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Published:

November 28, 2016
 
Tagged: Faculty Center for Professional Excellence

School of Education Technology Committee is Creating Writing Support for Students

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by Cynthia Proscia, Clinical Assistant Professor, Health Studies

The Ruth S. Ammon School of Education Technology Committee decided to make this year’s goal the following: using electronic platforms to provide guidance, feedback and scoring of writing within the discipline assignments.  

Many faculty I’ve spoken with have expressed the desire to help their students become better writers and more critical thinkers. While students arrive at college with a wide range of abilities in these areas, there are things we can do to help them move forward from wherever they are. Some ways we can further this goal include:  assigning carefully selected readings, providing clearly written directions for writing assignments, giving students a clear set of criteria to follow in order to score well, defining an audience in our writing assignments, visiting the writing center, and providing feedback to students that elicits improvement in their critical thinking, their ability to make connections and issues of structure and style in their writing.  

In an effort to take an active role in helping our students improve their writing, the SOE Technology Committee broke up into sub-committees to do the following:  

  • Conduct a literature review to aid us in creating the intensive writing assignments criteria
  • Create phasic  rubrics  to use for scoring of the writing assignment for the outline, draft, peer evaluation and final version of the writing assignment
  • Create both quantitative and qualitative tools to assess the  effectiveness of the electronic platform
  • Research electronic platforms that could be piloted by the six committee members that created WID assignments.  This electronic platform should support student writing samples and provide feedback to the students
  • Meet with the writing center staff to see how we can utilize the department’s expertise
  • Research grants once the pilot is completed so that we can continue to sustain this project
  • Approve a pilot writing assignment for each unit represented on the SOE Tech Committee
  • Identify the three criteria we would be measuring for this assignment

Aside from our monthly meetings and subcommittee work, many of us attended the Writing Intensive two-day workshops given by the FCPE. This workshop clarified some productive things to focus on, including the following:

  • Aligning readings with the assignments and making the readings relevant in quality but not large in quantity.
  • Using peer evaluation more effectively including the practice of providing instructions and guiding questions for the peer evaluators to use.
  • Designing assignments to provide students with the information and guidance they need without over-doing it. In our zeal as educators we may seek to preempt any and all mistakes or misinterpretations our students might make, thus depriving them of learning opportunities. Don’t spoon feed students to do “scavenger hunt” type of assignments, but provide them with enough guidance to develop a persuasive paper regardless of their topic. Gives student a few mini writing assignments prior to jumping into a WID intensive assignment.
  • Feedback, feedback, feedback – providing effective, formative feedback (before the final grade) to actually aid a student in their writing voice, style, direction and mechanics. One of the biggest challenges we have as educators is providing students with feedback that actually guides substantive improvement in their writing– not just technical  corrective feedback at the sentence level, but more wholistic comments that have to do with major issues, like the alignment of their evidence with their argument.
  • Identifying an audience for the students – this helps them narrow the scope of information, and to write in ways that resemble real-world contexts, if they know who this paper is targeted to.
  • Scaffolding writing assignments and readings to lead up to WID intensive writing assignment so they are building skills and confidence throughout the course

The School of Education Technology subcommittee was chaired by  Emilia Patricia Zarco, HPE and Cynthia Proscia, HPE. The members of the subcommittee are as follows: Dana Battaglia, CS&D, Matthew Curinga, C&I, Robert Danielowich, C&I, Susan Eichenholtz, C&I, Kevin Mercier, HP, Mary Jean McCarthy, C&I, Lisa Minicozzi, C&I, Yula Serpanos, CS&D, Aaron Hung, C&I,  Fayth Vaughn-Shavuo. Ex-Officio members are Thomas Jennings, FCPE, and Kerry Nicolett, IT. Matt Lavery, Director of the Writing Center, also provided guidance and support for this project and the WID workshops were taught by Michael Matto, Associate Professor of English and Writing Program Director, and Belle Gironda, Instructional Designer in the FCPE. Support for those workshops was provided by the Provost’s Office and the FCPE.

 
Tagged: Faculty Center for Professional Excellence