Writing Across the Curriculum and Assessment: Activities, Programs, and Insights at the Intersection

Guest editors: The Florida State University Editorial Collective (Kathleen Blake Yancey; Emily Baker; Scott Gage; Ruth Kistler; Natalie Syzmanski; Kara Taczak; and Jill Taylor)

In 1997, Brian Huot and Kathleen Blake Yancey published their co-edited volume Assessing Writing across the Curriculum: Diverse Approaches and Practices. In this volume, contributors explored various ways of assessing WAC programs, moving theoretically, ethnographically, administratively, and rhetorically to document the efficacy of such programs. During the last decade, we've seen this work expand, in the process frequently leading to new WAC-related innovations. Several programs, for example. have moved from WAC to CAC—from Writing across the Curriculum to Communication across the Curriculum—so as to incorporate multiple kinds of communication into a writing-rich but not writing-exclusive curriculum. Other WAC programs, like George Mason University's and North Carolina State University's, have used assessment activities as one component in a larger WAC research study. And still others, like researchers at the University of Hawaii, have focused on the student experience, drawing from collective interviews new lessons for WAC administrators and program designers. In sum, the last decade has produced new ways of thinking about WAC as well as new ways of thinking about how to assess WAC. This special issue of ATD will explore how assessment can help us understand, support, and enrich all such WAC efforts, and outline why and how assessment is an appropriate mechanism for doing so.

We invite proposals for articles that explore questions such as the following, as well as others related to the topic of Writing across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines and Assessment.

  • Over the last decade, we've seen more emphasis on assessment at both federal and state levels. How has this emphasis on assessment influenced WAC, or has it? What are the consequences for programs today if this emphasis continues?
  • How do the strategies used for assessing WAC programs differ when CAC programs are assessed? Are there lessons in CAC assessment for WAC programs?
  • WAC programs often operate at the nexus of other programs and centers, for instance first-year composition programs and writing centers. Are there models of assessment that articulate the relationship among these other programs and centers, allowing us to engage in a more capacious assessment?
  • What is the relationship between individual assessment and program assessment in WAC programs? Are the two forms of assessment at odds with each other, or how can they be productively combined?
  • One intent of program assessment, possibly the most important one, is to understand how well a program "works" such that it will work better. Do we have good examples of how programs have been enhanced based on program assessments? What are their features?
  • Given some of the new dimensions of WAC/WID programs, including the incorporation of digital technologies, what new strategies for assessment will be required? What is the appropriate role, if any, of computerized assessments of WAC/WID writing (e.g., ETS's e- rater) for individual assessment and/or for program assessment?
  • What is the relationship between research and assessment? How is each defined? Are there differences between the two we should be aware of? Alternatively, how do these two efforts work together?

We're eager to read innovative work that critically explores the foundations, implications, and influence of writing technologies and WAC/WID initiatives—work that is theoretically informed, that offers original research data, and that builds on appropriate literature reviews. Descriptions of specific WAC/WID initiatives are welcome and should be situated within an analysis of a larger issue(s). We welcome inquiries about ideas for proposals.

Deadline for Proposals: September 1, 2008

Notification of Acceptance: by November 2008

Manuscripts Due: March 1, 2009

Publication: Fall 2009

Proposal Format: Please submit a one-page proposal explaining your topic, the research and theoretical base on which you will draw, and your plans for the structure of your article. Proposals and manuscripts should follow APA documentation style, which is the standard for Across the Disciplines. Send your proposal electronically (in MS Word format) to Kathleen Blake Yancey (kyancey@fsu.edu), FSU editorial collective coordinator, and Michael Pemberton (michaelp@georgiasouthern.edu), the editor of ATD. Please be sure to include your full contact information.