vicki_cropBy Vicki Tolar Burton, WIC Director

In an article in this issue, Kevin Gable, Chair of the Baccalaureate Core Committee (BCC), describes the process and data used by the Bacc Core Committee in
determining whether WIC courses in colleges under review will be recertified.  Reviewed in 2013-14 were Colleges of Agricultural Sciences, College of Business, and College of Public Health and Human Sciences.  Gable’s article also alerts readers to the key problems the committee saw in this first WIC review—problems that led to some courses being only provisionally recertified (with a given time to fix problems) or even not recertified. The review results are summarized here.

College Recertified Provisionally Recertified Not Recertified Review Cont’d until 2014-15
Agricultural  Sciences 5 4 0 3
Public Health and Human Sciences 3 4 1 0
Business 0 4 0 0

WIC status was removed from four courses at the request of the units offering the courses.  These were primarily housekeeping removals for courses that had been discontinued or replaced by other WIC courses.

Congratulations to faculty whose courses were recertified.  I especially want to recognize two faculty whose course materials were named Exemplary by the BCC: Scott Heppell for FW 454, and John Lambrinos for HORT 318.

Regarding class size for WIC courses under review: only two courses in CAS and two courses in College of Business were over allowed class size.  No courses in PHHS were over class size limit.  Thus overall 81% of WIC courses reviewed fell within class size guidelines (under 30 students).

In spring of 2015, half of the WIC courses in the College of Liberal Arts will be reviewed—those in the Schools of Writing, Literature, and Film; Psychology; Arts and Communication. Remaining units in CLA will be reviewed in 2016.  Colleges of Engineering and Forestry are currently under review.

Upcoming WIC events include a winter term workshop for units who have courses with provisional recertification.  The WIC staff will answer questions and help with course revisions to meet Bacc Core standards.  There will also be faculty events for the College of Liberal Arts in preparation for their upcoming reviews.

1237706_704419146362_665296403_n-e1398835969769By Jacob Day, WIC GTA

As the digital world becomes more and more a part of the academic landscape, the ways in which we teach writing must adapt. Many instructors already teach online courses, and almost everyone uses Blackboard or Canvas in some way to supplement face-to-face teaching. Yet, as the climate of the university changes, shouldn’t our pedagogical methods also change? In some cases, this question is completely rhetorical, especially for those who are already teaching online courses and now must change some of their tried and true teaching strategies; some assignments and activities just simply cannot be done online. As more and more instructors find themselves trying to adapt their writing activities and assignments to digital formats, the WIC staff has been frequently asked for suggestions to ease this transition.

While there are many available online resources for the teaching of writing, the wiki is one we would like to spotlight today. According to, the best known wiki, wikis are web applications that allow people “to add, modify, or delete content in collaboration with others.” Unlike blogs and similar applications, wikis have no defined leader or owner, and they use a very simple markup language to add content and to structure the site.

For tips and suggestions on how to effectively use wikis in the classroom, we asked Oregon State’s Dr. Ehren Pflugfelder, who is an assistant professor in the school of Writing, Literature, and Film, and focuses primarily on technical/professional writing, rhetoric, and the teaching of writing ( We sat down with Ehren to discuss simple ways wikis can be used in the classroom, online or face-to-face, to better promote a collaborative, virtual atmosphere.

Pflugfelder began by explaining to us that there are many types of wikis, including Wikipedia wikis, which catalogue information in specific ways. Encyclopedic wikis can be used for collaborative projects, but they are best used for editing already existing pages and teaching structure and style, because they have “talk” pages where people can discuss how pages are organized and structured. Pflugfelder cautioned, however: “If instructors want students to create Wikipedia pages, there are a lot of resources on Wikipedia, but they should have students create actual Wikipedia pages—not idiosyncratic assignments that don’t fit the Wikipedia mold. Wiki pages that are not in the Wikipedia style will likely be radically changed or taken down.” If instructors do choose to use the Wikipedia genre as an assignment, there are Wikipedia pages that explain how to write effectively on Wikipedia. Wikipedia assignments could potentially include “meta” elements, where students can reflect on why they decided to keep the information they kept and why they organized information in specific ways.

If instructors do not want to have students create Wikipedia pages, but rather use blank wikis to create new content and pages, there are many types of appropriate wiki applications. There are many websites that can be used to build wiki pages, but some of the easiest and more frequently used are: Wikispaces ( ), Wikia (, and Pbworks’ wiki ( These wiki building websites require creating an account, but they are all free. Once a blank wiki is created, the instructor can then share the url of the newly created page or give students the appropriate login and password. After students access the course’s specific Wiki page, they can then add, edit, and structure content online in that virtual space.

Pflugfelder explained that assignments can be made with these types of wikis to talk about definitions, say in a science course like biology. Students working in groups can, for example, build definitions of something like a plant cell in order to develop a wiki page. If students have differing opinions, then they can choose the definition they believe is most accurate. Those types of changes will be tracked, so all students get credit for participating even if some of their contributions don’t make the final cut.

Pflugfelder also recommended teaching the importance of citations through wiki pages. An instructor can use a wiki page as a repository for information uploaded by students that, for example, might be on an exam—a study guide generated by the students. The instructor can obviously control some of the content if it is not relevant or accurate. But the students would need to provide citations for their information in order to gain credibility with their peers and instructor.

Group research projects can also be assigned using wikis. Pflugfelder explained that many group projects are successful in wiki pages because students can see the structure of assignments and information, and use subsections and links to create additional structure. For example, if the topics of different group projects are completely different, then they can use separate wikis. If topics are related, however, the separate wiki pages can be linked together as subsections. In an engineering course, to give one example, an instructor could have students generate a page about factors of safety. Students could construct the page throughout the term, while the instructor monitors their progress, like journal writing. The instructor can then see if they edited, what they contributed, and when the work was done. Almost any group assignment that requires students to collaborate and contribute information to a singular or scaffold project can utilize wikis in a virtual space.

There are many ways to use wikis for educational purposes. We have provided just a few examples, but please do not feel limited to these suggestions. If wikis might be something you would like to try, and the above examples wouldn’t work in your courses or with your pedagogical approach, consider assignments you already use and try and adapt them to the wiki format in a way that best suits you and your students.

kevingablesBy Kevin Gable, Bacc Core Chair

Category review by the Baccalaureate Core Committee is an important element of maintaining the Bacc Core as a a vital piece of the OSU undergraduate curriculum.  The committee considers a variety of information about a course: data extracted from BANNER regarding the group of students served by the course; information provided by the unit offering the course (including detailed description of assessment processes and interpretations of assessment data); and soon, responses by students to questions on eSET forms.  The committee’s primary goal is to assure that each course continues to meet the goals established for the category, and to provide advice on improving the effectiveness of the unit meeting those goals.

The WIC category is more complex than some others because of the specific writing metrics specified in the criteria.  Further, each WIC course is intended to both use writing as a learning tool and to convey to students professional expectations in their field.  The Committee sees a variety of common issues that crop up to varying degrees among WIC courses:

  • The total word count for writing exercises is often not specified.  We accept that an 8 page paper will satisfy the requirement assuming 250 words per page.
  • It is often unclear whether, and to what degree, drafts receive thoughtful and complete critique by the instructor.
  • The criteria demand that revision of a draft of the major formal writing exercise is mandatory; this is often not explicitly stated.  It’s best to include due dates for drafts and revisions in the course schedule.
  • Links between Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes and course activities are often vague or even not evident at all.
  • Transparency on syllabi – both with how the course fits the category and how the specific activities in the course will help students achieve the Category Learning Outcomes.
  • We often seek more detailed indication of assessment plans/implementation.
  • We often seek more complete assessment data collection/reporting.
  • For courses with multiple sections and instructors each term, there is often divergence of outcome with respect to students achieving the learning outcomes.  It is best to provide intentional opportunities for all involved with the course to discuss student achievement (or lack thereof) of the Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes associated with the course.

And, of course, there are the minor mechanical issues that need regular attention on the syllabus:  statement that the course fulfills the WIC requirement of the Baccalaureate Core; verbatim statement of the category student learning outcomes for the category; provision of course schedule and grading criteria as required by the University’s syllabus criteria ( including links to policies on academic honesty ( and a statement regarding students with disabilities.

We certainly hope that by alerting you to common issues that have regularly arisen, you can be proactive and address any problems before review.  We do regularly cite exemplary review packages for courses that are fully meeting our expectations and articulating not just how the course is succeeding but also how the unit’s full cycle assessment is providing continual improvement in the course.

writing6By Jacob Day, WIC GTA

The WIC program and staff would like to congratulation the participants of the 2014 WIC Fall Seminar. After five weeks together of discussions, collaborative learning, and lecture, we are now proud to have these faculty members as part of the WIC community.

This year’s seminar followed in last year’s footsteps as many members were again interested in the intersection of WIC and teaching online courses. The growing interest in online teaching continues to gain traction as one of the hottest topics nationwide as many colleges and universities, Oregon State included, expand their online course offerings and incorporate digital elements into their classrooms and curricula. As such, the fall seminar participants were filled with questions, suggestions, and debate regarding the topic. Through considering how key elements of a WIC course, such as writing to learn activities, peer review, and instructor response could be utilized in an online realm, participants sparked a dialog likely to continue throughout future
WIC events and across the greater WIC and University communities.

It was a privilege and pleasure sharing the learning space of the WIC Fall Seminar. This year’s participants were:

  • Scarlett Arbuckle (Fisheries and Wildlife)
  • Kathryn Becker Blease (Psychology)
  • Robert Figueroa (Philosophy)
  • Marie Franzosa (Mathematics)
  • Julianne Freeman (Anthropology)
  • Alison Hurst (Sociology)
  • Veronica Irvin (Public Health)
  • Brianne Kothari (Human Development and Family Sciences Cascades)
  • Christina Leon (English)
  • Aaron Lewis (Business)
  • Joy Lile (Human Development and Family Sciences)
  • Alina Padilla-Miller (New Media)
  • Ehren Pflugfelder (Writing)
  • Linda Richards (History)
  • Lisa Seales (Natural Resources Cascades)
  • Rebecca Sweet (Fisheries and Wildlife)
  • Allen Thompson (Philosophy)
  • Karen Volmar (Public Health)
  • Megan Ward (English)

We were excited to work with you and look forward to continuing to do so in the future.

By Uta Hussong-Christian, Teaching & Engagement Department

In early December, OSU Libraries is transitioning to a new library system for finding books, articles and other information resources.
Our change to the new system has been postponed from the original December 1st date but we will soOSU_Valley_Library_(Benton_County,_Oregon_scenic_images)_(benDA0041)on have a separate link to the new library search tool on our web site to encourage exploration prior to the complete switchover sometime in mid-December. We will announce the new date soon. After the switchover library users will note the following changes:

  • There will no longer be a separate link to the library catalog; searching of catalog records will happen in the new 1Search (yes, the name is staying);
  • The new 1Search will have multiple scopes that allow users to limit their search to specific collections of materials. For example, the scope “At OSU Libraries” searches for books and other materials owned by OSU Libraries (it is the replacement for the library catalog). Other scopes include Everything; OSU Libraries + Summit; Articles; Special Collections and Archives; and WorldCat (libraries worldwide);
  • The new search interface will search 9 million books and journal articles, audiovisual materials and more;
  • Library users will need to login with their ONID credentials to have full access to all the content OSU has available and to see the full range of request options available for items the library cannot access or does not own;
  • Summit item requests will happen via Interlibrary Loan, rather than through Summit, for the time being (until a new Summit system comes online during the first quarter of the year)

While the new system will look and work a bit differently, all the same content and services are available. Library users will still be able to get full-text content via 1Search and request delivery of books and articles where immediate access is not available. Perhaps the biggest change will be learning to search the catalog via 1Search. This is a big transition for OSU Libraries and its 36 Summit partner libraries. It was designed to improve resource sharing among the libraries, thus making it easier for all of our patrons to access a wide variety of resources. As always, please Ask Us when questions arise.