the need to adapt to divergent faculty, I will draw on material from a survey of our faculty as well as nationwide surveys of college faculty (from the SAT Commission), emphasizing the intricacies of helping faculty with divergent goals. I will then introduce two such faculty members who will present their work. After the other two panelists speak, we will hold an interactive exercise with the audience and distribute WAC workshop materials.

Reaching Student-centered Cognitive Goals: Collaborative Writing in Mathematics

  • Mary Marshall—Illinois College

Using writing in a mathematics course may help underscore the need for all students to write well and may help students achieve learning goals in the course. Creating an assignment to reach these goals can be difficult, and this talk narrates the journey I took to design, revise, and include a writing assignment in a math course. First, I will discuss how attending the WAC faculty workshop at our college influenced the way I approached the inclusion of writing in my courses. Then, I will discuss a particular case: I decided to use a writing assignment to reach mathematical and communicative goals in Probability and Statistics, a 300-level undergraduate course. I also decided to arrange for the students to conduct their work collaboratively, much as one might find in a job or research setting. The collaborative assignment sets out four real-world problems, one for each of four groups of students. The task is meant to engage the students in using writing to solve realistic problems that potentially have impact on their lives. I will discuss the variations of the task and student assessments of their experiences.

Engagement Plus Knowledge Plus Creativity Equals Learning: When Psychology Students Write and Think Creatively

  • Elizabeth Rellinger—Illinois College

Psychology offers many opportunities to include writing in the classroom, and it has long been my practice to include writing in many of my courses. While it is true that different assignments require different sorts of analytical and creative activity on the part of all the students, not all students engage equally in their writing work. My goal in joining the workshop was to enhance the ways I used writing to help students be creative while also learning course materials and practicing important communication skills. Since taking part in the workshop, I have designed or re-designed several writing assignments with varying degrees of success. Based on assessment of the course, including student evaluations, these assignments were quite popular and contributed to a high degree of learning in the course. I will discuss the implications of heightening student engagement by combining opportunities for them to write and think creatively while using and bolstering their content-area knowledge.


03 E—Individual Paper
OMG, the OP Must Be On Dope! LMAO! STFU! :0!: Analyzing the Conversations, Arguments, and Discourse Conventions in Discussion Board Threads

  • J. Rocky Colavito—Butler University

This presentation addresses the practical considerations of rhetorical and linguistic features of discussion board activity and their place in the teaching of writing across the curriculum.

Even though we might not be willing to admit it, listservs and discussion boards occupy a good bit of our daily lives and often serve as a nice break from the other items that crowd our daily agendas. Some of us also contribute to these threads, often crafting artful pseudonyms to protect our own “interests” and becoming part of the conversation. Subsequently, listservs and the many discussion threads that they produce are contemporary manifestations of Kenneth Burke’s parlor (and, in many cases, the threads degenerate into “the human barnyard”), and perform a valuable service of extending or initiating conversations within and among the various disciplines. It is this nexus that this presentation explores, for I aim to discuss and analyze the potential for using discussion threads as a means of making conversations on a variety of subjects more visible and thus subject to rhetorical and linguistic analysis. This sort of analysis represents a potentially underdeveloped means of advancing rhetorical and linguistic awareness among student writers across the disciplines, and carries with it the added bonus of supplementing course content by exposing students to the debates that shake and shape scholarship and practice in academic, professional, and public spheres. The presentation will thus consider how we can put these resources to use in all classes (not just writing intensive courses), and examine their use in identifying points of controversy and the various sides of the issues, their potential as models for language use and argument construction, and their viability as a means of raising student awareness on a number of levels, not the least of which are course content and the place of spoken and written conversation within the sphere of the course, the framework of the student’s major, and the field(s) to which that major feeds.


08 H—Organized Panel
Effecting a Paradigm Shift for Faculty Teaching (with) Writing Across the Disciplines

  • Matthew Cox—Michigan State University
  • Terri Barry—Michigan State University
  • Bridget Behe—Michigan State University
  • N. Suzanne Lang—Michigan State University
  • Michael Orth—Michigan State University
  • Scott Chiu—Michigan State University

Experiences with faculty writing workshops have shown that in order to maximize workshops’ effectiveness, they need to offer practical applications with products that faculty will use in the classroom, time and appropriate context for feedback, and designated time for assignment development.

This interactive panel is based on two faculty workshops about teaching with writing, one focused on science faculty and one open to faculty across various units at a large Research I university. Panel presenters include original workshop facilitators from Comp/Rhet and the Sciences as well as workshop participants who later became facilitators. Participants have called the workshop transformative and liberating so we want to capture what has worked and revise what could be more effective for creating a paradigm shift on our campus. The panel plans to examine the structures of our various workshops, delineating what we have found to be important for truly effecting change in participants' views of teaching (with) writing and completing their own writing. Topics of discussion will include: workshop timing (including the importance of designated time for assignment development and feedback), workshop costs, the importance of food and social time for group building and collaboration, the need for reporting and synthesizing daily work, the usefulness of final presentations and follow-up sessions, the value of bringing in outside presenters with different perspectives, and the effectiveness of having participants practice what they are learning, e.g., low-risk writing, multi-modal composing, giving peer feedback, and collaborating on projects. Workshop topics included: expansive forms of writing, peer review, assignment design, plagiarism, scaffolding, the uses of visual rhetoric, and rhetorical (genre) analysis. Changes from the first workshop to the second include advertising earlier, addressing the needs of writers who are non-native speakers of English, and additional work on rubric building. The panel will include testimonials from participants about how the workshops have affected their assignments and their teaching. We also plan to ask attendees to share their own experiences and/or expectations with writing strategies or workshops across disciplines.


04 H—Organized Panel
Be OURs. Be WAC. Writing to Inquire across the Curriculum at BSC

In this panel presentation, the leaders of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Writing Across the Curriculum will describe their combined efforts for integrating inquiry-driven writing across the core and in the majors. Then a communication studies faculty member whose pedagogy exemplifies what is possible when student research and writing intersect will showcase her approaches to teaching with inquiry-driven writing.

Say “research paper” to a student and you may hear groans. Say “research paper” to an instructor and you may hear the same groans. Students don’t want to write them. Teachers don’t want to read them. And yet it is research and inquiry that drives scholarship across the disciplines. Why hasn’t the energy that drives scholars to use writing to inquire been better harnessed in the classroom? Why is it that when researched writing is assigned, too often students are confined to reporting on the research of others, rather than invited to conduct their own inquiry? Why is it that student research is so often assigned as a large project, rather than integrated into the design of a course or scaffolded into smaller benchmarks? Early in the development of their programs, the leaders of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) realized that to reinvigorate conversation and pedagogy surrounding the obligatory research paper, they could bring together their programming foci to eliminate obstacles on the student side (through OUR) and misconceptions on the faculty side (through WAC) that get in the way of interesting and engaged researched writing. In this panel presentation, the leaders of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Writing Across the Curriculum will describe their combined efforts for integrating inquiry-driven writing across the core and in the majors, and then a communication studies faculty member whose pedagogy exemplifies what is possible when student research and writing intersect will showcase her approaches to teaching with inquiry-driven writing.

Be WAC: Addressing Faculty Misconceptions about Student Research

  • Michelle Cox—Bridgewater State College

Bruce Ballenger (1992) has argued that the research paper is the least theorized of all the school genres. As Ballenger has pointed out, too many instructors assign research papers that are research-driven (rather than inquiry-driven), rely heavily on secondary sources (rather than primary research), and demand that students write in the genre of the “student research paper” (rather than invite students to write in a genre that fits their rhetorical purpose). Students respond to this assignment by “patchwriting,” or piecing together material closely paraphrased from text-based sources (Howard 1992). Instructors then often respond to student research papers by focusing exclusively on citation format--which Ballenger has likened to the “grammar of the research paper”--as well as watching for signs of plagiarism. Often finding citation problems as well as plagiarized text, instructors assume that students need more practice in writing research papers, and the cycle begins anew. As director of a WAC program, the speaker will discuss these persistent misconceptions of student researched-writing as well as share heuristics useful at WAC workshops for imagining the possibilities for inquiry-driven student writing. The presenter will also discuss how WAC and OUR came to collaborate in addressing researched writing and how this joining of resources and missions can serve as a model for other institutions seeking to energize the ways that student research is conceptualized, assigned, and performed on their campuses.

Not “Just” Research: Writing for Inquiry in a Communications Context

  • Nancy Van Leuven—Bridgewater State College

There is a fairly intense discussion taking place about the nurture versus nature of research especially in terms of a student’s potential as an active writer within a classroom setting. This presenter will discuss how students may be thought of as investigators using a variety of research methods to study a “case”--an approach that is easily applied to real-life research ranging from concrete communication strategies to more abstract topics of values, reputation and goodwill. At Bridgewater State College, this undergraduate framework is known as course-embedded research and is defined as a discipline-appropriate experience that an entire class participates in during a semester. Specifically, the entire class is split into small teams to analyze campaigns and organizations, a process that culminates in “pitch” presentations that summarize the extensive research for a larger audience and the object of study. Such a case study approach includes the traditional research paper components, such as literature reviews, citations, and other displays of knowledge; however, it also goes several steps further in transforming research into persuasive art as well as rigorous science. This presentation offers a glimpse into the possibilities of writing that changes the nature of classroom objectives as well as the nurturing necessary for the next generation of inquiring minds. By blending research with strong writing and presentation skills , including a final reflection piece, the strategy is replicable in many other disciplines interested in shaping and changing how students write to inquire.


06 H—Individual Paper
Unconventional Resources to Talk about Writing Conventions

  • Kim Crowley

Using campus resources like archives and special collections can help students from a variety of disciplines do great research and also talk about what goes into good writing, no matter what the area of study.

My presentation highlights how utilizing institutional resources like campus archives, museums, special collections, and even theaters or laboratories can emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of college writing. I’ll discuss my first-year writing course in which students were assigned a research project requiring them to use our college’s archives as their main source of information. Each student worked on a topic and time period of their choice, but all worked on the same basic assignment. One success was students’ realization that though there were myriad approaches to this assignment, we could still agree on what constituted effective writing. Students also got a sense of what their discipline was like in previous decades, prompting them to think about technology, ideology, and other issues cogent across disciplines. I collaborated closely with the college’s archivist, modeling the value and importance of working with peers from different fields. I will also discuss broader issues of WAC that projects like this address. Students focused on something relevant to their major while working on a common writing assignment, driving home the concept that though the format of writing varies between disciplines, they really can come to an understanding about good writing. Students worked with primary documents and interviews, along with more traditional materials, helping them see different methods used to gather and disseminate information. I’d like attendees to leave with practical information for their classes and programs and a sense of the potential these inter-curricular resources that display, collect, or reflect work from across campus have for WAC.


09 C—Organized Panel
Engaging Students Through Writing in Physical Education, Literacy Leadership and Criminal Justice

Using lessons drawn from student-centered archival research in a first-year writing-intensive course, engagement with professional writing genres in a literacy education graduate program, and the encounter with new digital literacies in undergraduate criminal justice courses, these presentations ask the audience to reconsider the ways we use writing to challenge, engage, mentor, and professionalize students across levels, across programs, and across the curriculum.

Too often, when a course becomes writing intensive, a 15 page seminar paper is tacked, pro forma, to the end of the course. But writing, as an activity, can transform a course. As Robert A. Smart and Mary T. Segall note in their introduction to Direct from the Disciplines (2005), “writing becomes not an ‘add-on,’ a formalistic acculturation; rather, it requires pedagogical reorientation to provide an environment for cognitive understanding” (1). Such reorientation requires a rethinking of how writing can be used as a means for discovery and communication, a recasting of instructor and student roles in the classroom, and a reconceptualization of how student learning is guided, performed, and presented. Hailing from a state college in southeastern Massachusetts, the presenters will share approaches to engaging students across the curriculum through inquiry, professional writing, and multimedia projects. The first presenter will share an inquiry-driven project used in a first-year writing-intensive physical education course that fostered academic literacy through a whole class research project that drew on archival sources and resulted in a collaboratively written 30-page research article. The second presenter will share approaches to engaging literacy education graduate students in the professional writing genres so crucial to their future careers. The third presenter will share approaches to using multimedia projects with criminal justice undergraduates and draw from these experiences to question the very ways we define writing, text, and composition in Writing Across the Curriculum programs. Together, these presentations ask the audience to reconsider the ways we use writing to challenge, engage, mentor, and professionalize students across levels, across programs, and across the curriculum.

Writing Across the Curriculum in the Age of the Digital Remix

  • Dion Dennis—Bridgewater State College

With the growing ubiquity of participatory media cultures among adolescents and young adults, traditional writing-across-the-curriculum programs face challenges in recognizing and then integrating relevant and emerging visual and textual media-based literacies into WAC practice. Popular expressive formats, such as audio and/or video sampling and production, as well as blogs and remixes, are now an everyday part of communicative environments. As Jenkins has noted, there are three areas where WAC-based policy and practice interventions may be useful: First, in terms of these media literacies, there's a participation gap borne from communicative competencies and skills deficits, particularly in lower-SES students who come from institutions and homes without the cultural capital provided by rich, networked environments. Secondly, there's a transparency problematic, where the mix of textual and multimedia products are not sufficiently recognized and understood as embodying assumptions that prescribe and inscribe relations of desire, power, knowledge and world views, even as they subtly promote products and services or vend propaganda. Thirdly, the socialization of ethical norms and canons of professional practice may be eroding in a decentralized network environment. Successful enculturation of the proficiencies of writing and reading may well require that traditional WAC strategies be adapted to these new textualities so that students are engaged in active development of literacies in their communicative environments. In the process, reformulated WAC practices might serve as a much needed bridge between new and traditional scholarly textualities. How this might be accomplished, as practice and policy, is discussed.

A Recipe for Engaging First Year Students: Two Parts Planning, Two Parts Student Involvement, And One Part Chaos

  • Maura Rosenthal—Bridgewater State College

This session will describe how a first-year writing-intensive Physical Education class project based on archival materials morphed into a unique teaching and learning experience. Working individually and in small groups, class members completed a small research project in the college archives and wrote a research paper documenting their study and findings. As a class we replicated some of the methodologies of the scholars in the articles we read by investigating how The Comment covered women and men in sport from 1928 to 2008. All parts of the research project, from writing the research questions to sifting through old newspapers and entering the data in an excel spreadsheet, were completed by small groups of students. The final product was a research paper written by small groups of students. Students presented their work at a symposium highlighting the work of first and second year students. The presenter will share how this concept was developed, how she drew on college resources during the project, how she negotiated challenges posed by the project, and will explore (with the audience) how this innovative approach to teaching could be applied to other disciplines and courses.

The Varied Writing Responsibilities of a Literacy Leader in Today’s Schools

  • Elaine Bukowiecki—Bridgewater State College

One of the important responsibilities of an educational leader in today’s schools is oral and written communication with a variety of stakeholders: teachers, paraprofessionals, students, students’ families, administrators, local and state boards of education, and the community. In order to carry out this oral and written communication effectively and efficiently, prospective educational leaders need to be provided training and varied opportunities to practice these communication skills in their college/university teacher preparation programs, specifically at the graduate level. In this presentation, I will describe specific types of class activities and course assignments that graduate students who are enrolled in a Master’s Degree in Education (M.Ed.) program or a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Reading (C.A.G.S.) program participate in as they learn relevant communication skills necessary for becoming a school literacy leader. First, I will discuss the rationale and research-base for effective oral and written communication by literacy leaders in today’s schools. Next, I will describe specific written and oral class activities and course assignments that simulate the actual written and oral responsibilities of a literacy professional in schools/school districts today: professional development workshops, assessment reports, budgets, grant writing, information sheets and newsletters to school staff and students’ families, memos, curricula, and lesson plans. Third, I will share examples of written assignments graduate students have completed in both the M.Ed. and C.A.G.S. programs in reading that typify actual written and oral activities exhibited by literacy professionals in schools/districts. Finally, I will conclude this presentation with a question/answer session.


03 F—Individual Paper
We All Shine On: Transition and Change in a Writing in the Disciplines Program

  • Christina Marie Devlin—Montgomery College

An award-winning program navigates leadership transition and economic change by sharpening its student focus.

Although Writing in the Disciplines ventures are rare at two-year colleges, Montgomery College sponsors a program which recently won a Diana Hacker Exemplary Program for Reaching Across Borders Award. Nevertheless, the program faced significant change when its instigator, leader, and muse decided to return to full-time classroom teaching at the same time that its sponsoring dean moved to a vice-president’s position. The college was spared layoffs, but budgets for work that takes faculty out of the classroom also seemed ephemeral. With a new leader and a different financial picture, what would our Writing in the Disciplines program become? While we are not completely certain of the answer, several approaches are working to sustain the program: transition planning, bedrock financial support, integration with other units of the college, and, most importantly, a new emphasis on student participation. Taken together, these strategies suggest that transition fosters rather than hinders how a WID program can adapt in changing, challenging times.


08 D—Individual Paper
U.S. Undergraduate Writing, Disciplines, and General Education: Insights from Cross-cultural Linguistic Analysis

  • Christiane Donahue—Dartmouth College and Université Lille 3

Cross-cultural analytic methods for studying students' negotiation of general education vs. disciplinary participation through writing enable us to consider whether the role of meta-awareness is as important as that of discursive ability and expertise in students' growth as writers.

In U.S. liberal arts higher education, students participate in diffuse and diverse modes of “disciplinarity” during most of their undergraduate years; this U.S. context provides a particularly useful window into writing and disciplinary knowledge. I will focus on how knowledge is “transmitted,” co-constructed, or furthered through students’ writing over four years by reporting on segments of a longitudinal study of twenty students’ written work over four years in a U.S. university in a variety of disciplines. Reporting on three cases that are part of this larger longitudinal study, one each in Psychology, Biology, and Philosophy, I will cross-reference the students’ spoken words (interview) with the students’ written texts (analysis for subject position and intertext), using analytic methods developed in French linguistics scholarship. This review will serve to uncover aspects of students’ negotiations with knowledge-making that offer insight into the in-between stage of student writers’ status as disciplinary knowledge-producer. Students’ texts and interviews provide material for studying their movement towards “full participation” or mature participation (Prior 1998) in communities of practice, “a form of anticipated participation marked by rich access to, and engagement in, practices [...]; it opens paths toward full participation, that is, taking up some mature role in a community of practice” (p. 103). The study results suggest that mature practices might develop without an accompanying meta-awareness. The student writers in our study did not evolve in their conscious understanding of literacy, knowledge and disciplinarity (”disciplinary consciousness” as defined by Reuter 2007), although they acquired a set of ways of articulating experience; in their written texts, on the other hand, their relationship to knowledge as represented in their source use and interactions changes substantially.


09 D—Organized Panel
The Transfer of Knowledge: Building Connections among Students, Faculty, and Administrators

This panel first describes the results of two research studies that focus on transfer, first-year writing students, and disciplinary faculty and then concludes by examining the role of transfer in curricular and administrative planning.

Transfer, or the ability to take information learned in one context and apply it in new contexts, is a crucial concept for students making the transition between first-year writing to writing in the disciplines. The question of how we might best teach with transfer in mind has been considered by researchers such as Beaufort (2007), Whardle (2007), Smit (2004) and Bergmann and Zepernick (2007). This presentation seeks to extend this conversation by presenting the results of a study of eight first-year writing classrooms and perceptions of transfer at a major Midwestern research university, incorporating results from a faculty survey on the use of writing across the curriculum and writing in upper-division courses, and the expectations of those faculty for students who have completed first-year writing at a second, medium-sized Midwestern university, and theorizing the administrative infrastructure necessary to implement a bridge program to increase transfer from first-year composition to writing intensive courses in general education. These presentations examine the complexities of transfer from several angles and provide suggestions for pedagogical strategies that can address the issue of transfer from FYC, to upper-level coursework, and on into the post-graduation workforce.

Bridging the Gap: Transfer, Metacognitive Teaching Techniques, and First-year Writing

  • Dana Driscoll—Oakland University

One of the goals of first-year composition is to prepare students for the many rhetorical situations and writing contexts they will encounter. However, a substantial gap exists concerning teaching for transfer within the field, including within teacher training materials, such as A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers and the Bedford/St. Martins Guide to Teaching Writing. This presentation seeks to begin to address this gap by describing results of a classroom study on teaching and transfer and examining metacognitive teaching techniques that can facilitate transfer across courses. The presentation will include a discussion of results from a study on transfer of eight first-year writing classrooms. Data presented will focus on interviews with eight classroom instructors and teaching observations. Surveys (n=135) and interviews from fifteen students will also be presented. Study results indicate that while most instructors see transfer as an explicit goal for their classrooms, few instructors in the study taught in an explicit manner that directly encouraged transfer. Surveys and interviews from students support this finding and suggest that students prefer “explicit” teaching with an emphasis on transfer rather than “implicit” teaching found in the classrooms in the study. Related issues including instructor beliefs about general academic writing and definitions of writing will also be considered. The presentation will conclude with suggestions for pedagogical techniques for facilitating transfer in first-year writing and courses across the disciplines. Descriptions of “explicit” vs. “implicit” teaching strategies will be discussed as they relate to study results and to teaching with transfer in mind.

Faculty Responses from Across the Curriculum Concerning First-year Writing Courses

  • Laura Colbeck—Oakland University

Teachers of first year college writing courses strive to prepare their students for the writing tasks that they will face throughout their college careers and the workplace. In order to better prepare students, full time faculty across all departments of a medium-sized Midwestern university were surveyed on the writing and research demands that they made in their courses. The survey, which was distributed over the faculty listserv, yielded 44 responses, representing 19 departments in six schools and colleges. The survey asked faculty to report on their requirements for both primary and secondary research in writing, their preferences in terms of documentation styles, and student engagement with digital media (both in the creation of projects and used as secondary sources). This presentation provides a discussion of survey results which indicate that faculty across the disciplines call for instructors of first-year writing courses to emphasize critical thinking, requiring students to focus their topic and thesis creation with an inquiry based model that leads to problem solving. In addition, teachers of upper-level courses asked that students obtain information literacy. Finally, instructors asked that first year students be exposed to a variety of disciplinary conventions, both in regard to their rhetorical formation and formatting protocols. Extending the discussion of Knievel and Imamoto (2005), as well as Moulton and Holmes (2003), I will discuss how first year writing courses can assist in the transfer of knowledge from foundational first year training in inquiry, research, and composition to upper level course work and writing in the professions.

Creating a University-wide Culture of Writing

  • Marshall Kitchens—Oakland University

By unpacking the stakeholders and political contexts that impact the implementation of a new university-wide writing curriculum, this final presentation connects the first two presentations by building on the work of Yancey and Huot (1997) as well as Bazerman (2005) to theorize a possible infrastructure to facilitate transfer. An effective WAC program creates a culture of writing across the disciplines that facilitates the transfer of knowledge from FYC to upper-division coursework and continuously assesses the efficacy of the program across the university. This presentation examines methods used at a mid-sized Midwestern university to overcome key challenges to designing and implementing an effective writing across the disciplines curriculum, from marshalling a large labor force of contingent first year writing instructors to implement a common curriculum; to navigating the political structure of general education policies and inter-departmental politics; to obtaining buy-in from professional schools such as nursing, engineering, and education; to implementing an efficient assessment procedure for writing intensive courses that does not overburden either departments or WAC coordinators. This presentation provides both theoretical and practical grounding to launch and assess a university-wide writing in the disciplines program that nurtures a larger culture of writing.


08 J—Organized Panel
Making Sense of Campus Writing

  • Michele Eodice—University of Oklahoma
  • Carrie Miller-DeBoer—University of Oklahoma
  • Daniel Emery—University of Oklahoma
  • J. Quyen Arana—University of Oklahoma

A WAC effort is assessed using Weick's “sensemaking” process.

Our WAC (called Writing Across Campus) is comprised of multiple methods of working with faculty and students. After several years of developing relationships with faculty to work on courses and make inroads with individual departments, we have stopped to ask: what does this all mean? The sensemaking model of understanding problem-solving in organizations seems best to employ at this juncture. We want to learn from faculty how they “make sense” of the efforts they have made to improve student writing. Sensemaking as a method of assessment allows us to learn from participants their perceptions of why and how we work together toward this common goal. Weick, Klein et. al. define sensemaking as “a set of processes that is initiated when an individual or organization recognizes the inadequacy of their current understanding of events.” Weick states, organizations can take many forms, including operating as open systems; we believe our WAC program embodies this model. Open systems are defined as: “coalitions of shifting interest groups that develop goals by negotiation; the structure of the coalition, its activities, and its outcomes are strongly influenced by environmental factors” (Sensemaking in Organizations 70). Our WAC program resembles this approach and we find ourselves at the point of needing to reflect and make sense of our work together. Our planned pause to make sense is one that will account for the impetus, the history, and the outcomes of the effort. This panel will include the WAC Director, program assistants, writing fellows, and faculty in the disciplines (4-5 people).


03 G—Individual Paper
Blogging Across the Curriculum: Diverse Goals, Effective Practices

  • Jane Fife—Western Kentucky University

This presentation examines the growing literature on blogging in the college classroom to suggest best practices for blog assignments to achieve the goal of conversational learning in a variety of classroom contexts.

Art Young suggests that electronic communication has given rise to a middle ground between “writing to learn” and “writing to communicate”: He calls this new area “conversational learning” because it enacts discovery features of writing to learn within a shared classroom forum that uses the interchange of ideas to enhance learning. While Young did not mention blogs in his 1999 book, they have since become very popular writing tools in courses across the curriculum. Class blogs bring student writing to a wider audience and allow for easy interchanges about ideas and texts in progress. Public blogs can bring student writing to an even wider audience, allowing response from beyond the classroom. However, the multiple uses and audiences for blogs combined with the multiple purposes and assignments for classroom writing can produce a perplexing array of factors that influence the effectiveness of an academic blog project. This presentation examines the growing literature on blogging in the college classroom to suggest best practices for blog assignments to achieve this goal of conversational learning in a variety of classroom contexts.


07 C—Individual Paper
Using the Online Experience to Move Students from Learning to Write to Writing to Learn

  • Sandy Figueroa—Hostos Community College/CUNY
  • Sarah Archino—CUNY Graduate Center and University

The presenters will share the use of formal and informal writing exercises, group projects, article summaries, and a cartoon in an asynchronous online course--Computer Literacy.

The presenter will share a model for the successful integration of Writing Across the Curriculum principles in an asynchronous online course. Since such a course is, by nature, “writing intensive,” the presenter, a professor of computer literacy, has developed meaningful informal and formal assignments to make this writing experience more productive for developing students. Through the use of both the Discussion Board and formal writing assignments such as article summaries and syntheses, the presenter will also share with the participants the reflections and advice on the use of group assignments in an asynchronous environment and the way to develop group projects and presentations virtually. As the course has a lab component, the presenter will share with the participants the incorporation of a writing assignment with an Excel lab project. The presenter will also share the importance of an academic community in the development of such a course, including partnerships with a writing fellow who observes the course to fine-tune and develop the writing exercises and works directly with the students as well as colleagues outside the discipline who can offer support on integrating the general education principles into the fabric of an asynchronous online course.


03 F—Individual Paper
A Case Study of First Year WAC Development: Ideological Conflict, Uneasy Alliances

  • Collie Fulford—North Carolina Central University

In one complex case of coincident reforms to first year writing and general education, writing across the curriculum ideologies and standards-based assessment ideologies come into conflict.

Writing Across the Curriculum scholars Barbara Walvoord and Susan McLeod suggest that contemporary WAC practitioners must forge alliances with other cross-curricular initiatives in order for WAC to continue as a viable educational movement. But what happens when the ideologies that inform WAC differ significantly from those of other educational reformers? A case study of curricular change involving groups with conflicting ideological commitments examines this question. At a small, public, liberal arts college, efforts to reform general education emerged in the context of a marked ideological shift toward standards-based assessment. Coinciding with the general education reform movement, an independent initiative generated by WAC advocates sought to revitalize the first year writing program with an infusion of diverse disciplinary faculty and themes. The development of the new writing course highlighted a disjunction between ideologies of standards-based assessment that identify writing as one necessary skill among many and ideologies of WAC that position writing as a central tool for learning. Analysis of the interactions between groups involved reveals both benefits and costs resulting from the kinds of alliances Walvoord and McLeod promote. Findings from my ethnographic study of the first year WAC developments indicate that although alliances can produce significant reforms, working with groups that have divergent ideological premises risks positioning WAC in subordination to others’ ideological priorities. Two intertwined strategies appear to mitigate this problem: 1) recentering on WAC’s core theoretical commitments and 2) identification of other ideologies in play and considering how, or whether, core WAC premises can align with them.


03 D—Organized Panel
At Home with Writing: WAC Faculty Fellows at St. John’s University

  • Anne Ellen Geller—St. John's College
  • Natalie Byfield—St. John's College
  • Zachary Davis—St. John's College
  • Emilio Squillante—College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions
  • Jennifer Travis—St. John's College
  • Melissa Yates—St. John’s College
  • Enju Wang—St. John’s College

The faculty on this panel will describe reading and thinking with colleagues outside their disciplines, reflecting on and revising their practices of teaching writing, and working with undergraduate writing fellows in their spring 2010 courses. Each faculty person on the panel will also present a piece of action research from the year’s work and invite the audience to respond as faculty colleagues, modeling pieces of the collaborative work this group will do together over the year.

This presentation will describe a 2009-2010 pilot WAC Faculty Fellows program through which six faculty members (from philosophy, sociology, English, chemistry and pharmacy) will think deeply together over an entire academic year about who they are as writers and teachers of writing. While the inaugural Fellows will not be ambassadors for study abroad as their colleagues who traveled to Rome have been, the university sees these faculty as a different type of ambassador: scholars taking on challenging questions about the teaching of writing at the university. Thus, in a year when all faculty travel funding has been slashed, travel funding built into this program budget guarantees participating fellows will be able disseminate what they learn at national and international conferences. The faculty on this panel will describe reading and thinking with colleagues outside their disciplines, reflecting on and revising their practices of teaching writing, and working with undergraduate writing center consultants who will be writing fellows in their spring 2010 courses. Each faculty person on the panel will also present a piece of research from the year’s work and invite the audience to respond as faculty colleagues, modeling pieces of the collaborative work this group will do together over the year. What this panel will reveal is how sustainable WAC faculty development can be if it is driven by the questions of participating faculty and is founded on extended collaborative investigation among faculty and local institutional context rather than based on brief boilerplate workshops that strive only to transmit best practices. By the time the program is assembled, this panel will be able to offer the specifics of the faculty participants’ research projects.

A major initiative of the St. John’s WAC program has been a week-long summer workshop for faculty at the university’s campus in Rome, Italy. Originally conceived as a faculty writing retreat and an opportunity for faculty to become ambassadors for study abroad, the workshop gives faculty sustained writing time on scholarly projects, response from colleagues and the opportunity to reflect on their teaching of writing with one another. At the core of this workshop is a belief that the experiences faculty themselves have as they are thinking and writing do and should inform the experiences they ask their students to have when thinking and writing in courses. But the economic downtown meant there was no money in the summer of 2009 to send 20 faculty to Italy, so we have been forced to re-imagine how this type of extended collegial inquiry among cross-disciplinary faculty may be attainable at home, on campus, without losing the excitement of a trip abroad or the programmatic momentum gained by involving a new group of faculty with WAC each year.


10 H—Organized Panel
Using Wikis to Promote Best Practices of Writing and Assessment Across Disciplines

  • Victoria Genetin—The Ohio State University
  • Katie Linder—The Ohio State University
  • Vicki Daiello—The Ohio State University

Panelists will talk about how the WAC program at Ohio State University has found ways of influencing the conversation about writing and assessment in indirect ways by creating a wiki of resources that pulls together the best research on assessment and writing across the curriculum theory and practice.

Many of the models for the assessment of writing across the curriculum have focused on programs that have a particular curricular stake in the curriculum, approving WAC/WID courses and/or assessing student work. Such programs have been able to take advantage of their role in assessment to promote WAC within their institutions, maintaining a dialogue among faculty about writing pedagogy across the disciplines. WAC programs with a less defined role in curricular management often have to influence their institution's thinking about the role of writing in assessment in more indirect ways. The WAC program at Ohio State University has found ways of influencing the conversation indirectly by creating a wiki of resources that pulls the best research on assessment and writing across the curriculum theory and practice together. The site attempts to present a holistic approach to assessment that promotes the kind of “instructional assessment” that Brian Huot has talked about in his recent work: approaches to assessment that not only evaluate student performance, but which also facilitate dialogue between teachers and students and offer opportunities for them to be self-reflective about teaching and learning. Each of the members of the panel will talk for 5-10 minutes about different components of the wiki project and how it has promoted the program's work on assessment at Ohio State. For instance, the panelists will discuss how resources on the wiki highlight different relationships in the classroom and across the institution, how the program is using new media to illustrate perspectives on assessment throughout the university, as well as how the program is developing resources for assessing new media. The panelists will then lead a brief interactive session that will invite panel attendees to share or develop classroom assessment activities that engage teaching and learning from a number of different perspectives: students, teachers, programs and institutions.


06 C—Organized Panel
Online Publishing as WAC: The Case of Blogs@Baruch

Each of the three presenters on this panel will address an aspect of Blogs@Baruch’s increasing centrality to the WAC landscape of Baruch and connect the project to broader WAC/WID-related issues.

In the Summer of 2008, the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute at Baruch College, CUNY launched Blogs@Baruch, an online publishing platform for the Baruch community built on WordPress MU, an open-source blogging package. Founded on the basic WAC principle that written reflection (in this case, blogging) facilitates meaningful engagement with course content, Blogs@Baruch was originally conceived of as a WAC project. It provides occasions (and a medium) for reflection and dialogue in the spirit of common write-to-learn strategies. In the year since its launch, Blogs@Baruch has received national recognition (noted in the 2009 Horizon Report) and has grown tremendously. The system currently has 3200 users (2700 are students) and 749 blogs on the system. In the last year, over 70 courses have included blogging in some way. In the Fall 2009 semester we launched 60 blogs for Baruch’s Freshman Seminar, authored by 1200 users. Practically overnight, blogging has become a key component in Baruch’s undergraduate curriculum providing a convenient platform for low-stakes writing assignments and group projects of various sorts. Each of the three presenters on this panel will address an aspect of Blogs@Baruchís increasing centrality to the WAC landscape of Baruch and connect the project to broader WAC/WID-related issues. The presenters will address the implications of professional development efforts around the project, the uses of instructional technology to promote WAC goals, and using blogs to create a community of writers and to gradually change the institutional culture to embrace blogging as a means of encouraging critical thinking and reflection.

Blogging as Professional Development

  • Mikhail Gershovich—Baruch College/CUNY

This presentation will introduce the Blogs@Baruch project, frame it in terms of WAC goals and priorities, and will address the institutional implications of a project that facilitates many and varied opportunities for written reflection and dialogue not only across the curriculum but in the co-curriculum and various aspects of academic administration, particularly professional development. I will begin by framing blogging at Baruch College as having grown out the of the WAC/WID program and will present and theorize a number of instances where blogging has enriched the curriculum and co-curriculum in perhaps unexpected ways. I will likewise discuss the role online publishing can play in the life of academic service units and faculty development programs. Specifically, I will discuss the evolution of and contributions to the intellectual life around writing instruction and academic technology at Baruch College of 1) cac.ophony, the Schwartz Communication Institute’s weblog written by its Fellows and 2) the Baruch College Teaching blog which is maintained by a small group of faculty members. I will argue that these group blogging projects have had a transformative effect on the discourse around WAC pedagogy and practice at Baruch College and together provide effective models for enhancing engagement with writing related professional development initiatives across disciplines.

Personal Publishing and the Path to the University of the Future

  • Lucas Waltzer—Baruch College/CUNY

Faculty from Baruch's Anthropology/Sociology Department meet several times a semester to share ideas and to collectively think through the role of public, online writing in their courses. In the Fine and Performing Arts Department, students workshop pieces, develop the language with which to write and speak about the arts, and present online exhibits. A faculty member in the English Department who has been teaching at the college for more than 30 years has her students film themselves performing scenes from Shakespeare's plays and then post them to a public space, along with commentary, for their classmates to dissect. Each of the above projects, and dozens of others with similar levels of innovation, have emerged in the past year at Baruch College, made possible by Blogs@Baruch. This presentation will explore the role of Blogs@Baruch within and beyond the WAC program of Baruch College. It will argue that an open source personal publishing platform can be a powerful tool for sharpening the information and digital literacy components of a college's general education program and also can provide fruitful collaborative opportunities for faculty to more directly and productively confront the impact of new technologies on teaching and learning environments.

Re-imaginging the Literary Magazine through a Blogging Platform

  • Keri Bertino—Baruch College/CUNY

In the spring of 2009 the Baruch College Writing Center launched i magazine, an online journal of student writing ( ). i magazine, which publishes strong academic and creative writing, was created in support of the goals the Writing Across the Curriculum program: to create real and interactive audiences for our students; to demonstrate that strong writing and well-crafted assignments can play an integral role in all courses, not only in English and the humanities; to create a database of student writing for use as learning tools in and out of the classroom; to showcase the process of revision; and to empower students to be active, thoughtful, and engaged lifetime writers rather than passive students just completing assignments. This presentation will explore the ways that i magazine uses the Blogs@Baruch platform to expand the impact of the journal from a traditional showcase to an interactive experience that supports discussion about writing among students and faculty, provides exercises, lesson-plans, and student models for professors to use in-class and presents the process of student writers’ revision alongside the final, polished work. These practices aim to provide sufficient opportunities for students and faculty alike to engage in meaningful dialogue and reflection about writing on campus.


03 F—Individual Paper
WAC at TSC: Writing Across and Up the Curriculum as a Gen Ed/Program Partnership

  • Chris Geyer—Cazenovia College

This presentation offers perspectives on the opportunities and dangers that face a WAC program at a very small college.

Having a WAC program at a very small college is rather like the Chinese symbol for crisis: it brings danger and opportunity. In this presentation, I will share perspectives on writing across, and also up through the curriculum in a small school with programs ranging from business to humanities, social sciences to studio art, visual communications to interior design. The opportunity comes from the Senior Capstone project, jointly owned by Gen Ed and the student’s major. The danger comes from feeling threatened when asked to reveal assignment or assessment practices on such a small campus. Focusing on the partnership aspect of the writing requirements from freshman to senior capstone focuses WAC development on longitudinal as well as horizontal lines. I conclude with some thoughts on sustaining a WAC program beyond the immediate appeasement of faculty demands for improved citation and correctness in student writing.


W F—Pre-Conference Workshop
Take Your Students to the Movies: Teaching Writing and Thinking Through Film

  • Chantal Gibson—Simon Fraser University
  • Stephanie Dayes—Simon Fraser University

Using Henry Fonda as the model critical thinker, this critical reading of 12 Angry Men offers teachers a fun and engaging way to guide students through the argument-writing process as they evaluate the strengths and limitations of their own thinking.

The most effective way for students to recognize the strengths and limitations of their own thinking is to SEE good and bad thinking in action. This interactive writing workshop turns an engaging black and white film, 12 Angry Men, into an occasion for low-stakes writing. This activity guides students through the argument-building process, and provides them with an opportunity to evaluate their learning experience. Additionally, it sets the tone for the kind of thinking we want to see in our classrooms, and provides instructors with instant feedback on the effectiveness of the activity. Facilitators will teach the workshop and explain the writing strategies and collaborative learning strategies that support its instructional design framework. In the students’ shoes, participants will: 1. Gather Information: Watch the film, identify logical fallacies and characteristics of good thinking, and practice note-taking using guiding questions and a visual map of the jury room 2. Build & Share Knowledge: Discuss responses to guiding questions in small groups, and reach a large group consensus on the main points of the movie 3. Synthesize Responses: Use information from 1 & 2 to evaluate the film’s usefulness as a learning tool in a short writing activity. Our undergraduates said that spending time in the jury room with Henry Fonda was a “memorable,” “useful” and “fun way to learn how to write.” The session will end with a large group discussion of how film in general and the teaching strategies used in our workshop can be adapted for the specific disciplinary needs of our audience.


04 A—Individual Paper
PEER Review: Teaching TAs how to Provide Effective Evaluation and Response

  • Chantal Gibson—Simon Fraser University

This presentation describes the writing activities used in a workshop designed to teach new TAs how to provide thoughtful feedback that motivates students.

Teaching Assistants play an important role in the learning process. Most want to provide written and oral feedback that will motivate students, but many begin their teaching careers feeling unprepared to do so. Often, they know what they want their feedback to do, but they don’t know how to do it. This presentation examines a feedback workshop entitled “Critique vs. Criticism.” Presented semi-annually at Simon Fraser University’s TA/TM Day, this workshop is designed to build teaching confidence. Averaging an A grade from participants, the workshop introduces new teachers from across the disciplines to six key characteristics of effective feedback that matter to students (Purpose, Clarity, Focus, Language, Practicality, and Timeliness) and to Facilitative and Directive commenting styles. It also takes a hard look at the realities of evaluation, asking: How do we provide effective feedback given the constraints on our time and resources? This presentation will describe the components of the learn-by-doing workshop, specifically outlining (1) the low-stakes writing exercises participants use to distinguish and determine the effectiveness of sample comments and (2) the “Wearing Our Students’ Shoes” activities that focus feedback on student work and avoid “the slip” into personal criticism. The presentation will conclude with a review of the feedback from workshop participants to determine why 98% leave feeling more confident about evaluating student work.


06 A—Individual Paper
Developing Textual Identity: Achieving “Optimal” Course Design for First-Year Multilingual Writers

  • Tarez Samra Graban—Indiana University

This presenter discusses how the concepts of “moves” and “interlanguage” from EAP/ESP research can be adapted for promoting more equitable cultural positioning among novice multilingual writers in the non-WID composition course.

In her article “Between Students’ Language and Academic Discourse” (1986), Eleanor Kutz refreshes the question of whether and how we can help ESL writers to learn generic conventions in the context of extra-disciplinary writing courses, or courses whose aim is not to manufacture discipline-specific genre products. To elide the historical bifurcation between “everything goes” and “rigidly applied rules of academic discourse” (386), Kutz posits “interlanguage” as a site for generic acquisition and rhetorical consciousness raising, particularly by noting students’ own patterns of fluency, coherence, and linguistic autonomy. More recently, in Critical Academic Writing and Multilingual Students (2005), Suresh Canagarajah has refreshed this question again, arguing primarily for the development of advanced L2 writing courses that do not neglect ideational content in order to favor structure, forms, and imitation. In this presentation, I consider the contributions of both arguments towards developing a rhetoric and pedagogy of L2 writing within the context of a large first-year writing program. Ultimately, this approach promotes a more equitable cultural positioning among novice writers without resorting merely to imitative, prescriptive tasks, primarily through the application of “lens” and “moves” pedagogies that can strengthen rhetorical and generic competencies among writers who are learning in unfamiliar linguistic and cultural contexts. I will offer principles for what we can call an “optimal” L2 course design, consider the realities of enacting them, and discuss examples of how they may be achieved in the context of an ongoing FYC curricular revision called “Developing Textual Identities.”


06 F—Individual Paper
Writing across the Nursing Curriculum

  • Roger Graves—University of Alberta

This presentation will report the results of a descriptive study of writing assignments given throughout the nursing curriculum at one university.

The research literature about assignments given across the curriculum may best be summarized by Haswell: “For typical college students today, the result [of the move to embed writing instruction in courses throughout the curriculum] is a 4-year tiptoe through an instructional minefield” (Haswell, 2008, 304). The extent and nature of the writing demands placed on students vary considerably by discipline and year. In my work with faculty members across the university curriculum and with the writing centre at my institution, we often depend upon educated guesses and the cumulative experience of the tutoring staff to create a context for our work. In response to this lack of systematic information, we sought to create a better understanding of what students were being asked to write. With the cooperation of the Faculty of Nursing, we designed a study that asked these questions: What kinds of writing assignments do nursing students compose? How much writing do these students do at each level of their degree program? How much guidance do instructors provide to students about these assignments? In this study we collected every syllabus from every course (n = 41) and then identified and analyzed every writing assignment (n = 155). We coded each assignment for 27 variables including genre, length, year in program, and so on. In this presentation, I will report the results of this study including the range of genres that these students were asked to produce; the range of lengths of written texts; the number of “nested” (related) writing assignments; the length of time students had to produce the work; the opportunities for feedback on drafts of their assignments; and whether a marking rubric was provided to them. This work has implications for faculty who work with nursing students in writing centres, direct WAC programs, and oversee first-year writing programs. In addition, it provides a rare picture of writing throughout a discrete university program.


W E—Pre-Conference Workshop
A New Approach to and Vision of Enhancing Learning Through Writing -- Scenes and Issues in the US and Europe

  • Magnus Gustafsson—Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
  • Julian Ingle—Queen Mary, University of London
  • Paul Anderson—Miami University
  • David Russell—Iowa State University

A workshop to outline the pros and cons of a more far-reaching and departmentally oriented approach to promoting student writing. This workshop will discuss parameters such as effective strategies, decisive differences, organizational or educational obstacles, and characteristics of high quality learning through writing.

Both US and European higher education are pursuing efforts to improve student writing in their chosen fields of study. On the two sides of the Atlantic, these efforts are situated in much different educational models and emerge from different traditions of language instruction. Yet, a small number of universities on both locations are converging on a new vision of writing’s role in higher education. These initiatives are propelled by the faculty or units that stand outside academic departments--in freestanding writing across the curriculum programs in the US and in writing support groups in Europe. The common element is a shift from a focus on individual faculty or individual courses to a focus on the curriculum as a whole. Imbricated with this shift are several others, including the transformation from a focus on writing as a topic to be learned to a focus on writing as a major pedagogical technique for learning. In a way, that is more deeply embedded in disciplinary courses than has been the case to this point in the writing-to-learn movement. In this workshop / panel we would like to: describe this vision including four examples; argue that this approach to enhancing learning through writing is effective and sustainable; and activate a series of discussions to generate more insight into the parameters that affect this type of approach. Such parameters might involve different starting points and institutional ecologies; different conditions for growth and delivery; and different sets of strategies required for implementation and sustainability.


04 C—Individual Paper
What WAC/WID Faculty Need to Know About Multilingual Learners: New Approaches for Faculty Development

  • Jonathan Hall—York College/CUNY

This presentation offers a specifically WAC/WID model for faculty development which adapts research on L2 writing, language learning, and other fields to the challenges of upper-level WAC/WID courses enrolling students who are far removed from the level of the struggling beginning language learner, but who may nevertheless be working through important advanced language issues which instructors should be aware of.

As WAC/WID works to adapt its pedagogy to increasingly multilingual student populations, a key question is how to train the next generation of WAC faculty--and how to “retrofit” the current generation, because these issues will not wait. WAC/WID administrators sometimes turn to TESOL professionals to lead faculty workshops on multilingual issues; such presenters draw upon an important core of knowledge about language learning, but often have little direct experience with the specific issues faced by multilingual students in upper-level courses in the disciplines, and by faculty teaching them. This presentation offers a specifically WAC/WID model for faculty development which adapts the research on L2 writing, language learning, and other fields to the challenges of upper-level WAC/WID courses enrolling students who are far removed from the level of the struggling beginning language learner, but who may nevertheless be working through important advanced language issues which instructors should be aware of. The presentation will emphasize that multilingual learners in advanced writing intensive courses 1) will continue to be multilingual and will continue to be language learners, 2) are successful college students, 3) may nevertheless experience a falling-off, usually temporary, in their writing skills when they are asked to produce documents in a new genre or a new discipline, especially when more advanced cognitive demands are being made of them at the same time and 4) may have certain advantages over monolingual English speakers in learning new forms and adapting to novel rhetorical situations.


04 G—Organized Panel
Tutoring Writing Across the Curriculum

This panel aims not only to reinforce the importance of collaboration between WAC and writing center/writing tutoring, but also to show through the three different presentations that we can collaborate in various ways.

Tutoring Across the Curriculum: How Interdisciplinary Tutor-Tutee Collaborations Affect Writing

  • Al Harahap—San Francisco State University

With the ongoing recognition of Writing Across the Curriculum’s significance in both student and academic institutional development, many programs have now continued to flourish for over a decade. For students, honing writing skills that are specialized and attuned to their disciplinary conventions is much more applicable to their academic careers. For the institution, congruence between disciplinary colleges and departments fosters an interdisciplinary environment advantageous to all. To maintain successful WAC pedagogy, these programs need collaborative allies, not only from the strong relationship maintained between English/Writing departments and other disciplines, but also, according to Muriel Harris in “The Writing Center and Tutoring in WAC Programs,” from support services such as writing and tutoring centers. For Harris, it is necessary for WAC instructors who evaluate student work to have the support of tutors in the role of collaborators who have a wide range of complementary knowledge and skills for teaching student writing. But how exactly does such an alliance affect that writing? In this presentation, I will begin by presenting the role of San Francisco State University’s writing center and tutoring services in closely working with the campus’ fledgling WAC program and new WAC classes. These services employ writing tutors from across the disciplines--i.e. humanities, as well as various social and natural sciences, which creates various tutor-tutee combinations. I will then discuss how the collaborative process during tutoring sessions affects the text in terms of generalized and specialized disciplinary changes. Finally, I will follow up by mediating audience discussion of their own experiences with or as tutors in hopes of identifying what generalized/specialized writing skills tutors have to offer in interdisciplinary writing collaborations.

The Tutoring Studio: WAC through an Alternative Tutoring Space

  • Robert Cedillo—University of Nevada, Reno

As the current national economic crisis continues to unfold, universities are feeling the effects of forced furloughs, increased tuition costs, and reduced student services. This presentation will explore problems sparked by two developments resulting from the state of Nevada’s budgetary shortfall. First is the loss of UNR’s WAC-based writing center that served students at all levels and across all disciplines. The second development directly related to this loss was the English department’s decision to provide support on a limited scale for their Core Writing Program students in the form of a Tutoring Studio. I will use these events as an entry point into discussing how the principles of writing across the curriculum may still be maintained within the new Tutoring Studio despite shifting staffs from graduate to undergraduate tutors and shifting tutoring focus toward the particular outcomes and student needs for Core Writing courses. I will spend the majority of my time addressing these obstacles from the perspective of tutor training since I am most interested in finding ways to facilitate and extend a WAC influence even on a limited basis.

The Rx?: WAC and the Writing Center at a Pharmacy School

  • Susan Mueller—St. Louis College of Pharmacy

Most discussions about WAC, WID and writing centers assume that each of these has an independent circle of influence, separate clients and separate goals. The questions are about the relationships between these circles: intersecting, concentric, or separate? My writing center is in a small (1200 students), single-major (pharmacy), six-year school. The writing center also supports our WAC program. Since we are a pharmacy school, every course from FYC through graduation is tilted toward preparing students for pharmacy careers, so our WAC program is also a WID program by default. Things blend together. This blend is most apparent in the people involved: tutors and the coordinator. The writing tutors, hired at the end of their 1st year, typically work through their 5th year at the College. This means that by the time they are 4th or 5th year students they have both significant expertise as tutors and significant program knowledge--perhaps the ideal combination for WID support. The writing center coordinator supports both faculty and students in the Writing Center. Each perspective informs the other--a view of what’s working and what isn’t. How does this change tutoring? Is this model a hybrid or a distortion? This presentation will describe one writing center’s experience with WAC / WID. It will be of value to those interested in WAC/writing center integration and to those from atypical schools considering a WAC program.


06 H—Individual Paper
The WAC-ier UR, the WAC-ier You Can Be

  • D. Alexis Hart—Virginia Military Institute

Using a cross-disciplinary undergraduate research (UR) project in engineering writing conducted by a mechanical engineering major/writing minor as a case study, the presenter will examine how UR’s compatibility with WAC initiatives makes UR a potentially rich site for WAC programs to realize many of their central goals.

While undergraduate research (UR) has recently gained popularity and momentum in educational reform, writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) programs have long sought to achieve many of the same pedagogical goals. As Susan H. McLeod and Eric Miraglia (2001) explain, “WAC programs are defined in part by their intended outcomes--helping students become critical thinkers and problem solvers, as well as developing their communication skills.... [O]ne might say that WAC, more than any other recent educational reform movement, has aimed at transforming pedagogy at the college level” (5). These fundamental principles of WAC are echoed in some of the primary aims of undergraduate research as detailed in the Boyer Report (1998): inquiry-based learning, conveying research results effectively in writing, exploring diverse fields to complement the major field of study, etc. As the center of WAC on most campuses, English departments and especially the discipline of Writing provide particularly rich environments for undergraduate research projects that apply the principles of both traditional components of WAC: writing to learn and writing in the disciplines (Herrington and Moran, 2005, 7-9). By its very nature, undergraduate research requires students to write and to reason as well as to engage in exploratory thinking and learning, particularly in student-driven collaboration projects like the one I will describe here, in which a mechanical engineering/writing minor sought to discover whether or not engineering discourse is rhetorical.


06 F—Individual Paper
Developing Sequenced Writing Curriculum within Science Departments

  • Matthew Haslam—University of Hawaii at Hilo

This presentation describes the sequenced writing curriculum being developed within science departments at a 4,000-student state university.

Recently Beaufort (2007) has suggested that writing specialists need to work with departments to create “developmentally sound writing sequences that extend across courses in a major” (p. 153). This presentation describes how we are developing this type of curriculum within science departments at a 4,000-student state university. As a WAC consultant, I have paired with faculty in the Marine Science Department to provide discipline-specific writing instruction in three introductory marine science courses, rather than have students take the English Department’s writing for science course. Instruction and assignments in these courses are approached developmentally, with subsequent courses building upon previous work. The sequence culminates with a 300-level research methods course. The writing instruction is provided by marine science faculty and a writing professor, both in class and online. All faculty provide feedback on drafts and assess final papers. In addition, the existing instruction and assignments required throughout the curriculum have been assessed to determine if they accomplish department objectives. New instruction has been developed and coordinated among courses, assignments revised, and overlapping and divergent expectations among faculty identified. As a consultant, I help departments accomplish their goals by identifying what is currently being done, coordinating those efforts, offering assistance, and suggesting new ways of doing things. I will outline how students benefit from direct writing instruction throughout the curriculum and from the explicit discussion of department objectives and faculty expectations. I will describe the new instructional materials we have developed, report on our initial assessment efforts, and explain work being done with other departments.


10 G—Individual Paper
Teaching Writing in Unexpected Places: Using Portfolios and Learning Logs as Part of the Math Curriculum

  • Matthew Haslam—University of Hawaii at Hilo

Proof portfolios and written learning logs are used in mathematics courses to teach students how mathematicians write and to help them use writing strategically in their work.

This presentation describes the collaboration between a writing professor and mathematics professor to improve proof-writing skills of math majors. Since writing successful proofs involves valid logical deduction as well as clear exposition, a proof portfolio assignment has been incorporated in a discrete mathematics course. In the portfolios students organize their proofs and reflect on their previous writing. The students’ ability to reflect on proof-writing strategy relies heavily on the inclusion of a “strategy” section in every proof a student turns in. Akin to an outline, the strategy section of a proof serves as the template for the proof and allows students to sort out their chain of logic prior to executing the proof in full prose. Students are prompted to reflect on their previous proofs and articulate concrete strategies for proving similar theorems. The portfolio assignment has been effective in producing high-quality proofs. Due to this success, a portfolio is being incorporated into a second course that has a largely intuitive and visual component. The portfolio focuses on transitioning students from pictorial and informal arguments to rigorous mathematical proof. This presentation reports on the qualitative analysis of participating students’ portfolios. The portfolio assignments stem from these professors’ early work in which a written learning log was used effectively in an algebra course. In this journal, students completed the required computations and articulated problem-solving strategies and identified ways of approaching similarly formatted problems. These courses aim to teach students how mathematicians write and to help them use writing to be strategic in their work.


02 D—Individual Paper
Writing Fellow Influence on Assignment Design in the Disciplines

  • Beth Hedengren—Brigham Young University

This study examines reports by tutors, professors, and students to determine the extent of the influence Writing Fellows have on professors’ design of writing prompts.

In many ways the design of a writing assignment determines the quality of student writing. Anis Bawarshi explains, “The teachers’ prompts . . . constitute the situated topoi that the student writers enter into and participate within” (127). When the assignment clearly delineates the expectations in terms of purpose, discourse community addressed, and genre to be enacted, then the students are more likely to write a paper that meets those expectations. Yet most WID teachers have never received training on how to compose a writing prompt. Hence, an important question for WAC programs is how to encourage professors to create more effective writing prompts. One response to this question has been the development of various Writing-Fellows-type programs. The peer writing tutors were assigned to certain classes to facilitate student revision and at the same time, consult with professors. The tutors were to “invigorate WAC programs,” serve as “gentle subversives,” or “unintimidating catalysts for discussion about writing” (Soven 201-202). In over 20 years at dozens of universities, these programs report that the tutors do indeed influence the professors (See Zawacki, Mullin, and Gladstein, among others). But what particularly is the influence of Writing Fellows on faculty to improve their writing prompts? A related question is how do Writing Fellows help students understand the writing assignment? Is there any correlation between the disciplinary background of the tutors and their influence on both professors and students? This presentation will draw on reports from faculty, students, and tutors on the influence of tutors on the design and understanding of the assignment prompt and the correlation with the tutors’ disciplinary expertise.


03 C—Individual Paper
The Writing Fellow/Faculty Collaboration: Making It Work

  • Linda Hirsch—Hostos Community College/CUNY
  • Andrea Fabrizio—Hostos Community College/CUNY

This presentation will examine the various models of Writing Fellow/faculty WAC partnerships to distinguish those personal and academic characteristics which lead to effective collaborations and implementation of WAC principles and practices.

This presentation will examine the various models of Writing Fellow/faculty WAC partnerships to distinguish those characteristics which lead to effective collaborations. The Writing Fellow/faculty partnership is inherent to many WAC models, yet these collaborations vary in their constructs, purposes and outcomes. The Writing Fellows at the campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY) are advanced Ph.D. students rather than undergraduate “writing associates,” “writing mentors” or “writing fellows” used in other WAC initiatives. How does the nature of the Fellow/faculty partnership shift when the Fellow is a graduate student with teaching experience rather than an undergraduate student? What challenges and tensions are presented by each of these differing paradigms? We will seek to answer these questions by drawing on our previous relationship and experiences as WAC Coordinator and Writing Fellow at Hostos Community College/CUNY and our current collaboration as Co-WAC Coordinators. The presentation will examine the Writing Fellows’ unique position within academia and their potential to transform curriculum, pedagogy, and notions of academic hierarchy for both Fellows and faculty. By examining the range of models of Fellow/faculty partnerships currently in use, we will explore how these various pairings function in the academic environment and what they teach us about the forging of professional identities and professional development. Along with presentation participants, we will identify the interpersonal and academic skills required to build productive relationships and share insights and strategies for developing successful partnerships that can create new spaces for conceptual development and pedagogical change.


01 F—Organized Panel
Building and Sustaining a Viable WAC Program: Lessons from the Ten Year CUNY-wide WAC Initiative

This panel presentation will examine the evolution and insights gleaned from ten years of an ongoing City University of New York (CUNY) WAC initiative at both four-year and community colleges with reflections on the particular challenges and successes of this vast undertaking at individual member campuses.

This panel presentation will examine the evolution and insights gleaned from ten years of an ongoing City University of New York (CUNY)-wide WAC Initiative at both senior and community colleges with reflections on the particular challenges and successes of this vast undertaking at Hunter College, Hostos Community College and LaGuardia Community College. The session will explore the steps and missteps involved in implementing and supporting successful WAC programs and will discuss how these WAC programs elicited initial and continued faculty participation and college-wide collaborations with other divisions and departments. Panelists will share their experiences as creators of their WAC programs and will examine the far-reaching, often unanticipated effects of their programs on the professional development of faculty and Writing Fellows, the integration of WAC and other academic programs, assessment, and the relationship between WAC and the writing center. This personal look at creating and sustaining viable WAC programs will provide the lessons learned (hard-won, of course) from ten years of hands-on experience and a glimpse of what the panelists predict for the future of WAC at CUNY amid decreased funding and changes in the CUNY Initiative’s overall structure and design.

WAC at Hostos Community College: Strengthening Undergraduate Proficiencies

  • Linda Hirsch—Hostos Community College/CUNY

This presentation will examine the particular challenges of creating and building a WAC initiative in a bilingual college for a diverse student population in which 70% of students are not eligible to take freshman composition on admission and 50% of freshman require developmental reading classes. The success of WAC at Hostos will be traced from its earliest goals of establishing a campus culture that connected writing with teaching and learning and of developing a group of faculty familiar and comfortable with principles and practices of language-across-the-curriculum to its current configuration of a Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum project that is integrated into almost all aspects of academic life at Hostos. This reverberation of WAC across campus has not been without its challenges and tensions. As WAC Coordinator from the project’s inception in 1999 to now, I have worked with faculty and Writing Fellows to oversee the development and implementation of an academic and governance structure that has allowed for the development of Writing Intensive (WI) sections and a WI graduation requirement, the integration of writing and reading, and the influence of WAC on general education and changing notions of freshman composition. This presentation will focus on how we arrived here and where we might be headed in view of funding exigencies and CUNY’s new changes to the WAC Initiative.

WID at the Crossroads

  • Marian Arkin—LaGuardia Community College/CUNY

Eleven years ago three colleagues and I from the English and ESL and English departments at LaGuardia Community College took on the challenge from our academic dean to work with faculty across the disciplines so that they would assign more writing in their courses. Students would have to take a “rising junior” exam and if they didn’t write in more of their courses, they were not expected to write well enough to pass. He corralled fifteen senior faculty members, gave them a course of released time, and wished us luck. We had been successful at faculty development in one way or another and expected to have little trouble creating a workable program. Little did we know what a difficult a job we had taken on. I am the only one left of the original WID team. I have seen the program through several reorganizations, the addition of writing fellows, ups and downs of funding, assessment pressures, and a college mandate to require two writing intensive courses for graduation. I would like to share my ten years of WID experience with you and to predict how I think the next ten years will turn out.

WAC/Writing Fellows and the Writing Center

  • Dennis Paoli—Hunter College/CUNY

The historical relationship between writing centers and WAC programs is born out by our 10-year experience at CUNY. When the first team of CUNY faculty were chosen to run the first Fellows development program for the newly minted CUNY WAC Program, I was the only non-faculty member asked to participate, and the only member of the development team that had not been involved in creating the program--and I can only think it was because I ran a Writing Center. Not only do centers and WAC programs share principles, center staff has more experience with creating workshops and providing one-on-one and small group tutorials, which it was rightly seen would constitute a large part of most Fellows' work on most CUNY campuses. Now, a quarter of the WAC Coordinators at CUNY run Writing Centers. Then, those early cohorts of Fellows at several of the CUNY schools were employed to create and staff writing centers, one of the first concrete accomplishments of the program in terms of institutional change. And over the last decade, the close relationship between the center and the WAC program at Hunter College has worked to the benefit of both, from shared facilities (including websites) and materials, to cross training, to greater visibility for both programs among college faculty.


05 G—Individual Paper
Expanding the Walls of the Academy: Bringing WAC to Community-Based Internship Supervisors

  • Richard Holody—Lehman College/CUNY

This presentation explores the role that community-based supervisors of interns can play to help baccalaureate social work students (and, by extension, other disciplines that utilize internships) to improve their writing skills.

This presentation explores the role that community-based supervisors of interns can play to help baccalaureate social work students--and, by inference, other students in other disciplines that utilize internships--improve their writing skills. Academic support for field instructors has given little or no attention to this role perhaps assuming either that students can write satisfactorily before entering the field or that the responsibility for enhancing student writing lies elsewhere. However, field instructors are educators and have an opportunity to shape the skills--including writing skills--of future practitioners. Many field instructors have expressed surprise in the poor quality of their students’ efforts. Even if students write well they may be accustomed to writing in one style, for example, writing academic papers; they will need to adapt to the varied styles of writing in a professional setting. Just as we expect students to improve their interviewing and other social work skills in the field, and expect field instructors to be part of this process, so too can field instructors play a critical role in the development of the students’ professional writing skills. Evaluations should include standards for demonstration of all required skills, including writing. Field instructors bring a real life understanding of what “good enough” writing is in their specialties and so they can assess and enhance the students’ writing for the kinds of tasks they will have to accomplish as practitioners. The presentation will include many concrete suggestions that need not be a burden on our partners in the community.


10 D—Organized Panel
Transferring Prior Discursive Textual Experience to New Writing Situations: Two Case Studies of Students' Survival Strategies

This panel will present two case studies of university students in the midst of transition, the first examining 14 students transitioning from high school writing tasks to general education research and writing assignments in college, and the second examining 3 students who are transitioning from general education coursework to major-required upper division social work classes.

In his comprehensive review of longitudinal writing studies on US college campuses, Paul Rogers (2009) laments that “there is much we do not know and need to learn about writing and the development of writing.” Notably scarce within these studies is inquiry that focuses on what Amy Devitt (2007) calls “moments of transition”--the initial moments when students entering new academic contexts draw on previous literacy experiences to help them negotiate and survive those writing demands by adjusting “their old situations to new locations.” Instead, surveys and recollected memories are the most common methods used to account for students’ previous textual experiences (e.g. Torrence et al., 2000; Thaiss & Zawacki, 2006); however, these collection methods, while providing information on a plethora of genres students use across multiple domains, do not provide sufficient analytical consideration to actual temporal moments of transition--to the “moments and locations” (Dias and Pare, 2000) where students struggle to accommodate past “textual experiences” (Johns, 1997) to unfamiliar academic settings. As demonstrated by the Canadian genre scholars in Worlds Apart (1999, Dias et al.) and Transitions (2000, Dias et al.), attending to initial transitional moments in our research projects enables us to more fully appreciate the complex and often contradictory everyday negotiations writers make as they attempt to inhabit new discursive domains. Presenter 1 will discuss findings from a 3 year case study following 14 students from high school through their first year in college. Presenter 2 will share findings from a case study of 3 Social Work students entering their academic field. By understanding the complex discursive problems students encounter initially in their university coursework, teachers can better anticipate and address the often implicit challenges of their assignments and make explicit what are often tacit strategies to approach new writing situations.

Transitioning to General Education Research and Writing Situations: A Case Study Following 14 High School Students through the First Year in Higher Education

  • Kevin Hooge—University of California, Santa Barbara

While previous longitudinal studies (Haswell 2000; Sommers 2002; Beaufort 2004; Thaiss & Zawacki 2006) have contributed greatly to our understanding of writing development over time within a university setting, the prior discursive abilities of these participants could only be understood retrospectively through survey results and general interview protocol and, therefore, relied solely upon participant recollection rather than data gathered previously. This study follows 14 students from their junior and senior years in high school, in which they were enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) English classes through their first year of higher education classes at a two-year community college, a California State University campus or a University of California campus. While half of these students earned credit from their AP test results, all students were enrolled in undergraduate classes that required research papers to fulfill course requirements. This study examines what previous discursive experiences or “genre repertoire” (Devitt) students had and which they drew upon when they encountered new academic writing situations in general educational courses, what specific instruction and strategies they received in conjunction with their research writing assignments and what rhetorical challenges they perceived as most difficult. These findings are relevant for anticipating the previous experiences of incoming freshmen students and anticipating their academic writing needs in courses that assign research and writing as well as preparing high school students for higher education first-year research and writing situations.

Negotiating Initial Discursive Encounters: A Case Study of Three Social Work Students Transitioning from General Education to Upper Division Classes in Their Major

  • Sergio Casillas—University of Washington

Taking up a research agenda outlined independently by Graham Smart (2000) and Amy Devitt (2007) to develop research projects that analyze “the experience of individuals moving from one domain of writing into another” (Smart 286), Speaker 2 will present findings from a case study of 3 upper class students transitioning from general education classes to writing within their Social Work major. Drawing upon multiple interviews, undergraduate writing samples, upper division writing samples from within their major, in-class observations of writing instruction, and interviews of general education course teachers and upper division Social Work teachers, this study draws on sociocultural theory and Schutizian phenomenology to highlight tensions, struggles and moments of resistance students experience as they attempt to negotiate their personal and nascent disciplinary identities in the field of Social Work. By paying close attention to how students initially encounter, negotiate, and make sense of their discipline’s writing demands, discipline-specific writing instructors can develop more effective pedagogies to help novice students manage their discursive transition (Freedman and Medway 1994) into the field.


04 F—Individual Paper
The “Hidden Curriculum” of Sociology Writing Instruction

  • Suzanne Hudd—Quinnipiac University

Presentation of data from interviews with sociologists on the east coast that describes their expectations and pedagogical strategies for student writing in the discipline.

Teachers of composition often confront various iterations of the same statement from their colleagues in other disciplines: “What are you teaching in Introductory Composition? My students can’t write.” Such thinking is rooted in an underlying paradigm which suggests that freshman English is designed to provide students with writing skills, and disciplinary courses teach content. In combination, this coursework is expected to produce a proficient disciplinary writer. WAC programs have, in part, perpetuated this model. Writing intensive courses and requirements to enroll in freshman composition, which often emphasize the amount rather than the kinds of writing that is done, suggest that writing is a separate skill, taught by faculty specialists who possess unique talents. The interview data presented here are grounded in a different theoretical paradigm: a paradigm that approaches writing as both a cognitive and a social act in which “context cues cognition and cognition mediates context” (Flower, 1989). I suggest that to more fully understand the process by which writing proficiency in the disciplines is acquired, we must be attentive to pedagogical practices that surround both cognition and writing because each of these processes is taught to students in their composition and disciplinary coursework. Using this revised paradigm as a template, I report on interviews with approximately 25 sociologists at institutions along the east coast. The goal of this research, funded by an ASA Teaching Endowment grant, is to learn about their perceptions of the complement of writing and thinking skills that their students attain from courses in introductory composition.


10 E—Individual Paper
It Goes Without Saying: Locating Writing in Program Descriptions across the Disciplines

  • Debrah Huffman—Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

This study examines the presence of writing among the values and goals found in online program descriptions across the disciplines in two major university systems.

We know students new to college often answer the question of whether writing will be an important part of their majors and careers with a shrug or a “Not much.” We also know that college instructors often answer the same question with a definitive “Absolutely!” The disparity in answers may disappear when the students begin to take classes in their majors and learn how much of a role writing and writing well play, not only in their courses but in the work they will do with their degrees. But what information do students have at their fingertips before those courses to know the impact writing will have on their major coursework and professional practice? How visible is the importance of writing? This presentation shares findings from a study of the academic websites of all major disciplines for Indiana University and Purdue University, including their satellite campuses. From accounting to zoology, the search is for the mention of writing in the goals and values found in online program descriptions, department credos, and major course descriptions. Which disciplines emphasize writing most? Which don’t mention it at all? Are there disparities within program descriptions? The surprising results of this study begin a discussion of what idea students could get of the presence of writing from introductory information and whether that visibility makes a difference for the impression they get of the majors. That is, how much does the impact of writing and writing well “go without saying?”


07 B—Organized Panel
Reconceptualizing How We Advise WAC Faculty to Praise Student Writers

The panel explores what motivates faculty resistance to praising student papers and offers WAC professionals alternative ways to teach praise which draw on appreciative inquiry and a strengths approach.

In WAC work with faculty, certain sources of friction seem inevitable--faculty are reluctant, e.g., to sacrifice content to open up space for writing activities. But one source of friction always surprises us. When we follow standard WAC advice by recommending that instructors incorporate concrete praise in their feedback on student papers (e.g., Bean; Daiker; Fulwiler; Hedengren), some instructors resist. Some find reasons not to praise, some view praise as contradicting their criticisms, and some imagine student papers completely unworthy of praise. In our proposed session, we ask three central questions: What motivates resistance to praise? How might we advocate for more intellectually rigorous and pedagogically meaningful approaches to praise? And how can we in WAC better teach instructors to do more than give praise for the sake of praise--and instead, to praise for the sake of learning? In this interactive session, the three panelists--all experienced WAC directors--explore the implications of praise in responding to student writing, particularly in response to Nancy Sommers' findings that the relationship between instructor and student is what informs how students read and act on teacher responses. We envision alternative ways to teach praise, specifically drawing on two cross-disciplinary approaches: appreciative inquiry and a strengths approach--both of which, we believe, deepen student learning and address the expectations of faculty. Based on interviews with instructors, cross-disciplinary empirical research, and anecdotes of teacher/tutor education, we explore pedagogical implications of a shift toward attending closely to and teaching strengths as the core of responding practice. Ultimately, we advocate that WAC programs embrace teaching that identifies strengths in writing, coaches students to build on those strengths, and understands appreciative inquiry and affirmative response as the basis of critical, engaged feedback.

What Do We Mean by Praise in Response to Student Writing?

  • Brad Hughes—University of Wisconsin-Madison

The session leaders will start by asking participants in our session to share some of their experiences discussing praise with faculty in workshops on responding to student writing. Then Speaker # 1 explores how WAC staff define and explain praise in response to student writing and then compare that with how WAC workshop participants understand and interpret the concept. Drawing on short interviews with several WAC directors from different universities and with faculty who have participated in WAC workshops, Speaker # 1 addresses these kinds of questions: What does praise mean to researchers who study written feedback on student writing, to WAC workshop leaders, and to faculty across the disciplines? What constitutes praise? What is its function within feedback? How do WAC workshop leaders and consultants try to persuade faculty to incorporate praise? Do faculty participating in WAC workshops understand praise and the reasons for incorporating it in the way that WAC leaders do? And among faculty across the disciplines, what are some of the sources of resistance to incorporating praise in feedback?

Praise for the Sake of Learning

  • Beth Godbee—University of Wisconsin-Madison

Speaker #2 focuses on praise for student writing as an application of cross-disciplinary literature and empirical research on strengths-based approaches. So often praise is included as a purely structural component of response to student writing, as something that comes before or after the “real” substance (i.e. negative criticism) in a response. So, how might our interactions with students and the effectiveness of our teaching improve if we conceive of praise as the core, rather than the sensitive framing, of our responses? It is significant that appreciative inquiry and strengths approaches are common across disciplines--e.g. in psychology (Jessum; Rosenthal); organizational development (Cooperrider and Srivastva); communication studies (Papa, Singhal, and Papa); and education policy (Phillips). Collectively these studies show that when hospital staffs or bowling teams or fifth-grade classrooms focus on their successes, they dramatically improve, while groups that focus on limitations or failures produce similarly negative results (especially prevalent when classroom research ended early due to long-term negative effects observed in students). Drawing on the appreciative inquiry advocated in these approaches, Speaker #2 advocates powerful new directions for WAC workshops and consultations--directions that may not only improve writing instruction and students' writing and learning, but may also lead to radical changes in the pedagogies and interactions with colleagues underlying WAC philosophy.


W D—Pre-conference workshop
Developing and Sustaining an Undergraduate Writing Fellows Program as Part of a WAC Program

  • Brad Hughes—University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Emily Hall—University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Kathy Evertz—Carleton College

Collaboration among student peers is an especially effective mode of learning. The Writing Fellows program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison trains undergraduates to work closely with professors as well as student writers in specific writing-intensive courses. In this interactive workshop, staff from the UW Writing Center and WAC Program will lead participants through the philosophy and logistics of establishing such a peer Writing Fellows program to support writing efforts throughout the curriculum.

Undergraduate writing fellows can be powerful agents of change in WAC programs. Through collaborations with Writing Fellows, faculty often begin to rethink the place of writing in their courses, examine their assignments more critically, and comment more meaningfully on their students’ papers. The Writing Fellows program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Writing Assistants Program at Carleton College train undergraduates to work closely with students and, perhaps more importantly for WAC, with faculty in specific writing-intensive courses. In this workshop, we will facilitate a discussion of the philosophy and logistics of establishing an undergraduate Writing Fellows program--developing a proposal and pilot program; recruiting, selecting, and training new Fellows; recruiting and collaborating with faculty; exploring options for funding; building a strong community of Writing Fellows; finding campus partners for financial, curricular, and administrative support; and assessing the program’s effectiveness. Our focus throughout will be on how a Writing Fellows program can contribute to a strong culture of writing across a campus.


02 F—Individual Paper
Can Campus-wide Writing Centers Accommodate Diverse Discourse Communities?: Exploring Generalist Tutors' Genre Knowledge

  • Erin Kane—University of Alabama

Because more disciplines across campuses are incorporating writing instruction into their curricula, campus-wide writing centers must respond to increasing needs of students who write for diverse discourse communities. This session presents three case studies that detail potential factors affecting the feedback quality that generalist tutors provide to students writing in discipline-specific contexts.

In this presentation, I will attempt to answer two questions: First, how are campus-wide writing centers responding to the increasing needs of students writing for diverse disciplinary discourse communities? Second, does “genre knowledge” (defined by Berkenkotter and Huckin as “a form of situated cognition, inextricable from professional writers’ procedural and social knowledge”) affect the quality of feedback that tutors provide on discipline-specific writing tasks? I will discuss current trends and debates in writing center practices about “directive” versus “nondirective” feedback. I will then discuss how faculty across the disciplines recognize the benefits of individualized writing instruction and how some scholars suggest that addressing genre in the writing center can enhance students’ written communication and critical thinking skills. I will note that these two ideas are never combined in training tutors to provide quality feedback to students from disciplines in which the tutors have no content knowledge. I will then detail three case studies investigating the quality of feedback provided to students from a “Small Business Consulting” course by tutors from a campus-wide writing center staffed solely by English graduate students. The analysis considers the feedback quality when tutors have a range of genre knowledge. One tutor will sit in on the business course for three weeks, another will study business writing sourcebooks and samples, and another will receive no supplemental training. I believe the results of my research will allow me to provide specific examples and principled advice about whether writing centers should consider incorporating a genre approach into their pedagogy.


04 B—Organized Panel
WAC, WID, and the Cultures of Writing

Using WAC--and her cousin WID--as point of perspective, the presenters identify ways to enhance student development within many cultures of writing: through critical pedagogy, blogging, and teaching for transfer.

Historically, we’ve often thought of WAC and WID programs in two complementary ways: first, as an instantiation of local missions and activities (Rutz, e.g.); and second, as one moment in a programmatic national (or international) stage model (Jones and Comprone, e.g.). Put into a third perspective, however--one connected to the disciplinary cultures of writing that WAC/WID contributes--WAC and WID could help us understand writing development and the curricula supporting such development in new ways. Put differently, if we thought of writing activity as contributing to cultures of writing, we would have a rubric for viewing writing development as a continuing phenomenon. As important, using WAC--and her cousin WID--as point of perspective, we might identify ways to enhance student development across their academic career. To explore this idea, we pursue three questions from a WAC perspective. Our first presenter will explore possible avenues for increasing students’ critical engagement through the incorporation into WAC and WID of ideas from critical pedagogy and service learning. Our second presenter explores how blogging in the composition classroom makes material the concepts of community and audience at the heart of all writing and key to successful writing in the disciplines. And our third presenter considers how WAC and WID can help us re-frame the transfer “question”: informed by WAC/WID assignments, genres, and outcomes, how might we re-design first year composition such that our cultures of writing are in dialogue with each other?

Cultivating Critical Engagement Across the Curriculum

  • Ruth Kistler—Florida State University

This presentation will explore possible avenues for overcoming the lack of critical engagement many students experience in WI and WID courses through the incorporation of ideas from critical pedagogy and service learning approaches to composition instruction. WAC programs have grown out of a conviction that the act of writing generates learning and that students learn to write when they are actively engaged with a particular content for a particular purpose. As such, writing is recognized as both a product and process of critical thinking and investigation rather than merely the successful reproduction of writing forms, styles, and processes. Yet Bazerman’s review of research on WAC teaching and learning suggests even students in WI and WID courses often struggle to recognize their writing assignments as invitations to go beyond the display of information in an acceptable format. Perhaps because even subject-specific writing is more easily responded to and evaluated as a display of acquired knowledge than as an act of knowing and doing (see Carter’s “Ways of Knowing, Doing, and Writing in the Disciplines,” CCC, Feb. 2007), students regularly fail to make connections between the subject matter and their prior knowledge to engage dialogically with the ideas of scholars in the field and to generate substantial positions and arguments through critical analysis and interpretation of the curricular material (Reference Guide to Writing Across the Curriculum, 2005, 47-66). This presentation will explore ways in which current WAC pedagogies and practices might be re-envisioned to incorporate ideas from critical pedagogy and service learning in order to more fully engage students in the real work of writing within and among multiple and varied disciplinary contexts in a WAC program.

Blogging Across the Curriculum: Writing for a Community

  • Jennifer O'Malley—Florida State University

According to Diane Penrod, author of Using Blogs to Enhance Literacy, “Blogging is changing the way people view writing, the writing process, and the finished product” (48). Perhaps not surprisingly, then, blogs have recently been making their way into the composition classroom curriculum. Whether engaging in conversation on the class blog or analyzing the claim of a political blogger’s argument, students find that writing is more and other than John Trimbur’s claim--a domestic exercise of writing for the teacher--but an exchange of views reliant on composing practices. Through including these new practices, teachers offer an environment where students can explore and experiment with effective communication, research methods and critical analysis. An important facet of the composition classroom blog is the practice of writing by writing, which in some ways is a new version of writing to learn strategies so common in WAC programs. In this version, however, students learn how to write by writing not in isolation, as in the earlier model, but in the company of others. Key questions, then, have to do with the value of blogging. Put simply, what difference in students’ composing development does it make when they are invited to write for others; to attract an audience; to experiment with their online voice; and to become a participant in an online community? In order to participate in this community, new forms of communication are key. What are the effects of students’ blogging, and how might they make use of these writing strategies in WAC/WID contexts?

The “Things They Carried” from Another Vantage Point: The Contribution of WAC and WID to the Question of Transfer of Composing Knowledge and Practices

  • Kathleen Yancey—Florida State University

During the last several years scholars in the field of composition studies have re-energized interest in the “transfer” question. Put simply, the driving questions are two. First, do students transfer what they learn in college composition to other sites of writing? And second, if so, how does that transfer occur and to what end? The questions are important for many reasons among them the idea that through teaching for transfer, we could support writing development in new ways. Recent research on these questions has been impressive, ranging from Beaufort’s case study approach to Susan Jarratt’s interview study of what students carry with them from a first-year writing situation into other courses. Similarly, in studying transfer, compositionists have identified several promising concepts and areas, among them rhetorical awareness (e.g. Downs and Wardle); literacy studies (e.g. Carter); and the divide between high school and college (e.g. Bawarshi and Reiff). To date, however, no scholar has considered how a systematic review of WAC assignments, genres, and outcomes might influence how we design first-year composition. In this session, I’ll do just that: using the information on disciplinary assignments, genres, and outcomes gathered from a group of programs around the country (including those at North Carolina State University, at the University of Minnesota, and at Florida State University), I’ll consider how we might teach for transfer in first-year composition. In sum, on the basis of WAC/WID materials, can we identify key concepts, questions, and practices that would assist students in their maturation as composers?


10 F—Individual Paper
Implementation of WAC Enrichment in a Graduate Research Methods Course

  • Patricia Kolb—Lehman College/CUNY

This presentation will describe specific approaches for implementing a sustainable WAC-enriched graduate research methods course.

This presentation will describe specific approaches for implementing a sustainable WAC-enriched graduate Research Methods course. The presenter implemented changes in this social work course while participating in a year long WAC program at the college where she teaches. The first change was introduction of a letter from the professor that described the course and was given to each student on the first day of class, and the students wrote responses in class. Goals of this exercise included reducing the anxiety frequently experienced by students beginning a required research course, encouraging analytical thinking, providing an opportunity for students to describe their thoughts and feelings, and providing a writing experience. Writing practice also resulted from addition of an assignment to be completed at home in which students were asked to select one research-based article from the course outline and in 3-4 typewritten pages discuss the study with regard to principles of culturally competent research described in the textbook. Although students were asked to write 3-4 pages, many students wrote more, and they were not penalized since a major goal was to provide experience in writing and analysis of an important topic. A significant change from assignments in previous years was in the literature search and bibliography assignment. The writing requirement was changed from listing twenty references (and annotating two) pertaining to a topic of interest to listing ten references (and annotating two) plus writing about specific aspects of the process of locating the references. WAC-inspired enrichment of this course was sustained in the following year and can also be implemented in undergraduate research courses and other disciplines.


06 B—Organized Panel
Manifesto Against “Courseocentrism”: Institutionalizing Linked-course Collaborations

Presenters and a respondent discuss the necessary development of social networks, training, and curricular planning to support and sustain the implementation of linked courses as collaborative sites.

Linked courses are one response to Gerald Graff’s call to combat “courseocentrism,” the “tunnel vision” that develops from “teaching in hermetically sealed classrooms” (Graff 2009). As alternatives to stand-alone composition courses, “linked” courses not only provide students with contextually situated writing occasions, they provide faculty a collaborative and often interdisciplinary teaching context that helps us look beyond “the restricted confines of our own courses.” Collaboration costs: developing and sustaining linked-course programs require faculty buy-in, administrative support, and institutional commitment. What makes investing in linked-course teaching worthwhile for individual instructors? For institutions? What are some strategies for designing linked-course collaborations and preparing instructors to teach them? How does a linked-course program survive in budget-cutting times? In taking up these questions, this panel focuses on the necessary development of social networks, training, and curricular planning to support and sustain the implementation of these collaborative sites. Presentations will address programmatic successes and challenges. They will show that the benefits that accrue from putting faculty and students into dialogue across disciplinary and administrative divides justify the sustained administrative and curricular support linked-course programs need to realize their full potential for collaboration and student exploration. Speaker 1 assesses a linked-course program for all first-year students at her university, reporting successes and responses to challenges others might build on. Speaker 2 focuses on graduate instructor training (specifically to teach linked courses) and the role such pedagogical investments play in future faculty development. Speaker 3 examines the difficulties of developing shared outcomes for linked courses.

Linked Courses as Opportunities for Faculty Development

  • Carrie Matthews—University of Washington

When do faculty come together across disciplinary boundaries to discuss how they engage students in writing in their courses? When do they get the opportunity to work collaboratively on their teaching in a sustained fashion over the course of several days? The answer is usually “never.” We know that hands-on workshops and conversations about teaching writing that examine actual student texts facilitate faculty development in significant ways, from clarifying different expectations among disciplines, subfields, and instructors, to helping faculty reimagine their professional identities and pedagogies (Strachan 2008; Thaiss and Zawacki 2006; Willard-Traub 2008). Such workshops and conversations have yet to become an institutional norm for faculty or graduate instructors, who--if they are lucky--receive one-time teacher training in the form of a pedagogy course and workshop. Linked-course training provides an exception to the rule, a rare opportunity for experienced instructors to continue to develop as teachers. This presentation examines linked-course training of experienced graduate instructors as an opportunity for faculty development worth institutionalizing for faculty as well as future faculty. The training consisted of an eight-day combination workshop and practicum led by three faculty members. Part one of this presentation reports faculty members’ and graduate instructors’ accounts of the impacts of linked course training in three areas: (1) conceptions of good writing in their field; (2) visions of best practices for teaching writing; and (3) future interest in collaborative teaching. Part two of the presentation analyzes these results in light of their potential relevance for faculty development.

Chair/Respondent

  • Joan Graham—University of Washington

02 F—Individual Paper
Science Students and the Development of Genre Knowledge

  • Suzanne Lane—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Based on a longitudinal study that included interviews with 18 science students and analysis of their writing from freshman to senior year, this paper will analyze the development of genre awareness, and the effects that learning the genre conventions of science writing had on the writing that these science students produced outside of that discipline.

Working with 18 science students in the Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing, I analyzed the writing they produced for each class through their undergraduate career, as well as interviews about their writing experiences across the curriculum done at the end of each semester. This large body of data allowed me to ask questions about broad trends often not captured in studies of the results of one assignment or one course. By analyzing the data in light of recent developments in genre theory and activity theory, I addressed questions such as: What were the activities or contexts in which these science students learned to use writing to better understand scientific methods and to produce disciplinary ideas? What patterns of development arose in their understanding of disciplinary genres, and their ability to use these genres to perform the work of science? This group of students initially revealed a simplistic understanding of the variety of academic genres, and had difficulty transferring genre awareness to their science writing from their first-year writing course. By the junior year, however, genre knowledge and activities learned through writing in their discipline did begin to carry over to the writing these students later did in classes outside of their discipline. The data did not suggest, overall, that these students became more adept, or quicker, at learning the activities and genres of other disciplines after becoming more expert in one.


07 G—Organized Panel
Teaching Counselors to Use Writing as a Therapeutic Intervention

  • Noreen Lape—Dickinson College
  • Ric Long—Columbus State University

A writing center director and a counseling professor/psychotherapist will explain how they taught graduate students in a counseling skills course--half of whom were military chaplains just home from Iraq--to use writing as an intervention in therapy and as a form of self-care.

While most cross-disciplinary collaborative projects aim to make students more proficient writers of academic discourse, we--a Writing Center Director and a Counseling Professor/Psychotherapist--aimed to show graduate students seeking careers as counselors how expressive writing can heal. What’s more, half of the students in the course were military chaplains just home from Iraq, seeking a variety of ways to deal with psychologically wounded soldiers. Our presentation will detail our development of a writing module--including theories, practices, and writing exercises--and share a videotaped assessment session with the chaplains that we conducted ten-months later. We will provide an abridged overview of the psychological research we presented to the students. Starting with James Pennebaker’s famous experiment, we will make the connection between writing and physical, behavioral, and psychological healing as corroborated by the work of subsequent researchers who have replicated and manipulated Pennebaker’s design. Next, we will discuss the various writing exercises we developed. First, students kept healing journals in which they were given a series of structured prompts meant to guide their exploration of a traumatic issue. Second, students worked together to brainstorm goals and prompts for their clients’ therapeutic writing. Third, students were taught a method of discourse analysis that assisted them in analyzing and distinguishing among healing, depressed, and traumatized writing. Fourth, students learned several strategies for responding to a client’s writing. The panel shows how both presenters, a writing specialist and a psychotherapist, were able to synthesize their distinct disciplinary paradigms to create a fresh, new learning module. We will end our presentation with a videotape of our follow-up focus group with the chaplains in which they talk about their use of writing with clients and as a form of self-care.


02 D—Individual Paper
How Individual Perspectives Promote Progress in Fellows Programs

  • John Lauckner—Michigan State University

The presenter will look at Michigan State University’s Spring 2009 writing mentors pilot program, and how the perspectives of the mentors involved are already affecting the future of the program.

Writing fellows programs are often an excellent complement to Writing Across the Curriculum and writing center programs and pedagogies. These programs have been called “agents of change,” “ambassadors for writing centers,” as well as a benefit to institutions. But how do these programs evolve to achieve such effects? Many resources and literature are available on the topic of fellows programs, both inside and outside of Writing Across the Curriculum, but little of it considers the individual perspectives of actual writing fellows. In this presentation I will look at Michigan State University’s Spring 2009 writing mentors pilot program, and how the perspectives of the mentors involved are already affecting the future of the program. The presentation will begin with an introduction of MSU’s writing mentor program, focusing on its pedagogical origins as well as its structure. Then, I will highlight the experiences of the four fellows involved in this program, emphasizing the areas where their feedback has elicited change in our program. I will then look at some of the strategies that our program uses to derive change from our mentors’ personal experiences. The session will conclude with a question and answer section as a means of brainstorming ideas of how fellows programs can evolve to help better serve Writing Across the Curriculum and writing centers programs and pedagogies.


02 B—Organized Panel
Where Teacher-based Research Leads Us: New Questions for WAC Practitioners

Panelists will describe how a multi-year research project on scientific and engineering communication sparked follow-up WAC research--particularly in international contexts and on diversity issues.

For the last several years, the presenters on this panel have researched how students learn to write and speak in science and engineering classes. The product of this research is Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering: Case Studies from MIT (MIT Press, 2010). While this book helps capture the processes, barriers, and rewards of learning communication in a high-pressure, research-intensive university, it also leads us to consider possibilities for future WAC research and practice. Clearly WAC pedagogy always has expanded to meet new needs--not only writing but also oral presentation, the composition of technical graphics, and collaborative communication. But what challenges lie ahead for WAC as our students become increasingly diverse and as both students and colleagues work in a globalized world? Speaker 1 summarizes the key findings from Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering in regard to students’ developmental readiness to learn, the role of authentic practice and feedback, the development of collaborative skills, and the ways in which those findings affect WAC pedagogy. Speaker 2 then discusses a pilot project that combines WAC and ESL at the Instituto Techologico de Monterrey and Universidad de Quintana Roo in Mexico, and how cultural assumptions so fundamental to successful WAC practice in the U.S. do not translate easily to another institutional and national culture. Finally, Speaker 3 addresses the ways diversity in science and engineering must be considered in assessment, research, and practice, particularly as shifting demographics of science are changing how we must research and teach writing across the curriculum.

Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering: Lessons Learned

  • Neal Lerner—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering was a three-year research study of students in “communication intensive” science and engineering courses at MIT. Speaker 1 summarizes outcomes from this study. One general lesson learned from this research was the ways that research on student learning needs to be a part of regular, local assessment activities. More far-reaching results of this study were 1) the ways that students’ developmental levels strongly influence their “readiness” to encounter communication tasks that demand a relationship to knowledge making that goes beyond rendering “clear” data; 2) the role of authenticity in student learning, whether that authenticity was found in the communications tasks themselves that mirrored the tasks of professionals or in the processes of writing and speaking, including feedback that mirrors the ways professionals interact with each other’s texts and signal professional-level standards; 3) the ways in which successful teamwork and collaboration require a variety of high-level interpersonal and technical skills on students’ parts and on the faculty’s part, teaching and mentoring strategies that mirror professional activities and that are explicitly structured. Overall, the research reported reveals a great deal about how students learn to communicate as scientists and engineers, as well as attesting to the many questions about student learning still to be investigated.

Creating a Transnational WAC Model

  • Jennifer Craig—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research completed for Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering confirms that students construct and strengthen collaborative skills in the context of problem-based learning, active learning and cooperative learning strategies and under the mentorship of faculty. Moreover, based on our findings, we suggest that effective WAC pedagogy depends on a high level of collaboration between WAC practitioners and disciplinary professors, as together colleagues construct opportunities for student learning. However, in transitioning our work to international sites, it has become clear that these underlying assumptions of successful WAC practice do not translate easily to other cultures. The presentation describes early WAC consultations at two universities in Mexico, Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and Universidad de Quintana Roo, and the difficulties with aligning WAC U.S. “best practices” and practices in a Mexican university classroom. Early work at these sites illustrates that, despite mutual objectives for improved student writing and oral presentation, the collaborative partnership so fundamental to WAC practice in the USA is a challenge in an institutional environment where communication instruction and practice is entirely separate from disciplinary contexts. Furthermore, research partners differ from WAC practitioners when they use the term “writing,” seeming to focus on the correctness of linguistic features rather than communicative and rhetorical purpose.


08 E—Organized Panel
Deploying Writerly Identity Across the Curriculum: the Institute, the Retreat, and the Hunker

  • Katie Levin—University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
  • Kirsten Jamsen—University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
  • Mitchell Ogden—University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

In this presentation, the panel discusses how three intensive summer cohort experiences for preK-12 teachers, graduate students, and faculty from multiple disciplines cultivate these participants’ identities as writers. What new opportunities emerge when writerly identity becomes central rather than peripheral to our and our clients’ work? And, what are the residual effects of this intensive experience, both on the clients and on the institution?

As home to a National Writing Project site, a student writing center, and a WAC teaching and research program, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Writing provides a wealth of programs for diverse constituencies from multiple disciplines, including undergraduate and graduate students, instructional staff, university faculty, and preK–12 teachers. Yet the Center’s seemingly disparate programs grow from deep, shared roots that anchor and sustain these various clients: an individualized, consultative method; a belief in elective participation; and—as we’ve only recently recognized—an unspoken commitment to nurturing writerly identity. What happens when a Center for Writing explicitly deploys this notion of writerly identity to become also a Center for Writers? In this presentation, three of the Center’s directors share ways in which three intensive summer cohort experiences—the Summer Institute, the May Session Dissertation-Writing Retreat, and the Summer Hunker: Faculty Writing Jumpstart—cultivate participants’ identities as writers. How does—and why would—a Center rooted in individual, voluntary consultations create structured experiences that incorporate constraints and freedom, solitude and collaboration, self-discipline and peer pressure, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivations? What new opportunities emerge when writerly identity becomes central rather than peripheral to our and our clients’ work? And, what are the residual effects of this intensive experience, both on the clients and on the institution?


03 E—Individual Paper
Real World Teaching Tools: Wikis as Collaborative Workspaces

  • Adrienne Lewis—Davenport University

This session will explore best practices for using collaborative web applications to enhance learning in traditional college courses.

Higher learning is often the first milieu in which students experience the realities of our knowledge-driven world firsthand; therefore, the ways in which we choose to create, integrate, distribute, and use knowledge in our classrooms are significant. Moreover, as a result of technological advances that have resulted in new social connections, new structures for information, and new writing communities, we are forced to rethink our pedagogical practices. We are no longer able to simply deliver information or manage it; as educators, we are now responsible for sharing and facilitating information as something through which, and around which, people interact. “Know-how” teaching methods are being exchanged for non-linear “know-who” activities in classrooms that support the formation of special social relationships through writing. Wikis are one option supported by prevailing learning theories that is being utilized more than ever before as alternative, user-centered course management systems and collaborative workplaces in higher education. This session will differentiate collaborative Web 2.0 applications and explore best practices to enhance learning in traditional in-seat courses.


10 A—Organized Panel
Teaching WAC/WID with Threshold Concepts: Transforming Students’ Assumptions about Writing in Science and Engineering

This panel explores how WAC/WID efforts in science and engineering can enlist threshold concepts (Meyer and Land 2006) as a framework to transform students’ naïve assumptions about rhetoric and professional identity--acts of transformation with implications in many fields.

Research suggests that learners’ prior knowledge is the most influential variable in conceptual learning (Svinicki, 2004). Although emphasis on prior knowledge is not new in WAC, educators across disciplines are exploring how students holding one conceptual framework may need to destabilize that framework before they can progress. One useful theoretical lens is the threshold concept--a kind of “portal” that opens to “a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress” (Meyer and Land, 2006). Threshold concepts operate differently in diverse disciplinary contexts. For instance, learning to transcend an Aristotelian view of physics in favor of a Newtonian one is a vital conceptual shift for college physics students (Kalman, 2008). What conceptual shifts might emerging writers need to make as they explore new genres and/or writing in disciplines new to them? After a brief overview of threshold concepts (Speaker 1), this panel explores ways to transcend naïve prior learning with engineering and science student writers. Panelists will examine four approaches to teaching for dissonance--approaches that challenge students’ understanding of crucial concepts in writing in engineering and science and that have implications for writing across many disciplines.

Short-Circuiting Engineers’ Assumptions: A Belief-mapping Activity to Destabilize Conceptual Frameworks about Writing

  • Jon Leydens—Colorado School of Mines

Some engineering and science students think of writing as mere mechanical transcription, a vehicle for transporting technical ideas. From this perspective, the “write-up” is a final, tedious step, rather than a dynamic process of speculating, theorizing, experimenting, reconceiving, and discovering. Drawing on a case study, this presentation focuses on how to destabilize such conceptual frameworks and expand student assumptions. The first step generally occurs in fostering students’ awareness of a belief about writing that could connect to other perceptions about writing, learning, knowledge, and identity. One threshold concept for many students involves the transition from envisioning writing as mental transcription to a more complex, recursive discovery process. Specifically, this presentation describes an activity in belief mapping which renders more visible the complexity of student writing processes and destabilizes simplistic beliefs. When followed by structured self-reflection, belief mapping can help students recognize potentially limiting beliefs about writing, and invite them to cross conceptual thresholds. Audience members will be invited to speculate about other threshold concepts.

I Am the Threshold: Using Worldview to Promote Students’ Rhetorical Awareness

  • Robert Irish—University of Toronto

In beginning to acquire rhetorical savvy, students benefit by understanding the lenses through which they see, their worldview. Worldview comprises the set of conscious or unconscious assumptions in areas such as philosophy, ethics, religion, or scientific belief that are implicit in our every action (Wallace 1971). Awareness of such presuppositions enables students to become even-handed critical thinkers. Such self-understanding fits Meyer and Land's (2006) definition as a threshold concept that is transformative, integrative, and irreversible. However, encountering that threshold, much less crossing it, is by no means straightforward, particularly in disciplines that stress other thresholds. Yet a coherent worldview can enable students to improve not only their self-understanding but their position within a discipline. To that end, engineering students in an advanced rhetoric course pursued a worldview exercise to explore themselves as rhetors. This presentation offers a case study using interviews, textual analysis and questionnaires to analyze the effect of exploring worldview on the intellectual and rhetorical development of three students. All were influenced by the exercise, but integration has been uneven in subsequent situations. Uneven uptake suggests not only the importance of their exploration of worldview in their rhetorical development but also its position as a threshold they may or may not be willing to cross.

Who Cares? Moving from Performance to Communication

  • Marie Paretti—Virginia Tech

Students’ beliefs about writing are shaped by the fact that in school, they traditionally write to perform knowledge or demonstrate skill to teachers who read in order to evaluate learning. In the “real world,” in contrast, writing is not about performing knowledge but about communicating it in a dynamic interchange. Information is exchanged, knowledge created, and decisions enacted via the negotiations that occur through reading, writing, and conversation. Even in courses that seek to replicate real-world contexts and engage students in legitimate negotiated information exchange, students still often struggle to move from seeing texts as artifacts to seeing them as functional tools. In engineering, for example, crossing this threshold from performance to communication means moving from “the lab write-up” created to prove that students followed the procedure and understood the theory to project reports that advance engineering work. This presentation will describe pedagogies that help students cross this threshold by examining problem- and project-based learning frameworks as sites of meaningful communication among students and between students and faculty. Such frameworks offer a critical opportunity for collaboration between WAC and disciplinary faculty because shifting from performance to communication involves not only designing useful assignments; it also involves enacting those uses in the classroom. Thus we will examine faculty as project managers as well as teachers, and students as colleagues as well as learners, to discover how texts can accrue meaning and mediate activity within a course. Drawing on situated learning and activity theory, the speaker will invite participants to reconsider how texts can function in a variety of courses, including design projects, laboratories, and lectures, and how those functions can be leveraged to support students’ development as both writers and professionals within their discipline.


10 B—Organized Panel
The No-Budget WAC Faculty Writing Retreat: Creating Community on Less Than $1 a Day

  • Peggy Lindsey—Wright State University
  • Sarah Twill—Wright State University
  • Noeleen McIlvenna—Wright State University

This panel describes a low-cost initiative to build a community of WAC faculty by offering support and space for faculty writers to complete their own writing goals and to share their challenges and success as teachers of writing.

Efforts to build connections among faculty across the curriculum often rely on financial incentives and offers of off-campus retreats to recruit participants. While successful, such programs depend on funding that is increasingly difficult to maintain in an economic downturn. This panel shares how faculty at Wright State University, working without a budget or any means of offering financial incentives for faculty participation, created an ongoing program of on-campus faculty writing boot camps, writing goal groups, and weekly writing sessions for faculty in more than a dozen disciplines. Panelists will explain how, since its inception in August 2008, the program has led to publications, presentations and successful grant applications by faculty, and translated into changed classroom practices at both instructor and department levels. They will discuss the scholarly and pedagogical benefits of implementing such a program and offer practical strategies for WAC administrators interested in creating a similar initiative at their institutions.


09 A—Organized Panel
Coherence Within Diversity: Writing In the Disciplines at the University of Houston

As the presenters’ university pursues student success as one of the five strategic principles in achieving Tier One status, ongoing college writing programs and other programs yet to be developed contribute to the effort by seeking to create coherence within the diversity that defines the University of Houston. In this presentation, the panel will talk about why the college is the key locus for ensuring student outcomes like writing.

Chris Thaiss and Terry Myers Zawacki in Engaged Writers/Dynamic Disciplines describe “’three stages’ of a students’ development as they learned to write within a disciplinary framework,” ultimately arriving at a “sense of coherence-within-diversity, understanding expectations as a rich mix of many ingredients.” “Coherence within diversity” seems an apt phrase for the programs that advance writing in the disciplines at the University of Houston, the second-most ethnically-diverse research university in the country. Diversity describes more than our students, it’s also a characteristic of the programmatic and curricular landscape, terrain dominated by the sovereign realms of the thirteen colleges with their vastly differing disciplines. The University of Houston Writing Center has aggressively pursued partnerships with academic units at all levels, from individual courses through programs and departments, with the greatest hope for coherence within diversity invested in college writing programs.

A History of Discipline: How the Business College at the University of Houston Took Responsibility for Student Writing

  • Steven Liparulo—University of Houston
  • Frank Kelley—University of Houston

In the University of Houston’s business college, Writing Center staff and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Business Programs address the question of “How can we ensure that all of the C. T. Bauer College of Business graduates enter the job-market competitively as effective professional writers?” In this presentation, we will briefly describe the major moments and decisions in the development of this writing program, which includes an entry-to-major writing assessment, tutorial follow-up for identified students, and a capstone writing-in-the disciplines course. We hope to illuminate the often-obscured but powerful relationships between administration, policy, curriculum, instruction, and student performance.

Writing In a Hospitable Discipline: How Writing Studios Help the Hospitality Law Course Engage the Social Nature of its Students

  • JeAnna Abbott—Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Michelle Miley—University of Houston

As the mid-level intervention for the three-tiered Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management writing program, the UH Writing Center’s partnership with the Hospitality Law course addresses the question, “How can we improve the writing of students in a hospitality course using a model that both draws on their strengths as hospitality majors and develops skills necessary within their discipline?” The students in the hospitality class are “people people” – students who are, by nature of their chosen profession, social. As a part of a discipline traditionally housed in a professional school rather than the Academy, these students are used to task-oriented projects and often struggle with synthesizing information between seemingly diverse areas. Professor JeAnna Abbott’s writing assignments seek to improve not only the students’ ability to communicate but also their ability to analyze and synthesize diverse sources of information into a coherent form. In order to capitalize on the social nature of the students, we have implemented writing studios into the class. The students (sixty total) meet biweekly in small groups of 5-7 students with a Writing Center facilitator. At their meetings, the students discuss their research, share drafts of their writing, and provide feedback to one another. After the first semester of the partnership, Dr. Abbott commented that, for the first time, she received papers from students that showed they understood the concepts in their papers. Studio participation not only improved writing skills, it also engaged the students with the content of their class.


10 G—Individual Paper
What Are My Options? Matching Assignment Type to Level of Course in Mathematics

  • LeighAnne Locke—Oral Roberts University

This presentation offers suggestions and examples of effective writing assignments that are tailored to different levels of mathematics instruction from general education to upper-division math courses.

There is no longer much debate about whether using writing assignments in mathematics instruction is beneficial for student learning. Many have shown or at least would agree that incorporating writing to learn activities improves student learning in math courses. Writing assignments can assist students in gathering thoughts and organizing information so they are able to concisely and precisely produce the necessary equations or results. These assignments also have the ability to require a higher level of thinking and force students to synthesize information. So, the question then becomes what writing assignments are most effective and further, are they equally applicable for all levels of math instruction? This presentation offers suggestions and specific examples of different types of writing assignments based on their effectiveness in improving learning for a particular audience. Suggestions and examples will be provided for a variety of math courses including those with the purpose of serving the general education curriculum and those required for upper level students in areas such as science, mathematics and engineering. Student learning will not be improved simply by assigning a writing to learn activity, however, when the instructor intentionally matches the type and purpose of a writing assignment to the level and diversity of the audience the result can benefit both faculty and students.


06 G—Individual Paper
Wikis and Disciplinary Communities of Practice

  • Christopher Manion—The Ohio State University

Through three case studies from anthropology, education, and professional writing, this panel will explore how wikis change the communities of practice within classrooms and programs.

Over the past several years, wikis have garnered attention as a collaborative writing tool, and scholars have begun to publish research examining some of the affordances and constraints of using wikis in the classroom. What teachers and scholars are just beginning to understand is how wikis, like other new media, can change how students view the production and dissemination of knowledge inside and outside the classroom. Wikis are very flexible media, and can be adapted to very different kinds of contexts and purposes. This panel will explore how potential affordances and constraints of wikis affect the communities of practice in a range of classrooms and learning communities: how they reconfigure typical dynamics between students and teachers, change the nature and scope of the work they do inside and outside the classroom, and facilitate student participation in disciplinary communities of practice. Panelists from education, anthropology, and professional writing will give case studies that examine three different uses of wikis within varying communities of practice. Together, the panelists will argue that when teachers tie affordances of wikis to particular “ways of thinking, doing and writing” in their disciplines (Carter 2007), students can demonstrate higher orders of learning and express a greater sense of engagement in the community of practice within the classroom and even in the discipline at large.


10 C—Organized Panel
Writing and the Academic Leap of Faith: Persuading Undergraduates that Philosophical and Theological Discourse Matter

The panel explores how courses in philosophy and theology, which emphasize improving composition skills through well-designed assignments, can help students “do philosophy” and “do theology,” thereby bridging the gap between their everyday experience and academic discourse.

Students often land in philosophy and theology courses with the intent of checking off another general education requirement, their malaise and reticence palpable. As instructors, we strive to convince students of the applicability of our course content to their lives. The more idealistic among us hope to imbue in our students the conviction that the big questions asked by theologians and philosophers alike matter; in fact, learning to “do philosophy” or “do theology” might be the difference between a life worth living and the unexamined, blind trot. The purpose of this panel is to explore how courses in philosophy and theology, which emphasize composition skills, can help students bridge the gap between their everyday experience and the academic knowledge we hope they will make their own. Pedagogy must address the fact that many students come to college with underdeveloped composition fundamentals and have little or no experience with hermeneutics or the structure of argument. In addition, regional and religious influences can lead to the inability of students to consider viewpoints outside their own. However, writing assignments created with the intent of addressing these challenges invite students to join, or even leap into, the conversation of an academic community. The focus of this panel is to discuss how an intentional approach to composition in philosophy and theology courses empowers students to engage in course content more actively and extensively than they ever imagined, while simultaneously improving their ability to write well-crafted, well-argued papers.

Content Goes in Better if First Invited to Come Out: Doing Philosophy and Engaging in Civil Discourse Through Writing

  • Heather Matthusen—Columbia College

Each fall at Columbia College, we offer an introductory level Philosophy of Religion course which attracts many first-year students seeking to fulfill the general education requirement in religion. The course presents a unique challenge in that three pedagogical dilemmas converge: 1) Our first-year students often exhibit under-developed composition skills, sometimes not knowing what a thesis statement is. 2) They are very nervous about their ability to understand let alone “do philosophy,” and 3) as we are located in the deep South, many students have never engaged in civil discourse about religion and are reticent to do so. However, these three challenges can be transformed into an opportunity through a writing assignment based on the assumption that content “goes in better, if first invited to come out,” a phrase borrowed from Peter Elbow’s Embracing Contraries. The presentation will address how a sequenced writing assignment can teach students the difference between personal and academic discourse and can get them “doing philosophy” by encouraging them to embed philosophical course content into their own experience of what matters. In other words, the writing empowers students to engage in discourse that is academic and philosophical, with a focus on discussing religion in a thoughtful and respectful manner. A series of structured, less formal writing assignments culminating in a larger academic essay, will meet this end.

Writing to Learn the Reformation or Who Was Ulrich Zwingli and Why Should I Care?

  • Sherry Jordon—University of St. Thomas

I teach a course on “The Theology of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations” at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic University in St. Paul MN. The students in this course include several who have little interest in the topic and are taking it to fulfill a core requirement, others who belong to a tradition but know little about it, and a few who strongly identify with one tradition and view the others with skepticism or suspicion. One of my objectives in the course is to help students develop a greater understanding of the Catholic tradition and the variety of Protestant traditions that trace their roots to the sixteenth century. Another objective is to help them develop academic skills such as close reading of texts, clear and careful writing, and the ability to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view. In an attempt to achieve these objectives, I developed a number of Writing to Learn assignments, using principles and techniques presented by Chris Anson in a faculty workshop. These assignments require the students to adopt the persona of one of the reformers, to recreate a dialogue between two reformers with different theological perspectives, or to critically evaluate an argument or assertion related to the Reformation. The purpose of these assignments is to help students learn the material, engage with it in creative ways, and critically evaluate it.

The Power of Metaphor: An Invitation to Join a Community

  • Carol Sebastian Curiel—California Polytechnic State University

Shirley Brice Heath notes, “Language is like other parts of our very being that we just expect to work well for us.” Yet, many college students suddenly lose this expectation when confronted with subjects like philosophy. Helping students understand and learn to use the tool of metaphor plays a central role in giving them back their expectation that language can work for them. Paul de Man reminds us that “the terminology of philosophers is full of metaphors” and Ted Cohen explains that metaphors involve a “transaction” between giver and receiver that “constitutes the acknowledgment of a community.” Helping students recognize and understand the metaphors used by philosophers to enrich, clarify and refine their core definitions gives them access to that transaction, and thus to the community. In addition, showing students the powerful role that metaphor plays in moving us from familiar ideas and experiences into new territories of thought allows them to take an active part in the process itself. Finally, analyzing metaphors helps students uncover the logical relationships that accomplish this movement simultaneously bringing clarity to their understanding of the philosophical ideas they are exploring and providing a coherent structure to their own writing about those ideas. Developing their skill in the recognition, analysis and use of metaphors through a three part sequence of writing assignments allows students to accept our invitation to join the community of philosophers.


07 D—Individual Paper
Why Everyone Thinks Grammar is Easy

  • Mary McDonald—Cleveland State University

The history of easy, basic grammars shows reductionist trends that are present in the 1700s and our time but missing in the 19th century.

One of the most frustrating parts of our jobs is helping students and faculty understand how complex many grammatical choices can be; they frequently perceive grammar as easy, which makes it difficult to teach. This talk explores the history of the easy basic grammar text that existed in the 1700s and in the 1900s up to today but did not exist with such frequency in the 1800s. Having surveyed many original early grammar texts, I also consulted grammar theorists and charted the explanation of the subjunctive in order to illustrate how grammar has been simplified. Understanding the history of this text makes us understand why teaching grammar is such a challenge.


07 H—Organized Panel
Negotiating Territory: Undergraduate Scholars Research Project

The Undergraduate Scholars Research Project epitomizes the spirit of academic excellence and writing across the curriculum.

The primary goals of the McNeese State University Alumni Association Undergraduate Scholars Research Project are to foster quality undergraduate research and writing across the disciplines. A secondary, but no less important, goal is building faculty-undergraduate mentoring relationships. Maturing slowly from relative obscurity during its first two years to a project that now is the fulcrum for the University’s “Quality Week,” the program was developed by the University’s Alumni Association in an effort to recognize quality student research and writing. Over the last two years, the project has garnered attention across the university and the community at large. The process by which undergraduate scholars are selected, the collaboration between faculty and students, and the public presentation of student work has begun to solidify connections between not only students and faculty, but also alumni and community members. The project continues to facilitate community engagement in academic activities on campus and recognizes and rewards student and faculty work. The projects are bona fide scholarly or creative research projects that contribute to the body of knowledge across the disciplines. To bring such a project to fruition, a herculean interdisciplinary effort is required. Careful planning, negotiation of territory and authority, and constant vigilance to keep academic excellence in the foreground are critical to the success of the project. The group of individuals discussing the project represent diverse disciplines and positions and illustrate how true collaboration can create a masterpiece.

Undergraduate Scholars Research Project

  • Delma McLeod-Porter—McNeese State University

The primary goals of the McNeese State University Alumni Association Undergraduate Scholars Research Project are to foster quality undergraduate research and writing across the disciplines. A secondary, but no less important, goal is building faculty-undergraduate mentoring relationships. Maturing slowly from relative obscurity during its first two years to a project that now is the fulcrum for the University’s “Quality Week,” the program was developed by the University’s Alumni Association in an effort to recognize quality student research and writing. Over the last two years, the project has garnered attention across the university and the community at large. The process by which undergraduate scholars are selected, the collaboration between faculty and students, and the public presentation of student work has begun to solidify connections between not only students and faculty, but also alumni and community members. The project continues to facilitate community engagement in academic activities on campus and recognizes and rewards student and faculty work. The projects are bona fide scholarly or creative research projects that contribute to the body of knowledge across the disciplines. To bring such a project to fruition, a herculean interdisciplinary effort is required. Careful planning, negotiation of territory and authority, and constant vigilance to keep academic excellence in the foreground are critical to the success of the project. The group of individuals discussing the project represent diverse disciplines and positions and illustrate how true collaboration can create a masterpiece.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Implementing and Managing a WAC Program

  • Harold Stevenson—McNeese State University

The struggles to infuse a WAC program into a traditional campus are many. Slowly and steadily, McNeese State University has incorporated writing first in its general education program and now into its various disciplines. Great finesse is required to convince recalcitrant faculty and administrators and this can only be done by a faculty member who has earned the trust of his/her colleagues.

Maintaining Academic Rigor and Integrity

  • Linda Larson—McNeese State University

Evaluating the quality of the projects involves the campus, the community, and the Alumni Association. The Undergraduate Projects are divided into two sections: a seminar-length paper and a poster presentation. The papers are evaluated by faculty who serve on the Write to Excellence Advisory Committee and the poster presentations are evaluated by judges selected from among the faculty ranks and members of the Alumni Association. The rigor of the evaluation ensures that only quality work is recognized.


04 D—Organized Panel
Adjusting, Surviving, Sustaining: Tales of WAC Program Upheaval and Change

In this panel, WPAs from established WAC programs will discuss challenges to the survival of their programs and offer advice for sustaining WAC during times of upheaval and change.

In this panel, WPAs from established WAC programs will discuss challenges to the survival of their programs and offer advice for sustaining WAC during times of upheaval and change. We will discuss a variety of challenges, including budget cuts, administrative changes, turf battles, program reconfigurations, changes in program leadership, and shifting university priorities. We will draw on chaos theory and social movement theory as frameworks for thinking about institutional upheavals and program sustainability, and Positive Psychology theory as a framework for thinking about personal survival. Through collaboration, resourcefulness, and agency, our programs continue to survive, and it is our hope that panel attendees will be able to draw on our experiences to develop strategies for their own programs’ survival and sustainability. To ensure that the audience makes these connections to their own institutions, we will include interactive activities in which we explore some of the challenges that our audience members face at their institutions and brainstorm approaches to dealing with these challenges.

Surviving from the Ground Up: Social Movement Theory and the Perseverance of WAC

  • Dan Melzer—California State University Sacramento

At the 2006 IWAC Conference, speaker #1 outlined the development of a faculty-centered ground-up WAC program at a large state university, drawing on Barbara Walvoord’s use of social movement theory in her article “The Future of WAC” to describe a model for the growth of WAC programs. In this talk, presenter #1 will discuss the ways that building WAC as a grassroots social movement helped his program survive a number of challenges: massive budget cuts, a change in administration that has led to the prioritizing of large classes and top-down initiatives, and a shift in his university’s mission from access for underrepresented students in the local region to the attempt to be a destination campus for the West. Speaker #1’s WAC program was able to survive administrators’ attempts to eliminate it precisely because it was built from the ground up, as a social movement focused on faculty needs and connected to other faculty-centered institutions and programs on campus, such as the Writing Center, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Faculty Senate. Drawing on the narrative of how faculty allies saved the WAC program through coordinated social action, speaker #1 will offer attendees strategies for WAC program survival based on social movement theory.

Notice, Adjust, Evolve: How to Let That Which Does Not Kill Us Make Us Stronger

  • Lisa Johnson-Shull—Washington State University

The 1998 article “The 'Butterfly Effect’: A Multi-perspective Narrative of the Effects of Assessment on a Writing Center” chronicles the turbulent moments of an emerging Writing Program as it struggled to develop an identity on both a local and national stage. Now, over 10 years later, that same program continues to collect a multitude of anecdotes of crisis and resolution. Within the last two years, a change in the publicly recognized leadership, a 10% cut in our state budget allocation, and in the reconfiguration of the Writing Program’s administrative location in the University has required the Writing Program faculty and staff to make substantial internal adjustments to keep the Program and its internal units stable and productive. This presenter will describe highlights and “lowlights” of how we have weathered the confusion challenge and change to our program--now ranked among the top Writing Programs in the nation according to U.S. News and World Reports and commended by the CCCC’s Writing Program Certificate of Excellence--and, (skimming from theories of chaos, cybernetics, social capital, rites of passage and bell hook’s love ethic), speculate as to the reasons for the continued success and sustainability of our program despite constantly shifting institutional professional and personal circumstances.

Sustaining WAC Amid the Chaos: Adapting to Leadership Change, New Initiatives, and Fiscal Uncertainty

  • Michael Cripps—York College

In their introduction to WAC for the New Millennium (2001) McLeod and Miraglia recommend chaos theory as an appropriate model for understanding educational change, and for conceiving the place of WAC programs in such change. In this model, chaos is a process by which complexities “interact and coalesce into periodic patterns that are unknowable in advance” (20). When viewed through chaos, WAC program sustainability becomes less a matter of marking a territory and more a process of remaining in the institutional mix as patterns coalesce. Speaker #4 draws on this process-oriented concept of WAC program sustainability to examine how a decade-old WAC program on one campus in a major urban university system is adapting to three specific, recent challenges: the creation of a Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) as the locus for faculty development; a restructuring of the college's general education core curriculum, and the place of writing within it; and a new academic leadership team with an uncertain commitment to the value of writing across the disciplines. Structural elements of the campus WAC program (WI graduation requirement program office, etc.) have proven essential to the program's continued existence so far, and are likely necessary conditions for endurance. Ongoing WAC program vitality, however, has required the ability to forge new partnerships--and a willingness to accept junior status in such partnerships--in order to remain relevant as patterns emerge within the chaos.

Textual Collaboration as Movement: WID Surviving Turf Wars

  • Fiona Glade—California State University Sacramento

As a result of sustained grass-roots work in our WAC program, this large urban state university has developed a successful WID initiative in which revisions to the General Education curriculum have led to improved writing instruction throughout the undergraduate curriculum as well as to increased campus-wide conversations about writing. However, some components of this movement have been met with suspicion and hostility; what’s more, the current campus climate of sweeping, unprecedented budget cuts has fueled a wave of territorialism--or turf wars--in which departments and programs struggle not only to sustain their enrollment, but also to justify their very existence. Speaking from her position in a Writing Program that is fragmented, a program whose turf is never its own, speaker #5 will begin by describing how her ongoing writing assessment work with faculty across the disciplines has been negatively impacted by manufactured misunderstandings which were created by a few senior faculty in campus support programs. Discussing some ways in which she has relied on a strongly collaborative model in sustaining the movement toward a stronger upper-division writing requirement, the presenter will describe both the processes and the results of creating some specific texts--such as learning outcomes, student questionnaires, and rubrics--as a collaborative activity with various stakeholders. This presenter will conclude by suggesting some effective strategies, including collaborative composition, for remaining resourceful--and cooperative--despite upheaval.

Symbiosis Under Scrutiny: The Strength of WAC Agency

  • Sarah Baker—George Mason University

Speaker #6 will start with what happened when, along with the ubiquitous budget issues of the times, the WAC Director stepped down from also being the Writing Center Director and started a forward-thinking conversation about the future of WAC at this large state institution. One of the tensions that arose was the subsequent administrative push to cut ties and make WAC exclusively a faculty base and the Writing Center exclusively a student base. Much of the WAC-perspective fight then focused on retaining this symbiotic tie, which created complications for administrators seeking clean lines of demarcation. All of a sudden, every decision, every alliance, and every penny of this strong, long-standing program that had been working at many levels and was allied with varied communities across campus now came under microscopic scrutiny by administrators with no explicit stake in the program. At the same time, with a looming reaccreditation process and state competency mandates putting assessment at the forefront, written communication was figuring prominently in discussions at all institutional levels. The presenter will address how her newly created and expanded liaison position between WAC, the Office of Institutional Assessment, and some other programs has made her both an unexpected and a stronger-than-expected agent for WAC and has helped the program, as Walvoord urged over a decade ago, “dive in” and significantly extend the tendrils of the conversation into formerly less accessible and more resistant areas of the institution.


09 F—Organized Panel
Writing Across the Achievement Gap

This panel discussion will focus on how learning community faculty at an urban community college built writing across the curriculum into their courses and improved student success and retention, faculty involvement and the quality of writing instruction in all of the classes. The presenters will share their experience gained in three learning communities composed of a basic composition course paired with introductory courses in psychology, sociology and US history.

This panel discussion will focus on how learning community faculty at an urban community college built writing across the curriculum into their courses and essentially improved student success and retention, faculty involvement, and the quality of writing instruction in all of the classes. The presenters will share the experience gained in three learning communities at NCC: a three way LC between a high level ESL course and a basic comp course that were paired alternately with introductory courses in Psychology and Sociology (two paired courses), and third pairing of basic composition and US History I. Faculty will describe their collaboration in creating interdisciplinary assignments designed to incrementally build and develop writing and research skills. In addition, they will demonstrate how these assignments increased student engagement as well as the level of academic skills in the disciplines. The speakers will share their experience with the development of a research paper assignment, which was one of the major areas of collaboration and mutual enrichment between the pairs that evolved over several semesters. The panel will offer insights into various models of sequencing assignments to prepare and enrich research driven papers and discuss learning outcomes including the enrichment of freshmen writing with knowledge of a discipline, enhanced awareness of audience and easier transition of ESL students and developing writers into mainstream academic classes.

Provisionary Compounds: Using Multi-modal Writing as Introduction to Research Skills and Writing Across the Curriculum

  • Hannah Moeckel-Rieke—Norwalk Community College

The presentation will focus on the introduction of multi-modal writing assignments in basic composition and 200 level English classes as a method for developing research, critical thinking and writing skills in learning communities with introductory courses to Psychology and US History I as well as a stand-alone World Literature classes. The presenter will explain the genesis of her current use of multi-modal texts from creating wikispaces with students as ongoing annotations for complex novels such as Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children to using power point, wikis and ePortfolio as venues of engaging students in learning, overcoming writer’s block, enhancing writing skills in developing writers and non-native speakers, and counteracting plagiarism. She will present recent examples of ePortfolios and power points students produced as research archives for oral presentations and written research papers as well as multimodal assignment that aim at helping students to practice finding and evaluating information not only in written texts, but also in other media. The multi-modal assignments were particularly assigned on topics that students traditionally struggled with in the introductory classes to the disciplines. The speaker will demonstrate effects on students’ performance in exams and writing assignments that result at least in part from their assuming more responsibility for investigating subjects in a way that connects to their use of digital media in their everyday lives, and is experienced as non-traditional and playful. Finally the speaker will address social effects of using multi media in the classroom, such as an enhanced sense of community among students as well as between students and instructors that contribute to high retention rates.

Moving ESL Students into the Mainstream Through a Collaborative Research Paper in a Community College Learning Community

  • Janie Burkhardt—Norwalk Community College

The presentation will focus on the development of a research assignment in collaboration with both the sociology/psychology professor and the English professor in a learning community. It will describe the process of creating the assignment from the practical aspect of scheduling to the more academic task of selecting topics that involve multiple interdisciplinary perspectives. Most importantly, it will demonstrate how this integrative paper helps ESL students successfully bridge the gap into the college mainstream. It will show how producing a research paper in this learning community helps to develop student confidence. The presenter will explain the roles of all three professors in preparing these students for ENG 101. She will describe how reflection becomes an integral part of the research experience in order that students become aware of the interdisciplinary connections made over the semester. Finally, it will show how ePortfolio was used in this learning community as a tool for the ESL students to showcase their work.

The Development of Learning Communities and Writing Across the Curriculum

  • Arlette Werner—Norwalk Community College

The foundation for the current learning communities was built on two significant experiences in teaching and learning workshops that the speaker participated in. The first was an ISR (Integrated Skills Reinforcement program) developed by a group of faculty at LaGuardia Community College in New York. The project began by asking participants about problems students experienced in dealing with course content and how teachers helped students overcome these difficulties. The ISR approach was to take strategies which reinforce reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills and incorporate them in classes across the curriculum. With the awareness that the inclusion of language skills would enhance learning in the content courses, the concept of learning communities was a natural next step. The speaker will describe the gradual implementation of learning communities at NCC starting with a high level ESL writing class paired with a Psychology and later a Sociology course. She will discuss the development of sample assignments and the evolvement of partnerships over time. Ever since the first class, an increasing number of learning communities have emerged, facilitated by Professor Werner and Professor Burkhardt who were able to use a portion of an Achieving the Dream grant to promote the idea. Both speakers will describe how they fostered this institutional development project and describe some of the other learning communities that have evolved between content classes and basic composition as well as developmental writing classes and share the result of institutional research that was conducted in order to determine the effectiveness of this approach.


09 B—Individual Paper
“There's Nothing But Lint in My Pockets, But I Still Want a WAC/WID Program!” Creative (and Slightly Sneaky) Ways of Getting Started

  • Kelly Moor—Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Presentation of a method for initiating a WID-based curricular assessment method on a campus where no WAC/WID programming or funding currently exists.

At the 2008 IWAC conference, I presented a method for curricular assessment that helps faculty identify the writing conventions valued by their disciplines and assess the intentionality with which they teach (or fail to teach) those conventions in their existing departmental curricula. Participants report that the process enables them to move from bewildered frustration to a sense of empowerment as they realize that they can elicit "better" student writing without resorting to expensive writing intensive courses or separately funded WAC programs. Several audience members responded: “This sounds great, but I don’t have WAC resources at my school. How do I get this started?” I had no answers at the time because I was fortunate enough to have such resources at my university. Recently, however, I accepted a job at a university where there are no existing WAC/WID resources. The absence of a coordinated writing effort across the curriculum means that the university is missing an opportunity to emphasize the cross-disciplinary role of writing as means of learning. I find myself, then, in the position of that 2008 audience, facing the challenge of creating an opportunity where none currently exists, attempting to build a WAC/WID curricular assessment initiative from the ground up, with nothing but the conviction that the method is worth the effort. At the 2010 conference, I will present a summary of the curricular assessment method and then detail my strategy for creating an opportunity for its implementation on a campus where neither the program nor the funding currently exist.


03 B—Organized Panel
Inviting Students to Re-vision their Writing: Improving Speaking, Listening and Writing across the Curriculum

Drawing on replicable studies, presenters demonstrate that when writing-center pedagogies which instantiate reader reaction are translated to WAC classrooms they increase metacognitive and reflective activity, two of the strongest predictors of longitudinal writing growth that are critical to successfully managing the variety of disciplinary expectations demanded of students.

While much WAC work has gone into assignment design and classroom activity, changing faculty interaction and feedback practices has been much more difficult. Drawing on replicable studies, presenters demonstrate that when writing-center pedagogies which instantiate reader reaction are translated to WAC classrooms they increase metacognitive and reflective activity, two of the strongest predictors of longitudinal writing growth that are critical to successfully managing the variety of disciplinary expectations demanded of students. One study looks at mentors' impact on student metacognition; the other tests audio feedback as a means of developing the audience-based text representation Kellogg claims is critical to expert writing. Both studies' methodologies are outlined for the purpose of replication and aggregation.

Building Audience Awareness Through Audio Feedback

  • Susan Schorn—University of Texas-Austin

Despite our best efforts, college writers are more likely to make superficial changes rather than revise for form or shape as expert writers do. Kellogg posits that they “fail to maintain the reader representation needed in making deep structural changes to the text.” Thus, a writer’s ability to make global revisions may depend upon his having developed a stable reader representation. Audio feedback, provided by the instructor’s recorded “performance” of the student’s draft, assists the writer in creating a stable reader representation. As in a writing center consultation, the reader representation is real and fully-formed. In this presentation, an example of audio feedback will be played and a small, but replicable, study of a freshman composition class detailed. Data collected indicate that audio commenting may prompt students to spend more time revising globally and also provide a personal connection usually missing from feedback practices or from face to face conferencing situations infused with authority role-playing. The majority of students in this study reported spending the most revision time on content and development when they received audio feedback. Students receiving written comments, in contrast, were divided almost equally between those who spent most of their revising time on content and development, and those who focused most on communicability and organization. Directions for further research will be outlined.

Letting Research Shape our Practice: Supporting f2f and Performance Feedback

  • Joan Mullin—Illinois State University-Bloomington/Normal

WAC strategies have always encouraged faculty to develop real-world, purposeful classroom strategies and assignments that connect students to academic and workplace worlds. The latest data gleaned from the NSSE writing questions corroborates these practices, finding that typical WAC assignments and integrative activities are two components that contribute to critical thinking and transference of knowledge. Further supporting the existing research on writing, NSSE data found that classroom assignments and activities combined with high quality faculty interaction and feedback result in “high-impact educational practices” that are essential to higher order learning. While much WAC work has gone into assignment design and classroom activity, changing faculty interaction and feedback practices has been much more difficult. Presenter 1 briefly frames the two studies that follow, first outlining research and practice on which the studies draw, hypothesizing that the elements missing from faculty feedback may be embedded in writing center theories and experiences out of which grew the successful, replicable practices outlined in this session. Both studies enact research and practice that can strengthen faculty feedback and connectivity with students.

Feedback Face-to-Face: Mentoring First-Year Writers into Reflection and Rhetorical Flexibility

  • Holly Bruland—University of Hawai’i at Manoa

This presentation describes a study of a first-year composition program supported by writing mentors at a public Research-I university; the assessment compares student writing in mentored and non-mentored sections. The mentoring program was not officially advertised and both populations shared very similar demographics and SAT scores, rendering a rigorous control group study. In addition to regular in-class interactions, mentored students attended an average of four out-of-class conferences with their assigned graduate student mentor. In the semester's the opening weeks, mentors conducted intake interviews with each student to build rapport, establish conferencing protocols, and learn about interests and goals. In later conferences mentors clarified assignment expectations and instructor commentary; engaged students in discussions of audience and purpose; provided feedback on ideas and drafts; and inquired about students' ongoing transitions to college. At the semester's end, students selected an example of their FYC work which best attended to issues of audience and purpose and completed a 20-minute in-class essay analyzing their submissions. Writing samples were scored on content, organization, language & style, and mechanics. In-class meta-commentaries were scored holistically. Students in mentored sections out-performed their non-mentored counterparts in each of the traditional assessment categories, but differences were most pronounced in mentored students' reflective writing. Such statistically significant findings were also noteworthy in light of Lee Ann Carroll's conclusion that meta-cognitive, reflective ability is the strongest predictor of longitudinal writing growth and is critical for students to successfully manage the changing rhetorical situations and disciplinary expectations they will encounter in their future WAC courses.


07 D—Individual Paper
Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, Content, and Style: Using Metaphor to Teach Writing Concepts Across the Curriculum

  • Beth Nardella—West Virginia University

This presentation will discuss some strategies to discover shared experiences and tools for developing appropriate metaphors for the composition classroom that allow students to visualize unwieldy theories.

Tonya Harding is one of only two American women who has landed a triple axel in a US figure skating competition. She certainly wasn’t the most graceful skater of her time, but she was the most powerful. In contrast, Nancy Kerrigan was considered figure skating’s Ice Princess. With capped teeth leading to a perfect smile and dresses designed by Vera Wang instead of hand sewn costumes, she may not have been able to land the most complex jumps, but she looked good skating. For some reason, my students know this. They may not know about the teeth or the triple axel, but they know about the knee bashing. It is a moment in pop culture history that sticks with them. I show them pictures of the skaters and they get it: Harding had content and Kerrigan had style. These are complex writing concepts for any undergraduate. While my students are some of the best at the university, they are terrified of writing and they fear the abstract. They would prefer an additional year of Organic Chemistry over my course. After learning this the hard way, I realized that I needed to meet them somewhere in the middle. Metaphors provide this common ground, allowing students to visualize unwieldy theories. Teaching writing to students who are afraid of words requires some thinking outside the rink. This paper will discuss some strategies to discover shared experiences and tools for developing course-appropriate metaphors.


10 E—Individual Paper
Selling Writing to Learn: Repositioning the Value Proposition

  • Carroll Ferguson Nardone—Sam Houston State University
  • Sheryl Murphy-Manley—Sam Houston State University

This session shares results of a university-wide “W” syllabus assessment project, and provides attendees an opportunity to participate in WTL workshop strategies designed to reinforce the tenets of writing to learn across disciplines.

Strong and sustained faculty development workshops are among the most important components to maintain a common sense of purpose among faculty who have embraced the WAC lifestyle. Those who facilitate faculty writing-in-the-discipline workshops report that some of their most heartening moments occur when the proverbial light bulbs go off and creative faculty share assignments across disciplines. However, at some point programs can reach a critical mass, and the pool of new attendees shrinks. Likewise, established “W” faculty who bought into original WID concepts may not understand the need to refresh their skills, or that changes in the students’ learning styles may necessitate a reevaluation of their long-standing classroom writing practices. This interactive session is designed to share the results of a university’s assessment of “W” syllabi some 20 years after the first WAC program was initiated. At the heart of this portion of the session is an open discussion about how assessment can be a positive force for renewal. We will also share the current efforts to reestablish the tenets of writing-to-learn in all “W” class instruction. In an interactive session, the presenters will work with participants to illustrate such exciting strategies as “The 23-sentence Research Paper,” and the fully-adaptable “Genres of Writing” assignment.


06 D—Individual Paper
Cohorts in Curriculum: Making it Work for WAC

  • Holly Norton—University of Northwestern Ohio

This presentation will address the philosophy, challenges, and results of WAC cohorts at the University of Northwestern Ohio.

In the spring of 2009 at our annual workshop, the University of Northwestern Ohio Writing Across the Curriculum Committee announced our intent to create WAC cohorts composed of faculty from our two colleges, Business and Technologies, with one WAC Committee member per cohort as facilitator. Cohorts were formed at the workshop, and plans were developed for each cohort to decide on a writing assignment to be given to students in our Fall 2009 quarter. Cohorts also decided on times to meet throughout the year to discuss progress and create a plan for the results of this assignment to be presented by each cohort at the April 2010 workshop. The WAC Committee has encountered challenges with this process, including resistance to the expectation that writing would be assigned in classes that are not writing-oriented and reluctance to assess writing assignments for courses that are not writing-oriented. As a result the WAC Committee developed a set of guidelines for all cohorts to follow in order to ensure consistency across the curriculum as well as flexibility for cohorts to make their own decisions regarding assignments and assessment. We also created a wiki with a page for each cohort so that members could share their progress, challenges, and successes between meetings; see what other cohorts were doing; and access documents such as assignment directions, rubrics, and writing-related articles. This presentation includes a discussion of results with this wiki as well as commentary on cohort meetings and presentations of results at our April 2010 workshop.


01 C—Individual Paper
Approaches to Writing Development for Academic Staff in UK Universities

  • Rebecca O’Rourke—University of Leeds

This presentation reports the findings of a small-scale research project which set out to explore the recent trend of providing writing development activities for academic staff in UK universities. In particular, the presenter will explore how these activities challenge the assumption that writing is – or ought to be – an unproblematic part of academic identity and practice and the implications this has for student writing development.

This presentation is based on a current small-scale research project which grew out of a cross-institutional research project into student writing at Leeds University (2002 – 2006) which established that for a significant number of staff, especially in practice-based disciplines (health care, art and design, engineering), resistance to WID/WAC initiatives stemmed from anxieties about their own expertise as writers. In response to this, I piloted writing development activities for staff and, as I became aware of and made links to similar initiatives, was struck by the different approaches we had each adopted. Short courses, serial writing groups, stand-alone workshops, retreats, coaching and mentoring schemes have become increasingly prominent in the past decade and are supplemented by a range of non-formal provisions including handbooks (Murray 2005), online communities and private consultancy. I map the historical continuities and change in provisions, exploring the extent to which these models are based on those used to support student writing. I use the curriculum evaluation framework Boud & Lee (1999) developed to study a pioneering academic staff writing group to analyze participation and extend it to explore whether and how this changes their practice in relation to supporting and developing student writing.


06 I—Organized Panel
WAC at Three Levels: The Evolution of a Program

This panel looks at one university’s Writing Across the Curriculum initiative and explores the impact of this work at three levels: 1) the level of the student, as exemplified by adult learners in the communications field; 2) the level of the classroom, as demonstrated by an interdisciplinary American studies class’s developing sense of community; and 3) the level of the program, as administrators discuss their use of WAC strategies to develop the WAC program.

Writing Across the Curriculum necessarily involves many individuals at many levels across a university. This panel looks at three distinct sites of WAC work at one university striving to establish and maintain a WAC program. In addition to describing how individuals at each of these three disparate levels use and, in turn, are affected by WAC theories and practices, the panel also demonstrates how the interplay of this multi-leveled WAC work has contributed to the overall success of WAC on their campus. First, in “Empowering Adult Learners through WAC: From Negotiating Obstacles to Achieving Self-Efficacy,” a communications professor argues that implementing WAC into her classes has helped non-traditional aged students achieve a measure of self-efficacy that often eludes this population of learners. Second, a philosophy and American studies professor demonstrates how WAC supports the goal of fostering community in an interdisciplinary American studies class in “Writing toward a Community of Inquiry: WAC in the Interdisciplinary Classroom.” Finally, in “WAC Strategies to Build a WAC Program,” administrators in the university’s composition program and writing center explain how they were charged with the task of introducing WAC strategies to faculty in their college, and how they ultimately used those same WAC strategies to strengthen and expand this fledgling WAC program.

Empowering Adult Learners: From Negotiating Obstacles to Achieving Self-Efficacy

  • Audrey Allison—Kennesaw State University

While many students periodically struggle with a variety of writing challenges, adult learners, as nontraditional students, tend to experience and express a greater lack of self-efficacy compared to their traditional aged peers. Students with positive perceptions of self-efficacy are typically intrinsically motivated and self-disciplined. They believe that they are capable of achieving their desired level of academic performance and continuously self-assess their writing and learning outcomes in order to reach targeted goals. Adult learners, on the other hand, often indicate that they are uncomfortable, isolated, and sometimes sensitive about their writing. Beset by anxieties and obstacles, these adult students are typically less likely to seek assistance from the professor or use campus writing center services. A cursory review of the WAC literature shows that WAC's pedagogical approaches are mainly for the traditional student, offering little insight on methods that support adult learning. Given these conditions, how might educators integrate adult learners’ preferred learning styles, advanced skill sets, and professional interests with course writing objectives? This discussion first highlights and parallels two key concepts related to self-efficacy, social persuasion and progressive mastery of academic goals with specific WAC strategies that serve to empower the adult learner. Second, the discussion notes flexible, interdisciplinary instructional approaches to “coach” adult learners effectively to feel more confident with writing development.

Writing Toward a Community of Inquiry: WAC in the Interdisciplinary Classroom

  • Susan Rouse—Kennesaw State University

In American Studies, students come from a variety of disciplines and are asked to look in-depth at a culture they are already a part of from a perspective that is not that of a traditional discipline. WAC strategies in general are particularly well-suited to such an interdisciplinary classroom because they not only help students master course material, but they also generate a more open and collaborative classroom atmosphere--an atmosphere central to and essential for interdisciplinary inquiry. Writing also provides a bridge for students as they engage in unfamiliar territory, applying interdisciplinary methods to the familiar landscape of our visual and material culture. This paper argues these points by illustrating how a variety of low, medium and high stakes writing assignments contributes to the goals of the interdisciplinary classroom. The discussion will then extend beyond writing activities to demonstrate how peer review can be used to further broaden student exposure to the methods and content of interdisciplinary scholarship. As a result, the interdisciplinary classroom becomes a site where students are encouraged to participate as colleagues within a “community of inquiry.” The paper concludes by discussing how linking WAC strategies with peer review supports and extends students’ work on their own interdisciplinary research projects by helping them understand relationships of evidence (written analysis and explanation) to visual/material culture and to the broader expectations of academic inquiry.

WAC Strategies to Build a WAC Program

  • Beth Daniell—Kennesaw State University

WAC strategies are frequently commended for the ways in which they can support both student learning and development and assist faculty in meeting their pedagogical goals in the classroom. But these same strategies also can be useful on a programmatic level for faculty or administrators seeking to develop a WAC initiative on their campus. In the panel’s final presentation, a composition director and a writing center administrator explain how they used WAC strategies to develop and foster a WAC program initiative among disparate professors across one college in a large and growing university. These de facto WAC directors first explain their context, one which had badly misunderstood what WAC means, and then relate how, with support from the dean, they attempted to correct these mistaken notions with an initiative that included workshops by well-known WAC leaders and stipend “fellowships” in which faculty put their new-found knowledge into practice in their courses. As these WAC Fellows worked to integrate WAC strategies and philosophies into their teaching, they attended small-group sessions using WAC strategies of informal writing and structured reflective writing. Ultimately as these strategies helped the Fellows plan their syllabi and writing assignments, share problems freely with the group, and come to consensus on assessment methods, the ‘directors” observed that those same WAC strategies had become instrumental in shaping these Fellows into a true community of WAC faculty.


07 D—Individual Paper
Thinking ‘Big’: Using Pop Nonfiction in Advanced Composition

  • Lisa Ottum—Indiana University

This presentation offers both a theoretical discussion and practical strategies for teaching so-called “big idea” bestsellers (e.g. Freakonomics) in advanced composition courses.

Advanced writing courses present English departments with special curricular challenges. Typically, these courses serve majors and non-majors; they must be sufficiently “broad” to accommodate diverse student interests, and at the same time, they must impart skills students can apply in other upper-division courses. While instructors, students, and administrators agree that advanced composition should go beyond simply repeating the skills taught in elementary composition, the “content” best suited to accomplishing this objective is debatable. This presentation addresses the following questions: what texts should form the content of advanced writing courses—and how should instructors frame the value of this content for students? I argue that nonfiction bestsellers—so-called “big idea” books—make especially good objects of analysis for advanced composition. This is because pop nonfiction books such as Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s Freakonomics convey discipline-specific knowledge to mass audiences: Freakonomics, for instance, translates the discourse of economics for general readers. I contend that by performing rhetorical analyses of these books, students not only learn more about the conventions of argumentation within different disciplines (including, in some case, their own), they also discover the rhetorical moves involved in persuasive cross-disciplinary communication. This presentation will introduce the “big idea” book as a teachable genre; I will also present sample student work from an advanced writing course I am currently piloting. Thus, this presentation will offer listeners a theoretical justification for the pedagogy I propose as well as practical strategies for working with “big idea” books in the classroom.


08 C—Individual Paper
Writing Instruction that Works

  • Susan Parnell—Professional Learning and Development, Inc.

This presentation will offer three writing strategies that yield results.

Learning to read and write are critical to a child's success in school and adult life. Much research has been done to develop a quality literacy program for all students. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) discovered considerable deficiencies in writing proficiency. Through this research much has been gained as to how to develop early literacy skills needed for reading and writing. Two suggestions supported by the NAEP are professional development for experienced teachers and writing assignments in current reading assessments. An unsettling statistic found in research was at least three-fourths of students in grades tested (4th, 8th and 12th) on the latest NAEP writing assessment were not proficient in writing. In this session, we will review and practice four writing strategies that yield greater engagement, collaboration and knowledge of content material. Each strategy is capable of being utilized in multiple content areas. Writing strategies are used to construct meaning before, during and after learning. Strategic learning is a direct result of strategic teaching. Strategic writing instruction prepares students for learning, involves the presentation of content in a relevant, meaningful way, and finally, helps students apply and integrate the content for future use. Excellent teaching is one of the most effective means to prevent reading and writing difficulties. Teachers create learning opportunities for students to pursue. Daily incorporation of writing strategies will provide greater engagement, higher level thinking, and better understanding.


05 D—Organized Panel
The Empowered Powerlessness of Liminal WPAs in “These Tough Economic Times”

This panel analyzes the paradox of empowered powerlessness in what are termed “liminal WPA” spaces.

This panel analyzes the paradox of empowered powerlessness in what we term “liminal WPA” spaces. The four panelists offer the perspectives of seven different WPA positions held during their PhDs. Our motivation was a recent WPA-L thread that questioned whether job seekers were wise to become WPAs during initial faculty appointments. As liminal WPAs, our “employee-like” status situates us in a contingent space that inhibits our participation in conversations like this. For we have each been graduate students--not junior faculty members--holding WPA positions, yet we are not necessarily GSAs. In addition to lacking the protection of tenure, we have also lacked the protection of the PhD and even the protection of a senior WPA. While our positions are not necessarily “invisible,” as Edgington and Taylor might argue, our liminal identity is. We consider the general perils of liminal WPA power and then the specific perils surrounding that power in the midst of two concurrent university crises: a mandated quarters-to-semesters transition and historic budget cuts. We open by theorizing liminal WPA work as empowered powerlessness. We then discuss the de-valuation of writing in the university and how this de-valuation impacts liminal WPAs and their work. We conclude by reconsidering our future in the field after watching the deterioration of a WAC program from the inside. We question whether any WPA--protected or unprotected, graduate student or faculty--has enough power to enact the change we thought possible when we were first drawn to WAC work.

The Empowered Powerless: The Paradox of Liminal WPA Work

  • Talinn Phillips—Ohio University

This presentation explores what we argue is the “power paradox” of liminal WPA work. As a graduate student, I was drawn to WAC work because of the power of the position--not power-as-dictator, but power-as-change-agent. I wanted to improve the teaching of writing *now* instead of spending years speculating about what I might accomplish in the future. As a WAC GSA I had the opportunity to work on many university writing issues, gaining the experience that Edgington & Taylor identify as a justification for GSA positions. These positive empowering experiences reflected the possibilities of good WPA work. Yet as I became more involved in WAC and transitioned into the liminal space between GSA and jWPA I also became increasingly aware of my powerlessness (White). While the lack of power in senior WPA positions is well known (e.g. Anson at Minnesota), I argue that additional layers of powerlessness are embedded in the liminal WPA. I consider how the liminal WPA’s lack of “institutional permanence” can hamper her work. Since she is known to be in transition, her initiatives are likely to be hampered or discarded because “she won’t be around in 5 years anyway.” I then explore the conflicts of interest that ensue when a senior WPA serves as dissertation director for a liminal WPA, thus becoming Boss, Director, and All-Around-Determiner-of-the Liminal’s-Future. In examining the power paradox I consider how power is bestowed yet withheld, as well as the shape-shifting moves required for a liminal WPA to be a change agent.

Something's out of WAC: Writing (De)Valued Across the Curriculum

  • Megan Titus—Ohio University

This presentation examines the devaluing of writing on an institutional level and the impact of this devaluing on the job of the liminal WPA. This presentation also addresses how the institutional writing outcomes can potentially lead to lower budgets and less support for WPAs especially those who exist in a liminal space. I argue that relying on liminal WPAs can result not only in a devaluing of writing, but also a lack of stability within the writing program. The recent conversation about tenured and non-tenured writing program administrators on the WPA listserv hinted at, but did not discuss in great detail, the connection between funding, the hiring of jWPAs, and the extent writing is valued as more than correct usage. Because the conversation focused on WPAs and jWPAs, neither of which we are, we seek to surface the implications of these issues on liminal WPAs. In her article “The Scholarship of Administration,” Christine Hult argues that as the WPA position currently stands, the person who holds it is guaranteed “academic failure;” this may be especially true when a) the person is a liminal WPA and b) the institutional monetary and administrative support for the position is feeble at best. This lack of support can easily equal the “death” of a WAC program; however, we hope to not only surface the issues that arise when a WAC program seems to falter, but to also explore ways to resuscitate a program.

Neither Here nor There: The Interim (ABD) Director and WAC in Peril

  • Paul Shovlin—Ohio University

Recently hired as an (ABD) Interim Director of a WAC program, and still a graduate student I’ve found myself negotiating ground that WAC casebooks and WPA listserv debates don’t quite cover. I’ve been faced with a diminished budget, little administrative support, and increased pressure to solve (or stand aside of) the problem of staffing university-wide composition requirements, particularly in the face of the coming change from quarters to semesters. In this discussion, I will explore the power struggles related to these issues and the interplay of the swirling mass of institutional agents with competing interests, and often greater institutional and academic authority than me. In this presentation, I draw on Edward White’s 1991 article “Use It or Lose It: Power and the WPA” as a touchstone for traditional views regarding administrative power, in this case, from the mouth of a WPA. In particular, I'm interested in White's arguments that WPAs should develop and utilize the illusion of power. I hypothesize how that might work in the case of WPAs who don't fit the tenure, tenure-track, or renewable contract status, i.e. WPAs who are disadvantaged due to their liminal positions in the institution. While such disempowered WPAs might be de facto sacrificial lambs, as forces work to dismantle writing programs, I argue that White's agonistic take on institutionalized and administrative power offers a shadow role that may ameliorate the deterioration of a program.

Destructive Misperceptions and the Death of a WAC / WPA Dream

  • Melanie Lee—Ohio University

Once, I dreamed of being a WPA. I was thrilled to work as a GSA in the WAC program, eager to, as Janangelo, Hansen, and Schuster suggest, resituate writing within the university and invest our program with the high institutional value it deserves. On the surface, my position empowered me to act as a “change agent.” I assisted with curricular decisions regarding writing; organized and delivered WAC seminars; managed Freshman and Junior Composition Exemption Exams, and served on three committees. But beneath the surface, my hybrid liminal WPA status--combined with interdepartmental, university-wide misperceptions about writing and its devalued function in the academy--undermined and disempowered my position. Seminars focused on correctness and quick-fixes attracted faculty more than integrating writing in the disciplines or using writing to learn. In my presentation, I consider destructive administrative and faculty attitudes that surfaced in two places: a university-wide survey about our quarter-to-semester switch that asked what our required freshman writing course needs to accomplish for students, and a talk I gave to clarify our writing program's pedagogical focus. I argue that these attitudes eroded our program's financial and institutional support and diminished our initiatives. Budget cuts left the Director, a tenured full professor, with little choice but resignation. I discuss this bloodbath from the shocked and angry perspective of a disillusioned dreamer freshly resigned from my tenured English faculty position to pursue my Ph.D.


04 A—Individual Paper
Training Graders as a Means to Grade Equity and (Future) Faculty Development

  • Laura Plummer—Indiana University

Norming sessions meet the short-term goal of establishing equitable benchmarks and standards for responding to student writing; the long-term effects reach not only to current faculty practice in writing in the disciplines, but also to preparing future faculty.

While gallons of ink have been spilled to discuss the relative merits for using grading rubrics (Gerretson and Golson 2004; Turley and Gallagher 2008; Walvoord and Anderson, 1998; Wilhelm 2003; Wilson 2007), the material point of this presentation is that the process of developing rubrics—in the context of helping faculty to “norm” graders in large classes—produces benefits unrelated to the evaluation of student writing: professional development for both current and future faculty. This presentation will model some of the ancillary pedagogical developments that arise from the “norming” session (such as equity among graders; clarification of evaluative standards; assignment revision in light of feedback from graders and students; focus on performance of complex tasks, not mastery of content) as well the long-term professional (protecting time; breaking the cone of silence re teaching; talking across “class” lines; and connecting to markers of “vitality in faculty” [Gaff 2003; Eble and McKeatchie 1985]).


05 H—Organized Panel
Research Writing: The Whole in the Middle

This presentation explores making whole the often fragmented process that students resort to in research writing courses and assignments

Since most contemporary research writing courses are housed in composition programs, there is significant emphasis on topic selection, the construction and presentation of argument, accurate documentation, and using source material. However, a major challenge for teachers of research writing is helping students navigate the essential work that happens in the middle of the process -- finding and making meaning from scholarly research. Our presentation describes an integrated approach to teaching students how to navigate the “hole in the middle” of the research writing process. By cultivating a strong liaison with the undergraduate research librarians, we have fostered a successful working relationship between librarians and faculty so that librarians are not viewed as adjunct to the classroom practice, but rather an essential part of a teaching team. Our shared set of curricular goals and practices address some of the possible pitfalls that students face at each stage of their research writing process, from creating useful search terms to writing a successful review of literature. Our presentation will include demonstrations and course assignments in order to model the ways in which instructors can help students navigate the middle ground of academic research.

“My author sort of talked about...”: Using Bibliography to Decode Academic Argument

  • Faye Prichard—Virginia Commonwealth University

A struggling and resistant student once told me that she didn’t need to participate in the prescribed course process for writing her research paper because she already had a process that worked quite well for her. “I pick a thesis and then I find some quotes from sources that support it; and then I write my paper.” As teachers of research writing, we clearly see the problems with such a distorted system, but often such failed research processes are indicative of the uneven focus in research writing courses on such practices as making claims and documenting sources. Research writing instructors often do not consider that while they may teach students how to locate scholarly sources, students often have no concrete tools for how to evaluate the sources that they find. For students, especially those who have not yet matriculated or encountered the notion of discipline specific sources, nearly any source found in the university library seems legitimate. Especially for young researchers, an Annotated Bibliography assignment becomes not only a way to keep track of research, but also a way for students to contemplate the myriad of important issues that must consider when analyzing their sources. This presentation looks at the use of annotated bibliographies as a tool to help beginning research writers assess the scholarly value of their sources and the arguments that their sources make.

The Review of Literature Paper: Making Meaning of the Conversation

  • Bonnie Orzolek—Virginia Commonwealth University

In “Making the Research Paper Worth Your Time,” Richard Fulkerson identifies several rhetorical goals of researchers: to make evaluative claims, to suggest policy claims, to show causal relationships or make interpretive leaps in their analysis. In order for students to fully understand the rhetorical purpose of their source material, an assignment requiring students to write a Review of Literature paper helps students make meaning of the often subtle and hard-to-decipher rhetorical goals of each of their researchers. Part of the fractured nature of research is that students are often not encouraged to think of their researchers as participants in an ongoing conversation. Since scholars often disagree, debate, and contribute new ideas or re-invent old ones, it is important for students to imagine each scholar as one person in the middle of a swirling conversation. In order to frame and analyze this conversation, the Review of Literature paper serves as an important “middle piece” that often goes unrecognized in the lengthy research process. The Review of Literature asks students to engage in a reflective and discursive critical process that is often overlooked and yet crucial in student understanding of the conversation surrounding their topic. This presentation makes an argument for the usefulness of the Review of Literature paper and provides examples of practical classroom assignments that foster student understanding of the thinking process underlying the Review of Literature, as well as the importance of student understanding of the chronological progression of the often interdisciplinary field in which they are studying.

Support from the Library for Students and Faculty

  • Donna Coghill—Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Laura Westmoreland—Virginia Commonwealth University

Although many young college students today are technologically savvy and experts in finding quick, every day types of information, most students possess limited, if any, research skills when it comes to locating scholarly resources. The inability to find useful academic resources can severely compromise the quality of their writing products in research writing courses. However, collaboration between faculty and librarians can help students to develop this crucial set of skills that will serve them throughout their careers as academic writers.

This portion of the panel will explain how Virginia Commonwealth University librarians are involved in research writing courses in a variety of capacities to enhance students’ ability to create papers supported by relevant, high-quality resources. The presenter will share examples of librarians’ relationships with faculty to ensure that research writing instructors are familiar with the most suitable resources for their students and that they are developing fruitful library-related assignments. Librarians offer faculty training sessions, individual assistance to instructors, and online resources to support faculty needs. Attendees will also become familiar with the types of research skills VCU librarians teach students in the classroom, with particular emphases on “the basics”: effectively teaching students how to turn a research question into a search strategy, understanding Boolean operators, and selecting appropriate resources for the type of information needed. Specific techniques, resources, and learning tools created by librarians for both faculty and students will be presented.


08 F—Organized Panel
North of the Border -- Canadian Writing in the Disciplines

In the absence of central composition programs, Canadian universities have to build WID initiatives by educating administrators, course instructors and teaching assistants at the same time as students. Faculty from three Canadian institutions will report on their efforts at team-building and integration, with a commentator adding perspective from a newly-designed program at another university.

Canadian universities may not have first-year composition or a writing division in the English Department, but they do care about writing, and many have built up their own inventive methods for integrating attention to writing as part of the curriculum (Graves and Graves, 2006). Concerns about the student experience and projects in curriculum renewal now provide added stimulus for writing initiatives. Our reports from two very different institutions in Ontario and the respondent's remarks from a new WAC program in Alberta will describe and comment on several ways that the needed awareness of writing can be built up and maintained among stakeholders. The common element is a study of assignment design and then efforts to follow up with departments and instructors. Another key component in the large public research-intensive universities characteristic of Canada is the role of teaching assistants, who provide the main personal contact for students and nearly all the grading and feedback for their written work. The largest Canadian university is now in its second year of a TA-focused initiative where writing instructors seconded from writing centers work alongside senior graduate students to combine knowledge of writing pedagogy with insiders' disciplinary expertise. Besides supporting course instructors in designing writing assignments, they work intensively with course TAs to align instruction and assessment in the courses. Our analyses of methods and results will suggest that writing in the disciplines, whether capitalized or not, can grow and flourish even in what might seem a chilly climate for writing.

The Big Picture at a Small College

  • Theresa Hyland—Huron University College

Research in writing across the curriculum has often focused on specific courses, students, or practices within disciplines (Walvoord, 1997; Bazerman et al.,1994; Beaufort, 2007; Thaiss, 2007). We build on this work in a research study that aims to paint a broader picture by analyzing all the writing assigned across the curriculum at a small liberal arts college affiliated with a major public research university in Canada. We gathered syllabi from every course offered at this institution--179 of them--and collected data about every formal writing assignment in each course--a total of 448 assignments. Our findings enable us to create a picture of writing throughout the undergraduate curriculum, including the frequency and characteristics of assignments given at each level, differences (or not) in genre and length of assignments from first year to fourth year, and the provision of supports to students for these assignments, such as rubrics and feedback opportunities. To illustrate, we will delineate the typical characteristics of assignments found in the component humanities and social sciences disciplines and show how writing assignments differ between these disciplines. Faculty members in this institution have voiced active interest in seeing where their courses and departments fit within the larger context, and their response to our study will also be discussed.

The Big Picture at a Small College

  • Boba Samuels—University of Western Ontario

Research in writing across the curriculum has often focused on specific courses, students, or practices within disciplines (Walvoord, 1997; Bazerman et al.,1994; Beaufort, 2007; Thaiss, 2007). We build on this work in a research study that aims to paint a broader picture by analyzing all the writing assigned across the curriculum at a small liberal arts college affiliated with a major public research university in Canada. We gathered syllabi from every course offered at this institution--179 of them--and collected data about every formal writing assignment in each course--a total of 448 assignments. Our findings enable us to create a picture of writing throughout the undergraduate curriculum, including the frequency and characteristics of assignments given at each level, differences (or not) in genre and length of assignments from first year to fourth year, and the provision of supports to students for these assignments, such as rubrics and feedback opportunities. To illustrate, we will delineate the typical characteristics of assignments found in the component humanities and social sciences disciplines and show how writing assignments differ between these disciplines. Faculty members in this institution have voiced active interest in seeing where their courses and departments fit within the larger context, and their response to our study will also be discussed.

Bringing Writing into Focus at a Large University

  • Margaret Procter—University of Toronto

The largest undergraduate division at Canada's largest university comprises 32 departments, 32,000 students and an unknown number and type of writing assignments. Ten years ago the Faculty of Arts and Science committed itself to ensuring that its students gained experience and instruction in writing before graduation, but until recently it lacked structures to bring that about. After government requests for outcomes measures coupled with disappointing NSSE results, this division has now put writing at the center of curriculum renewal and begun finding ways to distribute the responsibility for teaching it. Our report will outline the steps towards systematic change, starting with intensive studies by writing-center instructors of assignments and teaching methods in three departments. They found inventive and thoughtful course material but also a lack of overall sequencing and pervasive weaknesses in grading and feedback. The studies led to initiatives in twelve departments that attempt to combine course instructors' willingness to experiment, writing instructors' ideas about teaching writing, and the disciplinary expertise of senior graduate students serving as lead writing TAs. The combination has proven volatile but productive. In its two years, the initiative has developed effective methods of inducting the lead writing TAs into the theories and methods of WAC/WID so they can in turn provide training and support to teams of course TAs, and it has produced impressive instructional material for use in this process. Departmental administrators have sometimes lost faith, but reporting requirements have kept attention on the shared challenges and the demonstrable benefits of the enterprise.

Moving Forward in One Department

  • Brock MacDonald—University of Toronto

The Geography Department at this large university is now in the fourth year of an ambitious effort to refashion its approach to teaching writing in its discipline: a two-year departmental Writing Initiative followed by two years in the Writing Instruction for TAs project (WIT for short). The process began with a year-long needs assessment, examining the department’s existing practices in writing instruction, assignment design, and evaluation; in the second year, based on the best practices identified in the needs assessment, experimental interventions in various courses were attempted and their results documented; at the same time, departmental faculty undertook a major curriculum renewal, including the development of departmental learning outcomes. Then the department was selected to participate in the WIT project, now in its second year. Following Bean et al. (2005) and incorporating elements of longitudinal study throughout this project (and others happening at the same time) we have developed assessment measures based on analysis of student texts and behaviors (discourse and linguistic features, take-up of instruction, evidence of planning and revision), faculty texts and behaviors (assignments and rubrics, collaboration with writing instructors, allocation of time to writing instruction), and TA texts and behaviors (tutorial lesson plans, feedback on student texts, collaboration with faculty and writing instructors). This paper will present a detailed analysis of the data from several Geography courses, reporting on the results achieved over the past three years and linking them to the changes in assignments, instruction, and evaluation brought about by the departmental Writing Initiative and WIT.

  • Roger Graves—University of Alberta

Drawing on his experience as the historian of Canadian writing programs, this presenter will serve as respondent to the research reports from the other two institutions. His university, in another province, has been able to design and build a WAC program with the full support of the university administration and the English Department.


07 C—Individual Paper
Creating an Online Writing Center for an Online University

  • Renee Ramsey—Northcentral University

This presentation describes and evaluates the process of creating an online writing center to serve students in psychology, business, and education.

Many universities today have online writing centers to nurture and develop the disciplinary writing skills of their students, but Northcentral University is unique in that 100% of its programs are delivered online. Northcentral University, a private online university located in Prescott Valley, Arizona, focuses primarily on master's and doctoral education in three Schools: Business, Psychology, and Education. In part due to its 100% online delivery, Northcentral University is literally a global campus. The Writing Center, a comprehensive website, was created to provide instructional content across these disciplines as well as provide assistance for writing basic academic prose. This presentation will go online to show you how the site was created and directed towards this particular audience of learners, and also explore some of its interactive technology, such as Voicethreads. Another unique feature of this Writing Center (which gets about 6000 hits per month from a population of 8000) is a focus on helping faculty effectively evaluate the writing process, so the Center also functions as a faculty development resource. Finally, the use of an online tutoring service, Smarthinking, will be discussed and evaluated with relevant data and visuals.


06 F—Individual Paper
Supporting a Vertical Writing Model

  • Georgia Rhoades—Appalachian State University

The presenter’s WAC Program has created a faculty development structure in which composition and WID faculty support a vertical writing model in four required Gen Ed writing courses.

In fall 2009 Appalachian State University launched a new general education program with writing at its center. For several years, the writing component of gen ed requirements had been two required courses in composition taught in the English Department, the second called Introduction to Literature but taught as a composition course, plus other writing-designated courses scattered throughout the curriculum. In the new model, students are required to take an introductory course in composition and, after earning thirty hours, a second course called Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum. During the 2008-9 academic year, our WAC committee reviewed proposals from all major programs in the disciplines and approved junior-level WID courses; another general education committee approved major capstone courses with a writing requirement for all disciplines. This vertical writing model has called for major shifts in faculty development and assessment. In our presentation, we’ll focus on how non-tenure track WAC consultants and the WAC Program serve as the intersection between composition and WID and how we’re supporting faculty development through work with WID consultants. One aspect of our work is creating an atmosphere in which non-tenure track faculty and tenure track faculty share expertise as equal colleagues and the fields of composition studies and WID are able to engage in dialogue to enrich all parties. One goal is to develop a campus-wide vocabulary about the teaching of writing, which should strengthen writing instruction and benefit students and faculty.


08 C—Individual Paper
Bridging the Gap

  • Lynne Rhodes—University of South Carolina Aiken

Using Freshman Folders (a sampling of writing representing all sections of USCA’s composition program) and Writing Proficiency Portfolios (representing WAC), the presenter explores cross-disciplinary expectations for researched writing at her institution, notably the lack of significant gains in researched writing after FYC, concluding that partnerships must be established between FYC and WI instruction and that media/information-technology specialists must become more actively engaged in WI course design.

FYC expends considerable instructional time and effort on the research writing process: identifying and finding relevant and credible sources used in persuasive, documented papers. Reasonably, FYC instructors expect that skills and knowledge will be used beyond the FYC experience in upper-level disciplinary writing; however, FYC instructors have limited knowledge about varied disciplinary processes, genres, and academic discourses. Our assessments demonstrate many students do not transfer skills from FYC and do not produce effective researched writing. Lack of significant gains after FYC leads us to question the utility and effectiveness of the foundational coursework. How predictive and applicable are FYC foci on argument and researched writing for the demands of upper-level writing in the disciplines? What do students in biology, business, psychology, education, chemistry, nursing, history, fine arts, or mathematics write? Do students in these majors regularly compose arguments based on sources? What commonalities exist between FYC and content areas for documented writing? Motivated by recent changes in USCA’s Writing Intensive requirements (effective Fall 2010), as director of writing assessment at USCA, I explore gaps and lapses in transfer of knowledge between FYC and WID. I conclude that partnerships must be established between FYC and WI instruction and that media/information-technology specialists must become more actively engaged in WI course design.


05 G—Individual Paper
The Reading/Writing Connection

  • Lynne Rhodes—University of South Carolina Aiken

This presentation offers a snapshot of how teacher participation in local writing projects can influence and build on teachers’ professional development in literacy practices.

South Carolina is blessed with multiple Writing Projects that collectively impact classroom instruction in the state. NWP’s model of “teachers teaching teachers” makes sharing best practices an effective form of professional development. Many K-12 teachers are interested in how to link reading instruction with writing, and Teacher-Consultants across disciplines are well-positioned to model the use of writing strategies to support reading instruction. Building on the 2009 SI, the Aiken Writing Project is currently sponsoring three continuity efforts that support reading and writing connections at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. At the elementary school level, Aiken TCs at three district elementary schools have formed a partnership to share strategies for a writer’s workshop to complement reading instruction. Teachers from these three elementary schools are jointly developing activities that promote student authors and family write nights. At the middle school level, Aiken TCs at three district middle schools are developing and sharing integration units with resources that address cross-curricular standards. At the high school level, Aiken TCs at a district high school have initiated study groups to explore why and how to support deliberate teaching of reading skills through writing. This presentation offers a snapshot of how teacher participation in local writing projects can influence and build on teachers’ professional development in literacy practices.


02 E—Organized Panel
Snapshots of a Campus Writing Program: Networked Assessment

This is a presentation by the director and two coordinators in the University of Missouri's Campus Writing Program describing a distinctive assessment project.

WAC assessment typically attempts to prove value. Students either get “better” or “worse” within a given program’s structure, and the assessment will demonstrate one or the other. In this way, assessment demonstrates value internally to the program itself and to administrative bodies the program responds to. This methodology, however, has its limitations as it often studies writing moments in isolation of other related moments and activities. This presentation proposes the network as another method of internal assessment for WAC. Drawing upon a study currently in progress, presenters will speak about a networked method of assessment that does not demonstrate good or bad writing, but rather connects various areas of writing activity across the curriculum in order to develop an understanding of the campus’ writing as a whole.

Networked Assessment

  • Jeff Rice—University of Missouri

Speaker 1 will introduce the concept of network assessment. Network assessment draws upon contemporary WAC theory and practice and puts it into relationship with network theory. The basic premise of network theory is that, in order to understand the meaning of a given situation, moment, or activity, we need to trace the relationships among the entities that make up these areas. Traditionally, campus-wide assessment has not worked from the position of networks but has instead relied on the study of independent moments (the collection and analysis of student writing, surveys regarding student and faculty attitudes regarding writing, etc.). Speaker 1 will outline how our WAC program is incorporating the logic of networks into its internal assessment and what the implications of this work might be for ours and other programs’ assessment practices.

Snapshots Across One Longstanding WAC Program I

  • Catherine Chmidling —University of Missouri

Speaker 2 will address a specific Writing Program's attention to the present in its initiative to observe “concurrent snapshots” across its WAC program. This panelist will discuss three of the six areas that constitute the fundamental nature of this WAC program. The first will be an interdisciplinary survey of stated writing expectations in lower and upper division courses to establish faculty expectations. The second will be an evaluation of seating availability in unrestricted Writing Intensive (WI) courses to determine if our current WI offerings meet student needs. The third snapshot will be an examination of WI and non-WI sections of the same course to observe variations in student expectations and success.

Snapshots Across One Longstanding WAC Program II

  • Bonita Selting —University of Missouri

Speaker 3 will continue the description and analysis of our intended snapshot: subjects four, five, and six. Briefly, the fourth snapshot will be a qualitative analysis of student evaluations of WI courses to gain greater understanding of their perceptions of WI courses and their own writing. The fifth will be a portfolio assessment of student writing across disciplines at both lower and upper division course levels, to observe the current state of student writing in WI courses. Finally, the sixth snapshot will be a holistic evaluation of public writing (writing done for “real world” audiences) to observe student writing that goes beyond the classroom. This presentation, then, will produce a “photo album” of our program's projects, plans, and goals, and we hope it will add productive information to the conversation on cross-curricular writing program assessment.


07 A—Individual Paper
Measuring Writing Improvement in a Large-enrollment Social Science Course: Early Results from a Three-year Study

  • Brenda Rinard—University of California, Davis
  • Chris Thaiss—University of California, Davis

This presentation describes the process of incorporating writing assignments in a large-enrollment undergraduate sociology course at a Tier-One research university in order to fulfill the university’s “writing experience” requirement.

Helping faculty across disciplines incorporate student writing in large-enrollment undergraduate lecture courses is an ongoing challenge for Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) programs. Models for designing writing assignments for large courses exist, but replicable examples of systematically measured improvement in student writing and critical thinking in large-enrollment courses in the disciplines are still needed. This presentation will describe the first-year results of an ongoing study on improving student writing in large undergraduate courses across the curriculum. We will first present the data sources: pre- and post-course surveys, field notes and cultural artifacts from the creation of a scoring rubric, and sample student papers. Next, we will present our findings to date. Finally, we will discuss our future goal of implementing our research in other courses across disciplines at the university. After the presentation we will allow time for questions and discussion. Initial findings from the year-one data analysis suggest that the students overwhelmingly value writing assignments that ask for critical thinking and that meet discipline-specific criteria. Themes that emerged from the survey data reveal that students view the writing assignments as critical thinking tools, tools that encourage analysis and synthesis of the course concepts, lectures, and readings. Furthermore, the collaborative development of the rubric illustrates that when gatekeepers directly involved in designing and teaching a course create a rubric based on existing student papers rather than relying on an a priori rubric, more rigorous and replicable criteria emerge, criteria that are discipline- and course-specific while maintaining some “universal” characteristics of academic writing. This study has implications for the development and implementation of process-oriented writing instruction across disciplines, particularly in large enrollment social science courses.


05 F—Organized Panel
Professional Practices in the WAC Classroom: Journal Clubs and Poster Presentations

The panel will explore two communication practices that are little studied in WAC literature but are valued by professionals: journal clubs and poster presentations.

Researchers of professional communication have a long tradition of studying the communication practices of professionals to better understand how to teach undergraduates in WAC courses relevant genres and communication techniques (Beaufort, 1999; Dias et al., 1999; Odell & Goswami, 1986; Spilka, 1998; Winsor, 1996). Each of the panelists will report on a different communication practice that is little studied in WAC literature but is valued by professionals: contributing to a professional journal club and presenting a scientific poster. The panelists’ data are based on observation of and interviews with professionals and students, focusing on these five key questions: 1. What is the range of professional practices associated with this task? 2. What is the range of student practices associated with this task? 3. How can we describe the relationship between the professional approaches to the task and the student approaches to the task? 4. In what ways can the professional approach be translated into assignments for the WAC classroom? 5. Are there any innovative student practices that might change or improve the professional practice?

Adapting the Professional Journal Club for WAC

  • Leslie Ann Roldan—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The journal club plays an important role in the development of scientists, but is not often taught in the WAC classroom. The activity, however, offers many teaching opportunities for WAC because it involves the critical evaluation of scientific literature. Through a journal club, students improve their analytical and presentation skills, and learn about the processes of conducting and communicating about experiments. In an effort to tailor this professional activity for the WAC classroom, the panelist will present results from a preliminary field study of professional journal clubs in the biological sciences. The questions that frame the speaker’s study include the following: What journal club formats exist in professional biology, and what purposes do they serve? What are the social dynamics that give rise to a deeper, collective understanding of a research article? How do individuals prepare for a journal club meeting? The panelist, who teaches in WAC biology courses and participated in journal clubs while obtaining her doctorate in biology, will use her findings to offer practical suggestions for WAC instructors who wish to adapt this professional activity for their classrooms.

The Professional Poster Session and Its Simulation in Undergraduate Settings

  • Jane Kokernak—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The undergraduate poster session, which integrates writing, graphic design, and oral communication, is often taught in WAC courses in ways that aim to simulate professional poster sessions: students draft and revise posters, rehearse a summary or abstract of their research and present their work among peers at an event orchestrated by an instructor or department. Parallels between the professional and undergraduate poster session abound, but important differences may exist as well. For example, although a WAC-designed poster session aims to help students become familiar with the social and rhetorical dimensions of “doing science,” the students operate among teachers and fellow students, who might only approximate professional mentors and peers. To examine the conventions of the professional poster session and consider its relevance to the student analogue, the panelist will report on interviews with and surveys of four graduate student TAs in the fields of mechanical engineering and materials science about their experiences as poster presenters at conferences: What opportunities did they perceive in the sessions? What was the role of the poster in the progress of their research? What are the genre’s pitfalls and challenges? Using data gathered through observations, the panelist will also describe similarities and differences between conference poster sessions and student poster events, suggesting how each practice could inform the other.


04 C—Individual Paper
"Salam Aleikum! You'd Like Some Help with Your Essay?"

  • Lynne Ronesi—American University of Sharjah

This presentation highlights the perceptions of writing tutors at an English-medium university in the UAE regarding the relationship between their English writing ability and their identities as bilingual Arabs.

This presentation reports on some of the findings of a study undertaken at the American University at Sharjah, an English-medium university in the UAE, to investigate how Writing Center tutors and Writing Fellows interpret their English writing ability in terms of their identities as bilingual Arabs. This research examines the students’ perceptions, in part, through analysis of their written response to an assignment entitled “Who am I as a writer in English?” which was required during their tutor training class. Interviews in subsequent semesters expanded themes identified in the assignment. This study illuminates the discursive challenges of negotiating between Arabic and English; more broadly, it also provides insight into the perceptions of our bilingual tutors of English--not only those tutors abroad supporting writing at English-medium universities, but also those bilingual tutors working at North American institutions.


08 D—Individual Paper
From Transfer to Negotiation: Examining the Uses and Limitations of the Transfer Metaphor

  • Kennie Rose—University of Louisville

Building on the work of Wardle and actor-oriented transfer theorists, the presenter claims the ‘transfer’ metaphor distracts attention from how students transform their skills as they move between contexts and instead recommends adopting the metaphor of negotiation, which allows scholars to observe how students dynamically shape their knowledge to meet the demands of new tasks.

Over the past twenty years, composition scholars have become increasingly interested in how a student's writing skills develop over the course of his/her education. In particular, they want to know how to most effectively prepare students for the variety of writing tasks they will encounter throughout the curriculum. To answer these questions, many researchers have turned to transfer studies, a field of educational psychology that Ference Marton describes as focusing on “how what is learned in one situation affects or influences what the learner is capable of doing in another situation.” The 2007 Fall/Winter issue of the WPA Journal was devoted entirely to the subject, and several scholars, such as Elizabeth Wardle and David Smit, have argued for sweeping curricular reforms based partially on studies that utilize this theoretical framework. However, despite this growing interest in transfer research, little attention has been paid to the uses and limitations of the “transfer” metaphor for examining the issues relevant to composition studies. This essay argues “transfer” is not the most productive metaphor for examining how students apply what they learn in a writing classroom to future contexts. Building on the work of Wardle and actor-oriented transfer theorists, I claim the “transfer” metaphor distracts attention from how students transform their skills as they move between situations. Instead, I recommend adopting the metaphor of negotiation, which allows scholars to observe how students dynamically shape their knowledge to meet the demands of new tasks.


03 C—Individual Paper
Collaboration Website for Instructors of Upper Level Communication-intensive Mathematics Classes

  • Susan Ruff—Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Violeta Ivanova—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Presentation of a website designed to support collaboration among mathematics instructors who are teaching upper level communication-intensive math classes at M.I.T.

The M.I.T. math department offers over ten communication-intensive courses, many of which are offered by a different instructor each semester. To engage and support this community of instructors and to facilitate the archiving of course materials and the gleaning of “good practices” for these courses, a collaboration developed between a group of current and recent math instructors associated with communication-intensive courses in mathematics, a lecturer from M.I.T.'s Writing Across the Curriculum, and advisors from M.I.T.'s Office of Educational Innovation and Technology. Together, this group designed an online community: a space where instructors share materials and actively discuss teaching ideas. The site was developed using Wordpress and has been live since the beginning of the 2009 fall term. The site now contains information about ways to structure communication-intensive math courses, advice on teaching mathematical writing, advice on developing students' presentation skills, advice for addressing common issues that arise in communication-intensive math courses, and an archive of several years' worth of course materials. In addition, the site offers a venue for discussion: the long-term vision is that discussion will be used to refine the content so that over the years a collection of best practices will develop. We will show examples of materials and discussions from the site. This online space is extremely flexible and extensible. In particular, it can serve as a model for any other group of instructors wishing to share materials, discuss strategies, and open lines of communication both while teaching a course and for posterity.


01 B—Organized Panel
WAC as Platform for Integrated Learning

At Carleton College, WAC pedagogy has proven fundamental to the establishment of a new curriculum based on integrative approaches to learning.

Carleton College is in the process of implementing a new curriculum, the first such general overhaul in more than a generation. As at other institutions, Carleton’s new curriculum moves away from the traditional, disciplinary silos in favor of more integrated approaches. In particular, students must complete courses that emphasize humanistic inquiry, literary /artistic analysis, artistic expression, natural science, formal or statistical reasoning, and social inquiry. Far from setting the College on a new course, this shift reflects a long standing, WAC-led trend toward an integrated learning model. We argue that the College’s WAC history has laid the foundation for newer initiatives in Quantitative Reasoning (QR), interdisciplinary science, visual learning, and campus diversity, serving as a model and means for faculty development built on assessment of student work in community. Using our QR initiative as a case study, Dr. Grawe will discuss how our WAC program has become instrumental in developing and implementing other cross-curricular initiatives. Looking ahead, Dr. Rutz will present how our WAC culture is informing professional development, implementation, and assessment of many aspects of the new integrated curriculum. Because all is not sweetness and light, we will also present some of the obstacles to serenity and invite advice and suggestions from participants. We will be interested in responses to the curriculum design and our plans to support faculty in delivering the curriculum. We plan to reserve at least 20 minutes of the one-hour session for this discussion.

WAC as a Model and Partner for Integrated Learning Initiatives

  • Nathan Grawe—Carleton College

As Director of Carleton’s Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge (QuIRK) initiative, Dr. Grawe will share how the College’s experience with WAC in general and with writing portfolio assessment in particular led the QR working group to situate its understanding of quantitative literacy in the context of argument. Using examples from the popular press and an interactive examination of student work samples, he will unpack that conception and identify the role of our WAC history in the initiative’s development. He will share key components of the QuIRK program, highlighting the way in which the initiative intentionally modeled itself after and coordinated with the WAC program. Grawe will argue that this decision to knit itself together with the WAC program explains QuIRK’s ability to expand in five years from a small, grass-roots working group into a campus-wide initiative involving 65% of all faculty (including over 50% of those in the arts, literature, and humanities) that has attracted over one million dollars in grants and donor support. As Associate Dean of the College, Dr. Grawe will then speak to how QuIRK’s success has led other integrated learning initiatives to pursue a similar path, situating the WAC program at the center. These initiatives cover topics as diverse as visuality, integrated sciences, academic & civic engagement, and pedagogical reform to support campus diversity. In these nascent efforts, WAC serves as both a model and a synergistic partner.

Working it Out: Faculty Teaching One Another Toward a New Curriculum

  • Carol Rutz—Carleton College

Carol Rutz, Carleton’s Writing Program Director, will remind participants that WAC, since its beginnings in the 1970s, has been associated with what we now call faculty development. If writing instruction is to be dispersed, then so-called content instructors need to teach students how to write the assignments that lead to or demonstrate learning. As Dr. Grawe observes, part of the WAC’s success at Carleton in recent years has been due to faculty development activities centered on assessment of student work. In particular, portfolio assessment for a graduation requirement has proven invaluable for giving faculty 1) experience reading student work they have not personally assigned; 2) a collegial context for discussing the merits and weaknesses of student work; 3) inspiration for their own teaching as they converse with colleagues and borrow ideas for assignments and course designs; and 4) a method of norming expectations for students at the end of the sophomore year (when the portfolios are collected). In addition, portfolios provide a research archive for investigations unimagined when portfolio assessment was instituted in 2001. Sampling of portfolios has allowed faculty to experiment with a rubric to assess quantitative reasoning—part of the inventive QuIRK effort led by Dr. Grawe and colleagues. Equally important, the apparatus that supports portfolio assessment has been adapted by QuIRK and other campus initiatives, including visuality and interdisciplinary science, among others. Dr. Rutz will describe the core elements of a faculty development curriculum and some of the innovative variations that will support implementation of the new undergraduate curriculum.


10 F—Individual Paper
Teaching Graduate WAC: A Practitioner's Experience

  • Enrico Sassi—North Dakota State University

Tasked with teaching a new graduate multidisciplinary writing course, the presenter used his practical experience as an editor, writer, and consultant to develop a course in which students do extensive independent work, grammar is taught as an art, and the invented field of Legology serves as academic writing practice.

As a new assistant writing center director, I was tasked with developing a multidisciplinary academic writing course for all graduate students at my university, from master’s candidates in agriculture investigating wheat fungi, to communications PhDs studying relational dialectics, to environmental scientists experimenting with nano-particles. My attempts at teaching writing as I did to undergraduates failed. Most students are accomplished in their fields; they have discipline-specific writing interests and a wide range of writing needs: some don’t write scientifically, others don’t write cohesively, some are too verbose, others have basic ESL issues, grammar ticks, writing blocks, an inability to describe complex sequences, etc. And having come far in academia, they learned to compensate for writing deficiencies, which adds a new psychological element to teaching writing. Shared assignments did not work well. Even the standard literature review ran into such idiosyncratic (discipline-syncratic) differences that I dropped it. Instead, I used my experience as program developer, editor, translator, and writing consultant to re-shape the course. Now, students research their discipline as writers and determine their major writing assignment; one third of course time is individual conferencing, which ranges from discussing grammar, to planning publications, to dealing with dissertation advisors. Students use the writing center for individual grammar work; the classroom is for studying the art and effect of grammar. Finally, students practice standard forms (literature reviews, abstracts, etc.) in the imagined field of Lego studies, a practice they can translate to, and apply in, their own fields.


09 I—Organized Panel
A Writing Center Greenhouse: Transplanting Expertise Across the Curriculum

  • Kurt Schick—James Madison University
  • Mark Thomas—James Madison University
  • Laura Schubert—James Madison University
  • Jared Featherstone—James Madison University
  • Karen McDonnell—James Madison University
  • Christina Wulf—James Madison University

Writing centers harvest rich but typically underused knowledge about college-level writing. This panel describes how our writing center has begun to systematically cultivate and transplant expertise across our campus.

Stephen North (1982) advocated pedagogical neutrality for the writing center by warning writing tutors never to interfere in the grading process. In practice, we extended this idea so far that we rarely dare to contravene the authority of classroom faculty. Thus, writing centers have proceeded timidly with leveraging the very expertise that North (1984) elsewhere urged for us to use to enhance classroom teaching. Our University Writing Center has begun to challenge this neutral stance, stepping forth unabashedly from the shadows to enlighten classroom teaching across campus. Our professional and graduate writing consultants, alongside several peer tutors, collected and cataloged expertise through 2,000 writing consultations with writers from over 30 different academic departments. We recorded how we observed writers struggling, what characterized seemingly effective and ineffective assignments, what excited students about writing, and what strategies best fit which kinds of writing conditions. We then presented our results to 80 faculty members across disciplines, solicited their feedback, and thus opened the most effective WAC/WID feedback loop our university has ever seen. By opening these lines of communication, our Writing Center and its faculty now enjoy unprecedented credibility. Classroom faculty who want to teach writing effectively increasingly rely on us as technical consultants for designing assignments and activities to enhance writing. We now reach not only the students who visit our center, but every student whose professor works with us.


10 G—Individual Paper
What We Teach, What We Measure: The Case of WAC in “Content Based” Classes

  • Jason Schneiderman—Borough of Manhattan Community College
  • Christa Baiada—Borough of Manhattan Community College

This paper will offer a proposal on how to revise learning outcomes in order to successfully integrate WAC pedagogy into classes traditionally assessed through multiple choice tests.

When faculty integrate WAC pedagogy into their classrooms, do they change their expectations for students? Do we expect WAC pedagogy to transform the content of classes, or simply the way that content is learned? At the Borough of Manhattan Community College, students are required to take a Writing Intensive (WI) course in order to graduate. WI courses must have at least 10 pages of graded formal writing, and this writing must account for no less than 20% of the grade. There is a huge incentive for departments to encourage their faculty to offer WI courses, but as long as there is no change in what students are expected to learn, the faculty often find this new writing component an unwelcome and useless imposition. While WAC pedagogy insists that all material can be usefully learned through writing, I would add that we must alter our evaluations and assessment of students if we are to see and measure a positive impact from WAC integration. It is the contention of this paper that Writing Across the Curriculum can only be applied to “right answer” classes if we also alter the learning outcomes--if we look past “right answers” to their conceptual bases. I will look closely at a few math class syllabi, and contemplate how the learning outcomes of the professor must be revised in order to successfully integrate WAC Pedagogy.


01 G—Organized Panel
Using Blogging to “Place” Students within Content Areas

Using blogging technologies helps “situate” students within academia, increasing critical thinking, student engagement, and the motivation to write in all disciplines.

Using Blogging to “Place” Students within the American Classroom

  • Katherine Schutte—Western Illinois University/Moline High School

In many ways, 21st century students feel displaced in their 19th century classrooms because their classes often don't contain the types of experiences students spend the rest of their day submerged in. Some argue that the least amount of student learning exists during the hours students are at school because they are not placed within settings that match the ways in which they learn best--using technology. In many secondary schools, students are not writing much in their content classes, to their detriment. The writing they do is often writing to demonstrate knowledge, which they find to be of little relevance to themselves other than to earn a grade. However, writing to learn opportunities develop student understanding within the content areas and are not as difficult to implement as many teachers believe. Blogging is one method of writing to learn that places students in a relevant and authentic composition situation, while at the same time encouraging content area teachers to incorporate more writing in their classrooms. Student blogging in the content areas can increase student learning and engagement in high school courses, expanding their critical thinking skills within the all-too-often standardized reality of No Child Left Behind. Through online writing, students feel their voices are relevant, their audience authentic, and their medium familiar. They are therefore “placed” and can better utilize opportunities for writing across the curriculum and collaborative writing.


04 I—Organized Panel
Writing Fellows Remix: The TRAC (Technology, Research, and Communication) Writing Fellows Program at Lehigh University

This panel will present the results of the pilot run of the TRAC (Technology, Research, and Communication) Writing Fellows Program at Lehigh University.

In 2008, Lehigh University launched a pilot of the TRAC (Technology, Research, and Communication) Writing Fellows Program in an effort to explore new possibilities for the traditionally successful peer tutoring model of improving student writing across the disciplines. TRAC Fellows do the work of conventional writing fellows, but the new program has tested an innovative variation of this approach by combining an expanded vision of the academic writing process--one that explicitly includes library and database research, and new technologies and forms of digital communication--with a proactive focus on faculty development. To this end, fellows are trained in a 4-credit course team-taught by the Coordinator of WAC, the Director of Faculty Development, librarians, and instructional technologists. They are then invited to work in partnership with this team of professionals, their colleagues, and faculty toward the goal of improving student writing across the disciplines. The program that has emerged from the pilot is one in which the real engine of innovation and progress is the relationships forged among all the program’s participants in advancing the interests of the entire campus community through fostering a culture of writing, in the richest sense, at Lehigh University. Our presentation will focus on results from the pilot program in 2008-09, with the addition of results in the fall 2009 semester. The five presenters will discuss program from the perspective of their own areas of specialization.

The TRAC Writing Fellows Program and Writing Across the Curriculum

  • Gregory Skutches—Lehigh University

As Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum, I’ll direct my part of the presentation to how Lehigh’s decision in 2006 to house the new WAC program within Faculty Development, which in turn is located organizationally within Library and Technology Services (LTS), not only allowed me to benefit from the excellent campus-wide reputation of Faculty Development and LTS--and the strong working relationship both have with faculty--but also to forge mutually beneficial working relationships with other LTS personnel such as librarians, instructional technologists, and the Director of Faculty Development, all professionals who are dedicated to supporting innovative practices of teaching and learning. As plans for a new writing fellows program were conceived, connections between writing instruction and the work of LTS personnel were the key in developing the innovative features of the new TRAC Writing Fellows initiative.

Faculty Development and the TRAC Writing Fellows Program

  • Gregory Reihman—Lehigh University

Prior to the establishment of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program, the Director of Faculty Development had been actively seeking opportunities to include undergraduate students in Faculty Development activities and programming. The arrival of the new Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum, with his knowledge of writing fellows programs, initiated a fruitful dialogue about the possibilities of combining the two efforts. The decision to join the team of instructors who taught the TRAC Writing Fellows Seminar, which prepares new fellows for their work as peer tutors attached to specific courses across the curriculum, was the key to establishing a systemic and mutually beneficial connection between the two programs. The relationship between the TRAC Fellows--and the training they received in the seminar combined with their undergraduate student perspective of writing assignments and the mysteries of the academic writing process--and the faculty with whom they collaborated yielded surprising results from a faculty development perspective. The Director of Faculty Development will focus his presentation on a discussion of these results.

The TRAC Writing Fellows Program and Information Literacy

  • Tina Hertel—Lehigh University

The Lehigh Librarians were involved in establishing a robust information literacy initiative at the time when the new Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum arrived on campus to develop his new program within Library and Technology Services (LTS). A source of valuable insight about the writing process as it related to information literacy, the WAC Coordinator was invited to join the committee charged with advancing information literacy at Lehigh. This work revealed the strong connections between information literacy and the writing fellows concept. Eventually librarians were invited to join the teaching team of the TRAC Seminar. The striking similarities between library consultations with students and the work of peer writing tutors revealed a significant opportunity for the librarians in the TRAC Writing fellows program. The librarian from the TRAC Seminar teaching team will discuss the results of the pilot run of the TRAC Program as they have impacted the librarians’ information literacy initiative.

The TRAC Writing Fellows Program and Instructional Technology

  • Jason Slipp—Lehigh University

The establishment of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program within Library and Technology Services made obvious the connections among writing, information literacy, and the work of the instructional technologists. The Coordinator of WAC developed a relationship with the IT team that was similar to the one initiated with the librarians. The inclusion of members of the instructional technology team on the TRAC seminar teaching team cemented a relationship that advanced the interests of both initiatives. The instructional technologist who joined the TRAC Seminar teaching team will discuss the results of the pilot run of the TRAC Program as they have impacted the efforts of instructional technologists at Lehigh.

A Former Fellow Reflects on TRAC Writing Fellow Experience

  • Courtney Jackson—St. Paul's School

One thing is clear about the TRAC Writing Fellows program: the people who benefit most from it are the students who become TRAC Fellows. The fifth member of our panel will be a student who became a fellow in the pilot program and who has since graduated and become a teacher. This part of the panel presentation will be the strongest in articulating the unique features of the TRAC Program and how they work in courses across the curriculum at Lehigh.


01 E—Organized Panel
“Naked Language”: Writing to Advance the Disciplines, a New Rhetoric

  • Robert Smart—Quinnipiac University
  • Suzanne Hudd—Quinnipiac University
  • Andrew Delohery—Quinnipiac University
  • Glenda Pritchett—Quinnipiac University
  • Mark Hoffman—Quinnipiac University

The panel presents writing assignments crafted by colleagues in the content areas to bolster critical thinking and deeper disciplinary understanding, along with data gathered at their home institution and other outside schools, to suggest that engaging disciplinary learning in this more active, interrogative manner leads to a better, fuller understanding on the part of students.

Most of our colleagues in the majors will admit that much of the disciplinary writing they receive from students in their upper level classes tends to be formulaic and mechanical, focused mostly on representing research and experimentation rather than pushing disciplinary forms and rhetorics to reflect critical or new thinking. Appreciating the value of disciplinary language and formats in the construction of disciplinary knowledge is an important expectation of all of us who teach majors. Beyond that point, however, the writing we get often seems repetitious, rote, and does not fairly represent our students’ best thinking in the discipline. As Jonathan Monroe, an early innovator in WID/WAC pedagogy, has observed, “Unless writing is fully integrated into the intellectually stimulating work that is articulated in higher education through the disciplines, students will not do their best writing and instructors will not be reading and responding to writing they understand to be an integral part of their higher educational mission” (3). We will present data from our campus writing program, as well as data from research outside our institution which offer insights into how to invite students to integrate thinking and writing in more meaningful ways. We will present first on our training program, which encourages faculty to first consider the kind of thinking they would like their students to do, and to use these insights to guide the written work they assign. We then discuss teaching students knowledge creation early on, especially in our first year writing program, and then consider how the expectations of faculty in terms of the writing and thinking skills they expect foundational courses to provide, and the role--their “value added”--that the disciplines offer in the writing process. This third point will feature comparison data with other institutions.


09 B—Individual Paper
Devils in the Details: A Tale of Two Founding WAC Documents

  • Raymond Smith—Indiana University

The founding documents describing “writing intensive” courses at two large research universities, including the ultimate (and very different) shapes of those courses, are examined.

I have been present at the founding of one WAC program at a large research university, and inherited another program at a similar university in its tenth year. Both well-known programs arose from a grass-roots faculty desire to improve students’ thinking and writing, and yet, even though the requirements for “writing-intensive” courses at University B were actually derived from the requirements at University A, the writing intensive courses at these two universities took very different shapes. Though no doubt administrative, curricular, and fiscal arrangements differed at the two institutions, nevertheless, the most important differences in the incarnations of the writing intensive requirements seem to have sprung from differences in the educational epistemologies implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) revealed in the operating documents. What is disciplinary literacy and is it desirable? What are the limits of the efficacy of composition courses? What were the effects of Chickering and Perry, then much in vogue, upon the ethos of the documents? In this presentation, I will first trace the provenance of the writing intensive requirements from University A to University B; then we will move to a close comparative reading--by all in attendance--of the requirements from both schools. This session should be of interest to faculty and administrators interested in creating WAC programs or emending the cornerstone documents of already-existing programs.


08 B—Organized Panel
Writing and Writing-to-Learn in the STEM Disciplines: A National Collaborative Project

The panel will describe a new national collaborative project on learning in the STEM disciplines, with writing strategies and assignments at the heart of the project, which will involve 50 or more research institutions.

This panel will describe a new national collaborative project on learning in the STEM disciplines (sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics), with writing at the conceptual heart of the plan. Organized by the Reinvention Center, a consortium of more than 70 research universities, this project, which is expecting funding from the National Science Foundation, has begun with planning, by a team of writing researchers and STEM faculty, of a two-stage model of collaborative idea-generation and dissemination. The first phase will be a two-day workshop, scheduled for fall 2010, to which will be invited representatives from approximately fifty colleges and universities. This workshop, led by the project team, will review the state of knowledge of methods of promoting scientific learning in undergraduate programs, with writing-based methods prominently featured. The representatives to the workshop will be expected to contribute teaching practices and studies of learning in STEM fields that will lead to a state-of-the-art database of resources. The currently-envisioned second phase of the project will be dissemination of this knowledge and of these tools through, for example, an interactive website and presentations at conferences and on campuses. In this session, three panelists will give short (10-minutes each) talks on background and plans for the project, but we will use the remaining time to (1) draw from attendees their ideas for making this project useful for their WAC/WID programs and STEM colleagues and (2) help them conceptualize contributions that they and colleagues might make to the ongoing collaboration. We hope to attract to this panel WAC/WID directors and the STEM faculty present at the conference potentially interested in being part of this work, as well as benefiting from it.

Two-Stage Plan of the Writing in the STEM Disciplines Project

  • Chris Thaiss—University of California, Davis

This 10-minute presentation will cover the two planned phases of the collaborative project: the two-day workshop in Fall 2010 and the dissemination phase. The two-day workshop will feature invited contributors (WAC directors, writing researchers, STEM faculty with good ideas for improving undergraduate learning in these fields) who will hear presentations on the current state-of-the-art of teaching practice in undergraduate science education and then work in teams on building a database of research studies and successful teaching practices. Goals of the workshop will be to create (1) an ongoing network of researchers and teachers who will continue this work and (2) a “toolkit” of proven teaching practices adaptable by STEM faculty across the country (and around the world). The dissemination phase will be elaborated during and after the workshop, but at present plans for this phase include such features as a project website (facilitated by the Reinvention Center) and a system of consultants for visits to campuses and presentations at conferences. The presenter will then tell attendees how to become a part of the developing project and how to make their ideas known to the project development team.

Background of the Writing in the STEM Disciplines Project

  • Marie Paretti—Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In this 10-minute talk, the presenter will describe the genesis of this national project in (1) the ongoing interest by numerous stakeholders in accountability of undergraduate academic programs, (2) the need, as expressed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), to increase the number of well-prepared scientists and engineers in U.S. universities, and (3) the desire also expressed by NSF, to capture and disseminate in a systematic way the advances in writing-to-learn pedagogy as these have been applied to and adapted for STEM disciplines. Although there have been a number of successful WAC/WID projects in STEM curricula at U.S. institutions, most of these efforts have not been either assessed systematically or compiled in a way that can be easily disseminated or accessed. Therefore this project has been conceived to address these needs and achieve a short list of objectives identified by the project team assembled by the Reinvention Center. Among these objectives: to compile a review of the literature on writing-to-learn in STEM disciplines, with studies and practice essays rated along a continuum from the “experimentally proven” to “shows potential”; to build an accessible database of teaching practices and assessment tools that can be adapted by faculty and graduate student teachers at diverse institutions; to build a dissemination network and methodology. Because WAC programs are ideally situated in hundreds of U.S. institutions to facilitate the compilation of sought data and disseminate it locally, establishing a collaboration between WAC program leaders and STEM departments across institutions was seen by the project team as a way to achieve these objectives.

Sample Collaboration between Writing Faculty and STEM Faculty: Writing in Engineering at Virginia Tech

  • Lisa McNair—Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

By describing (10 minutes) the ongoing co-operation between the Engineering faculties of Virginia Tech and the Department of Engineering Education (one of two such programs in the U.S.), this presenter will model for the attendees one type of collaboration that will be featured in the two-day workshop as part of the new national project and that will be encouraged among those to be invited to the workshop. The presenter will give examples of (1) teaching strategies and assignments typical of the Engineering curriculum in the University including multi-media and capstone projects, and (2) ways in which the Engineering faculties co-operate with the Department of Engineering Education in faculty development and dissemination activities to make these successful practices a regular part of the undergraduate curriculum. Because assessment of the success of developed techniques is an important part of the mission of the new national project (and of the Reinvention Center), how techniques are assessed and publicized in order to achieve faculty “buy in” will be discussed.


07 E—Organized Panel
Rubrics Across the Curriculum: The Results of A Summer Workshop

  • Stephanie Thomson—Ferris State University
  • Olukemi Fadayomi—Ferris State University
  • Lucy Ngoh—Ferris State University

A panel of faculty from varied disciplines at Ferris State University shares the results of a summer WAC workshop that focused on revising rubrics. This presentation will include reports of experiences and examples of student work resulting from the changes made.

A recent Writing Across the Curriculum summer seminar at Ferris State University involved faculty who already used writing in their classrooms. The faculty, with varied disciplinary backgrounds, from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Construction Management, Pharmacy, and Surveying Engineering worked to improve our rubrics and assignments as a means of reducing instructor and student angst at students’ written products. As a panel, we will share the results of our workshops, focusing on the rubrics we revised, reports of our experiences, and examples of student works resulting from the changes we made.


06 G—Individual Paper
Conventional Wisdom

  • Jamie Thornton—Kaplan University

Using a multi-modal method (with the simple name of “conventional wisdom”) can help students grasp how to clearly and effectively express themselves in the academic world of written essays.

First-year students are constantly bombarded with new words, thoughts, and actions. Reliance on what others say quickly becomes enmeshed into their vernacular--and into their very being. Additionally, these “patterns” creep into the various forms of writing they present to us. One way to expose themselves--to themselves--is to offer a kind of out-of-pattern unit which I call “conventional wisdom.” This unit is one that I usually present before Thanksgiving or right before spring break (when teaching seems especially difficult). In overview form, here are the three steps I use. First, by introducing an idea that is usually not ever considered (except to tell the student that the word usage is “wrong” or “awkward” in marginal notation), I find that the students are passively willing to listen. Then, by following up with examples of conventional wisdom (first through a definition session, then “sample” movie that I have created), the student begins to see a kind of pattern of how ideas might not be totally acceptable to use in their essays. Finally, the students present their conventional wisdom through various forms of visual rhetorical presentations (such as use of films made by the student, power points, or simply oral presentations). This allows them to internalize just what is meant by the seemingly ambiguous term of “conventional wisdom.” The results, I have found, can range from “good” to “outstanding” in terms of how the writing of the final essays improves. The student knows not to include such things as “that type of phraseology” into the more formal academically-accepted essay--and, more importantly--why it is not accepted.


06 H—Individual Paper
Writing History in Connected Courses

  • Kathryn Tomasek—Wheaton College

This presentation assesses the History Engine as a tool for helping students develop and deploy contextualized knowledges.

In connected courses at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, students inquire into similar topics from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Teaching three courses that were part of three separate connections in a single semester offered a discrete sample in which to observe the effects of using the History Engine to teach principles of historical writing. An online collaborative tool that is hosted by the University of Richmond, the History Engine consists of episodes--short, screen-sized essays of approximately 300 to 600 words--based on a primary source and contextualized with one or two secondary sources. At the beginning of the semester, students wrote short essays focused on their observations about historical writing after having reviewed ten to fifteen History Engine episodes. Twice during the semester, the students went through the process of research, writing, peer editing in pairs, and anonymous peer review before submitting episodes for publication. The instructor guided students through establishing criteria for application by review boards, modeling how to articulate strengths of individual episodes and offer authors suggestions for building on those strengths in revision for publication. At the end of the semester, students wrote reflective essays in which they discussed their learning about the conventions of historical writing. The paper assesses the History Engine as tool for helping students develop and deploy the types of contextualized knowledges described by such specialists in writing instruction as Cheryl Geisler and Anne Beaufort.


08 A—Organized Panel
Is There Life After WPA? The (Still) WACky World of the Recovering Administrator

Three former directors of WAC/WID programs describe how their teaching and/or research methods have changed now that they are no longer administrators.

So just what does the WAC retirement home look like for ex-WPAs? This panel features three former WPAs whose WAC/WID programs achieved national prominence and whose former roles in those programs have fostered exciting new interdisciplinary liaisons. Speaker #1 describes the new teaching and research opportunities open to him now, focusing on a graduate seminar that produced both in a special journal issue featuring the very graduate students he was teaching. Speaker #2 describes a locally-funded qualitative literacy study she is undertaking with student-athletes at her institution. Speaker #3 describes her role in a five-year, NSF-funded interdisciplinary project centered on mathematics in the life sciences. All three speakers comment on the advantages of the new and different foci their research has taken now that they no longer administer WAC/WID programs.

The More Things Change, the More (Some) Things Stay the Same: A Recovering Administrator Discovers a New Subject Position for Teaching and Research

  • Bill Condon—Washington State University

Why would anyone stop being a WPA? WPAs enjoy terrific opportunities to innovate, to develop programs, to engage in faculty development, and to mentor emergent teachers. Still, WPAs suffer constraints. They teach less, and often their teaching is limited to program needs such as a graduate seminar focused on composition pedagogy. And if the WPA wants to survive the tenure and promotion process, his research agenda consists of problems his program needs to solve or evaluations of initiatives his program has mounted. As a plain old English professor, these constraints go away. Teaching more means teaching a greater variety of courses and spending time with students. One result, in my own case, has been a special issue of Assessing Writing, featuring articles from students in my graduate seminar on assessment. And freedom from administrative duties has a similarly salutary effect on research: once I learned how to set my own research agenda I found that my subject position outside the writing program created opportunities to research such topics as WAC theory and the effectiveness of faculty development--topics that are not new to my agenda, but which take shape differently post-WPA. My subject position as an independent researcher is a key to their success. The change in roles creates a range of new possibilities, new opportunities to investigate WAC from a new subject position, and with lower stakes. Perhaps recovering WPAs have the greatest opportunities to push knowledge in our field forward.

The Literate Lives of Athletes, or How A(nother) Former WAC/WID WPA Found New Possibilities for Scholarship

  • Martha Townsend—University of Missouri

The unlikeliest of sports commentators, this former WAC/WID WPA and newly full-time English professor found herself one year ago pitching an untried idea to the Athletic Director of her Division I Intercollegiate Athletic Department: a study to discern the characteristics that led to a 100% graduation rate for her university’s 2008-09 championship football team’s senior players. One year and dozens of videotaped interviews later, she is trying to make sense of some 500 pages of transcribed commentary from players, coaches, faculty, administrators, and community members. This presentation focuses on one subset of that data, the “literacy component” of the project: student-athletes’ selection of and performance in writing-intensive (WI) courses; grade patterns in WI courses; whether “clustering” (the controversial but common phenomenon of placing busy athletes in “easy” courses) was a factor in WI courses; player involvement in community literacy projects; and players’ commentary on what they read and write outside of class. Given the graduation rate of this cohort, one senior faculty member, an advisor to many of the players, suggested the researcher is asking the wrong question. Instead, he argues, the question should be, “How did these highly qualified student-scholars manage to play competitive Division I football so well?” Admittedly, Speaker #2’s interdisciplinary contacts from her WPA days facilitated this research project’s development, but like Speakers #1 & #3 she, too, is arguably in a better position to undertake this work as a former WPA. She will speculate on the value of similar research projects for other institutions, particularly with regard to their usefulness to ongoing WAC/WID efforts.

Bring on the Third Culture: A Multi-Million Dollar NSF Grant Includes a Former WAC/WID WPA

  • Martha Patton—University of Missouri

A half century ago, C. P. Snow lamented that scientists and humanists are stuck in “two cultures” and called for the building of a “third culture.” Perhaps one of the most constructive movements toward building this “third culture” is the WAC/WID movement, partly because WAC/WID administrators regularly foster interdisciplinary conversations. Needed, though, is not just interdisciplinary conversation but joint problem solving and teaching. Arguably, former WPAs may be uniquely positioned to extend conversations that had only begun while they were WPAs. In this presentation, Speaker #3 describes what followed after she and a half dozen mathematicians and life scientists received this message: “I am happy to inform you that I will recommend your proposal PRISM: Mathematics in Life Sciences (DMS-0928053) for funding at the requested level of $2,274,218.” Much of what needed to be done to make the grant a reality still needed to be figured out. After scrambling to recruit two-dozen very smart students and working out a weekly pro-seminar, the faculty continued to meet regularly to plan other joint teaching and research projects. This presentation informally evaluates the on-the-spot dialogue, questions, and occasional conflicts that show “third culture” in the making as she, the mathematicians, and several biologists join their students in working through each other’s projects, for example, replicating the Delbruck-Luria experiment, analyzing Poisson distributions and pulling apart Darwin’s sub-arguments. Although Speaker #3’s involvement traces to relationships established when she was affiliated with a WAC/WID program, arguably she is better positioned to contribute to the third culture dialogue as a former WPA than she would be as a practicing WPA.


05 A—Organized panel
Writing to Learn On Emerging Frontiers: Fresh Perspectives for 21st Century WAC Programs

Panelists focus on an area of their own unique backgrounds to examine some of the most current trends in WAC studies, all revolving around the pedagogical pillar of writing-to-learn.

Fresh eyes add fresh perspectives for the 21st century. This panel examines some of the most current trends in WAC studies, all revolving around the pedagogical pillar of writing-to-learn. Each panelist focuses on an area of his or her own unique background, examining a portion of the vast array of emerging frontiers in WAC: a survey of useful new media in WAC programs and a look at bridging the silent gap between Education and English curriculums. Panelists will invite the audience to identify and approach frontiers in their own areas of interest.

A Call to Develop New Media Connections in WAC Programs

  • Eric Dragseth—University of Missouri

Because institutions are by nature fixed and established, New Media as a means of enhancing learning has been slow to be accepted in higher education. But, learning and knowing have evolved not far behind new technologies and media. WAC programs, through their mission of countering the institutionalization of learning, operate in positions from which they can affect how learning happens. This presentation examines a cross-section of WAC programs to assess the proliferation of technology and new media within the WAC community as well as the perceptions WAC programs have of writing produced in new media formats. This presentation also addresses the ways new media is being implemented and the extent to which new media implementation is merely aesthetic versus being meaningfully incorporated into curricula. The presenter makes a strong case for WAC programs using New Media as new opportunities in which students can write-to-learn.

Bridging the Content Gap With Writing Across the Curriculum

  • Barri Bumgarner—University of Missouri

Historically, education, English, and campus-wide writing programs have all too often existed in isolation from one another, depriving all of the benefits of closer affiliation. To best bridge this gap, a "writing across the curriculum" mentality could be broadened into "writing across the departments." In order for departments of education to produce the best possible teachers, they must first expose future educators to the range of possibilities their potential jobs can entail. In order to do that, the three entities - education, English, and campus-wide writing program - need to bridge existing gaps. An obvious place to start is by integrating a WAC philosophy within the education major itself to show teachers-in-training that writing is as important in math as it is in language arts. This presentation will illustrate writing prompts to use in all curricular areas and will then further discuss how to create a more interactive relationship between the three writing-focused departments.


07 A—Individual Paper
Putting a WI Microbiology Course under the Microscope

  • Julie Trachman—Hostos Community College/CUNY

Assignment stategies used for a writing intensive section of a microbiology course will be discussed.

Proponents of the writing across the curriculum (WAC) initiative recognize that writing forces students to explore more deeply course material and to engage in critical thinking. Faculty at Hostos Community College/CUNY actively advocate the incorporation of writing in our classes even if the class is not designated as a writing intensive (WI) course. Shortly after joining Hostos, I began to incorporate a wider variety of writing assignments into my curriculum and saw how these assignments transformed the student learning process in a positive way; therefore, I decided to convert my microbiology course into a WI course. As a standard science course, students write “standard issue” microbiology lab reports and exam essays that correlate with material presented in lecture, etc. The WI course format encourages more flexibility in assignment style and I have been able to structure some assignments more creatively around current New York Times articles and other published resources that pertain to microbiology issues. A highly successful assignment has been the use of a low-stakes triple-entry journal (TEJ) as part of a staged assignment. The TEJ assignment, which utilizes a New York Times article, is followed by students writing a summary of the article as their first high-stakes assignment. Students gain confidence in writing in their own voice and clarity of thought. Additionally, students write a relatively small research paper on a microbiological organism or process, which helps students to develop information literacy skills. These and other assignments will be discussed.


03 G—Individual Paper
Online Groupwork Across the Curriculum

  • Noah Ullmann—Michigan State University

This presentation will address the use of shared online spaces to support inter-class conversations.

Writing centers should play an active role in writing across the curriculum, especially online. This presentation explores recent research on supporting groupwork across the curriculum with an inter-class blogging application supported by the Writing Center at Michigan State University (WC MSU). Many educational institutions maintain writing centers that provide students with assistance for writing in one-to-one consultations. These centers already work with students and instructors throughout the university. However, this important work remains bound by physical limitations. Rather than duplicating this face-to-face model online, the WC MSU has explored new ways to engage students and instructors in their classrooms and outside of the physical space of the writing center. WC MSU developed an inter-class blogging tool to connect multiple courses in a shared space. This tool builds on existing course tools (Blackboard, Angel, Moodle), but emphasizes cross-course conversations in a shared space. This reserch explores attitudes of instructors and students who used this software over the course of one semester in 2009. My presentation will discuss the implications for writing across curriculum pedagogy, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of this type of work, specifically, issues of implementation and sustainability. This conversation seeks to challenge expectations and practices both about writing centers and writing across the curriculum online. Online tools like the WC MSU inter-class blogging application is not meant to replace sound practices of instructors or pedagogy, rather expand and supplement already existing norms and practices in ways not before possible in physical spaces.


10 I—Individual Paper
Non-American English and College Writing: Difficulties and Opportunities

  • Donald Unger—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Our pedagogical and cultural approach to students whose first language is “non-American” English can usefully inform how we teach all students.

A growing percentage of US post-secondary students have grown up speaking, or been educated in, a non-American dialect of English. The ways in which their writing differs from Standard American English present both difficulties and opportunities for college writing teachers. Neither ignoring the issue, nor simply attempting to efface non-American dialects represent viable alternatives. The cultural power and ubiquity of American English notwithstanding, demographics may shift the work environment of the decades to come--particularly in engineering and the sciences--in the direction of various “flavors” of World English (WE). India’s English-speaking middle class, for example, numbers somewhere above the current total population of the US. And, for more than a decade now, students from India have made up the greatest percentage of foreign students at US colleges and universities--and this does not include either students who were born in India but immigrated with their families and are now either citizens or permanent residents, or students from nearby South Asian countries, such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. While teachers in FYC and WAC programs have been wrestling for some time with the question of how to deal with non-standard dialects of American English, non-American dialects present a different, if overlapping, set of issues. How we approach these students, as both a pedagogical and a cultural matter, can also usefully inform how we teach all of our students.


01 D—Organized Panel
From Tutor to Tutor: Acculturating Tutor Trainees

  • Jo Ann Vogt—Indiana University
  • Laura Clapper—Indiana University
  • Shabrelle Pollock—Indiana University

Using video clips from a tutor-training session, an experienced peer tutor and a graduate tutor who previously served as a peer tutor will illustrate how a question-based training session and other tutor-to-tutor interactions allow current tutors to acculturate trainees and pass on the essence of what good tutoring means.

Writing Tutorial Services (WTS) is a writing center charged with serving any IU student responding to any kind of writing assignment. WTS employs a mix of roughly 15 undergraduate peer tutors and 25 graduate tutors. With a staff of 40 tutors and some turnover each year, it is essential to build in activities designed to allow tutors to share the culture and philosophy of WTS and to participate in shaping its future. Before beginning their work at WTS, peer tutors participate in a fourteen-week practicum designed to introduce them to both the philosophical underpinnings and the practical considerations of tutoring. This panel discussion will feature the Tutor Jamboree, a tutor-to-tutor conversation held in week 7 of the practicum. The Jamboree, a free-flowing, two-hour session, is moderated by the WTS Director, but it is shaped by the questions generated by the trainees. The Jamboree allows the trainees to ask questions they might be reticent to ask the WTS Director, while simultaneously serving as an opportunity for experienced tutors, both graduate and peer, to acculturate trainees and pass on the essence of what good tutoring means at WTS. Using video clips from the Jamboree, an experienced peer tutor and a graduate tutor who formerly served as a peer tutor will illustrate the value of the Jamboree and other tutor-to-tutor interactions, inviting participants to share questions and comments throughout the session.


04 E—Organized Panel
A New Frontier: Teaching with Wikipedia

  • Adrianne Wadewitz—Indiana University
  • Anne Ellen Geller—St. John's University
  • Robert Cummings—University of Mississippi

This panel will discuss ways in which Wikipedia can be incorporated into the classroom to teach digital literacy and collaborative writing. Branching off from these specific topics, the presenters will ask larger questions about the nature of knowledge and authority that arise from using Wikipedia.

Many teachers associate Wikipedia with plagiarized student papers and inaccurate information. However, in this panel we would like to argue that Wikipedia can be used as a powerful tool to teach digital literacy and collaborative writing. We will present a spectrum of assignments (all of which have had practical success), from those focused on adding content to the encyclopedia to those centered around doing peer reviews of the entries. We will discuss these assignments, emphasizing the important benefits that result from them, such as responses from real-world readers, the participation of the students in producing “the sum of all human knowledge” (as Wikipedians are fond of saying), and the students' solid grasp of how to analyze online reference works, but we will not ignore the fundamental questions that these assignments raise. We will also speculate on the larger philosophical issues raised by using Wikipedia in the classroom, such as the challenge to the traditional teacher-student model, the function and establishment of authority on a website without credentialing, and the changes in the project of knowledge-making in a collaborative, open-source venue like Wikipedia. We envision this as a vigorous and lively panel, in which we will make very short presentations and encourage a dynamic conversation with the audience. Attenders may wish to download assignments discussed in this session by following this link.


09 B—Individual paper
Closure of a Writing Center: Effects on Writing Across the Curriculum

  • Mark Waldo—University of Nevada, Reno

The University of Nevada, Reno Writing Center’s former director will discuss the closure of the university's writing center and its effects on the students and faculty.

This presentation chronicles the closing of the University of Nevada’s writing center. The first section of the presentation details the budget cuts suffered by the University, the largest ever experienced, and acknowledges their importance in the decision to eliminate the center. But it also points out that few, if any, other centers were closed across the economically ravaged U.S. The article attempts to answer the questions “Why did the closure occur?” and “What can writing centers and writing programs learn from this unhappy event?” The second section responds to a question at once a more specific and abstract, “Why did the first-year writing program survive intact while the writing center housing WAC did not survive at all?” During the course of this discussion, the article treats such topics as the influence of tradition, and the myths of transference, permanence, and one language fits all. It also treats the question of whether or not the writing center would have survived were it a part of the English Department, and it provides a requiem for the center and its director.


06 D—Individual Paper
What's a Writing Specialist to Do? Making WAC and/or WID a Cornerstone of a Quality Enhancement Plan

  • Sylvia Whitman—Marymount University

A green writing specialist surveys the place of writing in quality enhancement plans (QEPs) instituted as part of a reaccreditation process and explores with the audience the possibilities and perils therein.

As part of its rigorous “reaffirmation of accreditation process,” the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) requires colleges and universities in eleven Southern states and Latin America to develop a quality enhancement plan (QEP), a focused blueprint for improving student learning. Surprise, surprise: many of these QEPs articulate goals related to writing across the curriculum and in the disciplines. Although institution-specific, QEPs often build on similar research findings to address areas of common weakness. Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, for instance, christened its QEP “DISCOVER: Inquiry, Scholarship, Creativity, and Research”; the University of Houston, “Learning through Discovery.” Both aim to engage undergraduates by infusing inquiry across the curriculum and revamping courses to emphasize research and writing in all majors. At Albany State University, the QEP process gave birth to “Writing. Realized.: Developing Writing Literacies in a Technological Age.” The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s fourfold initiative in enhancing student writing ranges from faculty development to on-line tutoring offered through the writing center. With these new programs often come new budget lines and new people, including hybrid teaching administrators dubbed “writing specialists.” This presentation by a green QEP writing specialist will explore with its audience the possibilities and perils in grand QEP schemes. What is--or should be--the role of a writing specialist? How might newbies work with the old guard to revitalize writing on campus?


08 G—Individual Paper
“It’s not just about Chinese”: Activity Systems and Language Skill Transfers Reflected in an Upper-level Chinese Language Course

  • Dan Wu—Clemson University

This qualitative descriptive study probes the interlingual (English/Chinese) and intralingual (within single language) literacy skill transfers (Cummins, 1981) in an upper-level Chinese language course through the lens of North American activity theory.

North American research in WAC (Writing-Across-the-Curriculum) and CXC (Communication-Across-the-Curriculum) has been focused on promoting students’ learning through writing and other communication modalities in English, and only limited research has been done on WAC in foreign language courses (Jennings, 2005) with emphasis on using writing in the foreign language. In linguistics studies, Cummins (1981) claims that there is a cognitive/academic proficiency that allows for the transfer of literacy-related skills across languages, and this proficiency is common to all languages. Carson, Carrell, Silberstein, Kroll, and Kuehn (1990) suggest that literacy skills can have both interlingual and intralingual transfers. Based on the linguistics scholarship and through the lenses of North American activity theory, this qualitative descriptive study probes into the effects of using different communication modalities in two languages, both English and Chinese, to investigate in the interactions of the activity systems the students have been involved in and their effects in expanding students’ learning (Russell & Yañez, 2003) in an upper-level Chinese language course. The data were collected from high stakes communication assignments, low stakes communication assignments (Elbow, 1997), and other tools such as individual conferences. This study is an attempt to study the interlingual (English/Chinese) and intralingual (within single language) literacy skill transfers through the lens of activity theory.