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					Writing Matters Newsletter
A Publication of BYU University Writing
April 2011, Volume 12, Issue 7
In This Issue                          Endings, Beginnings, and Writing Across the
   Book Club
   Spring WAC Workshops               Curriculum
                                       Beth Hedengren
                                       One of the things I like about teaching is that it has clear endings and beginnings. As you orchestrate the
                                       end of this semester, I know you are also thinking about beginning the next one. Spring and summer terms
This Spring/Summer                     usually provide a bit more time to reflect on how to improve our classes. Upcoming University Writing
                                       events provide chances to learn and reflect on teaching writing: the Spring/Summer WAC Book Club, the
                                       Spring WAC Modular Workshops, and the Writing Matters Summer Seminar. The Seminar is already filled,
Register for events!
                                       but we still have space available in the Book Club and the Spring Workshops. We hope you will register.
                                       Here is some recent research on writing to start your reflection. In a new book published by University of
University Writing                     Chicago Press, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College
                                       Campuses, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report on the results of a
Book Club:
                                       study of 2300 students from a wide variety of colleges and universities.
Engaged Writings                       Arum and Roksa found that after the first two years of college 45% of
and Dynamic Disciplines
                                       students made no significant improvement in their thinking and writing
Wednesdays                             skills. However, Arum and Roksa did find that students demonstrated
May 11                                 strong improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing
June 15                                skills when they took classes requiring more than forty pages of reading a
July 6                                 week and more than twenty pages of writing a semester.
August 17
                                       Of course, it’s not surprising that students held to rigorous standards of
                                       reading and writing learn to read, write, and think better.
4116 JFSB
                                       The concern is that students are seldom held to these rigorous standards.
Read More                              Consider the data collected from BYU students for the 2010 National
                                       Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Students responded to the
Spring WAC Workshops:                  following question During the current school year, about how much
See here for topics                    reading and writing have you done?
Monday–Wednesday; Monday               On average, BYU freshmen and seniors reported they were assigned to
May 16–18, 23                          read between 5–10 books per year. Both classes also reported that they
10am–12:00pm                           were assigned per year only 1 to 4 long papers (between 5 and 19
2–4pm                                  pages). Slightly more shorter papers were assigned: both freshmen and
Read More                              seniors reported 5–10 short papers (fewer than 5 pages) assigned for
                                       the year.
                                       That means that in the 8 to10 courses a student might take in 2
                                       semesters, they might have been assigned only one paper of more than
                                       over 5 pages. Even the shorter papers are fairly sparse. In the 8 to 10
                                       classes a year, only 5 to 10 short papers were reported, on average.
Brief Guide to Writing                 These could be as short as one page. Perhaps a student would only
By Beth Hedengren                      write 5 pages in a year. Even if we figure 10 papers at 5 pages each,
                                       that is 50 pages for 8 to 10 classes, not anywhere near the 20 pages per
                                       semester per class that Arum and Roksa suggest.
                                       We all know that students need to learn to write. Published learning
                                       outcomes for almost every department include something about writing well. Yet, since writing is a skill,
                                       students can only improve if they practice writing frequently. We need to include writing assignments in
                                       many of our classes. Come to our spring and summer workshops to learn more about how to assign and
                                       evaluate writing efficiently and well.

                                       University Writing Book Club
                                       Have you ever wondered how writing in your field is similar and different from writing in other fields? Or
                                       have you wondered how colleagues teach writing and how students perceive their instruction?
                                       To consider these questions further, come to our annual University Writing Book Club. University Writing will
                                       provide the book, and you will provide the thought-provoking discussion. Register early: we can only accept
                                       twenty participants. (Register at, deadline May 2.)
As you are placing book orders,
consider including The Brief           This year we will be reading Engaged Writers and Dynamic Disciplines: Research on the Academic Writing
Guide to Writing. This short           Life, by Chris Thaiss and Terry Myers Zawacki. The authors report on faculty interviews as well as student
booklet provides your students         surveys and focus groups. Following are some questions they explored:
with a review of the basics of
good writing. It is available in the           What is ‘academic writing’? How do disciplinary differences and commonalities contribute to this
Bookstore for only $1.50.                       definition?
                                               How do our students grow to fluency in academic and disciplinary discourses, while realizing their
If you would like a review copy,                own ambitions for learning and expression?
just contact us at                      Here’s the reading schedule. Hope you’ll be able to join us!

Click here for a link to ordering    2011 University Writing Book Club
instructions and a PDF version of    Engaged Writers and Dynamic Disciplines: Research on the Academic Writing Life, by Chris Thaiss
the Brief Guide                      and Terry Myers Zawacki.

                                              Date          Time    Place                               Reading
                                             Wed,           Noon-   4116    Chapters 1 & 2 (pp. 1-45)
                                             May 11         12:50   JFSB    “What’s Academic? What’s ‘Alternative’?” and “Faculty Talk
Teaching Tip                                                                About Their Writing, Disciplines, and Alternatives”
Writing in Spring or                         Wed,           Noon-   4116    Chapter 3 (pp. 58-88) “How Our Informants Teach Students to
Summer Classes                               June 15        12:50   JFSB    Write”
                                             Wed,           4116    4116    Chapter 4 (pp. 95-134) “Students Talk About Expectations,
Since Spring and Summer
                                             July 6         JFSB    JFSB    Confidence, and How They Learn”
classes go by so quickly,
sometimes teachers are tempted               Wed            4116    4116    Chapter 5 (pp. 136-170) “Implications for Teaching and
to cut back on writing                       Aug 17         JFSB    JFSB    Program Building”
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Instead, consider how writing can
especially enhance Spring and
Summer classes.
1.   Break up long class
     sessions. Half way through
                                     Spring WAC Workshop
     class, ask your students to     Many of you have told us that, even though you wish you could, you simply can’t take a full week from your
     write for 5 minutes. Possible   research and teaching to participate in our Writing Matters Summer Seminar. No worries! We have
     topics include:                 developed a program for people like you, one in which you can choose to attend as many or as few
        Summarize what you          sessions as you want.
         have learned so far.
                                     Each of our Spring Writing Matters Modular Workshops is a self-contained 2-hour unit. If you can take two
        Write questions you         hours from your spring work, then you can take this course. And for each 2-hour workshop you complete,
         have about the content.     you will receive $50 for your research account.
        Discuss applications of     Even if you have previously attended the summer workshop, consider attending a module as a refresher
         the material learned.       course, another chance to think carefully about how you can improve your teaching.
     Have students share their       Just let us know you’re coming; to register, email by May 1.
     writings, and use them to
     help you focus on students’     Here is the schedule, so you can choose which workshops you would like to attend:
     needs in the next hour.
                                     Spring WAC Modular Workshops, May 16-18 and May 23
2.   Assign several short
     microthemes rather than         Register ( for as many as you like; $50 research money for successful completion
     one long paper. Design an       of each module. Deadline for registration: May 2
     assignment that is very short
     (only 1-2 pages) with
     rigorous expectations. If the       Date          Time     Place                    Topic                               Presenter
     expectations are similar for
     each paper, the students will    Monday,        10-12      4188    The Power of Exploratory Writing: How      Beth Hedengren, Associate
     learn to write better through
                                      May 16         A.M        JFSB    5 minutes can Improve Student              Coordinator of University
     the repetition. And, because
                                                                        Learning (Without Adding [Much] to         Writing (WAC)
     the papers are very short,
     your grading will be                                               Your Workload.)
                                      Monday,        2-4        4188    Visualizing Success: Designing             Danette Paul,
                                      May 16         P.M.       JFSB    Posters, Brochures and PowerPoints         Associate Professor, English,
                                                                                                                   specializing in Rhetoric and

                                      Tuesday,       10-12      4188    Transforming Readers to Writers: Three     Beth Hedengren,
                                      May 17         A.M.       JFSB    Steps to Creating Effective Writing        Associate Coordinator of
                                                                        Assignments                                University Writing (WAC)

                                      Tuesday,       2-4        4188    Teaching Students to Talk in Class:        Brian Jackson, Associate
                                      May 17         P.M.       JFSB    Oral Communication Skills                  Coordinator of University
                                                                                                                   Writing (Advanced Writing)
 Wed,         10-12   4188   Styling Written English: How Knowing a   Debbie Harrison,
 May 18       A.M.    JFSB   Little about Grammar Helps You Be        Specialist in Writing and
                             Cool                                     English Language

 Wed,         2-4     4188   Minding the Research Gap: Teaching       Beth Hedengren,
 May 18       P.M.    JFSB   Students to Use Sources Effectively in   Associate Coordinator of
                             Support of Their Own Arguments           University Writing (WAC)

 Monday,      10-12   4188   A Physician, Not a Judge: Teacher        Beth Hedengren,
 May 23       A.M.    JFSB   Comments Can Help “Heal” Student         Associate Coordinator of
                             Writing                                  University Writing (WAC)

 Monday,      2-4     4188   Making the Grade: How to Evaluate        Joyce Adams,
 May 23       P.M.    JFSB   Student Papers Fairly and Consistently   Writing Specialist for the
                                                                      College of FHSS

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Contact Information
Beth Hedengren, Associate Coordinator, University Writing (WAC) o 4110B JFSB o 801-422-3486 o
University Writing Secretary o 4110 JFSB o 801-422-3565 o

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