a number of sources: the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE), and the soon-to-be-released report of the Review of Writing in the Baccalaureate Core. Mike traces some common threads in these reports: a need for OSU students to do more writing across their courses and beyond writing courses, and a need for more challenging writing assignments.
A good writing assignment not only improves students’ writing ability, but also fosters growth and expansion of intellectual skills above and beyond writing. Importantly, it is this set of skills that employers feel recent college graduates most lack: a survey of employers conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) in 2007 revealed that the four qualities on which entry-level employees are most unprepared are, in order of mention, global knowledge, self-direction, writing, and critical thinking. Improvement in all of these areas can be engendered through well thought out writing assignments, but are these the kinds of assignments that we are assigning our students?
During spring term, the WIC team sat down with faculty across the curriculum to gather information about the twelve departmental writing guides currently supported on the WIC website. Most of the guides were created in the ’90s and early 2000s, and the majority were funded by WIC department development grants. The “point persons” we spoke with for each guide were very generous with their time, energy, and insights, and provided a treasure trove of ideas about the writing guides going forward.
Through the annual Culture of Writing Awards, WIC and participating departments and schools foster a commitment to excellence in undergraduate student writing and recognize the value of writing across the disciplines. Participation in the Culture of Writing Awards has increased from 6 departments in 2006 to 15 departments in 2011. In that time span, 99 students have earned recognition and cash awards through either individual or team writing projects. This year, participation continues to be strong with early results showing 15 participating departments.
If you have students who don't have a lot of experience doing academic library research or who might need a little refresher, the OSU Libraries' has some great tools and resources for you to share with your students. The OSU Libraries' How to Guide is a self-paced online guide and tutorial on all aspects of doing library research. The guide is divided into sections about finding journal articles, finding books, citing sources and tips for more advanced users such as cited reference searching.
The Introductory WIC Faculty Seminar is offered each fall term and meets five sessions of two hours each. Faculty from across the university come together to discuss pedagogical issues such as using minimally graded writing to improve learning and critical thinking, designing effective writing assignments, giving effective feedback on student writing, teaching students to revise, and employing effective grading practices. The seminar gives faculty an opportunity to meet colleagues from across the university and discuss issues of writing in the disciplines. Faculty complete the course with concrete plans for their own teaching and receive a modest honorarium for completion of the seminar.