Connecting composition and career
The second component of the curriculum enhancement initiative will be to integrate writing self-analysis into writing-intensive classes. In these courses, students will be required to upload writing samples to a university writing portfolio and include a self-analysis along with the samples. The self-analysis will document how the student approached his or her writing topic, why they chose a specific writing method, how their drafts evolved, and why certain changes made the document more clear, concise, and effective.
“Best practices about learning how to write say that in order for a writer to adapt to new situations and meet changing expectations, he has to be able to step back and analyze the situation he is facing,” said Sharer. “One way to promote these kinds of connections is through self-analysis of one’s own writing.”
This writing portfolio component will be a key area of assessment for the QEP, according to Sharer.
“Every year, we will pull out and sample portfolios from graduating students and assess them to see how well the samples included from the upper-level courses and their major are meeting the QEP student learning outcomes,” she said.
Students also will reap the benefits of an expanded University Writing Center in Joyner Library. A new, larger space designated specifically for the writing center has been created, including a digital studio where students can practice different methods of writing and communication.
“We know that writing is often more than just typing your paper in Microsoft Word,” said Sharer. “This digital studio will give us a space where consultants can help with different modes of writing, and students can work on group presentations, as well.”
Along with the expansion of the writing center, more writing consultants will be hired. Some of these consultants will serve as writing mentors, which are embedded tutors in writing intensive classes. The mentor will work with a particular class of students and be familiar with the assignments, communicate with the professor, and attend several class meetings. Ideally, the mentor will be someone who has taken the class before in the past. Starting next fall, all mentors and consultants will take a three semester-hour course in tutoring writing.
“We want to make sure our mentors and consultants are well prepared,” said Sharer. “They will also participate in ongoing professional development while they are mentoring and consulting.”
An investment in quality
Through the faculty development component of the QEP, Sharer said, instructors will focus on how to integrate writing self-analysis into writing-intensive classes in meaningful ways. Another focus will be to prepare the faculty in the English department who currently teach ENGL 1200 to teach the new ENGL 2201 course.
Sharer emphasized that a major part of faculty development will be making sure that instructors of English 2201 are aware of the kinds of writing their students are going to do in the future. Instructors of writing-intensive courses will also be aware of the topics that students learn in English 2201. A primary goal of the QEP is to bridge the gap between composition in the English department and writing in courses from every discipline on campus.
Faculty from both the main and Health Sciences campuses are getting involved in “Write Where You Belong.” Faculty from programs all over ECU have met with Sharer as well as Will Banks, director of the University Writing Program; Tracy Morris, director of the English composition program; and Nicky Caswell, director of the writing center.
“These faculty are called writing liaisons,” Sharer said. “We want to make sure there is good communication between the people who administer the programs and the departments that offer the writing-intensive classes.”
Sharer added that working with the liaison group has been an exciting part of setting the QEP’s mission into action.
“It’s been really nice working with these folks and to see how much faculty at the university value student writing,” she said. “They really want to help the students improve as writers.”
ECU submitted its QEP to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). SACS then conducted an on-site review of the plan April 2-4.
At 1 p.m. on May 1, in conjunction with ECU's annual commemoration of Founders Day and University Awards Day, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held for the new homes of the Quality Enhancement Plan, the University Writing Center, the University Writing Program and the Office for Faculty Excellence. The event will be held in the Joyner Library.