Changes at the University Writing Center

Dr Nikki CaswellThe University Writing Center (UWC) is open to all students, faculty and staff at ECU. Our staff consists of undergraduate and graduate students from across the disciplines and we are ready to help your students with their writing. We can help with all types of writing, including research papers, observation reports, resumes, and more. Also, please let your students know we can help with writing at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to proofreading. Students in DE courses can take advantage of our services by using our Online Writing Lab.

One of our changes in Fall 2012 was to move to an online appointment based system for our face-to-face sessions. We are happy to announce that the Online Writing Lab has also moved to an appointment based system. After listening to our students last semester, we found that appointments would help students (and us) keep track of submissions and would allow us to tell students when they would receive their feedback. We felt this would allow students to better plan out their writing process. Students in DE courses can schedule an appointment on our OWL/DE schedule (at any point in the semester), upload their paper (in the appointment itself) and then re-download the paper at the end of the session. Students do not have to be near a computer during the hour of their appointment, so they can sign up for any time. The OWL is still an asynchronous based system. We ask that students submitting to the OWL provide us with their questions and concerns about the piece of writing. Then, the consultants are better able to tailor their feedback to the concerns of the writing. Just like the face-to-face sessions, the OWL is not an editing service, but a space for students to receive reader-response feedback and direction on how to improve their writing. More detailed directions and a Prezi to share with your students can be found on our website. Continue reading

Redesigning Writing Intensive Courses @ ECU

This week’s post comes from Hector Garza (Theatre and Dance), who currently chairs the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Committee.  Professor Garza explores several changes that the WAC Committee has been working on regarding WI courses; these changes are important in the context of the Quality Enhancement Plan: “Write Where You Belong.”

Headshot of Assistant Professor Hector GarzaThe Writing Across the Curriculum committee has been working to create a new, more comprehensive definition of Writing Intensive courses at ECU.  Our major source for inspiration in making these changes has been the work of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).  The “Write Where You Below” initiative is our chance to effect change in a system that has never defined student learning outcomes. As committee, we have endeavored to strengthen the WI program at ECU by redefining what “writing intensive” means at ECU.  This redefinition can be seen in the new WI course proposal form that is currently in draft form.  At the core of the new proposal is the adopting of the QEP’s Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) as the official Writing Outcomes for WI courses at ECU. According to these outcomes, students will

  1. Use writing to investigate complex, relevant topics and address significant questions through engagement with and effective use of credible sources;
  2. Produce writing that reflects an awareness of context, purpose, and audience, particularly within the written genres (Including genres that integrate writing with visuals, audio or other multimodal components) of their major disciplines and/or career fields;
  3. Demonstrate that they understand writing as a process that can be made more effective though drafting revision;
  4. Proofread and edit their own writing, avoiding grammatical and mechanical errors;
  5. Assess and explain the major choices that they make in their writing.

This simple step goes a long way to strengthen the WI program.  The models that are currently the standard for WI courses will fall by the wayside.  If these changes are approved by Faculty Senate and the Chancellor later this spring, all WI courses will be expected to meet these Writing Outcomes. One benefit for faculty is that meeting the Writing Outcomes is not tied to a specific number of pages of writing, which allows for greater flexibility for faculty across different disciplines where final projects vary in length.

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Updates from the QEP: Write Where You Belong

This week, QEP Director, Wendy Sharer, updates us on what has been happening with the QEP project, “Write Where You Belong.”  As Dr. Sharer reminded us back in September, the QEP “is an opportunity to develop forward-looking, long-term initiatives that will enhance the educational experiences of current and future ECU students.” At the UWP, we hope you’re as excited as we are about all the changes being put in place to support students and faculty at ECU.

Write Where You Belong

 

As reported in a September, this academic year marked the kickoff of ECU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a key component of our reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Many exciting things have happened since September:

  • The final version of the QEP document was submitted to SACS on February 18th. An on-site review team from SACS will visit ECU from April 2-4, 2013 to discuss the QEP with various constituents.
  • Tremendous progress has been made on the construction of the new University Writing Center (UWC) space on the first floor of Joyner Library. The space—which will provide multiple tables for tutoring sessions, a “digital studio” for students working on multimedia and multimodal projects, dedicated space for the Online Writing Lab, and office space for the administration and staff of the University Writing Program and the QEP—is slated for completion in late March, with an official opening ceremony on Founders Day, May 1, 2013. Additionally, a “Welcome and Open House” will be held for ECU students, faculty, and staff early in the fall 2013 semester. Stay tuned for details! Continue reading

2012 National Day on Writing

(Today’s blog post comes from Christina Bethel, PhD candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the department of English. Christina teaches primarily first-year writing courses; in her research, she investigates identity and the impact of identity performance on student writing practices.)

by Christina Bethel

A picture of Chris Bethel, PhD Candidate in ECU's English DepartmentIn Fall 2011, the Tar River Writing Project, in conjunction with the ECU English and Education departments, hosted the first National Day on Writing celebration at ECU, attended by around 200 local public school students and teachers. The event was such a success that we decided to expand the celebration. The Tar River Writing Project’s mission for this event is to engage local K-College students and teachers, as well as community members, in fun and enriching writing experiences. This year, the TRWP joined the University Writing Program, Joyner Library, and the Department of English in sponsoring the 2012 National Day on Writing @ ECU.

At the K-12 level, we brought over 500 students to campus on October 19, 2012. During the half-day field trip, students participated in three writing activities. For elementary and middle school students, we offered two new activities:  a scene writing workshop, led by Hector Garza (Theatre & Dance), and a Halloween-themed writing workshop, facilitated by English department faculty Randall Martoccia and Jenn Sisk. We also offered our two most popular activities from last year:  a digital writing studio (led by Stephanie West-Puckett and Rob Puckett) and a graffiti wall (led by former ECU art instructor Cynthia Gibb). In our exit survey, students wrote that they enjoyed rapping about their favorite foods, expressing themselves through words and art, sharing their writing aloud with others, and getting to hear what great writers their peers and classmates are!

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From the Chair of the WAC Committee

(Today’s blog post comes from Hector Garza, Assistant Professor of Theatre History and Literature. In 2011-12, Hector served as the Vice Chair of the Writing Across the Curriculum Committee during its first year back as a standing Faculty Senate committee; this year, Hector has taken on the role of chair of that committee. If you have questions about the curriculum process for WI courses, you can contact Hector Garza at garzah@ecu.edu.)

Headshot of Assistant Professor Hector GarzaIt is an honor and a privilege to serve as chair of the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) committee. This is my second year as a member of the WAC committee, and I served as vice chair last year.  The committee’s primary focus this year is to support the initiatives of the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP).  We are in the process of evaluating and revising the proposal for obtaining WI designation so that it reflects the goals outlined by the QEP’s “Write Where You Belong” initiative. We are using the resources and momentum of the QEP to better articulate the importance of writing in the process of learning.

My association with the writing program date back to my first year at ECU.  I was fortunate enough to be nominated by my colleague, Patch Clark, to participate in the WAC Academy.  During the academy, I was able to develop my skills as a teacher of writing.  Perhaps the most important lesson I learned in the academy was if we are to truly engage our students in understanding writing as a process, we must all model writing as a process.  Too often our colleagues expect that we, as professors of WI courses, are to teach our students how to be effective writers.  I believe that we ALL have to examine our roles as teachers of writing.  We have to teach students how to be professionals, which means teaching them how to write like professionals. Effective writing is distinct depending on the discipline: effective writing for an English class is not going to look the same as effective writing in a journalism class, a theatre class, a math class.  Each discipline defines the tenets of effective writing.  You, in your discipline, are responsible for inculcating your students into your discourse community.

My connection to the writing program has afforded me the opportunity to share techniques from my class with colleagues.  I have had the opportunity to create, in collaboration with Kerri Bright Flinchbaugh, and teach Writing to Learn (WTL) workshops.   The workshops are opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in defining and sharing best practices.  I encourage you to come out to all the University Writing Program’s offerings.

Digital Is … Re/Composing: Rethinking Writing with K-College Teachers

(Today’s blog post comes to us from Dr. Will Banks, Director of the University Writing Program and Director of the Tar River Writing Project, a local site of the National Writing Project. Dr. Banks is associate professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies in the English department at ECU; his research focuses rhetoric, pedagogy, writing program administration, and sexuality.  He current book projects, Queer Literacies explores the ways in which gay men and lesbians articulate literacies of queer(ed) identities.)

A picture of Will Banks, Director of University Writing ProgramWhen university faculty talk to me about their concerns for student writing, I hear a good deal of critique of public schools, students, and their teachers, and all the things they’re not doing right. But I don’t hear that many people talking about anything they are doing to help or address this presumed lack or problem.

Except, of course, those folks who are part of the Tar River Writing Project, which again this past summer sponsored six writing camps for elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as two workshops for K-college teachers: the first workshop, “Developing High School Writing Centers“, provided a space for Jennifer Smyth, an experienced high school teacher and developer of a thriving writing center at her school, and Kerri Flinchbaugh, an experienced teacher and assistant director of the UWP at ECU, to help other teachers tap into the rich resources of their strongest writers in order to provide them with leadership opportunities through serving as writing consultants to other students.

The second, and the focus of today’s blog, “Digital Is … Re/Composing: Developing 21st Century Literacies Across the Common Core“, brought together a diverse group of teachers from K-12 public and private schools, as well as community colleges and ECU, to explore the complex and sophisticated digital literacies that today’s school-aged students bring to classrooms.

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Teachers, Quality, and Partnerships

(This week’s blog comes from Dr. Todd Finley, Associate Professor of English Education, at ECU. Dr. Finley specializes in the intersections between technology and literacy and maintains a weekly blog on Edutopia related to issues of writing pedagogy. In this post, Dr. Finley informs the university community of a project that connects the College of Education and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences with high school teachers in our community, one goal of which is improving writing and writing instruction.)

by Dr. Todd Finley

A picture of Dr. Todd FinleySupported by a large grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) is a collaboration between ECU’s College of Education and the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Pitt and Greene County Schools—all joined to enrich prospective teachers’ experiences and demonstrably improve the academic achievement of their public school students. These objectives are being accomplished by focusing on improving teaching and learning in four content areas: language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Dr. Betty Beacham, TQP primary investigator, explains, “Faculty from secondary education and educational foundations programs were identified to become members of the TQP secondary design team.  The team began exploring ways to merge the previous TQP curriculum and clinical practice reform in elementary, middle grades, and special education with the secondary curriculum reform driven by the Common Core.

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