Small Ways to Integrate Writing into Your Course

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One of the first questions that faculty new to teaching writing across the disciplines ask is: how do I add writing to what I’m already doing in my class? Balancing content and writing instruction is a difficult task, and often we feel like we just can’t fit everything in. And while teaching a writing course might carry extra expectations, faculty are often surprised to learn that small writing-to-learn activities can add a lot of value while not requiring a lot of work. Continue reading

Karyn Kessler Offers 5 Tips for Academic Success

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As teachers, we recognize that academic success isn’t based only on cognitive abilities; it is also significantly impacted by social practices and emotional well-being.  But sometimes, we aren’t always certain how to articulate that for our students.  That is why today we are sharing a video from our friend Karyn Kessler, Interim Academic Director of INTO Mason, in which she talks about her five tips for academic success.  While she directs her advice to students studying in international contexts, much of it also applies to students studying in their hometowns and the faculty who teach them.  We summarize her tips below. Continue reading

Helping Students Revise

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In our last post, we discussed the qualities of good feedback.  But as many writing teachers know, giving good feedback is only part of the equation; students still need to use that feedback in order to revise their drafts and develop as writers.  And this second part of the equation can be a significant challenge for many writing teachers and students alike; as Katherine Gottschalk and Keith Hjortshoj note, drafts can sometimes become “like concrete:” once they begin to set, they aren’t likely to see changes deeper than the surface.  So, the question becomes: how do we help students use our feedback and revise their writing? Continue reading

Characteristics of Effective Feedback

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Writing intensive courses are built on the concept that students improve as writers when they are given frequent opportunities to revise their writing based upon feedback from faculty.  While providing feedback can seem simple, many writing teachers recognize that the task is complex, and it’s common for faculty to feel unsure of how best to provide feedback on writing.  In consultations and informal conversations, faculty often ask us: how do I provide effective feedback, and what should I be mindful of as I provide my student’s feedback? Continue reading

WAC Mason Hosted Its 10th Faculty Writing Retreat

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On January 9th and 10th, Mason’s WAC Program held its 5th winter faculty writing retreat and its 10th overall.  Mason’s WAC Program began hosting retreats in May 2014 to provide a distraction-free environment for faculty to work on scholarly projects.  Since that time, the retreats have garnered a steady interest, but this retreat was our largest one yet: a total of 48 energetic writers convened in Fenwick Library for two productive days. Continue reading

Reading Research as a Process (in the Sciences)

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As we have written throughout this semester, many challenges that students encounter with writing stem from difficulties with reading.  These difficulties range across disciplines, but each discipline might face its own set of challenges.  The problem many faculty in the sciences experience, writes Laura Davies in her article on teaching reading in science courses, is that often “students regard scientific texts as collections of facts.”  Thus, Davies says, students engage articles purely for content and can overlook how that content engages in broader disciplinary conversations and practices, which are often critical for entering into a disciplinary community.  So, how do we help students read for more than facts? Continue reading

Reading Like a Writer

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Earlier in the semester, we shared some resources that focused on using annotations and other strategies to support reading.  The general intent of these strategies is to prompt students to engage more deeply and mindfully with their reading.  In our post on “mindful reading,” we mentioned that effective readers often read for specific purposes that shape the way they engage the texts they are reading.  For instance, if readers want to gain a general understanding of a text, they might skim it by noting the title, reading the introduction and conclusion, and browsing the main sections.  But what if we have a different purpose?  What if we are engaging a text not for its content but for its structure? Continue reading

Scientists Talk about Reading Research

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Earlier in the semester, we shared a few resources to support the ways in which faculty teach reading in (writing-intensive) courses.  While literacy scholars and reading teachers suggest a variety of useful strategies to help students engage with their reading more deeply, one of the most commonly offered recommendations urges faculty to talk and model productive reading practices.  That is why today we are sharing an article that does just that: interviews scientists about their reading practices.  Continue reading