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Yesterday, Lindee and I met with the participants of the first WAC Fellows Program. This semester, we have 11 participants from three departments: Nursing, Chemistry, and History. The first session was dedicated to the discussion of some fundamental issues of writing istruction in the disciplines. After a round of introductions and the description of the program's goals, objectives, and procedures, Lindee and I gave brief presentations on the foundations of our disciplinary knowledge about writing. Lindee spoke about the specificlity and contextual nature of disciplinary writing, busting some "myths" about "generically good writing" in the process. I spoke about the Instructional Desing Model of WAC and its benefits to the participants of the Program. The instructional design model emphasizes learning objectives over writing objectives, but sees writing as a means of improving learning. It also allows for both formal and informal writing assignments as a means of improving learning, which may be particularly salient at our university where a lot of classes are large and instructors do not have time to formally grade all writing assignments.

After our presentation, we opened the floow for some discussion, guided by the questions in a handout which we had prepared and given to participants in the beginning of the session. The primary purpose of the discussion was to begin an "inventory" or qualities, knowledge, and skills that disciplinary faculty would like to see in their graduates and which of those qualities can be achieved or enhanced through writing. With some differences between the teams, in general, the level of agreement was high. Faculty value the following traits in their graduates:

  • Critical thinking
  • Ability to find, analyze, and use research
  • Ability to synthesize information
  • Ethics in research
  • Ability to contextualize knowledge

This is a useful list which we will use to help us generate ideas for discipline specific sets of writing-related learning outcomes. Next, Lindee and I meet with all three departmental teams to begin working on those outcomes. Stay tuned for more updates on the program.