Pre/Views: When WIC Class Size is the Elephant in the Room
By Vicki Tolar Burton, WIC Director 

For a number of College of Engineering WIC courses, the elephant in the room has long been class size, with sections that should have fewer than 30 students swelling to over 100. With the recent Bacc Core Committee Category Review of WIC in the College of Engineering, the elephant is no longer being ignored. The purpose of smaller class size, aligned with national standards, is to allow instructors to give meaningful formative feedback on drafts in order to guide revision. As we last year posted results for the review of WIC in Colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Business, and Public Health and Human Sciences, here are the review results for Engineering:

CollegeRecertifiedProvisionally RecertifiedDecertified

Congratulations to faculty and units whose courses were recertified, and especially to the WIC instructors for MIME, whose capstone design course sequence, ESE-IE-ME 497-498, was recognized as Exemplary by the Bacc Core Committee. Several instructors for this course, Tracy Ann Robinson, John Parmagiani, and Javier Calvo-Amodio, have recently published an article on their course in the International Journal of Engineering Education. TA Robinson, J Calvo-Amodio, JP Parmigiani, and V. Tolar Burton. “Capstone design as an individual writing experience,” International Journal of Engineering Education, Vol 31, No. 6(B), 2015, pp. 1902-1923.

One unit whose course was provisionally recertified has already taken steps to strengthen student writing instruction by hiring a writing specialist to work with the WIC course. For one of the decertified courses, the appropriate remedies have been taken by the unit, and the course has been recertified by the Baccalaureate Core Committee. One unit is designing a new WIC course more appropriate for WIC outcomes, and other units are developing plans for change. Continuous improvement by assessment of teaching and learning is ongoing.

Meanwhile the university is projecting and encouraging major growth in the number of Engineering majors. It is important that planning for this growth includes planning for increasing numbers of instructors for WIC courses in Engineering majors. The College of Engineering and its units are responsible for a sustainable and ethical model for WIC courses to assure that OSU engineering graduates have the written communication skills sought by future employers, as noted by the Engineering and Technology Industry Council of Oregon in the “Oregon Engineering and Technology Industry Needs Portfolio 2014”: “Among the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA’s) identified in national studies as being of high importance to [engineering] employers, written communication typically rises to the top as the skill in need of greatest improvement in recent engineering graduates.”

Currently under Bacc Core Category Review are WIC courses from half of the College of Liberal Arts, including Schools of Writing, Literature, and Film; Arts and Communication; and Psychology. The remainder of WIC courses in CLA will submit review materials in June, 2016. Next up: College of Science in 2017.

Faculty or administrators with questions about WIC Category Review may contact me

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