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Writing Across the Curriculum

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by

Joy Kim

on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of Writing Across the Curriculum

Assess the success of the Writing Center in promoting Writing Across the Curriculum
Find differences and similarities in writing standards across Trinity's Distribution Requirements
Our Objectives
Arts
For first years, the biggest challenge is learning how to construct an articulate, provable thesis.
Our Methods
Researched other Writing Centers' online resources for discipline-specific writing (UNC, Harvard, USC)
Developed questions for faculty interviews with inspiration from University of Pittsburg's study in WAC
by Shannon Burke
and Joy Kim

Writing Across
the Curriculum

Humanities
Social Sciences
Numeric and Symbolic Reasoning
Writing Proficiency
Natural Sciences
Defined successful writing as having a clear argument with varied forms of evidence and using proper diction
Intro paragraphs need greatest improvement, which should stay away from generalizations and cliches and clearly state their thesis
Students improve the most when they apply professors' comments, but Reger and Antrim have been commenting less because students are not reading them
Reger found the Writing Center to be extremely helpful in improving students' writing
Only complaint is when tutors do not know anything about the discipline, writers become frustrated
Tutors cannot know highly technical vocabulary, however
Antrim has students (especially ESL) who come to the Writing Center, but does not know if it is helpful
Interviewed Profs. Cheyenne Brindle, Denise Rau, Edward Fitzgerald, and Maria Krisch in the Chemistry Department
In intro classes, profs cannot tell if students comprehend scientific ideas because grammar and organization are so poor
More pre-writing & consultation from profs & TAs are necessary
All profs are willing to give feedback before submission, but only high-achieving students usually take advantage
Writing Associates are helpful in developing writing, voice, and organization, but need to further study format of lab reports
Do not know the difference between reports before/after a WC visit
Refer students to resources on Moodle
Most crucial thing to look for is if student understands her own ideas; think of analyzing data like analyzing a quote in an English paper
Zayde Antrim, Professor of History and Department Chair of International Studies
Gary Reger, Professor of History and Department Chair of Classics
Why is writing important in your classes?
What defines successful writing in your dept. or field?
What is the first thing you notice when reading student work?
How valuable do you find the WC in improving student work? Where are we not as helfpul?
Interviewed profs who already send multiple students to the WC, chair a department, and/or teach both freshmen and upperclassmen
Analyzed faculty responses to find patterns or distinctions
Compiled findings to create online resources, including types of assignments, Trin Tips, and links to other resources
(Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Numerical & Symbolic Reasoning, Natural Sciences, Writing Proficiency)
Create resources to equip Writing Associates to guide students toward pertinent disciplines
Conclusion
Cynthia Butos
Professor of Writing 101, First Year Seminar, and other Writing Courses
Students write almost daily, from reading responses to argumentative and research papers
Essays are thesis, evidence, and analysis driven
Common problems include students' lazy thinking, shown in too much summary or repetition rather than analysis
Finds the Writing Center invaluable, especially in constructing or improving theses
Though Butos believes macro errors are more important, and that tutors' focus is not on grammar, it would help if tutors knew more about basic sentence structure errors
Diane Zannoni
Professor of Economics and Econometrics
The best student work comes from extensive revisions
Revisions allow a student to engage and become personally invested in a topic
Erin Valentino
Research Education Librarian and First Year Seminar Professor in Art History
Benjamin Carbonetti, Professor of Political Science, International Relations and Human Rights
Students know how to write, but
they need regular practice to communicate their ideas well.
The main point should be stated clearly in the introduction, as the body of the essay used to prove this position
Editing acts as an intellectual conversation, helping students not only revise their work, but increase their critical thinking
At the early levels, it is best if a tutor as limited or know background experience, so that they can make comments about argument structure and the functions of paragraphs
At upper levels, background is useful to understand disciplinary conventions of assignments.
Writing gives students the chance to test out knowledge and ideas in a more dynamic way than a test setting
Clarity of the subject of argument, process of argument, and how one plans to defend an argument are the hallmarks of good writing
An unclear introductory paragraph can be an indication of an entire essay with unclear arguments
The intro directs the reader towards what to look for in the rest of the paper
The importance of a clear argument was present across the disciplines
Students have been revising and absorbing comments professor comments less in their general writing process
Online resources are useful supplements, but one on one conversation is most productive for students of all levels
Differences in disciplines are not changes in structure, but changes in mentality about the same structure.
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