CFP: Reclaiming Accountability

Reclaiming Accountability:

Using the Work of Re/Accreditation to Improve Writing Programs

Edited by Wendy Sharer, William Banks, Tracy Ann Morse, and Michelle F. Eble


In an era of increased public scrutiny and accountability, faculty and administrators at colleges and universities often shudder when they hear the word “accreditation.”  For many, implementing, tracking, and sustaining large-scale assessment of student learning for accreditation or reaccreditation purposes are daunting and joyless, but necessary, tasks. Yet, within the accreditation cycle, writing program administrators (WPAs) across the country have found the impetus for substantial, long-term change in composition and WAC programs. WPAs, in fact, are in a unique position to lead the development of a culture of assessment on their campuses and, through their efforts, to change campus understandings of and approaches to writing instruction in ways that have not been possible since the birth of the WAC movement. For example, as a condition for reaccreditation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) requires institutions to design, implement, and assess a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a university-wide, long-term (5 year) program aimed at improving some aspect of student learning. Many SACS-accredited schools have used the QEP to advance and improve writing instruction at their institutions because writing is central to endeavors across campus.


The editors of this proposed collection are faculty at a large, regional state university in the Southeast who chose to use reaccreditation as an opportunity, in a time of economic scarcity, to garner institutional and financial support for significant revisions to their composition and WAC programs. We seek to build a collection that will help faculty use accreditation to gain the kinds of benefits that we have witnessed, both at our own institution and through our studies of accreditation-related initiatives at other schools around the country.


More specifically, we hope to bring together a series of critical case studies of writing programs that have planned, implemented, and/or assessed the impact of large-scale, accreditation-supported initiatives. In addition to providing examples of how others in the profession might approach such work, the book will illustrate how faculty can use accreditation to cultivate campus-wide discussions of writing and to better meet local student learning needs.


We envision that the collection will be divided into three sections that correspond to the key stages of writing program enhancement projects: Development, Implementation, and Improvement.


Possible questions addressed in these sections include:

  • How have faculty from different areas of the country used accreditation / reaccreditation to cultivate campus-wide support for writing program development and change?
  • What strategies have WPAs used to engage faculty from across the university in productive discussion about changes to existing writing programs?
  • What kinds of large-scale changes to writing programs have WPAs undertaken in response to accreditation processes? Why? What theories inform these university-wide plans?
  • How have writing centers been part of accreditation-driven institutional change?
  • How can university-wide conversations help faculty across the institution move from the notion of remediation and inoculation in first-year writing courses to focusing on improving writing throughout the college experience?
  • What challenges—financial, curricular, administrative, etc.—do WPAs face in their efforts to develop and implement accreditation-related changes to composition and/or WAC programs?
  • How can WPAs increase faculty buy-in for large-scale changes?
  • What kinds of assessments have faculty used to measure the impact of the changes they have implemented in support of accreditation efforts? And what alterations have been made to improvement plans as a result of these assessments?
  • How might the fields of composition studies and writing program administration contribute to WPAs efforts to improve writing instruction through the accreditation process?
  • What have faculty learned about the processes of programmatic change through their work with accreditation? How are conversations about accreditation reshaping the field?


Submission Guidelines

We welcome proposals for case studies and critical essays, addressing successful implementations as well as challenges, that speak to the field’s role in re/accreditation. Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short bio of approximately 150 words by October 1, 2012 to Dr. Wendy Sharer (