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February 25, 2013

Redesigning Writing Intensive Courses @ ECU

Filed under: News,Teaching — Tags: , , , , , — Will Banks @ 8:00 am

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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October 15, 2012

Wilderness Writing: Bringing Interdisciplinary Writing to Bear on Environmental Ethics

Filed under: News,Teaching — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kerri Flinchbaugh @ 3:38 pm

(Today’s blog post comes from Stephanie West-Puckett, teaching instructor in the department of English and Associate Director of the Tar River Writing Project. Stephanie teaches first-year and advanced writing courses; in her research, she investigates digital literacies and the impact of digital cultures on student writing practices.  Currently, she serves as the project coordinator for TRWP’s Project Connect at J. H. Rose high school in Greenville.)

by Stephanie West-Puckett

A Picture of Stephanie West-PuckettIn Spring 2011, Dr. Ashley Egan from Biology designed a new course that would increase students’ awareness of the natural world and wilderness while challenging them to formulate a public environmental ethic.   Drawing from her experience as a field botany instructor and from a deep knowledge of biodiversity and systematics, she was confident teaching the natural science content but felt the course would be strengthened by partnering with a faculty member who specialized in writing studies and the teaching of writing.  I was thrilled to jump on board, and together, we co-designed and co-taught Wilderness Writing as an Honors College seminar that brought interdisciplinary knowledges to bear on problems of environmental ethics.  Through a combination of scientific and cultural readings and discussion, intensive immersion in wilderness settings, and writing about nature for a variety of audiences, purposes, and media, students developed arguments about the definitions, values, and purposes of “wilderness”, and published ethical manifestos to communicate those understandings to a broad public.

Two images: the first of two ECU students hiking a river; the second of three ECU students sailng a boat

ECU students write from the mountains to the ocean!

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October 9, 2012

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

Filed under: News,Teaching — Will Banks @ 12:23 pm

(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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October 1, 2012

Teachers, Quality, and Partnerships

Filed under: News,Research,Teaching — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Will Banks @ 1:48 pm

(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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