by: Caitlin Holmes
Caitlin Holmes is the Assistant Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at George Mason University. She blogs regularly about teaching here at thewritingcampus.com. You can reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the support of Mason’s Provost Office and Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence, the Writing Across the Curriculum Program hosted two Faculty Writing Retreats in the past 12 months: one in May 2014 and the other in January 2015. Such retreats had occurred in the past under the supervision of the Northern Virginia Writing Project, but not for quite some time. This blog post will review the different structures of the May 2014 and January 2015 retreats, give summaries of evaluation results for both retreats, and provide a few concluding thoughts about what we may try in the future at Mason. Continue reading
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
Today we are highlighting a helpful module from Eli Review on how to understand, use, and teach informative feedback strategies and in-depth revision. Timely and explicit feedback from both teachers and peers leads not only to improved drafts, but to improved writing skills overall. Giving students the instruction they need to learn reflective skills for analyzing both their own writing and their peers’ is critical to fostering the confidence of emerging writers.
“Teaching and learning don’t happen in a vacuum. They happen within specific schools, classrooms, and cultural contexts. This is true for feedback as well.
Effective feedback requires a context in which learners have both the ability and opportunity to hear, understand, and act on that feedback. We might think about feedback rich classrooms as “safe and smart” learning contexts, or classroom communities in which students feel comfortable enough to risk engaging and learning with each other.”
Feedback and Revision: The Key Components of Powerful Writing Pedagogy
In this series of interview questions from Mason WAC, Anna Habib, Assistant Director of Multilingual Composition, and Karyn Mallett, Associate Director of International Pathway and English Language Programs, offer some insights into their teaching practices and observations concerning multilingual composition.
Successful Approaches to Teaching Multilingual Writers:
The Challenges of Teaching Multilingual Writers:
As the conversations about Writing Across the Curriculum continue to evolve and march forward, it is always helpful to look back and see how far the program has come, both nationally and close to home. Today, we are linking back to a Mason WAC Newsletter from Fall of 2002 that highlights the strengths and challenges of digital writing. Lesley Smith and James Young offer insights into the benefits of digital writing in e-portfolios, and Ruth Fischer shares the credentials she and her colleagues created for the necessary IT skills of first-year composition students. The methods for implementing digital writing in the classroom have certainly progressed in the last twelve years, but the core pedagogical concepts remain the same.
“In an electronic space,” Smith and Young write, “those who perhaps struggle with words but excel with images might combine the two, and access a richness of perception previously denied both to them as writers and to their faculty members as assessors.”
WAC Newsletter – Fall 2002