To assist the work of faculty and administrators, we provide materials we have found effective in the classroom, information about the history and funding of QUWAC and a description of our core principles.
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Our Core Concepts
While QUWAC honors many different ways of implementing WAC and WID, we have developed a particular pedagogical philosophy. In the following resources, we present materials that identify our signature concepts and the thinking that supports them.
Desired learning outcomes begin with appropriate assignment design. In this section, you will find information about our approach to creating assignments that provide opportunities for students to practice the kinds of critical thinking and writing strategies that demonstrate disciplinary skill.
Linking Critical Thinking and Writing
Achieving desired learning outcomes requires careful engineering of the many steps that lead students to greater understanding of course goals and objectives. In this section, faculty will find information on thematic triangulation, WTLs and other QUWAC-tested strategies for guiding the learning process.
Assigning Peer Reviews
Peer reviews are an essential technique of the critical thinking and writing process. In this section, we provide resources about the theory and effective practice of assigning peer-driven reviews of student work.
Evaluating Student Writing
In addition to peer reviews, faculty responses and evaluation of student work are cornerstones of the learning process. In this section, we provide some materials that will help you to reflect upon and implement effective grading practices.
Sharing best practices is an essential element of our philosophy. This section provides samples of critical thinking and writing assignments developed by our faculty.
Writing in the Disciplines
Supported by a second Davis grant, QUWAC has developed a writing-in-the-disciplines consultation model for work with departments.
WID FAQs (PDF)
WID Proposal (PDF)
WID Model - Fall 2010 (PDF)
WID Model - July 2012 (PDF)
New Vistas Panel Presentation: Writing in Sociology: Faculty Discussions on Teaching Writing and Student Engagement. Lauren Sardi, assistant professor of sociology, and Suzanne Hudd, professor of sociology and QUWAC Co-director, Quinnipiac University (Flash)
New Vistas Panel Presentation: Writing in Sociology: Faculty Discussions on Teaching Writing and Student Engagement. Lauren Sardi, assistant professor of sociology; and Suzanne Hudd, professor of sociology and QUWAC Co-director, Quinnipiac University (Powerpoint slides)
New Vistas Panel Presentation: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and WID: Two Cases from the Business School, Part 1. Robert L. Engle, professor of international business, Quinnipiac University (Flash)
New Vistas Panel Presentation: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and WID: Two Cases from the Business School, Part 2. Renee Gravois Lee, associate professor of management and marketing, Sam Houston State University (Flash)
NEFDC Conference Spring 2013: From WAC to WID: Applying the Principles of Course Design to the Majors. Joan Kreiger, professor of biomedical sciences; Mark Hoffman, professor of computer science; Paul Pasquaretta, director of Research and Writing Institute (Powerpoint slides)
In recent years, QUWAC has transitioned from being a writing across the curriculum program focused on individual faculty development to a writing in the disciplines program focused on department review. The following resources provide a look at some of the steps we've made along the way.
QUWAC supports interdisciplinary research that explores the connection between critical thinking and writing. Below are several of our recent contributions to the field.
"Direct from the Disciplines: Writing Across the Curriculum"
Edited by: Mary T. (Trefethen) Segall and Robert A. Smart
Publisher: Boynton/Cook 2005
From the Publisher: "What is possible when the impetus to improve students' writing comes not from the administrative level but from faculty members in departments across campus? In Direct from the Disciplines, representatives from a broad range of disciplines at Quinnipiac University recount how they worked together to bring about a writing-across-the-curriculum program that really works. Professors from departments in business, the humanities, the sciences, computer science, and occupational therapy as well as administrators describe the theoretical and subject-specific challenges they faced in changing the culture of writing in their classrooms and on their campus. Together their essays build a consensus about which practices and strategies for implementation are essential in achieving success with WAC. Their ideas are backed by example writing assignments, samples of student work, and descriptions of support services that are grounded in the reality of teaching and sustaining WAC.
"This book is as useful as it is reader friendly ...a helpful guide to WAC planning and implementation that will be a welcome contribution to faculty in specific disciplines."
- Art Young, author of Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum, Third Edition
"Direct from the Disciplines is an excellent teaching tool for all concerned about improving student writing. This is the kind of book where faculty may at first look for a representation of their own discipline but end up reading the advice from others."
- Joan Mullin, co-author of ARTiculating
"If one wonders about the current state of what is by now a fairly old idea, this volume will provide a fresh, up-to-date, and well-written testimony to its vitality and health. Readers will find descriptions of innovative writing, authentic student responses, and a carefully articulated set of WAC principles both theoretically sound and classroom tested."
- Toby Fulwiler, co-editor of Writing Across the Disciplines and Author of College Writing, Second Edition
"Using Technology in Teaching"
Authors: William Clyde and Andrew Delohery
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2005
From the publisher: "Computers can help teachers accomplish many of their tasks more efficiently and effectively, but how can a time-strapped teacher determine which pieces of technology are likely to be most helpful? This easy-to-read book offers useful guidance for real-world situations. Organized around specific instructional goals (improving student writing, promoting collaborative learning) and commonly encountered tasks (communicating with students between class, distributing course materials), the book shows teachers at all instructional levels when and how technology can help them meet everyday challenges. CD-ROM included."
"Workplace Scenarios to Integrate Communication Skills and Content: A Case Study"
Presented by: Mark E. Hoffman (Quinnipiac University), Paul V. Anderson (Elon University) and Magnus Gustafsson (Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Event: Proceedings of the 45th Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) technical symposium on Computer science education. 2014. 349-354.
Abstract: A recent study of new software developers at Microsoft reveals the significance and integration of communication skills in their daily tasks. While the literature offers a variety of approaches to promote the integration of communication skills into the Computer Science curriculum, a discrepancy remains between what students get and what they need. In this paper, we propose using workplace scenarios that integrate communication skills with technical content situated in and mediating workplace activity. Workplace scenarios are based on an analysis of the workplace as an activity system. Guidelines for implementing workplace scenarios are provided. A case study analyzes the integration of communication skills with technical content using workplace scenarios in a software development course.
"Communication Genres: Integrating Communication into the Software Engineering Curriculum"
Presented by: Michael Carter and Mladen Vouk (North Carolina State University); Gerald C. Gannod, Janet E. Burge, and Paul V. Anderson (Miami University); Mark E. Hoffman (Quinnipiac University)
Event: 24th IEEE-CS Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training (CSEE&T), 2011
Abstract: One way to improve the communication abilities of new software engineering graduates in the workplace is to integrate communication more effectively in the software engineering curriculum. But faculty typically conceive of communication as outside their realm of expertise. Based on the results of an NSF-funded project, we use theories of situated learning and genre to make the case that communication is integral to software engineering and that faculty are in the best position to guide students in becoming better communicators in the field. We identify software engineering genres and show how those genres may be used to integrate communication in the classroom and throughout the curriculum.
"Bridging writing to learn and writing in the discipline in computer science education"
Presented by: Mark E. Hoffman, Timothy Dansdill and David S. Herscovici
Event: SIGCSE '06 Proceedings of the 37th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 117 - 121
Abstract: Writing in Computer Science education is typically writing to communicate to a professional audience--also known as "writing in the discipline." (WID) A few Computer Science educators have promoted "writing to learn" (WTL) for active learning. A gap exists between these two forms of writing that inhibits the general adoption of writing in Computer Science. We propose that "bridging" informal WTL assignments to formal disciplinary writing as a way of promoting general adoption of writing across all courses, thus improving thinking and writing skills for all Computer Science students. We include examples of assignments that bridge writing to learn and writing in the discipline.
"Reading: The Bridge to Everywhere"
Authors: Tracy M. Hallstead, Glenda Pritchett
Publication: Double Helix, Vol. 1, 2013, qudoublehelixjournal.org
Abstract: Effective reading is essential for critical thinking. However, many students face significant barriers to achieving the level of reading comprehension that builds expertise in their disciplines. Drawing on a collaboration between professors and Learning Commons professionals, this paper addresses four key barriers to reading success in the disciplines: students' tendency to disregard the importance of reading assignments; students' focus on details at the expense of larger meanings; students' reliance on prior knowledge, which results in commonplace conclusions; and students' lack of persistence in finishing difficult texts. The paper also explores innovative strategies for students to construct new knowledge from their readings, including metacognitive practices to deepen understanding of texts (El Hindi, 2003); moderately difficult problem-solving as a scaffold for critical thinking (Bain, 2004; Willingham, 2009); and the use of story to frame readings in the disciplines (Willingham, 2009). In addition, the paper discusses how WAC principles can be used in writing assignments to ensure that students think critically. It encourages college educators to frame assignments more consciously with these questions in mind: How will the reading inform the writing the students will be asked to do? How can students best learn from this material?
"Using Writing Across the Curriculum Exercises to Teach Critical Thinking and Writing"
Authors: Robert Smart, Suzanne Hudd and Andrew Delohery
Publication: The College Writing Toolkit: Tried and Tested Ideas for Teaching College Writing, Editors Martha C. Pennington and Pauline Burton. London U.K.: Equinox Publishing, 2011, 219-237
Abstract: The authors apply the principles of concentric thinking, a locally developed critical thinking model, to student learning in a sociology classroom. Specifically, questions employing prioritization, translation and drawing analogies were applied to a sophomore/junior sociology course to model and encourage critical thinking about a variety of issues involving students' involvement and investment in a host of social problems. A comparison of the work that students did at the end of the semester to the first work that they completed at the start of the semester demonstrated significant movement in their acquisition of critical thinking skills and in their own appreciation of the problems they studied.
"My Understanding Has Grown, My Perspective Has Switched: Integrating Informal Writing and Cognitive Outcomes"
Authors: Suzanne S. Hudd, Robert Smart and Andrew Delohery
Publication: Teaching Sociology, Vol. 39, No. 2, April 2011, 179-189
Abstract: The use of informal writing is common in sociology. This article presents one model for integrating informal written work with learning goals through a theoretical framework known as concentric thinking. More commonly referred to as "the PTA model" because of the series of cognitive tasks it promotes-prioritization, translation, and analogy (PTA)-concentric thinking practiced through PTA provides a basis for structuring students' informal writing over the course of a semester. The authors present data in which students use PTA to assess their journal entries as text at the end of the semester. The students' informal responses to their own writing demonstrate the achievement of an important course goal-the development of sociological mindfulness-while they also reveal a deeper understanding of the important features of written work. The authors conclude that when informal writing is purposefully linked to a set of thinking goals and learning outcomes that are necessary to complete formal course requirements, it can serve as a powerful teaching tool to enhance both thinking and the ability to convey thoughts in writing. Structured in this way, informal written work can enable us to observe and assess changes in students' learning that would otherwise remain invisible, and it can alter our pedagogy in fundamental ways.
"Creating a Campus Culture of Integrity: Comparing the Perspectives of Full- and Part-time Faculty"
Authors: Suzanne S. Hudd, Caroline Apgar, Eric Franklin Bronson, and Renee Gravois Lee
Publication: The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 80, No. 2, March/April 2009, 146-177
Abstract: Part-time faculty plays an important role in creating a culture of integrity on campus, yet they face a number of structural constraints. This paper seeks to improve our understanding of the potentially unique experiences of part-time faculty with academic misconduct and suggests ways to more effectively involve them in campus-wide academic integrity initiatives.
"Moving Forward, Looking Backward: An Exercise in Recursive Thinking and Writing"
Authors: Suzanne S. Hudd and Eric Bronson
Publication: Teaching Sociology, Vol. 35, No. 3, July 2007, 264-273
Abstract: As writing parallels thinking and understanding, written assignments can elaborate not only what students think, but also how their reasoning evolves, and whether course materials influence their knowledge, beliefs and behavior. A well-structured writing assignment can also be used as a window to assess student comprehension, and where necessary, correct misconceptions that arise during the learning process. Students bring a set of "pre-understandings" to their assignments. The work we assign must teach students to observe their observations, to understand that their insights are always selective, adapted within the context of their subjective experience and that their comprehension of course content is guided by the ways in which they relate to and process it. In order to encourage students to become aware of the "pre-understandings" they bring to the learning experience, faculty must construct assignments that require students to confront them.
"Syllabus under Construction: Involving Students in the Creation of Class Assignments"
Author: Suzanne S. Hudd
Publication: Teaching Sociology, Vol. 31, No. 2, April 2003, 195-202
Abstract: Collaborative teaching techniques are designed to alter the relationship between the professor and the students in order to share the process of learning class materials. In a collaborative classroom, students are encouraged to participate in the design and implementation of class materials. This paper presents an exercise in which the students are required to develop the assessment criteria for a class in introductory sociology. In the first class session, students are given a syllabus including only topical headings and are charged with constructing the list of graded assignments. It is noted that, by and large students respond positively to being included in the design of the class syllabus, and some of the logistical concerns and pedagogical constrains of implementing this exercise are described.