Traveling to Detroit to learn more about public art, and writing an analytical paper about the experience; producing a Capstone project that integrates images with written texts; writing about the Lewis structures in an introductory chemistry class—these are just some of the ways that Sweetland helps students push beyond traditional boundaries with their writing. Research shows that writing facilitates learning, and by incorporating writing into a variety of contexts, we help students toward deeper learning.
One area where writing has typically not played much of a role is in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses. Thanks to a large grant from the National Science Foundation (Sweetland may be the only Center for Writing to have received a grant from NSF), we will be able to deepen our understanding of how writing and learning interact for students in STEM courses. Two other grants, one from the U-M’s Transforming Learning for a Third Century initiative and one via John Sweetland will enable us to institutionalize processes that aid student learning.
In addition to its ongoing research projects, Sweetland continues to make curricular innovations. We have added another course for our multilingual and international students. We have created a hybrid course that merges online and face-to-face classes for graduate student instructors. We have modified the course structure for our Peer Writing Consultants, and we have created many new resources for faculty.
As part of our effort to make writing more and more visible on campus, we continue our celebration of the National Day on Writing, our Word2: Writer to Writer series, and our prizes for first-year and upper-division students in writing classes. The work that appears in our annual publications of prize-winning student writing is indeed impressive, and many instructors use some of these student essays as models in their classes.
More details about these projects and several others appear in the following pages. All of this is made possible by Sweetland’s award-winning faculty and staff, who work together to help students at all levels become better writers.