WAC gives as good as it gets.
In January 2013, WSC faculty shared a writing-across-the-curriculum retreat with interested Hofstra faculty and administrators representing the three divisions of HCLAS – social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.
It was a fruitful exchange in many ways. WSC faculty presented their experiences and research about best practices used to engage student writers, and HCLAS faculty were invited to do the same.
Like all good conversations, the contents of our meeting stayed with me as the spring semester began. I was sure that I needed to hear and record more of the attendees’ conversation. (For the first day of the retreat, I tweeted the group’s conversation, but as you may know, tweets have a short shelf life, and most of mine @HofstraWAC are already unavailable.)
Given the insistent pull on my consciousness, that something more needed to be said or written, I planned a project for the students in my Advanced Writing class to interview and video Hofstra faculty in the liberal arts asking them the same six questions about what faculty in their discipline value in student writing. The students crafted six questions relevant to the writing goals of faculty, as follows:
2. What role does writing play in your classroom?
3. Do you require a specific format for your writing assignments, and if so, what is it?
4. Throughout the writing process, do you encourage revision?
5. Do you give feedback on writing assignments?
6. Why might it be important for students to know how to write in a general sense, both in the academy and post-graduation? (In what ways is it valuable for students to understand diverse writing genres?)
The students edited the interviews to represent what they learned about the ways of writing in the three divisions of HCLAS. I initiated this project with the hope of adding new faculty interviews each year, and I can imagine a number of uses for this project after it has been refined over time (i.e. in support of cultivating writing at Hofstra generally and in the transfer of skills from one discipline to the next). For my purposes this term, the project served as a small taste of ethnographic research for these advanced students. The other immediate benefit is the generous collaboration of Hofstra faculty with students in support of writing. I am extremely grateful for the time and talents of the faculty and student collaborators.
The students blogged about their experiences learning about the textual values of the different disciplinary representatives. You can read their remarks on their blogs, linked to the blogroll on the course blog at http://writewhatyoumeantosay.wordpress.com/. They learned a lot; I learned a lot. I share this with you now to keep this important conversation about the respective values of writing in the disciplines going. Feel free to comment here on the Hofstra WAC blog.
All around, this was a great start to a long-term project reflecting on the ways of writing at Hofstra.
Following are links to the four videos and select writing portions from the students’ blogs.
Social Sciences I
(featuring Terry Godlove, Amy Karofsky, Warren Frisina, and Judith Tabron)
Social Sciences II
(featuring Oskar Pineno, Stavros Valenti, and Simon Doubleday)
(featuring Jason Williams, Sabrina Sobel, and J. Bret Bennington)
(featuring Vim Pasupathi, Laurie Fendrich, Craig Rustici, and Frank Gaughan)
Ethna Dempsey Lay
With my dedicated students
Gina Arfi, Kelcie Birsner, Danielle Hall, Krista Miller, Alex Phipps, Alina Rufrano, Elissa Salamy, Sarah Sicard and Celia Sonnier