Faculty who participated in an intensive Writing in the Disciplines workshop share how they have been applying principles and practices in their classes.

In this special newsletter section on Writing in the Disciplines (WID), Adelphi faculty who participated in an intensive two day workshop this past June, “Teaching Writing from the Core of Your Discipline,” share how they have been applying principles and practices from the workshops in their classes this fall. As testament to Adelphi faculty’s interest in the high-impact practice of Writing in the Disciplines, over forty faculty members responded to a call for participation. The workshop was designed by Writing Program Director and Associate Professor of English, Michael Matto and offered in collaboration with the FCPE and the Writing Center. The workshops were supported by the Provost’s office and the FCPE and led by Professor Matto and Dr. Belle Gironda, Instructional Designer in the FCPE.

While the original goal was to include 10-15 faculty members in the workshops, because of the overwhelming response and a desire to keep the sessions small enough to be highly interactive, Matto and Gironda worked to add a second intensive to be held later that same month. The Provost’s office and the FCPE provided additional funding.  The final total number of participants was 25 and the disciplines of the participating faculty included: Chemistry, Psychology, Political Science, History, Business, Communication Science and Disorders, Curriculum and Instruction, Nursing, Sociology, English, Health Studies, Early Childhood Education, Foreign Languages, Philosophy, Social Work and Dance. All participants received a stipend, to acknowledge the value of their time. In return, they had to complete all of  the workshop sessions and commit to “giving back” by participating in the running of a future workshop, offering themselves as a resource within their own department, or sharing sample assignments or syllabi.

Each workshop session extended over two consecutive six-hour days, with some homework in the evening. The time was divided between pedagogical theory and practice, allowing for extended conversations about similarities and differences among the writing demands of various disciplines. The discussions were lively and full of laughter and reflection. Many of the participants shared that one of the many benefits of the workshop experience was the opportunity to discuss teaching issues with colleagues from across the disciplines . They particularly valued the insights they gained about the varied terrain that students have to navigate as they move from class to class and discipline to discipline throughout their days, weeks and semesters.  

Day one of the workshop focused on writing as critical thinking, designing effective assignments and variations across disciplines. Day two focused on efficient and effective ways to respond to student writing. During and after the workshops, faculty worked on revising syllabi and assignments to better teach disciplinary thinking through writing exercises. All participants received a copy of John Bean’s book, Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking and Active Learning in the Classroom and were assigned readings from it before and during the workshops. The text was a uniformly popular resource and the workshop participants asked that more copies be made available so they could recommend it to their colleagues. As a result, the FCPE now has four copies in their library that can be signed out by faculty and the Adelphi Library has acquired a three user license for the e-book version.

One of the stated goals of the workshops had been to help to build community among those teaching writing across the disciplines and to extend their knowledge and experience across the University through cross-disciplinary and intradisciplinary sharing of ideas and resources. As witness to their interest in community-building, workshop participants had requested the opportunity to reconvene with their colleagues this Fall to check-in about how they were applying the knowledge from the workshops. The FCPE coordinated some meeting times and several participants met with each other and the workshop leaders over lunch in November. In the immediate aftermath of the workshops, participant Emily Kang, Associate Professor of Education, created a common Google drive folder where the faculty in the workshop session she attended could share course materials and resources with each other. Other participants are involved in preparing workshops for colleagues in their departments and other forth-coming “giving-back” activities. Following are a series of articles by and interviews with some of the workshop participants who have taken the time to describe how they have been applying learning from the workshops in their classes and departmental activities.

This article is from the Fall 2016 edition of the FCPE Newsletter.

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