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.”
The 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
- Use writing to investigate complex, relevant topics and address significant questions through engagement with and effective use of credible sources;
- 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;
- Demonstrate that they understand writing as a process that can be made more effective though drafting revision;
- Proofread and edit their own writing, avoiding grammatical and mechanical errors;
- 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.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
It 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.