Welcome to the 2015 Newsletter

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.

Writing In and About Detroit

They’d come forty-five miles to stand in the cold in front of a wall. They’d been up since way too early on a Saturday morning. For almost an hour they’d stood listening to a stranger carry on about this wall, and other walls like it, about his thirty-year history with walls and aerosols. These thirty-odd students had to be freezing by now. Their instructors watched for them to lose interest or patience. But then another student piped up with a question, and the speaker launched into a new story, and they all leaned in to listen.

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Two Sweetland instructors, Scott Beal and T Hetzel, had loaded their two sections of LHSP 125: College Writing onto a bus and brought them to Detroit’s Eastern Market. Their guest speaker was Fel3000ft, a legendary Detroit graffiti writer who had labored for eight days to complete his newest piece, this vibrant mural on the façade of the Motor City Produce building. Students and instructors alike gawked at his two-story-high woman sprouting feathers and gears as she tugged at the laces of a live heart. Fel3000ft explained how the image represented the city’s indomitable spirit. They would find this theme repeated throughout their day-long exploration of the city’s thriving arts culture: in graffiti spread throughout the Eastern Market and the Dequindre Cut; in the Detroit Industry murals by Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts; in glimpses of Tyree Guyton out making adjustments to the Heidelberg Project despite the afternoon rain.

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FEL3000ft

Bringing students to Detroit struck Beal and Hetzel as a natural fit for their classes. Both of their sections of LHSP 125 have themes that revolve around seeing, and focus heavily on the intersections between writing, place, imagery, and identity. The visit with Fel3000ft began an ambitious itinerary, which included miles of walking, two guest speakers, and at least a half-dozen stops. The trip was made possible by funding from the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program as well as a Course Connections grant from Arts at Michigan.

These students’ experience in Detroit brought them face-to-face with unique and world-class works of art, and highlighted the crucial intersections between arts and communities. Beal and Hetzel hope that an expanded understanding of the possibilities of art in public space can inform the students’ citizenship in the artistic community of the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program and the larger academic community of the University of Michigan. They also expect it to inform the analytical essays students are required to write based on their observations during the trip.

Academic writing should challenge a reader’s vision. Whether it is a scientific article, a policy proposal, or a piece of creative non-fiction, reading it should extend our seeing beyond the current edge of our sight. A trip to Detroit can challenge students’ own preconceptions – about the city, about graffiti, about what Tyree Guyton describes as art’s potential as “medicine” for a community.

Opportunities to take students beyond the confines of the University into different contexts serves to make them wiser citizens and more thoughtful writers. Perhaps the best evidence of this is the questions the students kept asking of Fel3000ft, long after their scheduled time with the artist was up, and the questions they continue to address in the wake of the trip.

(L) Tyree Guyton's People's House (R) Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry (North Wall)
(L) Tyree Guyton’s People’s House, (R) Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry (North Wall)

Learning from Transfer Students

On the national level more than one-third of all college students transfer at least once, and many transfer more than once. While the transfer student population remains relatively low at the University of Michigan, our transfer students still deserve attention and support. For several years Sweetland has been conducting research and making programmatic changes designed to support transfer student writers. Of course, a number of transfer students make the transition to U-M very easily, but our research shows that others face challenges including adjusting to the increased workload, negotiating instructional differences, understanding faculty expectations, negotiating peer relationships, and identifying resources that can aid in their transition to U-M.

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Writing 350, a course designed to support transfer students in courses that meet the Upper-Level Writing Requirement, has received considerable praise from students who say that it helped them understand and respond to expectations for their writing. The Transfer Directed Self-Placement process provides students with an understanding of what ULWR courses require at the same time that it introduces them to the resources that Sweetland offers, such as Writing Workshop and the Peer Writing Consultant Program.

We will continue our research in order to learn more about the experiences of transfer student writers. This, in turn, will enable us to adjust our courses and other resources because we believe that the institution needs to make adjustments just as transfer students do. That is, we believe that U-M and its transfer students should engage in a process of mutual adjustments.

New Resources for International Students & Their Instructors

Encouragements are really important. ‘Cause for people who first come here it’s obviously a big shock and everyone speaking English is a little bit overwhelming.

[W]e really want to write the assignment well, that’s the thing we really wish that they could help us.

These are just a couple of the suggestions to be found in a new Sweetland video, “Students Speak: What Multilingual Students Wish Their Professors Knew.” It is one of three new videos focusing on the experiences of multilingual and international students at U-M created by Sweetland’s summer interns Kaitlyn Schuler and Jamie Monville. The other two videos offer advice from returning international students to new ones on campus about ways of making their transition smoother, and about the ways that Sweetland services have been helpful to them and given them greater confidence in their writing.

Now in its third year of supporting U-M’s international and multilingual undergraduate students, Sweetland continues to develop courses and resources to reach these students and the many instructors who work with them in their classes. The videos are one way to reach out, peer to peer, and another is Sweetland’s “Chat Cafés,” casual conversation groups that bring international and multilingual students together to practice speaking English and share tips and ideas about U-M and life in the U.S. (The Chat Cafés were recently profiled in LSA Magazine.)

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One of fourteen Chat Cafe groups that meet on campus. Photo credit: Natalie Condon

Sweetland faculty have also been busy creating new courses to support international and multilingual students. The most recent addition is Writing 119: Style and Editing for International Students, a one-credit course that helps students practice the “stylistic elements commonly found in American academic writing” (from the course description) by workshopping and revising papers they are already writing in other classes. Writing 119 is being offered for the first time in fall 2015, and will be taught each semester.

To view all of the courses and resources available to international and multilingual undergraduate students, please see Sweetland’s International Student Support page. And, in the words of third-year student Shiyuan Yin, don’t forget that, “Your opinions matter more than your accent, so definitely speak up for yourself!”

Science Writing Leaps Forward

For several years Sweetland has been working with subgroups of students from large-enrollment introductory chemistry and physics courses to make writing-to-learn pedagogies part of instruction. The goal of this work is to enhance student learning and increase retention in STEM courses. Last year we began using an automated peer review system where students submit essays, respond to those of others, and then revise based on the feedback they receive. We found that student evaluations parallel those of expert readers, and the automation feature makes it possible to incorporate writing into large courses where instructors would not be able to read several hundred papers.

A large grant from the National Science Foundation recently received by Ginger Shultz of the Chemistry Department and Anne Gere, Director of Sweetland, will make it possible for us to begin implementing writing-to-learn pedagogies in introductory biology, chemistry, physics, and statistics classes. This five-year project will enable us to work with colleagues from Duke University and the University of Minnesota, where similar implementations will be carried out. We will meet regularly with Duke and U of MN colleagues to discuss methods, share data, and learn from one another’s experiences. Our collaborative project will begin with surveying STEM faculty across the country to learn more about how writing is currently being incorporated into instruction.

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Photo credit: Natalie Condon

In addition, Gere and Shultz have received a large grant from the University’s “Transforming Learning for A Third Century” initiative which will enable Sweetland to lay the groundwork for a sustainable program that integrates writing into multiple large-enrollment introductory courses in LSA and Engineering. We look forward to establishing a Writing Fellows Program, developing systematics ways of employing automated peer review, and using the technologies of natural language processing to provide instructors and students with useful information drawn from student writing.

Thanks to the intercessions of John Sweetland, the Center’s benefactor, we have also received a grant from Robert Day of the Keck Foundation to collaborate with the University of Southern California on using writing-to-learn pedagogies in organic chemistry. The goal here will be to develop and test the efficacy of these pedagogies in two different contexts to find out how variation in the specific curriculum as well as in instructors and students influences implementation of similar writing-to-learn pedagogies.

These opportunities to incorporate writing into a number of STEM courses are made more exciting by the fact that Larissa Sano has joined the Sweetland faculty. With her background as a scientist, Larissa will be very helpful in providing resources to faculty interested in including more writing in their classes, and she will also be able to work with students so that our Peer Writing Consultants can provide greater support to undergraduates in STEM courses.

Meet Our New Science Writing Specialist

larissa-01_640x1096Larissa Sano joined the Sweetland faculty as a Science Writing Specialist, with diverse experience in teaching and writing about science. Larissa earned her Ph.D. in Resource Ecology from UM-SNRE, her M.S. in Marine Resources from Oregon State University, and her B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University.

Prior to becoming part of the Sweetland faculty, Larissa was a researcher at U-M, where she investigated human impacts on freshwater ecosystems. She has broad experience in science writing, including publishing peer-reviewed articles, developing funded proposals, and writing persuasive pieces for a general audience. Larissa developed her pedagogy of science writing while teaching writing-intensive undergraduate and graduate courses at Eastern Michigan University.

At Sweetland, Larissa is focused on helping students develop skills in writing about the sciences. In Writing 400, for example, she requires students to complete informal and formal writing assignments, to receive and give feedback, and to actively revise and improve their work. Her pedagogical approach emphasizes both the technical elements and central principles of effective science writing. Larissa currently prioritizes teaching students about traditional scientific writing genres such as journal articles and literature reviews. She plans to augment her courses by adding units that teach students to write to a broader audience, including through social media.

In the future, Larissa envisions expanding science-writing opportunities for U-M students. In this regard, one of her top priorities is to engage with faculty to explore possibilities for integrating writing into their curriculum. She hopes that these efforts will lead to improved student experiences and outcomes in the sciences.

Updates from Lloyd Hall Scholars Program

In October, the LHSP community attended the UMS production of Antigone, by Sophokles, translated by Anne Carson, marking a partnership with UMS begun by director-on-leave Carol Tell and continued by interim director, Paul Barron. Later in the year, students will attend improv and creative writing workshops with playwright Rob Drummond, and dance workshops with renowned dancer and choreographer Kyle Abraham.

Fall semester also features writer and activist Max S. Gordon, and trips by classes to Grand Rapids Art Prize (Mark Tucker) and to the gallery and street art of Detroit (Scott Beal and T Hetzel). In the newly defined role of Community Artist, filmmaker Donald Harrison will engage the community by setting up a drop-in “greemaxn screen” for students to compose imaginative clips, a camera and lighting set up to capture thirty-second interview selfies, and film takeovers of LHSP social media.

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LHSP at Art Prize

This year LHSP has initiated new campus partnerships. Two groups of students will be trained at Wolverine Press in typesetting and printing short poems and works in prose. Students from the Center for Engaged Academic Learning will conduct focus groups in LHSP to gauge the impact of arts and writing programming. And Barron is working with students via the M is 4 U Spotlight at the Detroit Center, in an effort to encourage applications from underrepresented minority students and students from under resourced high schools. Adapted from “Coffee with Carol,” “Pastries with Paul” is a weekly fireside chat with relaxed conversation, baked goods, and occasional hilarity.

Pastries with Paul
Pastries with Paul

Updates from the Peer Writing Consultant Program

Fall 2015 consultants prepare for opening

This fall, Sweetland faculty member Christine Modey became the new Faculty Director of the Peer Writing Consultant Program. In addition, Michael Zakalik joined the staff as the new Program Coordinator. The program attracts a strong pool of applicants who consistently demonstrate excellent writing skills and commitment to collaborating with others to improve their writing. This fall, having completed Writing 300: Seminar in Peer Writing Consultation, twenty-four new peer writing consultants began their work in the Angell Hall Peer Writing Center and the satellite locations across campus.

PWC-web5One key satellite is the North Campus location. Previously located in a study room on the lower level of the Duderstadt Center, the satellite has relocated to the Mujo Café, increasing its visibility to students. This “pop-up” center is open for walk-in consultations on Sundays through Wednesdays from 7 to 10 p.m.

To equip our consultants to work with diverse students and varied projects, a team of Sweetland faculty (Christine Modey, Lori Randall, Larissa Sano, Simone Sessolo, and Naomi Silver) developed a series of mini-courses this summer. These mini-courses, when approved, will address important and complex writing topics that concern our consultants: scientific writing, professional writing, working on multimodal projects, and working with multilingual writers. These courses nicely balance theory with practical application to writing and writing consultations. They have also been crafted with a broad audience in mind, so that even those who are not writing consultants but who may be education majors, scientists, or job seekers can enroll and be enriched by the subject matter. Eventually, the course content will be available in self-guided, online modules as well, for consultants who want additional training in specific topics, such as tutoring personal statements or designing scientific posters.

Christine Modey presented a paper about the development of these mini-courses and their role in consultant training at the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, in Salt Lake City on November 5-8, 2015. In addition, she and consultant Aaron Pelo presented a roundtable about an end-of-term survey they designed and piloted in Winter 2015. Consultant Allyson Wright also presented her paper, entitled “We Contain Multitudes: Postmodernism and Empathy in Writing Center Practice,” at the conference.

For several years, Sweetland and Skyline High School’s writing center have enjoyed a collaborative relationship. Jeffrey Austin, Skyline’s writing center director and a former Sweetland peer writing consultant, traveled to Pittsburgh with Modey to speak about this collaboration at the International Writing Centers Association, October 8-11, 2015. They took with them former Sweetland consultant Andy Peters (now Austin’s student teacher at Skyline) and Skyline peer tutor Ella Horwedel.

In February, Sweetland will cohost the first University of Michigan Peer Tutor Summit with the Science Learning Center and the Comprehensive Studies Program. This half-day workshop will invite peer tutors from across campus to get acquainted and to discuss tutoring, including how to conduct inclusive tutoring sessions and how to cultivate a growth mindset. We hope this will be a powerful and exciting cross-disciplinary experience for Michigan peer tutors.

Meet Our New Undergraduate Programs Coordinator

Zak_webMichael Zakalik earned his BA in History from the University of Michigan, receiving a Pipe Dream Scholarship for students of Polish heritage. While earning his degree, Michael took advantage of Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and spent his days working on a research farm. He parlayed that experience into a stint researching geladas (a primate species similar to baboons) in the mountains of Ethiopia. After having worked for Michigan on a farm and on a mountain, Michael is very happy to be working for the University in an office behind a desk.

Before joining Sweetland as the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in September, Michael made a career in the once-burgeoning Michigan film industry. He worked on such films as “Red Dawn,” “Scream 4,” “The Five Year Engagement,” and most recently on the upcoming “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” as a department coordinator.

Outside of work, Michael is an avid reader, middling tabletop gamer, and novice birder. You can often find him walking around town, exploring the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, or frequenting one of Ann Arbor’s many great public libraries.

Writing Prize Winners 2014-2015

Thanks to a very generous gift from the Granader Family, Sweetland’s prizes for outstanding writing in First-Year and Upper-Level Writing Requirement courses receive a significant monetary award along with having their work published in a series that collects the prize-winning writing in two volumes, Excellence in First-Year Writing and Excellence in Upper-Level Writing. Writing Prize winners were recognized at a ceremony in April 2015.

First-Year Writing Prizes

Matt Kelley/Granader Family Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing

Anna Silver “The Force of Violence; The Power of Forgiveness” nominated by Carrie Wood, Great Books 191

Ardie Kamran “Keep Walking, Just Don’t Cry!” nominated by Scott Beal, LHSP 125

Granader Family Prize for Excellence in Multilingual Writing

Xiaoman Gan “Socializing is Not an Easy Thing” nominated by Scott Beal, Writing 120

Ziyan Yang “The Power of Attitude in Comparative Advertising” nominated by Lori Randall, Writing 120

Granader Family Prize for Outstanding Writing Portfolio

Akemi Tsutsumi “Akemi Tsutsumi’s E-Portfolio” nominated by Gina Brandolino, Writing 100

Kate Vogel “Kate’s Collection” nominated by Jennifer Metsker, Writing 100

First-Year Writing Prizebook (pdf) | Amazon

Upper-Level Writing Prizes

Granader Family Prize for Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Sciences)

Anna Clinger “Tracking Seasonal Evolution of Subglacial Transport System at the Lemon Creek Glacier, Alaska, USA” nominated Sarah Aciego, Earth 442: Earth Surface Processes and Soils

Katherine Dougan “Effect of variable reproductive output and connectivity on populations of a host fish and its bacterial symbiont, with implications for future climate change” nominated by Ingrid Hendy, Earth 333: The Inexhaustible Seas? Marine Resources and Environmental Issues

Granader Family Prize for Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Social Sciences)

Grace Judge “Detroit Bankruptcy and Redistribution” nominated by Mika LaVaque-Manty, PolSci 381: Political Science Research Design

Erica Mirabitur “Sense and Sensitivity: Theories and Empirics of Inflation Aversion at the Populace Level” nominated by Robert Franzese, PolSci 343: Comparative Political Economy of Developed Democracies

Granader Family Prize for Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Humanities)

Katherine Koziara “President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address” nominated by Shelley Manis, Writing 420: Minor in Writing Capstone

Teresa Mathew “Pulling Off Desire” nominated by John Rubadeau, English 425: The Art of the Essay

Upper-Level Writing Prizebook (pdf) | Amazon

National Day on Writing Event

In celebration of the National Day on Writing, on October 22nd Sweetland issued its 2nd annual “Iron Writing Challenge” to the U-M community, inviting students to compete for prizes in four writing challenges issued on Facebook throughout the day.

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One challenge, “You Be the Professor,” asked students to craft their ideal essay prompts. Entries ranged from creative (“Pick an item or a person inside a prison, and write a fictional story about how it/they got to the prison”) to kooky (“Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Support your argument, but refrain from scientific reasoning”).

For the “Michigan Movie Title & Tagline” challenge, students chose from a list of movie genres and wrote their own titles and taglines for Michigan—“if Michigan was a movie.” Here, the entries were unabashedly punny: “The Maize Runner” promised a dramatic film in which “one man dares to make his way to the Big House with 50,000 other students.” Along similar lines, the “Change a Word, Ruin a Book Title” challenge yielded new twists on old classics like Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Ham Sandwich” and Golding’s “Swallower of the Flies.”

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Michigan Movie Poster concept by Rebecca Soverinsky & art by Aaron Valdez
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Movie Movie Poster concept and art by Tiffany Huynh

But perhaps the most brilliant gems came from the “Haiku Thesis” challenge, which asked students to “reimagine the thesis for a paper you’re working on or have already written as a haiku.” Professors would surely swoon for theses like “Stuttgart hides its fate / Haupbahnhof kills city space / civvies ruminate,” or “Leonardo read / Alberti. Disagreed and / wrote his “On Painting,” or “so what is good hair? / my mother’s reservations / new growth behind ears.”

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Every contributing student was entered into a lottery to win a $20 Literati gift card; challenge winners, determined by number of “likes,” received a $45 Literati gift card. Congratulations to Caroline Petersen, McKenzie Campbell, Brie Winnega, Tiffany Huynh, and Shannon Vail, and all the clever, kooky, creative and punny writers who participated in NDOW!

New Resources for Teaching Multimodal Literacy

Though there are many resources available on how to teach writing, the Sweetland Teaching Resources provide instructors with accessible information about discrete aspects of writing instruction, often born out of patterns of requests from instructors across the university. The resources provide guidance on topics ranging from assigning low-stakes writing to implementing student peer review to providing feedback on student writing.

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Our resources are all grounded in recent research and highly accessible. The goal of each resource is to provide an overview of best practices and then a menu of several practical options for instructors on each topic. They also frequently provide scaffolding models as well as supplemental handouts that can be used in class.

This year we added two new resources based on emerging practices in the classroom: Supporting Multimodal Literacy and Teaching with ePortfolios. Since so many courses are assigning analyses of genres incorporating more than text, such as advertisements and photojournalism, we saw a need for a resource that could clarify and simplify methods for helping students analyze multimodal/multimedia genres. ePortfolios have expanded beyond the writing classroom and become a central practice of many courses, departments, and schools on campus, including the Dental School and the Nursing School. Our new resource provides wide-ranging practical advice for teaching ePortfolios, from the assignment- to the course- to the department/school-level.

Moving GSI Training Online

WRITING 993, one of Sweetland’s graduate courses, presents an interesting challenge every fall and winter term. The class is a one-credit theory and practice course on teaching writing in the disciplines that supports GSIs serving in one of the university’s Upper-Level Writing Requirement courses for the first time. Since the ULWR is taught in thirty-five departments across the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, WRITING 993 is regularly populated with GSIs from over twenty different departments. How do you effectively support new teachers working with such a broad array of student writing?

To answer that question, a working group (comprised of Louis Cicciarelli, Naomi Silver, and Dana Nichols) redesigned the course to address a few key question. How do we provide writing pedagogy materials that are useful and relevant to a variety of disciplines? How can we provide that material in a timely manner, both for the GSI who begins grading at mid-term and the GSI who begins grading in week one? How can we meet those goals while constructing a learning environment that offers GSIs the opportunity to create community? And, most critically, how can we make it all happen within a one-credit short course?

Challenges are opportunities because they compel us to get creative. After some research, the group settled on a hybrid course that would combine a familiar course tool, the blog, with a new tool—online course modules. The WRITING 993 course website presents all of the class materials in the form of seven online modules which cover student writing-related topics such as responding and grading, addressing student linguistic diversity, guiding students through the writing process, and dealing with issues of academic honesty. Additionally, the course website is home to the course blog, which hosts conversations on the various issues presented in the online modules. The richness of the online content is paired with six one-hour class meetings, and an individual or small group meeting with the instructor.

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Thus far, it appears that the new course format has built on previous strengths while offering new opportunities for engagement and learning. We are looking forward to seeing how the course continues to develop in the future, and exploring how the lessons we learned while redesigning WRITING 993 can be applied to other pedagogical challenges.

ePortfolios from the Minor in Writing

When students gain the opportunity to write something that synthesizes the disciplinary knowledge they have acquired as undergraduates and the various rhetorics they practiced in acquiring that knowledge, what do they do? The Capstone Portfolio presents students who are finishing the Sweetland Minor in Writing with just that opportunity, and this summer Julie Babcock and Raymond McDaniel investigated how these students have met it.

They did so by reading every completed Capstone portfolio to which they had access. The Sweetland Minor in Writing program first admitted students in the fall of 2011, and so there were approximately 130 portfolios to read, ponder and enjoy. Some of the patterns they found could be predicted in advance, given curricular changes that were implemented as the program developed. But some patterns proved surprising, though the biggest and most delightful revelation was the consistent quality and proof of effort the portfolios displayed, even in their most diverse expressions. In general, the quality of the projects reflects their central role in the curriculum of Capstone course and the program; likewise, their success reflects substantial work and innovation in the conception and execution of the projects themselves, often at greater length and with a greater degree of immersion than Babcock and McDaniel (and maybe even the students’ instructors) expected.

If nothing else, this suggests that students are genuinely hungry for an opportunity to enact not only their major-dependent knowledge, but the whole host of skills their education has engendered. As for the forms those enactments take, the following trend is the most conspicuous, and it concerns a fundamental choice: genre, or genres? The most successful portfolios adopted one of two genre strategies. The first – or the maximal approach – requires the very close intertwining of multiple (three or more) genres. This approach characterizes the most ambitious portfolios, and the most substantial. The alternative approach involves the opposite: the singular focus on one genre or mode, enriched with an analytical context of how the particular genre a student chooses influences and inflects the subject about which that student has decided to write.

These two approaches share an emphasis on research. In the case of those students who seek to deploy multiple genres in cooperation, research is often the best and most efficient means for them to generate material adequate enough to justify multi-perspectival scrutiny. For example, a student who wants to write about pair bonding and how we experience it in contemporary settings needs to research not only within behavioral psychology, but also within biology and anthropology, especially if she wants to do justice to the topic by producing a combination of personal narrative and journalistic nonfiction. Here, the less scholarly the genres appear to be, the greater the occasion for scholarship to substantiate and enrich those genres. Similarly, the student devoted to a single genre must make the history, norms and reception of that genre part of the research profile, so as not to reproduce a shallow or cursory version of the form to which they have dedicated their efforts.

Whether they wander far afield to combine allegedly exclusive genres or dig very deeply into the foundations of a single, narrowly-constructed genre, these Capstone students conceive and produce portfolios that astonish with their variety and with how much they can teach their readers – especially that research never ceases to be both a motivator and a method of great writing.

Meet the 2015-2016 Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Fellows

Hosted by the Sweetland Center for Writing, the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative (DRC) is an online, community webspace by and for scholars and teachers working in computers and writing and digital rhetoric, and a digital book series with the U-M Press.

Sweetland-DRC-LogoBanner

This summer, the DRC welcomed its third cohort of graduate student Fellows! The program aims to recognize graduate students around the country currently working in digital rhetoric who want practical experience in online publishing and website development. Fellows are selected on a yearly basis by the editors and board of the DRC, and receive an annual stipend of $500 as well as recognition on the DRC website.

DRC Fellows commit to attending monthly online team meetings to plan projects that extend the DRC website and its contributions to the community of computers and writing. They work independently and collaboratively to complete two projects within the year of their term. Last year’s Fellows initiated the #DRCchats series, both on Twitter and Google Hangout, that bring together groups of researchers, teachers, and students around a particular theme for a real-time online conversation.

They also substantially developed the DRC Wiki and hosted the first-ever DRC Wiki Quest at the 2015 Computers and Writing Conference, a live, interactive game that offered participants prizes and a chance to level up each time they edited or added to the DRC Wiki. They also hosted blog carnivals – series of invited blog posts around a specific topic – on social justice-oriented gaming and the intersections of multilingualism and multimodality. Our new Fellows are continuing these initiatives, and expanding our audience, with the current DRC blog carnival on “Digital Writing in K-12 Communities”, as well as new Tool Review Tuesday posts and Webtexts of the Month.

Hosts and followers of the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative look forward to seeing how they will continue to build out the site between now and next August.

This year’s fellows are:

Cohn_Jenae-225x300Jenae Cohn is a PhD student in English, pursuing a designated emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition, at the University of California, Davis. She is currently researching the rhetoric of loss around the shift from print to digital culture, but she is also interested in hybrid and online learning and instructional design. Beyond serving as a fellow for the DRC, she serves a graduate writing fellow in UC Davis’ Writing Across the Curriculum program, manages the UC Davis undergraduate student blog, Aggie Voices, and blogs intermittently at jenaecohn.net.

BrandyDeiterly-300x300Brandy Dieterle is a doctoral student in the Texts & Technology program at the University of Central Florida (UCF). At UCF, Brandy has been a graduate student tutor in the University Writing Center and has taught first-year composition courses. As a teacher, Brandy encourages students to think of writing and literacy as both self representation and identity forming. Her research is focused on identity and self representation, gender identity and representation, multimodality and new media, and digital rhetoric.

LeighMeredith-290x300Leigh Meredith is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Public Culture at Northwestern University. Her research and teaching interests center around digital and technological rhetorics, identity discourses, and intersections between old and new media. Her dissertation project explores rhetorics of evidence and identification in U.S. public culture, and examines the role of digital writing and reading practices in reshaping ideas about and approaches to individual identity. As the Coordinator of Northwestern’s Public Speaking program and a Northwestern Searle Teaching Mentor, she is also committed to helping graduate students engage digital writing pedagogies across the curriculum, and specifically in communication as well as composition-specific courses. You can find more about her research and teaching online at ltmeredith.com.

Miller1Paula Miller is an English PhD graduate fellow in Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy at The Ohio State University. Her research interests sit at the intersection of writing center studies and digital media studies, interests informed by over a decade of writing center work. In her free time, she enjoys writing music and playing with new technologies. You can find her full CV on her website paula-miller.com.

NathanRiggs-300x300Nathan Riggs is a doctoral student in the Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design program at Clemson University. His current research focuses on the convergence of simulation, cognitive science and new (and old) materialisms as they relate to Rhetoric and Communication. On the side, Nathan creates digital artifacts and serious games. You can find more information, as well as some of his work, at nathanriggs.com; the website is currently being redeveloped.

NeilSimpkins-300x300Neil Simpkins is a Ph.D. candidate in the Composition and Rhetoric program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He explores how disabled students experience college writing classrooms and how disability interacts with multimodal writing. He is also interested in technologies of surveillance and bureaucracy and how they affect rhetorics of identity. You can find more information about Neil at neilfsimpkins.com, and he also tweets at @neilfsimpkins.