Wherein I take requests!


As requested, I will work before our next session to upload a general writing assessment rubric or two, and will publish on here a list of different genres you might play with assigning in your courses.

To that end, I’ve also decided to use the weeks ahead before our next session to take requests from you around what questions you have up to this point. I will do my best to answer any questions you have about literally any aspect of writing, writing studies, writing pedagogy, rhetoric, etc. Let’s use this space to submit those questions so we have them in a central location.

Thanks for a robust discussion this morning– definitely one of my favorites thus far!


Read and Respond for 4/1

Happy Spring Break, colleagues!

I don’t know about you, but I felt like I was post-pedagogy-ing until the bitter end this term, if ya know what I mean….

I’m looking forward to our next meeting, which will take place on April 1st (obligatory April Fools joke). We will be discussing a genre studies approach to the teaching of writing. Please read the selections I’ve posted on the schedule and respond to this prompt:

For WIC/WAC faculty who most commonly teach writing in their discipline, a genre studies approach to teaching writing can be a lifesaver, as students have (theoretically) already fine-tuned foundational skills associated with healthy writing habits and rhetorical analysis. Do you (perhaps unknowingly) abide by a genre studies model of teaching writing in your discipline in your classroom? If so, how does this manifest? If not, how might you consider helping students write in your discipline through a genre studies approach?


Read and Respond for 2/18


To some extent, we are all always already practicing a postpedagogy with our students, in that none of us exclusively teaches seniors or graduate students who have a high level of familiarity with the genres in which we are asking them to write. Therefore, I think we each have experience handling our students’s frustration, confusion, and failure. Reflect upon one such experience. No need to offer up an “and they lived happily ever after” narrative here. Give it to us straight.

Read and respond for 1/7


For our next meeting on 1/7, please read my Threshold Concepts in Writing Studies (link located on the syllabus), and respond to this prompt:

What threshold concepts from the above list inform, or could inform, your choices when it comes to teaching writing in your discipline? What assignments do you have already (whether formal or informal) productively act out and introduce threshold concepts in writing for your students?

Looking forward to seeing you all in the new year!


Jenna “WAC” Goldsmith

New scholarship in WAC

Greetings from the land of cheese and hotdogs, WAC-y colleagues!

During the time off teaching this month, I’ve enjoyed catching up on new and recent scholarship in writing studies, and I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned with you all as you put the finishing touches on your Winter 2019 syllabi.

From “WAC Seminar Participants as Surrogate WAC Consultants: Disciplinary Faculty Developing and Deploying WAC Expertise” by Bradley Hughes and Elisabeth L. Miller. The WAC Journal (December 2018).

First, more evidence of positive impact of groups like ours:

“Even though one-time workshops about teaching and learning have long been staples in faculty development programs, including WAC programs, the semester- or year-long faculty learning community (FLC) model has proven to lead to far more change in actual teaching practices (Desrochers, 2010).”

“From a dissemination study about FLCs across six research intensive or extensive universities, Beach and Cox offered persuasive evidence that as a result of participating in a FLC, faculty incorporated into their teaching, for example more active learning activities, student-centered learning, discussion, cooperative or collaborative learning, and writing. The faculty participants in FLCS reported gains in their own attitudes about teaching and in their students’ learning and improvement in their own attitudes about teaching” (10).

New evidence reinforces the idea that the more active the writing assignment (concrete audience, analysis of their own writing and the writing of their peers, etc.), the more effective the writing assignment.

The author looked at writing related questions from the National Survey of Student Engagement (72,000 students survey). According to the survey, “assignments engage undergraduate students and enhance student learning when they involve (a) ‘interactive writing process’ (b) ‘meaning-making tasks, such as ones that ask students to analyze, synthesize, apply or otherwise do more than just report’ and (c) ‘clear writing expectations’” (20).

“Instructors in this WAC seminar chose [authentic writing situations] in order to focus communicate tasks and give students opportunities to sue their developing expertise about course content to communicate what they know with non-expert audiences, as recommended in the Boyer Commission Report on Reinventing Undergraduate Education (1998)” (emphasis original) (23).

At some point, I would love for us to discuss the ways in which we are already helping our students engage with “real” audiences, how students benefit from these concrete interactions, and how we aspire to improve in this area.

WAC-y NEH Grants


The NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) Grant recipients were announced this week, and I was pleased to see a couple of projects funded having to do with Writing Across the Curriculum. That these projects were funded indicates the vitality of discussions like ours. We are doing important work! Here are some project summaries:

  1. San Jose State University Research Foundation. Outright: $100,000 [Humanities Initiatives: HSIs] Project. Director: Richard McNabb. Project Title: Arguing the Humanities: A Course for STEM Students.” Project Description: The integration of humanities texts and methods of inquiry into a required writing course for STEM students, followed by faculty training, implementation of the course, and the creation of a digital archive. 
  2. University Corporation at Monterey Bay. Outright: $99,441 [Humanities Initiatives: HSIs] Project Director: Nelson Graff. Project Title: “Improving Learning and Achievement with Reading/Writing-Enriched Curriculum in the Disciplines.” Project Description: The development of discipline-relevant reading and writing instruction to be incorporated into the core and elective courses of six majors.

We are doing a good thing!


In my research this weekend, I came across a newish book (2017) published in the National Council of Teachers of English “Studies in Writing and Rhetoric” series called Reframing the Relational: A Pedagogical Ethic for Cross-Curricular Literacy Work. The central claim of the book is that a pedagogical approach to faculty interactions in Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in the Disciplines (WID) contexts can enhance cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration and ultimately lead to more productive, sustainable initiatives overall (not just in writing!). I will definitely be getting my hands on this book in the near future and will share any insights with the group that seem relevant to our efforts. Just thought I would report out on this to show how cutting edge we are . . . as if there was any question . . . 😉



Writing on a deadline

Consider and investigate a time when you worked with a student to create a time-related accommodation on a writing assignment. Describe this experience: What was the assignment?; What went well?; What would you alter to improve the student’s experience?; What questions remain for you going forward that we might troubleshoot in our next session?

The Great Grammar Debate

First, collect and list commonplace grammar or style conventions (what we call in composition and rhetoric “sentence level” or “lower order” concerns) in your discipline. Then examine these commonplaces, both from your perspective as faculty, and from the perspective of a student. When/how do you remember being introduced to this commonplace? What helped you “learn” it? When a student asks why we write in a certain way in Biology or History, for example, can we move beyond “We just do it that way” mindset? How might our discussions with students also involve such writing concepts as audience, purpose, message, medium, genre, effect, rhetoric, so that we might demystify academic writing processes for our students?

Why are we here?

In the comment section, please introduce yourself and write a bit about why you are here. What kinds of writing do you teach? What feels challenging about teaching writing in your discipline? What kinds of writing do you regularly engage in?

Due: Session 1, 9/24, 8AM