WAC professors visit local high school to lead writing workshop

April 30, 2011 - Representatives of the Writing Across the Curriculum program visited Hamden High School in April 2011 to lead the second of three scheduled workshops. Designed to support teachers in the school's history department, the workshop focused on introducing classroom assignments that link critical thinking and writing exercises to developing disciplinary expertise.

Andrew Delohery, associate vice president of retention and academic success, introduced teachers to the conceptual underpinning of QUWAC's recent work while guiding them through a series of learning tasks.

With support from Susan Elliott, an associate professor in the School of Education, and Paul Pasquaretta, coordinator of the Research and Writing Institute, Delohery modeled some of the same strategies used by Quinnipiac faculty across the disciplines.

"High school teachers face many of the same kinds of challenges that university faculty face," Pasquaretta said. "By sharing our work with students, we can make a difference in the experience of teachers. At the same time, we are continuing the work of building stronger regional learning communities. The need to develop stronger critical thinking and writing skills is not exclusive to college-bound seniors, but anyone who has a stake in making sense of the world."

The collaboration with Hamden began when Moira Birmingham, the head of the high school's English Department, sought the assistance of Bob Smart, professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program, for a grant she was writing.

Birmingham later participated in a WAC-training workshop facilitated by Elliott last August. Since then, she has become a strong partner with QUWAC in developing a training protocol for high schools.

Surveyed teachers gave the workshop high marks. They described it as professional, informative, and relevant to their needs. "These workshops really make us think," one commented. "The exercises we did together will be useful in attacking classroom challenges."