QEP Fall 2013 Update

We are moving ahead rapidly in this first year of QEP implementation. Below is but a sampling of the many things underway to help ECU’s student writers as part of our Quality Enhancement Plan:

• The “Writing Mentors Program” was introduced in a selection of writing-intensive courses in Chemistry, Library Science, Interior Design, Merchandising, and History. This program embeds university writing consultants, drawn from majors across the university, in selected discipline-specific, writing-intensive courses. These embedded consultants—the Writing Mentors—learn peer-consulting theory and practice through either the completion of a semester-long course (for undergraduate Writing Mentors) or through a full semester of consulting work and professional development in the University Writing Center (for graduate Writing Mentors). Mentors are prepared to assist in writing-intensive courses by reading students’ writing, offering constructive comments, holding individual writing conferences with students, and providing additional writing assistance in a variety of ways. For more information about the Writing Mentors Program, contact Dr. Nikki Caswell, Director of the University Writing Center, at caswelln@ecu.edu.

• The University Writing Program and the Office for Faculty Excellence partnered to offer a three-part workshop series on “Metacognition in the Writing Intensive Course.” These workshops, attended by 15-20 faculty from across the disciplines, provided information about fostering students’ abilities to monitor, evaluate, and adjust their own writing strategies. The series will be repeated in spring 2014: check the Office for Faculty Excellence schedule for updates (http://www.ecu.edu/ofe/).

• QEP Writing and Learning Communities were established. WLCs are comprised of 4-5 faculty members from across the university who identify and then, over the course of the academic year, investigate a common challenge or set of challenges encountered in the teaching of writing. Based on the knowledge generated by this collaborative exploration, members of the WLC plan and complete a project (the form and format of which will vary depending on the focus of the WLC’s inquiry) that aims to help students work toward the QEP student learning outcomes. If you are interested in participating in future Writing and Learning Communities, contact Wendy Sharer, QEP Director, at sharerw@ecu.edu.

• The Writing@ECU website was launched. From this central location, students and faculty can find information about the University Writing Program, the University Writing Center, the Writing Foundations program (ENGL 1100 and 1200/2201), the QEP, and the Tar River Writing Project. Also accessible through this site are various resources for instructors and students, including a collection of short videos featuring ECU students and faculty talking about common writing challenges and the unique demands of writing in different disciplinary contexts. Those videos, filmed in the new University Writing Center space this past summer, can be found here: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/writing/wac/resources-wac.cfm

• A grand opening ceremony for the new University Writing Center space, including a drawing for two i-Pad Minis, was held on September 23rd.

In addition to these various initiatives, work continues on establishing assessment mechanisms for the QEP. WI instructors have again been asked this semester to have students submit writing samples to provide baseline data for post-implementation assessment. Plans are progressing as well for the fall 2014-spring 2015 implementation of the University Writing Portfolio, an electronic collection of writing samples that students will submit from WI courses. In spring 2014, workshops will be run to familiarize WI faculty with the University Writing Portfolio.

Dr. Wendy Sharer, Director of the QEP

Write Where You Belong

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

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.

ECU’s QEP Is Write Where You Belong

Write Where You Belong

by Dr. Wendy Sharer

This year marks the kickoff of ECU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a key component of our reaccreditation with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). While a QEP is mandated by SACS, it is more than a hoop to jump through or a way for an outside agency to check up on the university: it is an opportunity to develop forward-looking, long-term initiatives that will enhance the educational experiences of current and future ECU students. The goal of ECU’s QEP, entitled “Write Where You Belong,” is to integrate, align, and reinforce writing instruction for students from the day that they matriculate at ECU until the day that they complete their degrees and transition into the workplace or advanced study. More specifically, the university will expand individualized writing support for students, enhance instructional support for faculty, and revise the writing curriculum at ECU.

At the heart of the university’s efforts to increase individualized support for student writers is a substantial expansion of the University Writing Center (UWC) in Joyner Library. Consulting space will grow from a four-person table to a 2,700 square-foot dedicated space, complete with hardware and software to assist students in the electronic and multi-modal writing that many of them need to do in the 21st Century. Additionally, more writing consultants will be hired to use the new space and to participate in another QEP initiative, the Writing Mentors program. This program, scheduled to begin in fall 2013, will embed trained juniors, seniors, and graduate students as writing consultants in specific writing-intensive classes.

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