By: Olivia Rowland, WIC GTA

The WIC Team is happy to report a successful spring event series. Over the course of the spring term, WIC hosted five remote workshops. Below you can find summaries of each of the workshops, as well as resources for implementing presenters’ suggestions. 

Helping Students Read Disciplinary Texts (April 8)

In this workshop, Stephanie André (Composition, Central Oregon Community College), Sheri Jordan (English, Blue Mountain Community College), and Shawn Massoni (Microbiology, OSU) discussed different strategies for helping students read new and challenging texts.

André explained how to teach reading using the “they say”/“I say” framework, which asks students to identify who or what an author is responding to, what ideas the author is adding to this conversation, and how they use key terms to make their claim. Jordan introduced the Reading Apprenticeship model as a framework for helping students engage with texts as experts, and she offered a wealth of exercises to promote the personal, social, cognitive, and knowledge-building dimensions of students’ reading. Finally, with a focus on upper-division classes in the disciplines, Massoni introduced his approach to undergraduate journal clubs as a way to get students acquainted with scholarly articles and accustomed to modes of academic writing in their discipline. All three presenters emphasized the importance of teaching reading to improve students’ active engagement with texts.

If you are interested in learning more about strategies to teach reading, you can access Jordan’s list of Reading Apprenticeship exercises here.

Supporting Multilingual Student Writers (April 22)

Kelley Calvert, Writing Center Coordinator for Multilingual Support, along with Academic Support Center Director Clare Creighton and Assistant Director Marjorie Coffey, explained how instructors can support multilingual students as writers in the classroom.

The presenters first explained that while the term “English language learner” privileges English, the term “multilingual” de-centers English and suggests that all linguistic resources are valuable. Calvert explained some of the values that instructors can use to promote this asset-based approach, including challenging “universal” writing standards, expressing openness to communicating in a range of languages and dialects, and acknowledging that language is diverse and constantly changing. Participants applied these ideas by discussing how their teaching may enact an asset-based approach or how they could imagine enacting such an approach. In addition to making changes in the classroom like letting students speak in multiple languages and allowing flexible participation, instructors can recommend that students visit the Undergrad Research & Writing Studio, where consultants are trained to support multilingual writers. 

Calvert recommended that instructors interested in learning more about working with multilingual students consult TESOL’s 6 Principles and the CCCC Statement on Second Language Writing and Multilingual Writers.

Another Angle on Assignments (May 6)

In this workshop, writing consultants Taylor Buccello, McKenna Jenkins, and Trinity Polk from the OSU Undergrad Research & Writing Studio shared their expertise about how instructors can best support student writers and encourage students to use the writing studio.

Asked what features of a prompt are most helpful for writers, writing consultants explained that a prompt that is either too vague or too structured can feel overwhelming. The consultants suggested that writing instructors scaffold due dates and offer frequent time in class to check in with students about how a writing assignment is going. Explaining that students take rubrics as representing what instructors value most, they recommended that instructors align their rubrics with their priorities for students’ writing. The consultants also noted that even the smallest amount of positive feedback can motivate students during the writing process. Similarly, explaining to students why they are being asked to do a specific assignment and what skills it might help them develop can provide motivation. All three consultants recommended that instructors encourage their students to visit the writing studio for everything from brainstorming to editing, and that they visit early and often.

To find a more detailed list of recommendations from writing consultants, you can read this handout compiled by Marjorie Coffey and Kelley Calvert.

Understanding and Supporting Transfer Students in WIC and Beyond (May 20)

Erin Bird, OSU Transfer Transitions Coordinator, provided participants with data about transfer students at OSU and explained how instructors can best support transfer students in WIC courses.

Although many students have transfer credits, Bird focused on students who come to OSU after having completed at least 24 credits at a previous institution. Thirty-six percent of OSU undergraduates are transfer students from community colleges or out-of-state institutions. Compared to other student populations, transfer students are disproportionately BIPOC, first-generation students, and adult learners, which means that it is especially important that transfer students feel supported in the classroom. Bird suggested three key practices that instructors can use to enact this support. First, instructors can challenge deficit thinking—rather than focusing on what writing skills transfer students may lack, instructors can emphasize what unique learning experiences they bring to the classroom. Second, instructors should get to know their transfer students as individuals, using tools like the Writer’s Personal Profile. Finally, instructors can “offer relentless welcome” to all students and normalize asking for help and using resources like the writing studio.

If you are interested in learning more about transfer students and how to support them, you can find the workshop materials here. You can also reach out to Erin Bird with any questions or to set up a conversation about these ideas.

Reflecting on Teaching and Revising Classes and Assignments (June 6)

In the final WIC workshop of the term, WIC Director Sarah Tinker Perrault led participants in a guided reflection about their teaching and offered suggestions for revising course materials to target aspects of student writing that instructors want to improve.

Participants began by discussing what their students did well in their writing this term and how their teaching contributed to that success. Then, Perrault asked participants to reflect on what aspects of writing students did not do as well. She explained that instructors can take three steps to assist students with these aspects of writing the next time they teach. First, instructors can revise their explanations of writing criteria to be clearer and more explicit. Second, instructors can provide stage-appropriate support for students at different steps of the writing process, like providing a sample text to model good organization or asking students to use peer review for polishing and proofreading. Finally, instructors can make sure that students know what writing resources are available to them and incentivize the use of those resources.

You can see the slides here, or email Sarah Perrault to learn more.

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