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Announcement of new Carolinas WPA Board members

We are delighted to announce the results of the most recent election of Carolinas Writing Program Administrators Executive Board members! The following folks will join the Board for a two-year term beginning on January 1, 2018:

 

 

Congratulations to the new Board members!

 

2017 Carolinas WPA Board Election

Candidates’ Statements

 

To Vote: If you are on cwpa@lists.carolinaswpa.org, you will receive an email with a ballot link. Voting closes Sunday, November 26 at 11:59 p.m.

 

Representatives serve two year terms from January 2018-January 2020.

 

Candidate for South Carolina At-Large Representative (vote for one)

 

Jessica Ulmer is an instructor of English at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, SC and a doctoral student in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. Though she began teaching at the middle and high school level back in 2006, as she was completing her second master’s degree, Jessi began teaching at the two-year college level in Massachusetts and Rhode Island while searching for full time work. She soon joined the Two-Year College Association of NCTE and realized her love for all things two-year college. As such, Jessica has been working on an article for Teaching English in the Two Year College called “Writing about Writing at the Two-Year College,” stemming from her master’s thesis on the same topic. She has presented about this at the annual conferences for the Two-Year College Association – NorthEast chapter, the Two-Year College Association – SouthEast chapter, the Two-Year College Association – West chapter and the Council of Writing Program Administrators. An avid proponent for quality composition instruction across the Carolinas, Jessi presented at Wildacres in September 2017 about “Building Bridges” across both states in terms of English department collegiality and composition pedagogy. Since returning to Columbia, she has begun researching WPAs and department chairs at all of the colleges across South Carolina, in the hopes of bolstering SC attendance at CarWPA events as well.

 

Candidates for North Carolina At-Large Representative (vote for one)

 

Cat Mahaffey is the Associate Director of First-Year Writing and a Senior Lecturer in the University Writing Program at UNC Charlotte. She also serves as a Quality Matters Faculty Fellow for the Distance Education Department at UNC Charlotte. Cat has been an active member of Carolinas WPA for five years. Her research interests include online writing instruction (OWI), digital composition, technical and professional writing, and accessibility. Her list of professional affiliations includes the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA), the Global Society of Online Literacy Educators (GSOLE) and the OWI Standing Group of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).

 

Jan Rieman is a Senior Lecture in the University Writing Program at UNC Charlotte where she currently serves at First-Year Writing Director. She has taught First-Year Writing for over twenty years at a number of different institutions, from small, private colleges to large, public universities like UNC Charlotte, where she has been since 2007. Her research interests include writing program assessment, translingualism, and anti-racist writing assessment. She is co-editor of Next-Steps: New Directions in Writing about Writing, forthcoming from Utah State UP. Jan has been an active member of Carolinas WPA for five years and is interested in continuing to build on the collective power of the group to affect change for good in the current landscape of higher education in the Carolinas.

History of CarolinasWPA

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At the panel presentation for this year’s Council of Writing Program Administrators Conference (CWPA), former CarolinasWPA board member, Marsha Lee Baker, and fellow former board member and co-founder of CarolinasWPA, Meg Morgan, offered a comprehensive recollection of “The Lasting Work of the CarolinasWPA.” In her presentation, Meg—who now works at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte—synthesizes how and why the organization was founded.

The speech began with Meg establishing the rhetorical situation of the University of North Carolina higher education system at the time:

  • There were 17 university campuses total, 5 of which were HBCUs;
  • Of these campuses, enrollments ranged from 1,800 to 34,000;
  • And academic emphasis varied from liberal arts and sciences to science and technology.

This institutional diversity created a call to action for better cross-college communication in regard to WPAs.

Meg’s first efforts of communication with another Carolina WPA was with Don Bushman at UNC Wilmington in 1997-8. Meg initially made the call to Don to question UNC Wilmington’s policy on first-year composition credit for incoming transfer students—a case Meg was dealing with at Charlotte. Ultimately, this lead to a realization of how productive cross-university communication could be. Meg found contacts across several UNC websites, and in March 1999, at the CWPA breakfast at CCCC’s, she met with Marsha Lee Baker of Western Carolina University to discuss uniting WPAS across all state universities in North Carolina. The exigency of such a union was clear, and by the next month, Marsha Lee—who would be another former board member and co-founder of CarolinasWPA—and Meg had scheduled a meeting for September 1999 at UNC Chapel Hill.

At that point, the two to-be co-founders had put together a list of 12 WPAs that could potentially comprise the organization, which they were calling the North Carolina WPA. They had also constructed a tentative agenda, which included discussing:

  • attendance policies
  • first-year writing course content
  • graduate student training
  • creating a regional affiliate through CWPA or CCCC, and more.

According to Meg, the first meeting to go over this agenda was full of productive discussion, shared collaboration, and getting to know these members of the North Carolina WPA community. By the end of September, Meg had distributed contact information for 12 state university writing program directors and 1 private university program director (Duke).

In March 1999, the materializing group became further united through a survey administered by Erika Lindemann that focused on UNC campuses’ employment practices. The survey provided additional evidence of the value of shared learning, and by September 2000, the second statewide meeting was held at UNC Charlotte with Tim Peeples of Elon University—another CarolinasWPA co-founder—in attendance.

Finally, in March of 2002, Marsha Lee and Meg wrote a proposal to the Council of Writing Program Administrators. The North Carolina WPA had met four times successfully by then, and had invited South Carolina universities to join/offer representation at these meetings. With formal approval, the North Carolinas WPA was made an official affiliate of the Council of Writing Program Administrators in 2003. The group was re-named the CarolinasWPA and still proves to do excellent work uniting the ideas and efforts of writing programs in both North and South Carolina through collaboration, openness, and communication.

 

Jordan Stanley is currently a junior at Elon University. She is studying English with concentrations in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing, and works both in the Elon Writing Center and as a Writing Fellow.

Elon University QEP

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Elon University has made a commitment to “make writing a signature experience of every Elon student’s education” by establishing their community-wide QEP. In its implementation stage, it is called the Writing Excellence Initiative (WEI). Elon’s Director of Writing Across the University, Dr. Paula Rosinski, describes the QEP as an institution-wide project geared toward faculty, staff, and students.

“Our task is inclusive: to enhance the teaching and learning of all academic, professional and co-curricular writing of all students, faculty and staff,” says Dr. Rosinski.

Although the objectives of the Writing Excellence Initiative are overarching, the approach intentionally sets broad goals for departments and does not prescribe how those goals can be met. Elon acknowledges that each department, discipline, and program is unique and has its own disciplinary practice, so honoring those experts and their decisions allows infinite flexibility.

That being said, the WEI focuses on enhancing three different categories of writing: writing to learn, writing in a discipline/profession, and writing as a citizen. It is the hope of the university that the mastery of these three facets of writing will prepare students—undergraduate and graduate—to be excellent writers. According to the Writing Excellence Initiative, writing to learn will prepare Elon students to use writing to analyze information, understand new content, and generate knowledge. Writing in a discipline/profession, then, focuses on using writing to develop and communicate ideas effectively to readers within the context of his or her field of study, as well as outside of school. Finally, writing as a citizen will prepare Elon graduates to “communicate effectively with other members of his or her communities on issues of local, regional, or global significance.”

This preparation process begins in Elon’s Writing Center and through the Writing Across the University Program (WAU). With expanded hours, a new central location on the first floor of Belk Library, and opened satellite locations, the Writing Center has a growing presence on Elon’s campus. Similarly, WAU, though in its early stages, is making improvements throughout Elon’s academic departments, the Core Curriculum, and the Division of Student Life. The WAU currently supports faculty development in the best practices of writing pedagogy through a Summer Writing Institute, Pedagogy Enhancement Grants, Writing Research Grants, Writing Center Fellows, Anonymous Assignment Feedback from Writing Center Consultants, and group, department, program, and individual consultations.

“The process of working through the WEI means that faculty are devoting time to discussing with each other the role of writing in their disciplines, writing outcomes for their disciplines, writing pedagogies to pilot, [and] their curricula maps,” says Dr. Rosinski. This campus-encompassing approach has proved to result in one of the most powerful benefits: the conversations about writing that are taking place among teaching faculty/staff and between teachers and students. As Dr. Rosinski explains “These are conversations that are happening not only in faculty development workshops, but in small group conversations among colleagues, in department meetings, in casual conversation in cafes, in classrooms.”

The facilitation of these conversations is also aided by one of the most unique facets of Elon’s WEI: the Writing Fellows program. Though still in its pilot stage, the ultimate goal of the program is to assign fellows to work with Elon professors across all disciplines in order to communicate standards for writing pedagogy, shape writing-intensive assignments, and work with students one-on-one. That this program has both academic and professional benefits, and aids both students and professors, makes it truly unique to Elon.

What is also unique about Elon’s WEI is that it’s not just about academic writing in the majors, but about student life and the general education classes, too. The Core Curriculum contributes to the WEI by “refin(ing) its courses to provide additional instruction and support for steadily developing undergraduate students’ abilities to write as citizens” (elon.edu).

Although the Writing Excellence Initiative is still in its implementation process, the attitude toward enhancing writing on the Elon campus has already become one of willingness and appreciation. “The community as a whole is very invested in our Writing Excellence Initiative,” says Paula. “Which means that I get to spend my time and energy on working with faculty and staff to develop appropriate writing outcomes and engaging writing assignments, prompts and situations.”

 

Jordan Stanley is currently a junior at Elon University. She is studying English with concentrations in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing, and works both in the Elon Writing Center and as a Writing Fellow.

East Carolina University QEP: Student Enhancement

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By Jordan Stanley

As universities across the Carolinas begin and continue to nourish writing and English programs across their curriculums, the role of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) becomes an essential player in the development of these schools. QEPs typically involve a multi-faceted proposal for how to improve particular aspects of student learning in a university through specific strategies that aim to achieve an overarching goal. In the case of East Carolina University (ECU), this goal is to “integrate, align, and reinforce writing instruction for students” throughout their entire educational experience. In this post, I will focus on how ECU’s QEP is geared toward and advances students in particular.

The title of the ECU’s QEP, “Write Where You Belong,” is representative of the initiative’s focus on making writing pedagogy more inclusive and applicable to all disciplines—not just English. In an interview with Dr. Wendy Sharer—the QEP Director at ECU and past President of CarolinasWPA—she said that, “Perhaps the unique thing about ECU’s QEP is that we’re mixing several things.”

One major facet of the QEP is the ENGL 2201: Writing About the Disciplines QEP curriculum initiative. This initiative is a synthesis of the collaboration with two other universities. Appalachian State University faculty shared their plan to create a “vertical curriculum,” in which students take a writing-intensive course each year of their undergraduate degree program. George Mason University, in turn, shared the value of their junior year discipline-themed composition courses, such as writing in the social or natural sciences. Together, ECU blended these two ideas to create ENGL 2201, which is to be taken in the sophomore year and offers several different sections of the course that are themed around various disciplines, from health sciences to education. The goal of this program, it seems, is to both ensure the continuity of student writing development and to encourage expanding this development across disciplines.

The ECU QEP reinforces this continuous student development through the implementation of the University Writing Portfolio (UWPort). As first-year students, ECU undergraduates are required to take the ENGL 1100 composition class, where they will create an electronic UWPort. This will serve as a foundation for each time a student takes a course with the university’s “Writing Intensive” (WI) designation. Students will be able to build, their UWPort, uploading writing samples with accompanying “writing self-analysis,” which describes the student’s writing process and explains/assesses the choices they made throughout their composition.

What separates ECU’s UWPort from other university’s electronic portfolios is that, because many ECU students take at least one WI course per year, the end product will have great longitudinal value. “This process is unique in that is makes metacognitive writing (writing in which a writer studies and evaluates his or her own writing) a practice that students engage in across their time at ECU,” says Dr. Sharer. “A good deal of research suggests that metacognition is critical to learning and applying what one has learned to new contexts, so we hope that students will, by the end of their undergraduate degree programs, students will be better able to assess and hence improve their own writing.”

So far, ECU is seeing several direct benefits from the QEP, one of which being the construction and staffing of an actual Writing Center space. The use of this Writing Center has doubled from 2,500 to 5,000 appointments per academic year since before the QEP. This seems to serve as a manifestation of increasing writing awareness in the student body across ECU’s campus. An upcoming post will examine how faculty, too, are benefitting from ECU’s QEP.

Jordan Stanley is currently a junior at Elon University. She is studying English with concentrations in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing, and works both in the Elon Writing Center and as a Writing Fellow.