Whenever I teach a class of first-year students, I ask the question, “How many of you have ever read a college level paper?” In a class of 15, occasionally, one student raises a hand, usually, none do.
Then I tell them, here’s what often happens: “We assign a college level paper. We don’t tell you what that is or what we want. You write what you think a college paper is. Then we judge you.” Collective sigh.
“That’s not what we are going to do in this class.” Happy sigh.
Every paper I assign in this first year course has three drafts. The first draft is read and peer reviewed in a class workshop, then read and discussed with a Peer Writing Mentor. After receiving feedback, the student writes draft two. I read and comment on draft two in an one-on-one session, and then the student writes draft three, which I grade. My comments are geared to exactly what each student needs to work on in each paper. Sometimes, I deal with understanding of content; sometimes, grammar, structure and syntax; sometimes, we cam move right on to style. Draft by draft, paper by paper, students are learning by doing, listening, thinking, and writing to create college level papers. One of the times students learn most occurs when they read and comment on other students’ papers. In the first few papers, editors learn most. By the midpoint of the semester, students are also learning from their peers. Especially in the beginning of the semester, peer review workshops need to be targeted, so editors have helpful parameters for commenting.
Here are the worksheets I use when students meet in groups of three to workshop five papers:
Here are the worksheets I use with the whole class for draft two of the first three papers:P3D2
I’m off to the International First-Year Experience Conference to discuss Faculty Buy-In: Engaging and Retaining Faculty Instructors:
Attracting hesitant faculty, especially tenured, senior faculty, to the first year seminar classroom is not always an easy task. This roundtable will focus on ways to engage and retain faculty instructors and develop their willing and enthusiastic participation, while strengthening the important Faculty/Student Affairs/ Writing Tutorial connection. The discussion will encourage other institutions to share best practices, discuss challenges, and brainstorm new ideas for faculty engagement.
Here are my handouts for the session:
- History and Background of Middlebury’s FYS program
- Peer Writing Tutor Info and “Harvest Cycle” of Faculty Development
- Dublin 08 FYS as a Locus for Faculty Development:
Creating Mini Learning Communities
- Montréal 09 Growing Faculty and Students
in FYS Learning Communities
- San Francisco 08 FYS as a Locus for Faculty Development: Creating Mini Learning Communities
Here are my presentation notes:
Key Piece of Advice:
Tell your story often and in many venues. And listen, really listen, to what your faculty have to stay.
* administrative support/ faculty voted in FYS over 20 years ago. Specifics and history of the program on the Middlebury handout.
* Since 2004, FYS director also director of CTLR (supports both faculty and students in learning and teaching), so CTLR supports students with writing, math, and study skills professionals and with peer mentors, tutors. CTLR also supports faculty with faculty development opportunities, such as workshops and consultations.
Three Components for Successful Faculty Buy-in
1. flexibility/opportunity–What do faculty get out of this experience?
* flexibility–choice of topic–opportunity to teach something different, of special interest, or topical
* opportunity to making it manageable–team support (peer writing mentor, librarian/ed tech) enables faculty to experiment and risks
* flexibility–choosing a team–whole, part, choosing its members, no team
* opportunity to bonding with students and to understand what the next crop of students is like
* opportunity to lure students into your area of study
* opportunities for tenured and junior faculty to experiment with different pedagogies and tools
* creating the students they want to see in their other courses
2. information–How are faculty getting information about your program and help when they need it?
* e-mails & online info, face to face group meeting in spring
* faculty development opportunities–Pedagogy series in June, in January, and throughout the year
* Writing Retreat in August
* follow up meeting in fall
* ability to consult with members of the writing program throughout the year
* website info about advising and teaching writing
3. follow-up–How do you know if your faculty and students are engaged? If your program is successful?
* midterm survey peer writing tutors
* check ins by librarians
* end of the semester evaluation
* five-year longitudinal study of the class of 2010 (Teagle Grant)
* Ward Prize
* not without challenges
* not without changes
* not without shifting monetary support
* You can’t take anything for granted: not money, not support. You have to keep telling your story, listening for problems, urging your faculty members to tell their stories to each other.
Here are links to previous First-Year Experience Conference Middlebury presentations:
Participated in Teaching with Technology,
Tech Fair, Co-sponsored by the CTLR and LIS @ Middlebury on Thursday, June 4th.
I looked at some of the ways I’ve used technology in four classes:
Mack made posters for all of us who presented: