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Faculty Writing Fellows Overview

This semester-long "master class" supports faculty members and their departments/programs in their efforts to teach students to write more effectively in their disciplines and professions and to use writing in ways that encourage deep learning of disciplinary material. The goal of the program is to engage teams of faculty members in collaborative work together that will be of use to their departments.

All participants should finish the program with new ideas for writing assignments, new strategies for teaching writing, new writing-intensive course ideas, and/or suggestions for their departments on how to improve the overall teaching of writing of their majors, minors, and graduate students. At the end of the program, Fellows return to their departments to present their ideas and make suggestions for ways to integrate writing into their courses and programs in order to meet goals and needs specific to their context.

Participation and Commitment

Faculty members from any college may apply to participate in teams from their departments/programs. Teams should consist of 3-5 faculty members from the same programs/department. Teams bring a  wider view of the discipline/department, a broader set of skills, can collaborate to generate ideas, and are more likely than a single individual to be able to return to their departments and help effect change.

Faculty Fellows meet every Monday 3:30-5:00 for a full semester during the regular academic year. During the summer term, Fellows meet daily for an intensive 3-week session. During the program, faculty will complete short readings, engage in collaborative activities, and engage in research and exploration of writing in their departments and programs.

Incentives for Participating

Each faculty member who completes the full program and creates the required materials will receive $2,000 in professional development funds and will be able to use the title “Howe Faculty Writing Fellow” for the duration of their time at Miami. These faculty members and their home departments will also be eligible for additional resources, including:

  1. Substantial grants to continue their work related to writing, curriculum design, and assessment, with the hope that this funding can not only improve curricula, but also result in publications and presentations.
  2. Support to carry out their planned curricular changes, including embedded undergraduate consultants for their writing-intensive course, training from the HCWE for the GTAs who support their courses, and so on.
  3. Engagement in substantial research projects around writing that result in publications, presentations, and national grants.
  4. “Phase 2” Program initiatives that develop as a result of ongoing Fellow projects and concerns.

Specific Topics and Activities

The program acquaints participants with relevant theory and research about writing, teaching, learning, curriculum design, and assessment that they can immediately put in to use in their courses and programs. As a full group, participants engage readings and activities around the following topics for the first two-thirds of the program:

  • Exploration of threshold concepts: Threshold concepts are concepts critical for epistemological participation in a discipline (see Meyer and Land). They cannot be learned in one course or via one assignment, but are learned across time, requiring students to engage central but troublesome knowledge in an uncomfortable liminal space. What are some of your discipline’s threshold concepts? What are some threshold concepts about writing that are of particular relevance to your students? Where and how can these be better integrated into your curriculum? How can writing support the learning of your discipline’s threshold concepts?
  • Disciplinary values as embodied in writing: Writing is a social and rhetorical practice that both embodies and creates values and practices. Teams examine writing from across the represented disciplines to consider what “good writing” looks like in different contexts.
  • Consideration of how learning and transfer of knowledge work: Frequently students do not draw on their prior knowledge effectively or at all when moving from course to course. What does the research on transfer tell us that can help you encourage students to more effectively use what they know to solve problems in new settings?
  • Overview of best practices for designing writing assignments: What do you need your students to learn from your writing assignments? How do you design effective writing assignments that meet your particular disciplinary needs? How do you assign and teach those assignments for maximum learning?
  • Overview of best practices for responding to and assessing writing assignments: How do you make the best use of your time when responding to student writing? What do we know about how students read and understand faculty comments?
In the last third of the program, each disciplinary team determines and works on their project together.

Resources

  • Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies.
  • Ambrose, Susan, et al. How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching.
  • Bean, John. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom.
  • Elliott, Leslie Atkins, Kim Jaxon, and Irene Salter. Composing Science: A Facilitator’s Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom.
  • Hyland, Ken. Disciplinary Discourses: Social Interactions in Academic Writing.
  • National Research Council. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School.