One year after the initial interview for the positions I now hold as WIC Director and faculty member in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film, I am honored to be writing my first Pre/Views column for the WIC newsletter, just as I am honored to be leading one of the best WIC programs in the country.
Many things make the WIC program excellent, including the WIC team (operations manager Caryn Stoess, interns Alex Mahmou-Werndli and Erin Vieira, and director emerita Vicki Tolar Burton) and the WIC faculty advisory board, but I want to focus on the heart of any successful WIC program: a faculty-centered design.
WIC courses are the last in a series of ever-more-narrowly focused writing courses at OSU, with different kinds of expertise and pedagogy needed at each stage as students learn to adapt prior learning and experiences in new rhetorical situations and ever-more-specialized disciplinary contexts. Using an analogy drawn by Dr. Funmi Amobi in CTL, we can think of this process as parallel to that of an amateur cook who gradually develops into a professional chef.
The first stage, Writing 1, provides an introduction to college-level writing. It is analogous to a course in kitchen basics where students are introduced to knife skills and food safety procedures.
The second stage, Writing 2, helps students move into a general type of academic writing—academic writing, professional writing, technical writing, creative writing, science writing, and so on. This is comparable to moving into a general area of cooking: culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, enology, and so on. Students start dividing based on broad areas of interest; cooks apply and hone their foundational knowledge while learning about and preparing different cuisines, while bakers apply and hone their foundational knowledge while learning about and baking pastries and breads.
In stages 1 and 2, students need faculty with expertise in rhetoric (an understanding of “what writing does and how it does it”) and composition (the teaching of writing), or in technical, professional, and scientific writing. Such faculty spend their careers teaching writing and doing research on writing pedagogy, and are ideally suited to the broader orientations of Writing 1 and 2.
The third stage, WIC, teaches students how to adapt what they learned in Writing 1 and 2 to specialized academic contexts. The cooks have become aspiring chefs and started developing the specialized skills and sophisticated understandings within their chosen cuisines. The bakers have similarly diversified into niches of the baking world; the aspiring pastry chefs are learning advanced confectionery techniques; those wanting to open their own bakeries focus on food business management, and so on.
At this third stage, students need to learn from specialists in their chosen areas. This is true with writing as much as it is with cooking, baking, or any other complex and multidimensional craft, and is why OSU’s WIC courses are taught by faculty in each disciplinary area. The SWLF faculty who teach Writing 1 and 2 turn their attention at this level to students in their own specialized areas of expertise (much as a mathematics faculty member might teach Math 111 to non-majors, then teach Math 451: Numerical Linear Algebra to advanced students in the major), while students in other majors turn to their own disciplinary experts for advanced writing in those fields.
Here are a few examples:
- Fisheries and Wildlife Management students receive coaching in FW 439: Human Dimensions of Fisheries and Wildlife Management on writing a research proposal to advance a fishery or wildlife conservation program.
- In BA 354: Managing Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, students from the College of Business learn about and produce a Personal Ethical Action Plan that integrates knowledge of core concepts ethics with self-assessments and that helps them prepare for inevitable ethical dilemmas in their future work.
- By the time students in the School of Writing Literature, and Film complete Writing 495: Introduction to Literacy Studies, they will have been guided through drafting, revising, and editing an academic article targeted for submission to a national, peer reviewed publication, *Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society*.
As these examples illustrate, students across all of Oregon State University benefit from faculty’s expertise in writing for specific disciplinary and professional contexts.
In this issue of Teaching with Writing you can tap into some of that expertise: An article about the Fall Kickoff Event featuring Mary Nolan (anthropology) and Tianhong Shi (Ecampus instructional design) offers tips on responding to student writing during remote teaching, while an interview with Ana Milena Ribero (School of Writing, Literature, and Film) describes how an expansive view of literacies and languages, including multiple Englishes, can help us become better educators for minoritized and underrepresented students and all students who care about making the world a better place.
You can also get insights into the Writing Center from undergraduate intern and Writing Center peer consultant Erin Vieira, celebrate the amazing 2020 Fall WIC Faculty Seminar graduates who took the seminar despite the pandemic, learn about the Winter 2021 guest speaker and related workshop on teaching information literacy; and find out how to nominate writers in your WIC courses for a WIC Culture of Writing Award.