Members of East Carolina University’s English Department collaborated to publish a book they hope will help other higher education institutions harness the full potential of their writing programs.
After successfully utilizing the reaccreditation process to improve ECU’s writing program, faculty members Will Banks, Wendy Sharer, Tracy Morse and Michelle Eble co-edited, “Reclaiming Accountability: Improving Writing Programs through Accreditation and Large-Scale Assessments.” The book provides examples of how departments and writing programs have used accreditation to gain the kinds of benefits seen at ECU through similar initiatives around the country.
As part of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), required for accreditation, the authors focused their efforts on specific initiatives that would help broaden the reach of ECU’s writing program. “We saw reaccreditation as an opportunity to rethink our first-year writing program and our writing-intensive program so they worked together more effectively at helping students move from beginning college-level writing and thinking across their years at ECU,” said Banks, associate professor.
According to Sharer, director of the QEP, some of the changes seen in the program at ECU include:
- Additional peer consultants to work with students and faculty in all disciplines in a larger, welcoming University Writing Center.
- A revised Writing Foundations curriculum that includes a new, sophomore-level composition course designed to help students transition into writing in their major areas.
- Writing mentors embedded in writing-intensive courses across the curriculum.
- A website that brings together writing-related resources.
Additionally, the university provided resources to help faculty learn new information about writing and how to teach it in major courses.
As part of the updated curriculum, the class “Writing About the Disciplines” was added for second-year students to make it easier to transfer their skills to writing for their disciplines. “We are making the writing that students are doing explicitly relevant to the writing they will do in their majors or even careers,” said Eble, associate professor.
Their book brings together a series of critical cases that show how accreditation has been used in similar ways at other institutions to effect change on campus and across various academic programs. It illustrates how faculty can use accreditation to cultivate campus-wide discussions of writing to better meet local student learning needs.