Categories
Teaching Writing

Read Around Groups

Read around groups are a great way to support peer review in your classroom in an non-traditional way. This activity helps students develop their vocabulary for discussing and critiquing writing, and solidifies ideas about what good writing looks like. Consider using this method in your classroom to engage your students in more dynamic peer review!

Categories
Teaching Writing

The One Minute Paper – Instructional Module

Interested in utilizing Dr. Thomas Sura’s One Minute Paper in your classroom? Here is a brief instructional video detailing how to implement it. This is a great way to foster reflective thinking in your students concerning their own writing practice, and has the added benefit of allowing you instant feedback on your own teaching practices!

Categories
Teaching Writing

Reverse Course Design

Based on a presentation by Melissa Broeckelman-Post, this learning module illustrates a methodology for course design that begins with the broad and gradually focuses in on how to create assignments and assessments. Each assignment is encouraged to link back to the original goals and outcomes desired for the course, so that everything remains focused and connected.

Consider using this method the next time you begin to design your class.

Categories
Teaching Writing

The Sticky Note Exercise

Looking for a new way to foster discussion in your classroom? Try this sticky note exercise! This highly adaptable exercise allows for meaningful discussion, while the anonymity of it allows students the freedom to express their ideas. Try using this method to discuss writing in your classroom, and see what new revelations your students come to.

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Undergraduate Perspectives

Professor Expectations of Writing Assignments: A Student Perspective

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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 wac@gmu.edu.

In the subjective world of writing, there doesn’t seem to be any rules – just lots of different guidelines as we students move from class to class. However, effective communication is what writing is all about, and professors can best teach their students this skill by practicing it themselves, especially regarding their expectations of writing assignments. Before assuming that we know what is expected of us, professors need to consider our circumstances and differences: Some of us have not been in a focused writing class in years. Some of us have not taken 302 before taking the WI course. Some of us placed out of first year writing, or have transferred to Mason and are still adjusting to new professors and new expectations. And of course, most of us have probably received terrible writing instruction at some point.           

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Graduate Students

Graduate Writing Consultations and WAC

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by Jenae Cohn

Jenae Cohn is a PhD candidate pursuing a Designated Emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition in the English department at the University of California, Davis. She is a graduate writing fellow through the University Writing Program’s Writing Across the Curriculum program and her research interests include digital rhetoric, materiality, and the history of the book. She can be contacted via e-mailTwitter, and her personal website.

Never before had I seen an article filled with more numbers than words on one page. I was in the second-year of my PhD program in English and was working as a graduate writing consultant (“tutor”) through my university’s Writing Across the Curriculum program.

As someone who had trained as a tutor in an undergraduate writing center in college, I knew the techniques for skimming a long paper, seeking out the main points, and identifying the areas of higher-order concerns. In college, I had dealt with a variety of papers from disciplines across the curriculum, operating under the assumption that, as Pemberton (1995) puts it, “many aspects of text production… are ‘generic’ in nature and, for the most part, extend across disciplinary boundaries” (p. 367). Yet for the first time, I was confronted with the fact that there were disciplinary differences – and big ones – that I had never encountered before. I didn’t know what to do. After all, I was new to WAC as a pedagogy to use in tutoring and I didn’t thinking that my writing center knowledge alone was enough to equip me for the new challenges of reading and commenting upon the conventions of academic disciplinary prose at the graduate level. 

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Technology

Wikipedia: What Professors Tell Students and What Students Do

Wikipedia

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 wac@gmu.edu.

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.

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Teaching Writing

“The Rhetorical Situation” and Reading Strategies in Advanced Composition

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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 wac@gmu.edu.  

During a pre-semester meeting to discuss the QEP assessment findings of Mason’s English 302 Students-as-Scholars Program, instructors of our Advanced Composition courses went over the primary student learning outcomes (SLO):

  • SLO-1, Discovery: Understand how they can engage in the practice of scholarship at GMU
  • SLO-2, Discovery: Understand research methods used in a discipline
  • SLO-3, Discovery: Understand how knowledge is transmitted within a discipline, across disciplines, and to the public
  • SLO-4, Inquiry: Articulate and refine a question
  • SLO-5, Inquiry: Follow ethical principles
  • SLO-6, Inquiry: Situate the scholarly inquiry [and inquiry process] within a broader context
  • SLO-7, Inquiry: Apply appropriate scholarly conventions during scholarly inquiry/reporting

What those discussions reinforced for my colleagues and me is that engagement in scholarship and knowledge transmission requires that students have advanced reading practices that often are not overtly discussed – or are sometimes presumed as proficiencies – as we work on writing competencies.  

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Technology

Free Software and Five Minutes: Limitless Possibilities for Improving Student Writing

 

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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 jessmcc@gwu.edu and find her online at jessicamccaughey.com.

When it comes to communicating with students, all writing instructors face two hurdles:

  1. Students have different learning styles, so not all students understand or retain the written word in the same way, and
  2. 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.

Categories
Teaching Writing

Against “The Library Scavenger Hunt”: Better Library Research Assignments

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Jen Stevens is the Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian at George Mason University and a consultant for Mason’s Writing Across the Curriculum Faculty Senate Committee.  She has extensive experience assisting undergraduate and graduate student writers discover new resources and information in their research process.  For her information and current InfoGuides, click here!

In my work as a Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian at George Mason University, I work with faculty members and their students to help the students learn how to do better research, which in turn leads to better writing.

Last week, I found the strangest thing in the Fenwick Library Reference area. . .