Abstract: The teaching assistantship is a venerable model for funding graduate studies, staffing undergraduate courses, and providing pedagogical support for emerging college and university instructors. In this article, we present a variation of this model of graduate student support: the WAC Fellowship at the City University of New York. Using survey data and interviews with former fellows from one CUNY campus, York College, we explore the impact of the WAC Fellowship on their professional development. Our results suggest that the WAC Fellowship does a better job of preparing graduate students for life as faculty members than traditional teaching assistantships for three reasons: the WAC fellowship we studied provides an opportunity for training in and reflection on writing and WAC pedagogy, exposure to the types of service and administrative work that form a significant part of a faculty member's working life, and a structure for mentoring and collaborative learning that allows graduate students to develop as professionals in academe. In addition, the WAC-specific pedagogies woven into the fellowship shape fellows' conceptions of both the value of writing for learning in discipline-based courses and the importance of the writing process.
In this project we investigate the model of professional development for graduate students within a WAC/WID framework that has been in place for 15 years at the City University of New York (CUNY): the graduate WAC Fellowship. WAC Fellows (WFs) are advanced graduate students from various disciplines who customarily have several years of teaching experience as adjunct instructors in the CUNY system. In order to consolidate and to build upon this classroom experience, they receive training in WAC/WID pedagogy at the beginning of their fellowship and ongoing supervision and mentorship from WAC administrators on the campus where they work. Graduate Teaching Assistant (TA) programs typically position graduate students as classroom assistants, something like apprentices to the professor, rather than as autonomous teachers of their own classes. In this article, we explore how the WAC Fellowship extends this model: instead of teaching, WFs work behind the scenes helping faculty develop courses and developing support materials for WAC in general and specific courses in particular. The WAC Fellowship also includes an important mentoring component for non-teaching and non-research (i.e. service and administrative) aspects of academic professional life, which former WFs responding to our survey found particularly valuable.
In this article, we report on an empirical study of the impact of the WF experience on the 50 former WFs from York College of the City University of New York. At the core of this study is a web-based survey of former WFs that inquires about specific kinds of WF work; current employment, academic service, and research interests; and approaches to writing assignments in courses they teach (Appendix A). We supplement the survey responses through interviews with former WFs currently employed in academia to offer added detail about the impact of the WF experience on preparation for the professoriate.
We seek to expand our understanding of what constitutes good "preparation for the professoriate" in terms of professional development for graduate students. Our surveys and interviews reveal that, for York's former WFs, the fellowship enhances the typical TA experience in two ways. First, it fosters former fellows' development as teachers in part by providing a reflective space at a time when they are specifically not teaching. Second, it exposes them to the life of a full-time faculty member in terms of building interpersonal professional relationships and undertaking service and administrative work of the kind that is frequently required of full-time faculty, but which graduate students rarely have the opportunity to experience.
CUNY WAC Fellows are advanced graduate students—typically at the beginning of the dissertation stage—from a wide variety of disciplines. Their most frequent role is one of WAC guide or coach to faculty who are in the process of incorporating writing pedagogies into disciplinary courses: WFs help faculty design effective assignments, scaffold significant writing projects, prepare support materials, and create time in class for writing instruction. But WFs also collaborate with other entities on campus: for example, writing centers to develop tutoring materials, or Centers for Teaching Excellence, developing, planning, and helping to lead workshops for faculty. In addition, they participate in administrative and assessment aspects of WAC and Writing Programs at their home colleges.
The WAC Fellowship as such has seldom been overtly theorized. Jessica Yood's (2004) "The Next Stage is a System" stands out in considering how fellows are part of a multi-generational effort to shape WAC at CUNY. At least three studies (Halasz et al., 2006; Soliday, 2004; Robinson & Hall, 2013) have provided concrete examples of the ways in which WFs may contribute to research and to the campus mission of WAC programs. These authors have highlighted the two-sidedness of the WF experience. Ostensibly, the WFs are there to assist faculty in incorporating WAC pedagogy—and they do, in fact, provide such assistance. But in the process the WFs gain valuable insight into the process of implementing WAC pedagogy. The fellow gets a rare fly-on-the-wall view of pedagogy in action, without being a direct participant either as student or instructor. In our analysis of our survey and interviews, we explore how this distance from the classroom creates important space for reflection about teaching.
The ambiguity of the WAC Fellow role on campus is a key feature, not a bug, of the program. Not an instructor, not a TA, not a tutor, not an administrator—yet with elements of each role—WFs operate in the interstices of the university, where they have an opportunity to observe and to learn what goes on behind the scenes. From this liminal position, they gain a much broader picture, through practical experience, of how academia functions than an average graduate teaching assistant. Just exactly how the WF experience affects the professional development of these graduate students is the subject of our research here.
The WAC Program at CUNY, established by the CUNY Board of Trustees in 1999, may well be the largest in the world, serving a quarter of a million students, almost all of whom have some contact with the WAC program on their campus, usually in the form of required writing intensive courses. The CUNY WAC initiative is spread across 19 fairly autonomous campuses, where individual WAC programs take different forms depending on local needs. CUNY is larger than some state systems, but it operates in the geographical area of New York City, and so CUNY WAC Coordinators are able to meet regularly throughout the academic year.
WAC Fellows have been part of the CUNY WAC program since its origins in 1999. They receive university-wide training, which focuses on basic WAC/WID principles such as writing to learn, disciplinary communities of practice, scaffolded assignments, responding to student writing in disciplinary courses, use of technology, and approaches to multilingual learners. Fellows also attend other university-wide events, including a retrospective debriefing near the end of the Spring semester at which WAC Fellows from across the university share their projects and accomplishments with each other, and also hear from a panel of former WAC Fellows who return to share their experiences with current fellows.
The CUNY WAC fellowship embraces a diversity of structures across the 19 campuses, both in terms of the WAC programs themselves—including curricular requirements, administrative positioning, budgeting and support, and coordinator responsibilities—and specifically of the different ways in which WAC Fellows can be deployed. The program at York, for example, does not include a requirement that potential writing intensive course instructors must work with WFs, as do programs on some other CUNY campuses; the program relies more on voluntary faculty requests, or requests from whole departments. But the York College WFs do much more than collaborate with faculty.
York's approach can best be described as an entrepreneurial model because it encourages WFs to identify a need on campus that their own skills and training have prepared them to address, and propose a project—a website, a faculty workshop, a student-oriented event, a video, an assessment study—that will help develop a culture of writing at York. A WAC Fellows Coordinator, a faculty member, supervises the campus WFs, and receives reassigned time from teaching to so. The authors of this article have each served in that position at one point or another.
One way to understand how the fellowship affects WFs is to ask them during the fellowship. Within the York College WAC program, that inquiry happens in group meetings, one-on-one interactions, and an end-of year reflective report that each WF writes. But our interest here is in the longer-term impact of the fellowship on those former WFs who remain engaged in academia. For this reason, we limited our inquiry to former York College WFs.
We administered a confidential online survey and interviewed a small sample of former WFs currently employed in academia. The survey (Appendix A) has three parts: respondent demographics and institutional affiliation; experiences and activities while in the CUNY WAC Fellows program; teaching practices, academic service commitments, and scholarly activities related to teaching and learning. Of the fifty former WFs in our population, we sent three rounds of email invitations to the forty we could locate. Twenty-eight completed the online survey, a 70% response rate. One survey question prompted respondents to agree to a follow-up interview. Using a short list of questions (Appendix B), we conducted web-based interviews with three of the seventeen respondents who agreed to be interviewed.
Since 1999, fifty advanced graduate students at the CUNY Graduate Center, from more than a dozen academic disciplines, have completed one or two years as WFs at York College. In our survey, sixteen respondents came from the humanities, ten from the social sciences, and two from the natural sciences. This is understandable from the perspective of research funding since advanced graduate students in the natural sciences often secure lab research assistantships working with advisors. However, such funding is less readily available in the humanities and social sciences, leaving advanced graduate students in those areas more likely to seek a WAC Fellowship (or adjunct teaching positions) to help fund completion of their Ph.D. This disciplinary distribution of York's fellows is broadly representative of the CUNY-wide WF demographic.
The vast majority of the former WFs in our survey remain engaged in their disciplines within academia, though many have yet to find full-time tenure or non-tenure-track positions. Twenty-three (82%) of our respondents hold positions in academia, with two of them in departments outside of their doctoral disciplines. While twelve (55%) of these respondents in academia hold full-time positions, the other ten are employed as contingent or adjunct faculty. Nine (41%) of those in full-time positions are on the tenure track; three are in lecturer or research positions. Over a third of our respondents (36%) have yet to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. Perhaps not surprisingly, the data shifts once we take into account completion of the Ph.D. More than 75% (10 of 13) of those with a PhD who remain in academia have a full-time tenure-track or nontenure-track position, while only one of eight without the terminal degree has a full-time academic appointment. Although we do not have career trajectory data for the population of former CUNY WFs, we have no reason to suspect that the former York fellows who responded to our survey are outliers.
The CUNY WAC Fellowship provides fellows with an immersion in WAC pedagogy, which, our research findings show, fellows carry into their disciplinary classrooms if they continue in academia after they have completed their fellowships. We see from our survey and interviews that one of the primary things that WFs take away from the experience is a commitment to incorporating WAC and writing pedagogies into their teaching. While this may seem obvious—graduate student professional development affects instruction—the success of this approach requires a WF to transfer the WAC work they do as fellows, working in various disciplines, into their own disciplinary and pedagogical contexts, something that a more traditional TAship (WAC or otherwise) does not require. Traditional TAships usually remain within the field: a sociology TA teaches sociology, and professional development activities focus directly on teaching sociology. But a WF whose own field is sociology may work closely with a faculty member teaching a writing intensive course in biology and develop materials to help tutors work with students from that course. Our respondents tell us that this experience helps them in their own teaching, but the benefit comes in a broader pedagogical understanding of the relationship between writing and learning, rather than specific approaches to a particular subject matter.
The teaching assistantship is a venerable model for funding graduate studies and staffing undergraduate courses, but in many programs and institutions it often falls short in providing pedagogical support for emerging college and university instructors. Many authors who have described the traditional TAship have discussed the limited professional development available to graduate students (e.g. Ethington & Pisani, 1993; Shannon, Twale, & Moore, 1998). This limitation may arise from the perception among potential mentors (i.e. full time faculty members) that mentoring TAs would take them away from their primary concern: research. Furthermore, TA training varies widely from institution to institution, and, indeed, from department to department (Shannon et al., 1998). Some TAs might be trained only in the policies that govern instructors at an institution and be handed a textbook, while others on the same campus might receive a more thorough disciplinary orientation and continued feedback and support throughout the semester. Furthermore, while Park (2004) has discussed the benefits of having a defined role in a university in which students receive hands-on teaching experience while receiving funding to continue their graduate studies, Ethington and Pisani (1993) have shown that, at least at their institution, a TAship appears to be less beneficial for preparing the graduate student to be a faculty member than either a research assistantship or no assistantship at all.
There is, nonetheless, a shared understanding of what a teaching assistantship should be: TAs should be oriented to the expectations of the department in which they are teaching (Park, 2004) and receive explicit training in, and the opportunity to reflect on, pedagogical methods (Shannon, Twale, & Moore, 1998); they should be mentored by faculty and/or by more experienced teaching assistants (deNeef, 2002; Park, 2004, citing Puccio, 1986); and their training should be interactive (i.e., delivered in a small group, rather than in a large orientation session) and authentic, so that TAs can receive feedback on their effectiveness before beginning to teach their own students (Shannon et al., 1998). More broadly, a graduate assistantship should "provide for the socialization of the student into the norms of the profession" (Ethington & Pisani, 1993, p. 353). Our data show that the CUNY WAC Fellowship can contribute to all of these goals: it provides solid pedagogical training while socializing graduate students into the profession more generally. But the WAC fellowship goes beyond a traditional discipline-based teaching assistantship: like more specifically WAC-based teaching assistantships, it adds value by exposing WFs to WAC-based methods of teaching content through writing and teaching writing through content.
Our data suggest that the WAC Fellowship might be considered as a TA-plus role that provides fellows with a WAC-based pedagogical training and experience that may persist in their future positions in a productive tension with the traditional modes of instruction in their particular fields. Even if they have received strong discipline-specific training, in, for example, effective ways of structuring a lecture, the WAC orientation can open their minds to additional pedagogical possibilities. And if they have not received such training from their home departments, this value-added assistantship can help fill the gap.
Our respondents indicated that during their fellowship they learned about core pedagogies and not only those related to WAC, but also writing instruction more generally, and that these pedagogies helped them feel like better teachers in their disciplines by the end of the fellowship. Former fellows believed they had received strong training in areas specifically related to teaching students to write: 86% agreed or strongly agreed that they learned a lot about writing effective assignments, and that they had learned how to help students become stronger writers, while 78% indicated that they had learned a lot about commenting on and evaluating student writing (See Table 1 ). These are skills and tools that we would hope all TAs acquire in a TAship; however, as Shannon, Twale, & Moore (1998) have shown, teaching experience alone does not ensure that teaching assistants learn these skills. The fact that the fellowship is not a TAship, but rather a position in which the fellows are asked to reflect on and help others reflect on and implement pedagogical strategies seems to have strengthened the fellows' teaching. A number of former fellows noted having time to think about teaching while not actually teaching was important for their professional development as teachers. One fellow described it in this way: "I also felt that the opportunity to not teach while holding the fellowship actually gave me the space and time to think more deliberately about my teaching." Providing reflective space as a part of professional development has been recognized as important by education scholars since John Dewey, but as Hatton and Smith (1995) have argued, reflection is often best separated from practice in order to be most useful to the teacher. The WAC Fellowship model provides just such a separation.
WAC Fellows are already experienced teachers, but they have mostly served as adjunct instructors on one of the campuses within the university. Training to teach has thus fallen on the individual departments in which the fellow has taught, and thus varies widely in its form and its efficacy. The WFs, like many TAs, have a great deal of on-the-job experience, but potentially little formal training. While the fellows are coming from—and returning to—disciplines that do not necessarily involve writing as a core pedagogy, a majority believed that the training that they had received in WAC pedagogy had improved the writing-related aspects of their teaching with 57% reporting that they had learned a lot about teaching in general and 63% reporting that the program had helped them become a better teacher (Table 1).
These findings are noteworthy because the WFs are not teaching. The WAC Fellowship is not principally about teaching graduate students to use writing in their classes, or even in their disciplines. They do not immediately apply writing or WAC pedagogies to teaching, as happens with a traditional TA, a WAC TA or a TA in a composition program. Still, they soak up the approaches and transfer them into classroom teaching in their disciplines later in their careers. We believe that WFs' prior classroom experience, coupled with the reflective space away from direct teaching, encourages this sort of transfer.
Our findings show that the fellowship changed how former WFs conducted their classes, regardless of discipline (Table 2). Former WFs very frequently used multiple choice/short answer exams and quizzes (36%) as well as longer papers (35%) in their classes, assignments associated with more traditional pedagogies in disciplines outside of composition or English. However, they also reported very frequently incorporating types of assignments more aligned with WAC principles: frequent use of short- (56%) and medium-length papers (63%); first drafts of formal papers (73%); and peer review of drafts (52%). These responses show the degree to which the WFs' WAC training has influenced their teaching across the disciplines: as noted above, only 6 of the former fellows who responded are currently working in Writing/Communication or English Departments, which are the traditional loci of writing in US postsecondary institutions. Notably, while these specific strategies for teaching introduced during the fellowship are explicitly part of WAC pedagogy, former WFs see them as part of "good teaching."
When we interviewed Alex, an associate professor of theatre at a small liberal arts college, he explained the role that writing plays in his pedagogy on a day-to-day basis:
So, I do a lot more writing in my classes. I think of writing as an integral part of what my class is, even a really big class. I do low stakes writing assignments all the time. We do postings, student responses to readings all the time, online before they come to class. In general, I believe in low stakes writing assignments, which is right out of John Bean. The idea of the importance of scaffolding assignments, of doing smaller assignments leading to bigger assignments is something I got out of being a [WAC] Fellow. Just thinking that doing writing and talking about writing in class.… I think that it's all over my pedagogy. We start talking about writing on the first day of class.
Susan, an English professor at a community college, echoed this description of the role writing can play in a disciplinary classroom: "In fact, my assignments, my students do all kinds of writing, like today, my students write summaries, they write questions, they write responses, all kinds of writing as a way to process information that I'm teaching with." Integrating writing into every aspect of a class is seen by these former WFs as crucial to their pedagogy. This may be a commonplace for TAs in composition and rhetoric, for WAC TAs, and for faculty who have fully embraced WAC/WID pedagogies through professional development workshops, but is striking given that the WFs were not teaching during their fellowships. The space for reflection and the professional development provided by the program enables the WFs to transfer the centrality of writing to good pedagogy to their own disciplinary teaching.
Our respondents also pointed to the non-teaching aspects of the WAC Fellowship experience as a valuable part of their development, a kind of internship in faculty service and administration. As one interviewee put it, the fellowship formed a bridge between the life of a graduate student and that of a full-time faculty member, by immersing her and her peers in work within the larger campus community. The fellowship gave the WFs experience in navigating the interpersonal and intra-institutional politics that influence so many service tasks, as well as showing them how to accomplish administrative work using the resources available on campus. The WFs' responses trace the ways in which the fellowship experience has shaped their approaches to campus work and to the modes and possibilities of organizational leadership.
Graduate programs always engage students in disciplinary research, usually offer experience in teaching, and sometimes—though not always (Shannon, Twale, & Moore, 1998, pp. 440-441)—provide direct instruction and mentoring in teaching. But teaching and research together do not comprise the total responsibility of a future academic professional. The academic role has a third dimension in which graduate students are not typically mentored: service. Beyond involvement in graduate coursework, graduate student networks, and classroom teaching as an adjunct or TA, they are not typically connected to the work of the campus.
There are some good reasons for this. Graduate students are only temporary residents of the campus and do not have the institutional status that would allow them to be involved in decision-making or administrative initiatives. Yet if they become full time faculty members after they complete their degrees, they will be expected to perform service. Service takes many forms; here, we define it as thinking and working as a member of a larger campus community: a program, a department, a discipline or profession, a college, a university, or even higher education as a whole. Most of us learn on the job, and in many ways there is no substitute for that, but there are ways to prepare graduate students for these roles.
One successful model that prepares graduate students for the non-teaching aspects of faculty work is the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) initiative. PFF seeks to provide graduate students with authentic experiences that mirror the work of a full-time faculty member by exposing them to educational environments beyond their graduate departments, by giving them space to discuss and reflect on the range of academic work (research, teaching and service, along with campus politics) with other graduate students and faculty from a variety of disciplines, and by providing "appropriately structured pedagogical training and teaching experiences" (deNeef, 2002, p. 1).
Through the links it forges between CUNY's Graduate Center and its undergraduate campuses, the WAC Fellowship gives WFs experience in working in a particular local environment. Mentoring that WFs receive equips them to work productively in that environment. These are two core tenets of the PFF program. Furthermore, having six WFs working together on each campus establishes a community where graduate students can talk about teaching, rather than having to focus on their research, one further important facet of the PFF program. CUNY was one of the first institutions to participate in the PFF program, receiving a grant for the years 1993-1997 (Preparing Future Faculty, n.d.). The structure of the WF program, started in 1999, seems to be directly influenced by the structure that was in place during the PFF years. Given this lineage, it is not surprising that the WAC Fellows program, in our view, exemplifies best practices of a graduate assistantship.
To show, briefly, how the WF experience implements some of the goals of the PFF Program, we turn again to a former fellow. Susan, in her interview, noted that professional relationships developed during the fellowship endured after she left the position:
The program was great and we had a good time.… It added a level of professionalization to all of us, and we're all still friends, too. And we're all still a great support system for one another.… It built a really great interesting professional network, and people have been building their careers in different ways.
This community-building aspect of the fellowship is very important in the context of graduate education: graduate students involved in the PFF initiative discuss the importance of having a context in which they could talk about teaching and receive mentoring beyond that related to their doctoral research (deNeef, 2002). The WAC Fellowship provides such a community.
deNeef (2002) also wrote that participants in the PFF program valued the chance to develop an interdisciplinary professional network, something not necessarily available to graduate students who have teaching or research assistantships, which often keep graduate students firmly within their disciplines and do not allow them to access modes of professionalism outside the research university. The way in which CUNY is structured—graduate students teach at various undergraduate campuses—already breaks down the latter barriers. CUNY graduate students must become integrated, to an extent, in the culture of undergraduate institutions, where teaching is an important part of the professional life of the faculty; the WAC Fellowship goes a step further by creating a campus community for the WFs that crosses disciplinary boundaries and situates them in the service and administrative roles of faculty on those campuses. To be successful, WFs must work together to navigate the local environment and find ways to incorporate their own experiences into their lives as fellows and beyond.
The WAC Fellowship at CUNY goes beyond the PFF program by providing graduate students with mentoring in leadership. As they work on authentic WAC projects—not just exercises or discussions —under the supervision of the local campus WAC coordinator, WFs get a close-up look at how WAC administrators function on a campus, how they interact with faculty and administration, how they negotiate the ambiguities of program-building and assessment. The WF experience thus provides a clear and direct road into the WAC/WID profession—and in fact a number of WFs from various campuses have gone on to become not only CUNY faculty members but WAC coordinators on their campuses. The PFF model shows that opportunities for reflection during graduate training can result in candidates better prepared for any type of faculty service work; the WF model also helps to plant the seeds for future WAC leaders.
The WAC Fellowship exposes advanced graduate students to the importance of collaboration within the higher education workplace. This part of the fellowship exposes CUNY graduate students to the service or administrative aspect of academic work and is one feature of the program that distinguishes WAC Fellows from TAs. Of course, WAC/WID administrators are always engaged in collaborative projects (McLeod, 1997), sometimes complex and even uneasy ones, with colleagues across the campus, but graduate students are rarely involved in them. WFs are engaged in multiple WAC-related initiatives that bring them into extended contact with faculty in all disciplines, staff in the writing center and in institutional research, and others. The project-based approach of York's WAC Program specifically encourages WFs to identify and make progress on program-building projects that require collaboration with key campus stakeholders. WAC pedagogies certainly inform much of this work, especially the individual interactions with faculty and the workshops, but WFs must also learn how to work effectively with administrators, faculty, and staff if their projects are to be successful. For example, a project in which WFs developed materials to help writing center tutors work effectively with students completing assignments with highly technical specifications required WFs to serve as intermediaries between faculty teaching the course, writing center tutors and administrators, and the WAC program, all of whom operate from different pedagogical philosophies and practices (Robinson & Hall, 2013).
Our data on the effectiveness of aspects of the WAC Fellows' support system suggest that the organizational leadership component is best developed at the local, campus level. Asked to evaluate the effectiveness of a range of support structures in place for the WFs, only half of our survey respondents rated the CUNY-wide orientation as helpful (Table 3 ). Participants found more localized, specific support most helpful. The most important aspect of the training from the perspective of former WFs was the ongoing mentoring and the community-building with other fellows on the local campus. Just as authors such as Shannon, Twale, and Moore (1998) found that university-wide trainings have limited impact on the success of teaching assistants in the classroom, so too the most effective training and support for the WFs was not the university-wide workshops, but rather that which was grounded in the local campus on which they worked. Conversations with campus-based WFs, informal conversations with a WAC coordinator on campus, and campus-based mentoring were found to be the most effective components of the support system for fellows.
Within-discipline conversations between WFs, it turns out, were much less helpful to the fellows than most other forms of support, a feature of the fellowship that distinguishes it from the traditional TA model. The WFs found the cross-disciplinary collaboration helpful, which is unsurprising since it is rare for WFs to be working within their own discipline during their fellowships. The degree to which former fellows found mentoring valuable is also perhaps not surprising: cross-disciplinary mentoring is well-known as an important aspect of both successful WAC programs (e.g. Zeleznik et al., 2002) and TA preparation programs (e.g. Ebest, 2002; DasBender, 2002; Pytlik & Liggett, 2002).
Our interviewees emphasized the importance of conversation in describing their work as WFs and as faculty. The focus on a collaborative or conversational style emerged most clearly in discussions of faculty development, which makes sense given the emphasis WAC places on faculty development. But it is also closely tied to leadership. For example, Alex described his approach to faculty development in leading a freshman seminar program as one of establishing a tone:
I'm thinking about a kind of tone, a kind of collaborative tone that we work in. That this is all for the betterment of students who need help, and so let's all get into it together. That sense of working across disciplines, that sort of collaborative spirit has been really important to me.
Co-chairing a faculty committee and leading faculty who teach the freshman seminar, the former fellow reported employing techniques for interacting with faculty that he had developed while still a graduate student.
The WAC fellowship introduces graduate students to the administrative and service elements of higher education, an expanded horizon reflected in survey comments. One former WF wrote that the work gave one "an inside perspective on institutional politics in higher education," while another found that "seeing how institutional knowledge is disseminated" was an important benefit of the fellowship. In our interviews, we probed more deeply into this institutional dimension. As Susan put it, the WF position "connects you with different parts of the college that you might not ever interact with when you're teaching stand-alone courses. Once you start thinking about strains of courses or groups of courses, you start to think about different parts of the college." This institutional perspective was cultivated during the fellowship.
For those who had completed the PhD and remained in academia, this perspective manifested as an asset in the job search and in the work they took up in their academic appointments. 82% of former WFs with full-time academic positions, and 71% of those with a PhD reported that the fellowship was an asset in the job search. Our interviews enabled us to better understand how the experience helped in the job search. Kelly, an assistant professor at a 4-year regional university, for example, had considerable experience teaching literature before becoming a fellow, but she had little exposure to writing pedagogy. She explained how the fellowship gave her credibility as a teacher of writing for a literature position that would require at least one course of composition per semester. The theoretical and practical work in WAC helped fellows present themselves as versatile and adaptable instructors who had thought seriously about pedagogy.
The fellowship provided participants with an institutional perspective, something we consider to be a component of service. As the former York WFs discussed, the types of projects they engaged in provided them with a transferrable understanding of how institutions function and how to engage with faculty. Alex, in his interview, articulated the value of the experience in the job search by referencing this broader institutional perspective:
It gave me a way to talk about the institution as opposed to just my field. [It gave me] a way to talk about higher education as a thing, rather than just talk about theater. In terms of the interview process, and when I was pre-tenure, I was able to talk to deans and division chairs about issues that are important to the institution. The WAC Fellow [experience] pointed out ways that there are institutional needs that are significant and that I should care about. A lot of incoming faculty think it's about their classes and research, and that's what's important. But having a global vision about the needs of the institution is something I would expect you to hear a lot from [former WAC Fellows].
Former fellows applied what they had learned about pedagogy, faculty development, assessment, and techniques for collaborating in their concrete work in the WAC program. They were also able to extrapolate from their particular campus experience to arrive at a broader conception of the emerging teacher-scholar's role at a college or university. Where many prospective (and newly hired) assistant professors or lecturers might see teaching and scholarship as the defining components of the academic appointment—areas that traditional TAships and the dissertation process help to develop—former WFs brought a third dimension: an understanding of the importance of campus-based work that contributes to the broader goals of the institution.
This institutional perspective and the concrete experiences of the fellowship has helped former WFs position themselves as campus leaders in such areas as program development, faculty development, and more. As Susan explained:
I found [during the fellowship] that I had the capacity to take on leadership roles with peers, which gave me something to talk about when I was interviewing, and that also gave me something to do when I got [my first academic appointment].
Confidence working with faculty, organizing skills, and experience leading with peers enabled former WFs to apply an institutional perspective to concrete action on campus. When asked about opportunities to apply his WF experience to his faculty work, Alex focused specifically on program building in his role as co-chair of his college's freshman seminar program:
Up until I took that on and became a co-chair, there wasn't really any professional development for that program—at all…. I was kind of, like, obviously we should be thinking about who these students are. What do freshmen need? So I ended up thinking about freshman year as a platform for helping students get ready for their collegiate life. I don't think I would have necessarily seen it that way if I hadn't been a [WAC] Fellow.
In articulating the purpose of the freshman tutorial program for those who teach in it, Alex brought a program-level perspective to something many faculty might treat as a basic committee assignment.
The focus of this article has been on what WAC Fellowships can do for the fellows themselves, but we would like to briefly discuss the value of the WAC Fellowship to the WAC program as well as some of the challenges involved in implementing the program.
Composition scholars such as Katherine Gottschalk (1997), Beth Hedengren (2001), and Tanya Rodrigue (2012) have helped the field begin to consider the contributions of TAs to WAC and WID, emphasizing what TAs can do for WAC programs. One of the major benefits these authors have identified is due to the very dominance of TAs as instructors of undergraduate students; training them in WAC and writing pedagogy could have a significant effect on student writing across colleges and universities. As Hedengren (2001) has argued, "Writing Across the Curriculum programs can improve writing instruction and student writing overall by training TAs from all disciplines to better teach and assess writing skills…" (p. 2). Some work (Rodrigue, for example) on teaching assistants has begun to consider the implications for TAs' professional development, but the definition of professional development has not included service. Geraldine L. McBroom (1992), for example, focused only on teaching development. Our study extends this research to show the benefits of providing space to reflect on the relation between writing and learning even when the TA/WF is not teaching at all, and may be working on projects far removed from the graduate student's own disciplinary interests. Thus WFs are not only prepared to apply writing to learn techniques in their own subjects, but are being groomed to be future ambassadors of WAC pedagogy more generally, having gained experience in working as professional colleagues with faculty and administrators.
For the WAC coordinator on a CUNY campus, the fellows assigned to work on the campus present two distinct aspects. On one hand, they constitute a staff of six intelligent advanced graduate students who each work fifteen hours per week to support WAC projects (in theory the equivalent of almost three full-time staff positions), a resource most WAC coordinators can only dream of. One the other hand, the WAC fellows have not typically been exposed to administrative work, or to discussions of pedagogy of any sort. Although they have several years of teaching experience, their level of knowledge about WAC/WID and about writing pedagogy is highly variable. The WAC coordinator must therefore quickly prepare the WFs to function effectively as ambassadors of the program and deploy them in specific projects related to writing pedagogy which answer a campus need.
What would it take for an institution to implement an initiative that might promise similar benefits to their programs and to their graduate students in their future careers? WAC Fellows programs on other campuses would of course need to be adapted to local conditions, but we conclude with four takeaways:
Given the scale of our study, our conclusions must be somewhat tentative. Although we targeted the population of York College's fifty former fellows, more than 1000 WFs have participated in WAC across CUNY's colleges. Our next steps include expanding our survey and interviews to former WFs from the other CUNY schools since different campuses employ WFs in somewhat different ways. These institutional differences should enable us to answer some important questions: Does York's entrepreneurial model contribute to the institutional perspective, or is it enough for graduate students to work in a program with connections to teaching and learning? How important is direct consultation with faculty for WFs' development of pedagogy and an approach to working with colleagues in a campus setting? Still, we believe the experience of the former WFs we studied tells us a good deal about preparing future faculty.
The mentor-based structure of the program is, we believe, a key component of what makes it effective: distance from the classroom, plus in-depth attention to pedagogy and faculty development, cultivates meta-awareness about teaching, at least for advanced graduate students who already have some teaching experience. The length of the program may provide enough time for the pedagogical training to sink in, whereas the short bursts of teacher training that graduate students often receive—if they receive any formal training at all—may make it more difficult for those lessons to stick (Shannon, Twale, & Moore, 1998, p. 457). Similarly, the prolonged interaction with a small group of WFs and two or three coordinators means that pedagogical training can be much more collaborative, another recommendation made by Shannon et al.
One of the key elements of the success of the WF program seems to be the collaborative nature of the fellowship. A small group of WFs work together for at least a year and are mentored by two faculty members as they undertake the various aspects of the job. As our data show (Table 3), the most valuable components of WAC Fellow support were relationships developed on campus. The benefits of these relationships go beyond dealing with WF work; one former fellow wrote in the comments: "A lot of what I learned about teaching was the result of informal conversations with other fellows, rather than the program, per se." Although WFs do not teach as part of the position, the conversations they have on campus that help them to negotiate faculty collaborations, run workshops, etc., have a positive effect on their future teaching and on their conception of the work of a faculty member.
Approaches to WAC assessment generally focus on whether writing intensive courses are effective in improving students' discipline-specific writing, on whether faculty are employing effective WAC/WID pedagogy in their classrooms, and on whether the WAC program has been successful in creating an overall "culture of writing" on campus. Although this pilot study was restricted to WFs who had served on one specific campus within the CUNY system, our methodology serves as a way of framing an approach to assessing the long-term outcomes of the WAC Fellows program across CUNY and beyond.
Even more broadly, our expansion of the typical research/teaching aspects of the traditional TAship to include a service dimension has implications for how PhD-granting institutions might think about their responsibilities to prepare graduate students for careers in academia. At a time when tenure-track positions are scarce, institutions put a premium on candidates who can demonstrate a broad range of useful skills, including of course teaching and research but also the ability to serve as pedagogical resources for other faculty in areas such as writing pedagogy. The WAC Fellows experience, our data show, not only helped former WFs get hired—they were almost always asked about it during job interviews and were able to provide specific anecdotes of how they worked with faculty to solve a pedagogical problem—but also provided them with experience in negotiating the often-complex minefields of academic politics and collaboration.
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 The CUNY WAC Fellowship position was formerly known as a "writing fellowship." We have chosen to use the current term in order to avoid confusion, through a mere accident of terminology, with "writing fellow" programs which mostly employ undergraduate embedded tutors—a model which bears no relation to the CUNY WAC Fellows, who are graduate students with a principal responsibility to aid in faculty professional development.
 All interview participant names are pseudonyms; survey responders were anonymous.
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