What Are the Best Ways to Teach Writing in Anthropology?

 Director Elizabeth Wardle led the program, with assistance from Associate Director Ann Updike and Graduate Assistant Director Megan Schoettler.A team of Anthropology faculty completed the first-ever semester-long Howe Faculty Writing Fellows Program. James Bielo, Jeb Card, Yang Jia, and Leighton Peterson met weekly from February 3 to May 5, engaging in interactive discussion and activities designed to improve writing in Anthropology courses.

The faculty read about threshold concepts of writing and identified several threshold concepts for Anthropology, They also studied ways experts differ from novices, examined features of writing across different disciplines, considered how prior knowledge informs writing practices, and looked at some best practices for designing assignments and responding to a variety of types of writing (including writing to learn, formal writing, commenting on student writing, and engaging students in a writing process).

The team conducted their own project, to specifically respond to needs and interests in their own departments. These projects included creating modules on writing in their specific disciplines, as well as conducting surveys and interviews with colleagues and students regarding writing in their department's courses. Each team made plans to continue their work around writing with their larger department in the summer and fall.

The Anthropology Department was one of three faculty to participate in this pilot program.

Graduates of the program are given the title Howe Faculty Writing Fellow and will continue to work with the Howe Center for Writing Excellence on various projects moving forward. These projects might include piloting embedded consulting projects, establishing departmental liaisons with student writing consultants, and creating public resources about writing in their disciplines.