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Reading and Writing WAC Conference Program

4th Biannual Reading and Writing
Across the Curriculum Conference

Conference Program

Friday, April 22nd, 2014, CSUS University Union, 10:00-2:30


Click here to view a pdf of the conference program

10:00-10:45 (Foothill Suite, 3rd Floor)


Keynote: "Facilitating Success for Language Minority & At-Risk Students:  What I Learned from George"

Professor Dana Ferris, Associate Director,
UC Davis, University Writing Program

11:00-12:00 Concurrent Sessions A

A.1: Process, Peer Review, and Sequencing Writing
(Coastal Room, 3rd Floor)


“Improving Students’ Writing through Peer Review”


Sharyn D. Gardner, Management
Marcy E. Merrill, Teacher Education
Sacramento State University

Research indicates that peer review is a useful tool to help students improve their writing (Reiber, 2006; Russell, 1985; Zamel, 1985). In an effort to improve student writing and see peer review in action, we endeavor to implement this useful tool in the classroom with a semester long team project. Students will receive instructions for their team project in the beginning of the semester and work on it in parts. In the first half of the semester in the early stages of the project, students will meet for a lecture and workshop on peer review using their projects. In the next half of the semester, students will work on the subsequent parts of the project and use peer review to again improve their writing. Final reports are due at the end of the semester. We expect to see an increase in student writing performance on the culminating experience in this business course.

Reiber, L.J. (2006). Using peer review to improve student writing in business courses. Journal of Education for Business, 81, 322-326.
Russell, C. (1985). Peer conferencing and writing revision: A study of the relationship. Service Bulletin No. 48, Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English, 1985. 25 pp. [ED 260 392
Zamel, V. (March, 1985). Responding to student writing. Tesol Quarterly, 19, 79-101.


"Beyond Revision: Using the Three-Step Brainstorming Process
for Undergraduate Writing Assignments"


Joel Dubois, Humanities and Religious Studies, Sacramento State University

All writing teachers know that revision is key to good writing. When asked to revise, however, many students fix errors pointed out by their instructor or peer reviewer rather than truly revisiting and revising their ideas and the way they articulate them. To address this issue, I now assign papers that require a three-step process. Initially, I assign a brainstorming worksheet that requires students to provide detailed responses to questions focused on analyzing one or more assigned sources. Next, students must get a peer to review the worksheet, providing substantial written comments. Finally, they must create a final product based on the analysis and reflection stimulated by the worksheet and its review, but which also shows substantial revision and integration of initial responses on the worksheet. Students receive points for the first two of these steps on a credit/no credit basis. This presentation will showcase the details of this process, including samples of student work.

“Essay Sequencing: An Effective Way to Cultivate Student Literacy”

Pearl Chaozon-Bauer & Jasmine Kitses

University Writing Program and English 
UC Davis

We have developed a model essay sequence to highlight the importance of building a coherent curriculum, in which each assignment builds upon the knowledge and ideas of its predecessor.  We believe assignments should include a range of rhetorical modes and a series of thematic threads across the quarter to provide greater conceptual cohesion and steady development.

In our classes, we used Art Spiegelman’s Maus as an introduction to the Literacy Narrative genre and asked our students to produce their own literacy narratives for Essay 1.  For Essay 2, we focused on Maus as a visual text and asked our students to closely analyze the text as a way to think critically about the concept of “the ghetto.”  For Essay 3, we moved our discussions of the “ghetto” to Jones and Newman’s Our America and utilized Mariolinas Salvatori’s “Difficulty Paper” as a way of deepening their understanding of the text.  Finally, students utilized skills gained from Essays 1-3 to research their own local community through an ethnographic research paper. Through this sequence, students deepened their critical thinking and close analysis skills, helping them produce stronger, more conceptually advanced projects.

Through our example, we hope to demonstrate a model that can be applied to any type of writing class; we feel that assignments best cultivate success when they are directly relevant to students’ lives and require them to consistently develop and refine their critical thinking skills.

A.2: Supporting Good Writing by Encouraging Good Reading  
(Delta Room, 3rd Floor)


Kelly Crosby
Gina Sharar
Stacey Williams
Center for International Education
International English and Professional Programs
UC Davis

This presentation aims to raise instructor awareness of the difficulties surrounding reading and writing by the ESL population and offers strategies for improving the quality of their work. It represents teacher collaboration over the course of a ten-week period in an Intensive English Program to support good writing by encouraging good reading. We will present our experiences, providing insight into the interference of cultural components, offering explicit strategy suggestions and ideas in how to sustain these strategies.

A.3: Recent Improvements in Graduate Writing Support
(Mountain Room, 3rd Floor)


Amy Champ, Performance Studies
Renate Eberl, Ecology
Betsy Gilliland, Education
Tiffany Gilmore, English
UC Davis

As graduate students feel more pressure to finish dissertations and their advisors have less time or training to mentor these students in writing, the University Writing Program's WAC team has explored new and effective approaches, collaborating with Graduate Division to hold regular how-to sessions on stages of the process, a one-day-intensive dissertation-writing workshop, and regular "writing retreats" where students from all disciplines can park their laptops and make progress.  We've also piloted "Demystifying the Thesis" courses (targeted for science and humanities students), and one-on-one follow-ups with WAC faculty and Graduate Writing Fellows, arranged through a Web calendar interface.

A.4: Factors and Meta Cognition Processes for Student Involvement and Empowerment in Writing Intensive Classes - Students' Perspectives
(Summit Room, 3rd Floor)


Jude Antonyappan, Valerie Pleveney, Minerva Nunez

Social Work
Sacramento State University

This joint student/faculty panel presentation is on empowerment and persuasive methods used to accentuate the contextual cognitive processes required to attain proficiency in writing. The presentation specifically focuses on integrated assimilation of writing by students who are over-impacted by technology, contradictory values, conflicting role performance, test anxiety, and change in social institutions and educational environment.  Writing is presented as a process of growth of the individual and the emergence of the scholar. Students will describe the evolution of their own learning process that occurred in a writing intensive first year graduate class on social welfare policy.  The capacity of the activity of writing  to modify thinking patterns, perceive new abilities, and organize the educational process is explored and presented both from student and faculty perspectives.  The presentation analyzes the meta-cognition shifts that take place about the self and the learning as a concurrent process of the writing proficiency. This is distilled from the student reflection entries that constituted part of the course assignments. The presentation ends with the conclusion that writing is a profoundly empowering undertaking, one that ignites the creativity of students to venture into genres of reading previously unexplored and that shapes their ideas for a coherent, unified approach to learning.


12:15-1:15 Concurrent Sessions B

B.1: Four Discipline Specific Innovative Approaches for Writing to Learn
at San Francisco State University

(Coastal Room, 3rd Floor)

Wei Ming Dariotis, Asian American Studies
Betsy Blosser, Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts
Nelson Graff, Department of English
Connie Ulasewicz, Consumer & Family Studies/Dietetic

In research about writing across the curriculum, one of the key phrases is "writing to learn."  Scholars argue that writing provides special opportunities for students to learn the inquiry and reasoning processes of their disciplines.  At San Francisco State University, newly developed Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) courses within major programs that meet the upper division University writing requirement allow faculty to take advantage of those opportunities.  In this panel of four faculty from different disciplines, we will each describe the ways we use innovative writing assignments to improve student learning. 

One panelist will describe a sequence of assignments in a pre-GWAR composition class to build students' metacognition about writing to prepare them for GWAR classes. A second will describe the use of an assignment in which students write a research paper in three parts, across the semester in a Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts class. A third will describe the use of writing as liberation, using personal positionality, and connecting writing to an "educational equity" topic for the Ethnic Studies GWAR course. And the final presenter will focus on using writing as an instructional and descriptive tool to guide the creation of an upcylcled product for the Apparel Design and Merchandising GWAR course.


B.2: Improving Student Writing in Large Lecture Courses across the Disciplines: Student Views and Institutional Constraints  
(Delta Room, 3rd Floor)


Brenda J. Rinard
Laura Grindstaff
Sarah Augusto
University Writing Program and Sociology
UC Davis

This presentation will describe the results of a 3 year study in a large undergraduate sociology course that fulfills the writing experience requirement at a tier one research university in California.  The presentation will describe the results of pre- and post-course student surveys about the value of the writing assignments in understanding key concepts, reading, and thinking in Sociology.  The presentation will also describe the process of creating workable process-oriented writing assignments for large undergraduate classes that accommodate the time constraints of the professors, TAs, and students. Next, it will address the challenges and successes in creating, providing feedback and grading writing assignments in a course whose major focus is to teach “content.” Data presented will include the pre- and post-course survey results, a scoring rubric that was collaboratively developed with the sociology professor, TAs and researchers, and an examination of sample student papers and how they improved after feedback and revision. Finally, the presenter will discuss how replicable the findings are for other universities who would like to encourage writing across the curriculum in large undergraduate courses.

B.3: Escaping the Term Paper Rut:
Improving Writing Assignments at UC Davis
(Mountain Room, 3rd Floor)


John Stenzel, University Writing Program
Ryan Galt, Community & Regional Development
Katharine Burnett, Art History
Dominick Tracy, California College of Art
UC Davis

Before each quarter the University Writing Program holds a Teaching With Writing workshop for interested faculty, where besides hearing about effective ways to integrate writing into their teaching, faculty members bring in assignments for critique and improvement.  These sessions and follow-up consultations have led to improved writing assignments that are simultaneously easier to grade, less prone to plagiarism, and more in line with the best practices laid out in the revised General Education guidelines.  To illustrate how this incremental change occurs, I will briefly present the how-to materials we use, and then walk quickly through three successful case histories showing improvements in staged tasks, better-defined rhetorical situation, and more manageable scope; revamped assignments include those from Chris Benner (Community & Regional Development--Globalization), Katherine Burnett (Art History--Chinese Art), and Magali Billen (Geology).

B.4: Graduate Writing-Intensive (GWI) Course Design:
Teachers’ Perspectives
(Summit Room, 3rd Floor)


Tim Croisdale, Criminal Justice
Shannon Datwyler, Biology
David Toise, English
Sacramento State University

Following recent changes to the writing sequence for graduate students at Sacramento State, many programs have created and adapted courses to meet the new requirements for graduate student literacy.  In this panel, faculty representing three diverse disciplines will discuss their responses to this exigency, and will share assignments from their new or revised curricula that reflect best practices in graduate writing instruction.

Tim Croisdale will present assignments for Criminal Justice 200. including an abstract, a literature review and a research proposal.  Tim will include discussion on preparing materials, classroom experience with the materials, student feedback on the assignments, and the peer review process.  Shannon Datwyler will discuss the process of developing an effective research proposal and the use of peer review to improve writing and critical thinking skills in the Biological Sciences.  David Toise will discuss developing assignments for an English Literature seminar that help students both to internalize the elements of critical thinking that play a central role in the genres of literary and cultural analysis and to interrogate, challenge, and renew these generic conventions.

1:30-2:30 Concurrent Sessions C


C.1: Improving Writing at the Department and Institutional Level
(Coastal Room, 3rd Floor)


“Department-based Writing Assessment”


Todd Migliaccio, Sociology
Sacramento State University

There continues to be increasing pressure for colleges and departments to conduct assessment of student writing.  This assessment project was an attempt to conduct quality writing assessment within a department that involves all faculty within a department so as to give it greater legitimacy, while still being aware of faculty workload and general concerns about assessment. To do so, over a three year period, each semester five different faculty from the department conducted a qualitative assessment of randomly chosen papers, 60 papers total assessed. Then, using grounded theory, a systematic analysis of the faculty assessments (120 assessments of papers, as each paper was assessed twice) was conducted to identify writing issues, both positive and negative about the writing ability of students from one specific department. From these conclusions, solutions, including a department specific rubric, were established to assist students with writing, as well as assess writing in the future. While the assessment sampling, procedures, analysis and conclusions were conducted for a sociology department, they can be applied to any department or program to better assess the specific writing issues for students from the department or program.

“The Proto-WAC Program in the Community College”


Robert Lively, English Department Chair
Truckee Meadows Community College

In a recent article by Mary McMullen-Light in the special issue of Across the Disciplines examining WAC programs in the community college, she laments the fact that WAC in the two- year college has been languishing over the past twenty years.  She examines reasons why faculty are dissatisfied with the WAC program, and she looks at the literature of how successful WAC programs are administered.  However, she fails to analyze the level and purpose of the two-year college in her article.  Elaine Maimon and Sue McButt map out a very succinct idea of what exactly a WAC program should look like in their article, “Clearing the Air: WAC Myths and Realities.”  The two main areas they point out are that WAC requires learning to write and writing to learn.  The inclusive pedagogical choices made by two-year colleges are great at developing writing to learn strategies.  But since two year colleges only rise to the level of survey courses, the idea of learning to write in the disciplines is severely limited. My paper will examine the problems of instituting a WAC program in the community college because the claims made about WAC fit more neatly into a university.  By revising the expectations, the idea of a Proto-WAC program emerges as a better model for looking at WAC work in a community college setting.

C.2: Using Writing to Increase Student Engagement
(Delta Room, 3rd Floor)


“Pre-Lecture Questions: Improve Student Engagement with a Writing Assignment”


Julie Mumma, Criminal Justice
Sacramento State University

This paper explores the use of strategic written questions covering key aspects of assigned readings posed to criminal justice students, before every lecture, in several courses during 2010.  Theses pre-lecture questions foster academic equality in the classroom as every student, regardless of individual levels of academic readiness, is provided the means to prepare for the lecture and contribute to the discussion.  Accountability is crucial to the success of this writing assignment therefore students were graded on participation during a random, cold-calling process in addition to their written responses.  A collateral benefit of using pre-lecture questions is that no lecture is wasted simply regurgitating information from the assigned readings.  This luxury of time during the lecture, created by prepared students, permits an expansion of the course content incorporating various pedagogical techniques to engage the different types of learners in a reinforcing feedback loop leading to deeper student thinking.  The lecture is thus transformed from the dissemination of knowledge to students into a vibrant, dialogic engagement with students.  This paper examines the positive, sometimes visceral, reaction students had to this pedagogical approach revealing the truth that students are eager to engage ideas and one writing assignment can transform the learning process.

"Authentic Purposes and Real Audiences: Teachers' Writing in Bilingual


Laura Dubcovsky, School of Education
UC Davis

The current demand of bilingual teachers in California calls for a better preparation in the target language. This presentation focuses on future teachers’ writing abilities in Spanish during the credential program of a prestigious university from northern California.  Bilingual candidates are required to take a course in Spanish, which is based on typical content areas from elementary and secondary curricula. The course offers multiple opportunities to speak, listen, and share, as well as read and write. The perspective teachers find using the language for authentic purposes and addressing real audiences, such as giving instruction and managing disciplinary issues in the classroom.
Results show that the future bilingual teachers develop colloquial and academic uses in the target language, drawing from a combination of hands-on activities and authentic readings.
Participants who interact with peers and the instructor and reflect in writing on their tasks and readings were able to maintain, develop and enrich the target language.

C.3: Using Technology to Teach Writing
 (Mountain Room, 3rd Floor)


"Blogging as a Process-Centered Approach to ESL Writing"


Scott DeLoach, English Department
Humboldt State University

This presentation will discuss the merits of utilizing blogging in ESL writing courses. Technologically-based composition such as blogging provides ESL writers a unique experience to  compose personal writing through a medium that is free from the anxiety of end-product assessment so common with academic writing. In addition to mastering new technological skills, online blogging caters to the intrinsic motivation of ESL writers, as well as provide them with an opportunity to better acquaint themselves with the process of revision which is indelible to writing at any level.
In addition to gaining the tools of composition, ESL writers will gain a better understanding of themselves through blogging. Blogging outside of the classroom allows ESL writers to establish their language ego by occupying a non-academic space in the online community. Through continual use of blogging, ESL writers can hone and refine their English writing skills in a creative, worry-free environment. This presentation will argue that a process-centered approach to writing can easily be applied to blogging, garnering many compositional benefits that span across the curriculum.

“Socially Constructed Reading and Writing Within the Disciplines:
Connecting Media to Course Content”


Jessica Green, English Department
Yuba College

Newspapers and other forms of social media (ads, blogs, billboards, etc…) offer real world representations of reading and writing across the curriculum. To create academically and socially relevant course content I have designed all of my English composition courses, ranging from extremely remedial to college level, utilizing social media (print and online) as our supplementary and primary texts.

Connecting real world writing to students’ academic and educational interests allows them to see and be part of reading and writing across the curriculum beyond the required course content. It also offers students the opportunity to respond to discipline specific issues and events in the news, which allows them to bridge the gap from student to social and professional participant – through multi-disciplinary writing.

I would like to offer easy ways instructors of all disciplines can incorporate social media into their curricula – from extra credit to full assignments – as a way to enhance the social relevance and increase the amount of reading and writing within their courses.

“Partially Automating Student Paper Comments”


Doug Metzger, English Department
UC Davis

My presentation will detail a program I’ve developed that helps instructors provide more comprehensive, clear, and detailed end comments on student papers. Using the program, an instructor keeps track of one or two specific sorts of particularly problematic compositional errors that he encounters in student papers by checking in boxes in the program’s interface. Subsequently, the instructor grades specific components of the student’s essay, including grammar, organization, and so on.

The information that the instructor enters into the first part of the program’s interface is translated into a document that can be printed and attached to the end of a student’s essay. In the “paper comments” sheet that is produced, automated explanations of grammar problems (for instance, ambiguous pronoun usage) are provided, in addition to original, personalized feedback on the student’s essay. When needed, the program can also produce problem sets (included in the “paper comments” packet) to help students master areas where they’re having trouble.

Part of my presentation will engage with composition scholarship on error analysis, from Kroll and Schafer, to Joseph Williams, up through Chris Anson and more recent work. Rather than a mechanism for producing excessive, bewildering quantities of commentary at the end of student papers, I see my program as a good tool for a moderate approach to offering very precise, clear feedback on just one or two recurrent errors, while simultaneously saving an instructor time and ensuring standardized marking patterns.

C.4: Discipline-Specific Academic Literacy through Undergraduate Research Assignments
(Summit Room, 3rd Floor)

Fiona Glade, English Department
Cynthia Linville, English Department
Carolyn Koloski, English Department
Teresa Cordova, English Department
Sacramento State University

One goal of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) course is for undergraduates to improve their academic literacy by reading and writing documents produced in their own disciplines. This panel will comprise English 109W/109M faculty presenting research assignments in which students investigate their own disciplines. Each presenter will explicate a Research Project assignment, describe students’ approaches to the assignment, and explain what she has learned from her own students’ work. Linville’s assignment asks students to find, analyze, and present a visual text, increasing their awareness of how visuals are used in their field and how to present to a general audience. Koloski will present an assignment in which students analyze and duplicate a professional document from their field. Cordova will present the third step of a research project sequence in which students draw conclusions about context and their discipline by analyzing academic and workplace writing. Glade will conclude by reviewing what students have taught 109 faculty about how to approach discipline-specific upper-division writing.

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