Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them: Emphasizing Writing Instruction and Online Learning in Faculty Professional Development

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them: Emphasizing Writing Instruction and Online Learning in Faculty Professional Development

Article excerpt

Innovations in faculty development, particularly those that make the most of available technologies, are essential. "Learning is a social activity and we are social beings; and everything is connected" (Trammel & Bruce, 2008). Finding methods for creating these faculty connections is a challenge - one that can be met by technology. Yancey (2009) argues that new technologies must be embraced by instructors of writing to meet the needs of our current generation of students. Some writing programs are innovatively incorporating technology into writing-intensive instruction (Anstendig & Richie, 2003), yet this connection needs to trickle into faculty training. This faculty development model shares the instructional strategies employed in a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) faculty training program. This two-part WAC faculty training model, which embeds the use of technology in the second part of the curriculum, consists of ten three-hour sessions. To evaluate its effectiveness, faculty members (N=14) who completed all ten sessions were asked to respond on a 7-point scale to a nineteen-item satisfaction survey, with higher ratings indicating more positive experiences. Description of and responses to the faculty training model will be shared. The training was well received by the faculty, as the strong majority of the mean ratings fall above a 6.0. An analysis of items and open-ended responses from the survey revealed a need for reform in the training program, specifically in the following areas: (a) additional sharing among colleagues and (b) more interaction with online instructional mediums. This evaluation can be used to inform and improve a Web-accessible approach to faculty training that models the use of technology in writing-intensive instruction.

In 2009, a Writing Across the Curriculum Program (WAC) was launched at this institution in response to an accreditation core requirement to focus a university-wide initiative on student learning, often referred to as the Quality Enhancement Plan (SACSCOC, 2010). The committee that envisioned and documented this plan, which intends to strengthen writing skills of students in their future professions and disciplines, required all undergraduate students to complete five courses, including at least two program-required, content-area courses in their major prior to graduation. The requirement for faculty members to provide writing-intensive courses within their disciplines acted as a catalyst for the design and implementation of WAC faculty training, as many content-area faculty members are not comfortable with embedding writing instruction and evaluation into their courses. As a result, faculty members were selected per program to attend WAC faculty training in preparation for these new university-wide mandates.

In a time of economic upheaval, changing student demographics, and exploding technology, university-wide mandates sometimes have the potential to collide-mandates that simultaneously require conversion of traditional courses to online and hybrid instruction, engagement of faculty members in collaborative professional development experiences, and implementation of new interdisciplinary academic programs, such as this particular university writing program. Not surprisingly, competing instructional programs and professional development offerings at this university were being launched simultaneously. Specifically, each academic unit on campus was charged with converting as many courses as possible to an online mode of instruction. In fact, deans were charged with designing and creating one fully online program per respective academic school. As a result, faculty felt stretched with instructional demands and decisions: Should faculty members attend WAC training and convert content-area courses to writing-intensive instruction or should they attend instructional technology training and convert courses to an online delivery method? Creating a WAC professional development program to meet the needs of faculty can be challenging. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.