Abstract:The Writing Across the Curriculum Program at Appalachian State University, founded in 2008, supports faculty instruction in a vertical writing curriculum which requires two courses in Composition and two in the disciplines, ensuring that students take a dedicated writing course in each year of undergraduate education. To address the challenges of student transfer of rhetorical knowledge and writing skills from one course to another, the WAC Program created opportunities for faculty conversation about writing in Composition and the disciplines. At the center of this conversation is the WAC Glossary Project, in which WAC consultant Dennis J. Bohr compiled pedagogical terms from faculty across the university for WAC conversations. The Glossary allows Composition faculty to anticipate writing tasks for students in the disciplines and encourages WID faculty to refer to basic, familiar terms in new writing contexts. The authors discuss the creation and evolution of the project and its practical applications.
Involving faculty in the disciplines in conversations with each other and with faculty in Composition poses a great challenge to Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) programs. Writing in the Discipline (WID) faculty may often assume that Composition should have cured students of writing difficulties when it had the opportunity. While they may acknowledge that students learning a discipline should add new vocabulary and methods of inquiry for WID writing assignments, they are also likely to assume that students will apply new knowledge to general writing skills if they have been properly grounded in Composition courses. Yet WID faculty often use different vocabulary to assign and assess writing, contributing further to students' disorientation in new rhetorical contexts.
WAC program directors often explain to WID faculty that writing requires practice, that students often don't easily transfer knowledge and skills from one level of writing instruction to another, and that Composition faculty cannot be equipped to anticipate the kind of instruction all disciplines will require, particularly as the vocabulary of writing instruction differs from course to course. In their discussion of the writing of novices and experts at the University of Chicago in Programs That Work, Joseph M. Williams and Gregory G. Colomb (1990) write of the complexity of writing challenges students encounter, citing the need for students to become "self-conscious about their own academic and professional progress" and for faculty to help the student "to articulate himself to a community of knowledge and to anticipate those predictable anxieties—the temporary deterioration of performance" (p. 108). As a field, we still grapple with the nature of transfer of skills and knowledge, the significance of unified writing curricula, and the role of reflection in a student's growth as a writer.
In her discussion of transfer as rhetorical act, Rebecca S. Nowacek (2011) addressed the need for continuity in talking about writing in the university:
Several hypotheses about what impedes transfer have emerged. If writing abilities developed in first-year composition courses are not used in subsequent classes, it may be because students see no need for them—either because the assignments are simple enough to succeed without the strategies or because students avoid more challenging assignments (Wardle 2007, 74). Or it may be because students conceptualize first-year English as "subjective" and "creative" writing and therefore irrelevant to their work in disciplinary contexts (Bergmann and Zepernick 2007, 130-132). The teachers whom Nelms and Dively interviewed hypothesized that students may not transfer writing knowledge from first-year composition to subsequent classes because of a basic inclination to compartmentalize (223); if such an inclination exists, it can only be exacerbated by a lack of shared vocabulary that might help students make connections among disparate contexts (227). (p. 16)
Concerned that our disparate ways of talking about writing instruction prevented students from making connections, Appalachian State University's WAC Program (founded in 2008) based its mission of faculty development on strategies that would create conversations across disciplines. There was no history of conversation between the Composition Program and the WID faculty, so creating occasions for those talks, centered around a new sophomore Composition course (English 2001, Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum), allowed WID faculty to learn where their students had been: We also began annual conversations between Appalachian faculty and faculty from community colleges whose students were likely to transfer to Appalachian. In conjunction with interactions between WAC consultants and faculty throughout the university, we began a program of appointing WID consultants who would work with the WAC Program each year, a project that led to the creation of a glossary of writing pedagogical terms based on campus use across the disciplines as a resource for faculty conversations and development. As part of our desire to bring faculty together to talk about writing, we began the WAC Glossary of Terms to help faculty be aware of the value of a common pedagogical vocabulary (see http://wac.appstate.edu/writing-disciplines/wac-glossary-terms).
WAC's current conversation at Appalachian is sustainable because of a new vertical writing curriculum in General Education which requires four dedicated writing courses in a student's undergraduate curriculum; in Composition, these are Intro to Composition (English 1000) and Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum (English 2001, a new course in 2009 with a prerequisite of 30 hours), a third-year WID course in the major, and a capstone in the major. (These latter WID courses, also new in 2009, are required of all majors: See http://generaleducation.appstate.edu for the full curriculum.) The writing curriculum is the only vertical element of the General Education requirements, requiring the disciplines to create two dedicated writing courses. Under the new Gen Ed curriculum, Appalachian students' writing instruction is concentrated on a focused writing experience each year (the former curriculum required two Composition courses the first year, one in Composition and literature, and scattered "W" courses in the disciplines with no cohesion). WAC also works closely with faculty teaching First-Year Seminar, a required General Education course with a strong writing component, and faculty from the library in incorporating information literacy.
Through the new writing curriculum, WAC aims to help faculty be aware of the need for students to transfer skills and knowledge from one level of writing course to another, answering Jonathan Hall's (2006) call for "not only a horizontal breadth of writing instruction . . . but also . . . vertical integration of writing instruction at various levels and at various times throughout the whole period of a student's undergraduate career" (p. 6). While the University Writing Center takes the primary responsibility for working with students, WAC's goal is faculty development. Its program emphasis is on support of faculty and assessment of student writing, but through our work with faculty, we aim to facilitate students' awareness of this connected curriculum.
WAC fosters conversations between faculty through multiple venues: supporting the new English 2001 (Introduction to WAC) course through brown bag discussions for Composition faculty, mentoring new faculty in WAC scholarship, and offering workshops with Rhetoric and Composition scholars (bringing Nancy Sommers, Eileen Schell, Nick Carbone, Nedra Reynolds, Liz Wardle, John Zubizarreta, Kathleen Yancey, Joe Harris, Lisa Ede, and Frank Farmer to campus since 2008). WAC also aids Composition in providing professional development for a mostly contingent faculty through focus on the challenges of teaching Intro to WAC.
The models for Intro to WAC were created by Beth Carroll, the University Writing Center director, working in fall 2007 with a team of 22 Composition faculty, to address the challenges of a Composition course with a WAC focus to replace the traditional introduction to literature and composition course. This new course focuses on rhetorical analysis and rhetorical challenges, including multiple genres for academic writing situations and different documentation styles. The Intro to WAC course was conceived as an intersection course requiring knowledge of writing situations in the disciplines and anticipating future academic writing assignments, a natural site for continuing conversation between Composition and WID faculty. For example, a common assignment asks students to write about writing in their majors in a social studies report format using APA documentation, interviewing a student, a professor, and another professional in the discipline about writing. The cooperation of WID professors is key to the success of this assignment, and Composition faculty are allowed to gain increasing knowledge about other disciplines through their work on student projects.
In preparing Composition faculty for this ambitious course, Carroll and Rhoades began faculty development sessions in spring 2008 with WAC offering a three-day intensive workshop at the end of the semester. This support continues with a faculty development curriculum of WAC scholarship and practice with individual sessions and group events. When new contingent or tenure-track faculty wish to teach this new course, they work with WAC consultants, reviewing syllabi models and reading WAC theory. WAC consultants hold ongoing positions with the program, assuming responsibility for certain areas of WAC scholarship and also for work with specific programs; for example, one consultant maintains the website (http://wac.appstate.edu/), is the liaison for service learning, and works with such programs as Communication Sciences and Disorders, First Year Seminar, and Professional Writing.
One major task of the WAC program is to help Composition faculty become more aware of university writing conventions and to establish connections between the Composition Program and the rest of the university. To help make this project sustainable, Rhoades invited five WID consultants to work with the program in 2008 to provide information about writing in their disciplines to strengthen instruction in Intro to WAC. Since that first year, WAC has worked with 26 faculty from 24 disciplines (among these Chemistry, Math, Biology, Philosophy and Religion, Sustainable Development, Curriculum and Instruction, Anthropology, and Theatre and Dance). In the last two years, these groups have worked with WAC consultants to focus on particular challenges of teaching writing, such as e-portfolio teaching, large class instruction, and the role of reflective writing in the transfer of skills and knowledge across the curriculum, building on work WAC began with Liz Wardle in 2011-12.
Each year, these WID consultants provide syllabi, assignments, landmark texts, and rubrics to the WAC program, providing an archive of material for English 2001 faculty, and they also offer a panel presentation for faculty about writing in their disciplines. In some of these presentations, Composition faculty ask questions about what challenges WID faculty face in writing instruction and how Composition might help to anticipate those challenges; in others, WID faculty and WAC consultants present the results of year-long collaborative research on problems common to all writing instruction.
Mark Waldo (2004) has written about the challenges of communication about writing instruction between Composition programs and WID faculty and the limits of the strategies of the Composition classroom for WID instruction. He suggests that "as academics we are mostly unable to talk to one another, at least in the languages of our work" (p. 3) and stresses that WAC programs should recognize how "community-based" our assumptions are (p. 6). Taking his concerns into account (along with the diplomacy necessary in implementing a new General Education curriculum and preparing non-tenure track Composition faculty to work with tenure-track WID faculty as WAC practitioners), Appalachian's WAC Program invests each year in gathering information about classroom and disciplinary practice from the WID faculty it works with, enlarging the vocabulary of writing pedagogy to include terms that teachers of Intro to WAC can include in their discussions of writing in the university. Part of WAC's work is consciousness-raising in an attempt to help faculty to recognize the value of their part in a coherent writing curriculum and the need to connect the new information they teach in WID courses to the information about writing instruction that students have already encountered through Composition study. WID faculty regularly approach the program for support and attend workshops on a variety of subjects (for example, on handling the paper load and portfolio teaching). But in seeking contacts with faculty, WAC consultants always approach the conversation as learners, seeking information about writing and writing instruction in that discipline, in order to add to the knowledge of those teaching Composition and to strengthen the connections in the writing curriculum; in other words, we don't tell WID faculty what to do but offer our support for their own goals. In this spirit, the Glossary of Terms is a catalog of local use of terms, not an attempt to standardize usage or establish control over the means of conversation about pedagogy.
For example, as rhetoricians we assume that there are some similarities in the texts we read and are interested in knowing the differences (even though we may not understand all the complexities of content). Using Michael Carter's (2007) idea of metagenre as a way into conversation between WAC and WID consultants, we test his characterization of the writing of the disciplines against our own experiences. Our common research on strategies for teaching writing in large classes helped to underscore that some disciplines do not value scholarship about pedagogy, as Robert A. Smart and Mary T. Segall (2005) point out in "Decolonizing the Academy: WAC and Institutional Recognition and the Reward System," but that faculty in those disciplines are interested in strategies to alleviate workload.
We are not interested in standardizing the vocabulary of writing pedagogy in these discussions, which are clearly based on a respect for each discipline and an interest in WAC's learning what we can incorporate into Intro to WAC. An Intro to WAC instructor who can speak with authority of the format of reports in the social sciences, for example, will be more effective. But at the same time, we hope that we can encourage WID faculty to be aware of what a student has learned in writing before taking WID courses and to build on that foundation as much as possible. The recognition of diverse vocabulary in writing courses and the value of our understanding as much as possible about the language of the writing curriculum led Bohr to create the Glossary of Terms for teaching writing in 2009, not to privilege the vocabulary of one field over another, but to support communication.
In early conversations with WID faculty, we began to suspect that the use of different terms in talking about writing might lead to dissonance in student writers struggling to move from writing tasks in Composition and WID courses. We learned from our first WID consultants that a summary is most likely to be called a précis by the History professor and abstract by the professor from Exercise Science. While we might have expected a student to see the similarities of moves between one level and another, we believed that a common teaching vocabulary would strengthen instruction, to address what Michael Pemberton (1995) calls "polyvocality" (p. 117). We hoped that an Intro to WAC teacher might foreshadow other synonymous terms when teaching summary, while an Exercise Science teacher might point out that an abstract is essentially the same as a summary and that students learned summary writing in Composition.
While it may be expected that students not have an extensive vocabulary for talking about their writing, a major goal of the Intro to WAC course is to create an awareness of skills across the curriculum, and, in particular, to help students recognize the similarity of writing tasks from one level to another. In the Introduction to WAC class, Bohr requires that one paper about writing in students' majors be written in basic social studies report format in APA style, both of which are new to most students in sophomore year. He draws connections to writing in other majors, pointing out that business students often write short, one-page reports, while history majors are not likely to use first person or contractions in formal writing. While students become aware in Intro to WAC that conventions vary from one discipline to another, they also learn that many writing moves are basic to all academic writing. As Intro to WAC helps students to look ahead to WID courses and see that the courses are connected, it follows that, if faculty employ the same terms to talk about writing skills, students will be more likely to remember earlier writing experiences in new situations.
As liaison for WAC and the University Writing Center, Bohr's experiences with students and the assignments they brought to the writing center also underscored the disconnects in writing pedagogy vocabulary. Not surprisingly, students often come to the writing center without an understanding of writing terms or a clear idea of why they have been referred, simply asking for generic feedback. Similarly, WID faculty often assign and assess student writing without having access to a vocabulary of writing pedagogy. One professor asked WAC for help with responding to papers but could not explain what criteria he would use to decide if the paper was effective, saying that understanding those criteria is the job of writing teachers, not WID instructors.
The recognition of the necessity of resources for common vocabulary is not new: In 1984 Toby Fulwiler, discussing James Britton's differentiation between expressive, transactional, and poetic functions of writing in College English, wrote that he hoped "the entire academic community would soon share common assumptions about writing and terminology to describe those assumptions and perhaps assign and evaluate student writing" (p.114). In 2004, Robert Ochsner and Judy Fowler in their critique of WAC and WID programs suggested that "key terms be defined more precisely and that multimodal learning be adopted more consistently to address varied learning styles" (n.p.). Gerald Nelms and Ronda Leathers Dively (2007) posit that problems with transferability of knowledge may occur because of "significant vocabulary differences between general composition courses and discipline specific courses" (p. 227).
Bohr developed the Glossary without models, but an online search reveals that some other programs have recognized the need for common language about writing instruction: The Office of University Writing (2012) at Auburn University offers a glossary of writing terms for teachers across disciplines in videos about writing, ranging from general writing terms (process, product, and reflection) to more specific terms (discourse community, global issues, and higher order thinking skills). These listings include brief definitions of the terms and further explanation of their importance. Colorado State University (2012) offers students several glossaries of key terms in various disciplines for different audiences, including a glossary of assessment terms, a glossary of academic terms for advising, and glossaries for terms used in classical argument, in the education department, the library, and even an animal science wool glossary. There is also a Grammar Glossary, which defines terms such as comma splices, transitive and intransitive verbs, verbal phrases, and similar terms relevant to grammatical concerns.
Like Appalachian's WAC website, Illinois College's WAC website (2012) offers wide resources for writing faculty. Both sites have links to the WAC Clearinghouse, to key readings defining WID, handouts on peer review, evaluating writing, and tips for reducing faculty paper load. Illinois College's glossary, created in 2008, defines a few key terms for faculty: writing to learn, journaling, WAC and WID, as well as CAC (Communication across the Curriculum). Other universities like the University of Minnesota ("Teaching with Writing," 2012), Youngstown State (Gordon, 2007), and the University of Missouri ("Teaching Resources," 2012) offer various resources for teachers and students with style and format guides, sample assignments, and some definitions of types of writing (laboratory assignments, reflection, and economic analysis, for example, at the University of Minnesota), which contain some definitions of terms within the explanation of these types of assignments. Another glossary resource has been developed at the University of South Florida ("First-year Composition Wiki Glossary," 2012), which has created an instructor- and student-written Wiki-Glossary to define terms that are relevant to USF's program. Students and faculty edit the glossary by adding new terms, adding links to illustrate existing terms, or supplying examples to clarify existing terms. This is an extensive glossary that ranges from definitions for terms like citation, summary, critical thinking, academic discourse and plagiarism, to more general terms often used in literature classes, such as memoir, irony, oratory, tone, and voice.
In November of 2008, Bohr asked WAC consultants to begin brainstorming different writing terms to be included in the Glossary, beginning with basic definitions from process writing and terms the WAC consultants were learning from their research with WID faculty. Consultants examined writing texts such as The Writer's Reference with Writing in the Disciplines by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers (2011, 7th edition), scholars such as John Bean, David Bartholomae, Art Young, and Peter Elbow, and indexes to find terms familiar to Composition teachers but not to WID faculty (such as high- and low-stakes writing, process, artifacts, writing to learn and writing to communicate, reflective writing, revision, summative and formative evaluation, and metacognition). WAC consultants also gathered terms from their particular areas of expertise (for example, from STEM courses), and Bohr asked each consultant to research additional terms. WAC consultants researched definitions and provided examples and possible contrasts to the terms. As the Glossary grew, categories emerged, such as WAC and WID terms, process writing terms, etc.
Throughout 2009 the consultants compiled definitions and revised with feedback from WID consultants and other Composition teachers, soliciting terms from different disciplines and learning how writing conventions vary (for example, that passive voice is privileged in certain disciplines). They learned that Chemistry often uses American Chemistry Society documentation, Sociology typically uses APA or ASA (American Sociological Association), History uses Chicago Manual of Style, and some disciplines often have students write in the style of the journals they intend to publish in. They noted that Sociology's annotated bibliography and literature review are similar, and that students across the university often confuse summary and analysis. The collection of terms clarified the need to make the vocabulary of writing instruction more transparent for both faculty conversation and student transfer of skills and knowledge. The emphasis was on local use, how Appalachian faculty used terms in the classroom and how faculty in Composition and the disciplines differed and concurred in their use of terms.
The collection of terms grows each semester as conversations between WAC and WID consultants add to the list. At some points, we discovered that a simple term (such as text) has divergent meanings. For Art and Music faculty, for example, text might have a narrower definition, while for those of us in Composition a variety of genre could qualify as text. In these cases, the Glossary reflects the range of possible definitions to reflect our wide usage. Currently, we're exploring the range of definitions of such multi-use terms as analysis in an attempt to reflect the range of possible references students might hear across the curriculum. As WAC develops rubrics for reading argument across the curriculum, we find multiple ways to talk about argument and to assign and assess it, all of which complicate the process of evaluation.
The glossary is presented in sections: The first, "WAC and WID Terms," defines WAC and WID and includes other concepts such as genre and Michael Carter's (2007) concept of metagenre; information literacy as defined by librarians at Appalachian; transferable skills; and the vertical writing model.
"Process Writing Terms" provides not only definitions of voice, tone, audience, writing to learn and writing to communicate, but also includes handouts on detail, an exercise adapted from Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff's A Community of Writers (2000) after their Appalachian workshops; invention techniques; a reflective writing handout with ideas from John Zubizarreta, Nancy Welch, Kathleen Yancey, and Art Young; and questions Bohr asks his students to include in their end-of-the semester portfolio letter. WID faculty often ask questions about editing, and a popular handout from workshops is titled "Put Down That Red Pen! How Process Writing Deals with Error," using information from John Bean's Engaging Ideas (2001) and Art Young's Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum (1999). (Bohr created this handout in response to WID teachers from Geography and Planning who suggested adding specific research or evidence to support claims that marking error in the early stages of a paper is often detrimental in a process-writing class.) WAC consultants often offer WID faculty strategies for dealing with error, including the advice of a colleague in Communication who said that he reads until the third or fourth distracting error and then returns a paper to a student for revision before he will read further. For most WID faculty, the advice not to mark all error and to develop strategies for intervention is a new and welcome aspect of teaching writing.
Under "Kinds of Writing/ Writing Assignments" are terms such as summary, abstract, landmark text, argument, criticism, journals, and high- and low-stakes writing, along with handouts on rhetorical analysis and portfolios. The portfolio handout spells out the most salient points about using a writing portfolio (there are no grades on papers, yet students can revise as often as they like; portfolios are "real writing"; they shift authority and responsibility to the students) with explanations and rationale for the writing teacher. Composition courses at Appalachian are now all portfolio courses, and consultation sessions indicate that the practice is growing with WID faculty: Geography and Planning at Appalachian has used portfolios in its WID courses for several years. As we shift to e-portfolios, WAC is responsible for providing faculty development across the curriculum.
The "Research" section of the glossary defines primary research, field research, and secondary research, offers an explanation of plagiarism according to Appalachian's Academic Integrity Code, and also has links to MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style documentation guidelines. The "Rhetorical Terms" section offers the rhetorical triangle and links to resources about how to do rhetorical analysis. One of these handouts, created by Bohr, offers specific outcomes that rhetorical analyses address: the rhetorical triangle of speaker/writer, audience, and subject; the contexts relevant to the writing; appeals of pathos, ethos, and logos; types of evidence or support; and the shape or packaging of the writing. The handout also explains that rhetorical analysis helps students internalize habits of thought that will make them insightful, creative, expressive, contributing members of a discipline. Rhetorical analysis was not a term recognized by many faculty outside Composition before Gen Ed adopted the vertical writing model in 2009: More WID faculty now understand that students can transfer the basic skills of rhetorical analysis to reading texts in new WID contexts and that reinforcement of the term can aid students in recalling the process.
In "Responding to Writing," Rhoades offers advice and strategies about how to handle the paper load based on concepts from several theorists, including Belanoff's (Elbow and Belanoff, 2000) ideas about stages of composition. This section of the Glossary also offers definitions of summative and formative evaluation, peer review, and proofreading, along with a "Provocative Revision" exercise from Toby Fulwiler (1992), who presented one of the first faculty development workshops at Appalachian.
"Resources" offers local information about the university's writing programs, Rhetoric and Composition, the University Writing Center, and Writing Across the Curriculum (which were jointly awarded the 2012 CCCC Certificate of Excellence); First-Year Seminar; and a link to the WAC Clearinghouse. The bibliography lists the sources for materials from the Glossary.
The Glossary, as we have demonstrated, is the product of a recursive process requiring expansion and clarification inspired by many sources and experiences. A participant at a 2011 workshop Appalachian's WAC Program offered at Quinnipiac University suggested a redefinition of grammar, and Bohr is working on a new section dealing with interdisciplinary use of text and artifact. As more Composition faculty are teaching ethnographies and literacy narratives, those terms require definition and connection to later similar assignments in WID courses, particularly those in which ethnography is a register term.
As more WID faculty become aware of the need for common writing pedagogical vocabulary and the Glossary as resource, WAC finds new emissaries. For example, Peter Elbow's approach to dealing with error is central to the approach the Appalachian WAC Program offers to WID faculty. WID faculty often know that grammar or punctuation in a student draft is incorrect without having strategies for addressing patterns, finding it is easier to mark or correct error than recognizing a teaching opportunity, and error-marking is a frequent topic in WID workshops. In a small-group discussion among WID teachers, a Theatre and Dance former WID consultant quoted Elbow (whom she had learned about through her work with the WAC program) and his approach to error. In other workshops, WID consultants from Philosophy and Religion and Sociology used the terms low- and high-stakes writing assignments in explaining how they are coping with increasing class sizes in their writing classes; the P & R professor applied research in metacognition to explain how he teaches reflection in his WID classes. In a WAC workshop with Sustainable Development faculty, a professor testified that WAC support had allowed her to cut grading time in half and advocated using the Glossary resources for responding to drafts.
While WAC at Appalachian works primarily with faculty, Bohr has conducted four surveys of students to gather information about their view of the writing curriculum: One interesting area of the study indicates student awareness of terms of writing. (The first survey revealed that few students understood the term vertical writing model, which the WAC Program and Composition are addressing through syllabi explanation and faculty discussions.) Bohr and WAC Consultant Travis Rountree created a film about the vertical writing model for students (http://wac.appstate.edu/) to help them be aware of the connections between writing courses. WAC also hopes to explore how the Glossary might be a resource for the University Writing Center. WAC has also extended its model of conversation for faculty development to an annual conference with community college faculty, using the Glossary as a resource for other schools to create conversations.
While the Glossary project was primarily intended to foster faculty conversation about writing instruction, it has become a resource for discussions about WID course renewal and assignment and rubric development. The Glossary will provide a departure point for WAC to study transfer through assignment development and common vocabulary beginning in 2015, with development of a university-wide e-portfolio program. At the same time, as all academic programs begin to apply for renewal of the original General Education WID and capstone writing requirements by resubmitting their course proposals, the WAC Program will use the Glossary as a resource for writing vocabulary and faculty development. The Glossary project can serve as a model for other programs wishing to examine their local pedagogical vocabularies as well as their connections to their disciplines, the language of Rhetoric and Composition, and to each other.
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