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Writing Across the Curriculum

Workshops and Institutes: College-Wide Offerings

Annual Spring Institute

In May or June, WAC has offered a two- or three-day intensive WAC Faculty Development Institute designed to address critical issues in college literacy. Participants in the institute become eligible to apply for the Writing Development Program.

We also offer a variety of workshops and institutes focused on special topics. In these workshops, faculty from multiple disciplines learn about effective writing and reading strategies, share and revise assignments, and develop new approaches to improve student writing in their classes. Examples include the following:

Making Connections Across an FYI Block

This day-long workshop, open to faculty teaching in the Freshman Year Initiative Program, was designed to support instructors in using writing to make connections across linked courses. Faculty Development Associates Rachel Ihara and Tyler Schmidt led faculty in a series of activities exploring different approaches to interdisciplinary collaboration and strategies for using writing to connect courses across academic disciplines. Faculty analyzed reports written by instructors in learning communities from previous semesters, compared various writing assignments for first-year students, and created linking activities from their own writing assignments.

Writing for the ‘Real World’

Co-led by Faculty Development Associate Tyler Schmidt and Assistant Professor Richard Holody, this three-session workshop introduced faculty to the philosophy behind Writing Across the Curriculum as well as to writing-to-learn strategies, including ways to use “low-stakes,” informal writing to support “high-stakes” assignments. Professor Holody and Professor Jessica Kahn, also from the Sociology & Social Work department, illustrated how they “scaffolded” assignments in their class. In the last session participants brought in their own assignments and worked together to redesign them and/or add supporting assignments. Participants in the workshop series included eleven faculty members from ten departments.

Quantitative Reasoning Task Force

Lehman faculty involved in the campus’s WAC program have become increasingly interested in exploring the ways writing can be linked to quantitative material in their courses. Observing that students often struggle with understanding and writing about statistics, charts, graphs, and research data, professors across the disciplines are exploring the ways writing can be used as a tool for working with numbers. In the fall of 2007, WAC convened a Quantitative Reasoning Task Force. Task force members Andrea Boyar (Health Sciences), Judith Duncker (Political Science), Mario González-Corzo (Economics), Robin Kunstler (Health Sciences), and Tyler T. Schmidt (WAC) began documenting how writing currently is being used to facilitate quantitative reasoning. Members of the task force shared assignments and student work focused on quantitative data and discussed the similarities and differences of working with quantitative data across the disciplines. The task force also generated ideas for a spring workshop series focused on the uses of writing to support quantitative reasoning.

Working with Numbers: Using Writing to Improve Quantitative Reasoning

In this workshop series on quantitative writing, faculty from a variety of disciplines came together to discuss quantitative reasoning learning goals and quantitative literacy; consider writing strategies that help students interpret, synthesize, and evaluate quantitative data; craft sample quantitative writing assignments; share student work from those assignments; and discuss how faculty can use writing assignments to help students prepare for the quantitative portion of the CUNY Proficiency Exam.

Writing with BlackBoard Workshop

In Spring 2009, twelve faculty members participated in a two-session WAC workshop focused on creating writing assignments to support student thinking and learning on BlackBoard.With assistance from faculty development associate Carla DuBose, WAC coordinators crafted exercises for faculty focused on creating a community among students via discussion boards, creating effective prompts for online assignments related to faculty’s thinking and learning goals for students, integrating online student writing into class discussion, using visual material on BlackBoard, and the use of blogs and wikis (technology most students are familiar with) to promote analytical thinking and student learning. Faculty participated face-to-face in the two sessions and remotely on a WAC BlackBoard site. Building on the success of this effort, WAC will offer a three-day workshop on BlackBoard in Spring 2010.

Spring SOTL Seminar

Interested past participants from our year-long program reconvened for a “refresher” in the spring, based in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL). Faculty who participated in this additional semester:

  • Attended a Friday seminar that met monthly during the spring semester;
  • Met occasionally with a former writing fellow now serving as a WAC faculty-development associate;
  • Pursued an area of inquiry in their teaching with writing; and
  • Distilled that work into a faculty-development presentation or a web-based display for dissemination locally and nationally.

Participants in the SOTL seminar were invited to play a leadership role in planning and facilitating WAC core activities in the following year.