By Bree McGregor, December 17, 2015
Part 1: Introduction
The National Council of Teachers of English describes digital literacy as “proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology” (The NCTE definition, 2013), which include utilizing a networked, social approach to designing, sharing, analyzing, and synthesizing information, and the application of ethical considerations that such complex environments require. At George Mason University, we strive to embody an innovative spirit at institutional and programmatic levels: Continue reading
How long does it take students work on coursework assignments? In a recently released resource from the Rice University Center for Teaching Excellence, Elizabeth Barre and Justin Esarey created an online calculator of out of class hours students spend on coursework, based on their writing and reading rates.
The online calculator uses various factors of reading and writing assignments to calculate an estimated number of out of class work hours. Researchers Barre and Esarey used several research sources as a foundation and filled in its gaps with their own assumptions. The calculator, nevertheless lets you manually adjust if you disagree with their assumptions. Reading rates are determined by page density, text difficulty, and reading purpose. Reading to survey a text that has no new concepts, students can read about 500 words per minute. But when the purpose is more complex (reading for understanding or engaging with a text), the text difficulty is greater (some or many new concepts), and/or the page density increases, the student’s’ reading rate drops.
James M. Lang begins an excellent series on small changes in instruction with an article on making the most of the minutes before class. In this short time, Lang urges teachers to take advantage of the time with students, instead of using it as a time for administration or organization. Drawing from three books or studies, Lang suggests building relationships, displaying an agenda, and wondering with students. Continue reading
We’d like to share Appalachian State University’s wonderful resource, a glossary of WAC and WID terms. This glossary (below) may be helpful to faculty in all disciplines who teach writing and work with student writers, as it provides a flexible and easy to adapt vocabulary. Terms included describe the the writing process, the various conventions of written texts, and other aspects of academic writing. Continue reading
From a piece by Paul Edwards of the School of Information at University of Michigan.
So unless you’re stuck in prison with nothing else to do, NEVER read a non-fiction book or article from beginning to end.
Instead, when you’re reading for information, you should ALWAYS jump ahead, skip around, and use every available strategy to discover, then to understand, and finally to remember what the writer has to say. This is how you’ll get the most out of a book in the smallest amount of time… Continue reading
Cameron Carter is the Communications & Marketing Specialist for the Office of Distance Education at George Mason University. She earned her MA in English (Professional Writing & Rhetoric) from Mason in 2013, and she is currently a graduate student in the Higher Education Administration certificate program. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past five years, Mason’s Office of Distance Education (DE) has supported a number of faculty and programs transitioning their courses from face-to-face to fully online. From partnering each faculty member with an Instructional Designer in Learning Support Services (LSS) to connecting them to the accessibility experts with the Assistive Technology Initiative, highlighting the research and copyright expertise of the University Librarians to emphasizing the resources available through the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence (CTFE), our role has focused largely on how best to connect Mason’s online faculty with the services and resources available across our campus.
As the DE Office, along with online education at Mason, continues to grow and take shape, we’ve asked ourselves – is this enough? This question has sparked a new effort for faculty support from the DE Office, mainly via an upsurge of faculty development opportunities. We don’t only want to support online program development and link to specific resources. We want to promote a sense of faculty community and a culture of shared knowledge and practice. Through a string of faculty development events hosted in collaboration with CTFE and LSS, we are making a push to inspire this shared place for faculty at Mason. Here’s the kicker – we aren’t focusing on online faculty alone. Continue reading
By: Caitlin Dungan
Caitlin Dungan is a PhD student in Mason’s Writing and Rhetoric PhD Program. Caitlin is a Graduate Research Assistant for Mason’s Writing Across the Curriculum Program, and her current research interests include fanfiction, digital media and rhetoric, online feedback practices, and participatory culture.
When scholars talk about the intersections between writing and technology, as well as how technology forms, limits, complicates or expands writing practice, we tend to overlook the fact that writing itself is a form of technology. While writing changed the world as profoundly as the wheel did, somehow the act of writing always seems to undergo cyclical scrutiny as being attacked by some new, seemingly insidious form of technology (as handwriting was by the typewriter), being changed by that technology into something worthy of being preserved, and then attacked again by whatever technological innovation comes next. Continue reading
The Writing Campus will be on a two-week hiatus for Spring Break and participation at the Conference on College Composition and Communication. New content will resume on Thursday, March 26th. However, reblogs will continue starting March 16th on both our Facebook page and Twitter feed.
In the meantime, please feel free to continue sending blog submissions!
– The Writing Campus
by: Mikal Cardine
Mikal is a senior studying English at George Mason. She previously worked with WAC to create disciplinary writing guides for student use. To reach her, please contact email@example.com.
The average undergraduate will hear a variety of conflicting viewpoints from their university professors on the topic of Wikipedia. While some professors will openly express distrust of Wikipedia as a source for research, others are more open to the use of Wikipedia as a learning tool. While Middlebury College outright banned undergraduates from citing Wikipedia in any academic essay—stating that “students need to be taught to go for quality information, not just convenience” (Jaschik, 2)—professors such as Mark Kissling argue that faculty do a disservice to their students if they don’t help them to understand why instructors are concerned about the source. As Kissling writes, professors have a duty to teach “their students to learn to critically read Wikipedia…helping them understand how it is created, how it defines and positions knowledge, and what it makes possible and fails to do” (Kissling, 1).
As an undergraduate, I have to admit that Wikipedia is in. Originally branded as untrustworthy, the site is now our go-to research tool – but why? Has student scholarship fallen so far? Or has Wikipedia possibly become a useful research tool? Prompted to learn more, I decided to do a little research and created a simple survey to determine Wikipedia’s current value to both professors and students.
Jessica McCaughey is an Assistant Professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she teaches and writes about the intersections of academic, creative, and professional writing. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her online at jessicamccaughey.com.
When it comes to communicating with students, all writing instructors face two hurdles:
- Students have different learning styles, so not all students understand or retain the written word in the same way, and
- Sometimes it’s just easier to speak than it is to write.
The latter is a challenge that becomes especially clear when I find myself crafting embarrassingly long emails that could have been presented orally and visually quite easily. I have—although I’m really not proud of it—taken four paragraphs to clarify a homework assignment. I have written multi-page emails detailing the wonder that is the inter-library loan system. Most writers—and writing instructors—I know love the quote, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time,” by French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal. (You may have heard a similar quote falsely attributed to Mark Twain.) Concision takes time in writing, especially writing that is intended to teach in some way. And so it was with genuine pleasure that I discovered and began implementing the use of Jing, a program that supplements and improves the way I teach writing in so many ways. Continue reading