Welcome to the 2018 Newsletter

During the past year the Sweetland Center for Writing has undertaken many different projects, but all of them are designed to foster a culture of writing on the U-M campus, to make it a place where student writing and support for writers is visible and valued.

As you read through these pages, notice the many different ways that writing is addressed. The Alumni Survey shows that student who serve as Peer Consultants (formerly Peer Tutors) benefited both during and after graduation. As undergrads, they had higher GPAs and felt more confident about their abilities as writers. As alumni, their experiences at Sweetland shaped their career choices and enabled them to meet various challenges. As part of the effort to make U-M accessible to a broad range of students, Peer Consultants offered workshops at the U-M Detroit Center for students who are preparing admission essays for college applications.  Student writers also compete for Sweetland’s writing prizes, and the writing of winners is published both online and in print, providing models for instructors to use in writing classes. The National Day on Writing invites all members of the University community to express their gratitude for writing’s role in their lives.  A new project promises to display student writing in yet another way.  Thanks to the interest of a number of students in the Minor in Writing, a Writer-to-Writer Journal is currently under development. Participating students have organized themselves, with support from faculty member Shelley Manis, into a working group that plans to produce an online version of the journal during the coming semester.

With support from Rackham, faculty from Sweetland and the English Language Institute (ELI) have developed a year-long series of workshops for graduate students to prepare them for everything from academic communication to proposal writing to composing a dissertation. Workshops will be offered on a regular basis that responds to the life cycle of graduate education.

In response to the University’s emphasis on Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), several Sweetland faculty members have participated in workshops and developed strategies for making DEI even more central in writing instruction. In addition, a number of faculty members are playing key roles in the Inclusive Teaching Initiative, working with colleagues across campus.

Research continues to occupy a prominent position in Sweetland’s work. M-Write, a program that integrates writing-to-learn pedagogies into large enrollment gateway courses, has generated studies of the misconceptions revealed by peer review of student writing, the kinds of assignments that are most effective in fostering student learning, the effects of serving as a Writing Fellow on undergraduate learning, and the qualities of faculty who incorporate writing into their courses. The Digital Rhetoric Collaborative publishes, in collaboration with the University of Michigan Press, a series of books on digital rhetoric, and, with the assistance of the graduate student Fellows drawn from five different universities, the DRC also maintains an active website where researchers discuss their work and ideas.

Finally, you can learn about a six-year study that examines how a large group of U-M students grew as writers across their undergraduate careers. Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study has just been released by the University of Michigan Press. It will be available in both hard copy and digital form, and the latter includes an “engagement layer” addressed to a non-academic audience and a layer of data collected for the study so that other researchers can use it in their work. This enormous project would not have been possible without the highly capable Graduate Student Research Assistants who participated in multiple ways.

Sweetland Faculty Heavily Involved in Inclusive Teaching Initiative

In fall of 2015, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel spearheaded a renewed focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) that resulted in the development of a University-wide strategic plan. In year three of the plan, the College of LSA is highlighting inclusive teaching and learning pedagogies, recognizing the classroom as an important site of student experiences of campus climate linked to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Its goal is to provide 80% of LSA’s instructional faculty with training in inclusive teaching and learning pedagogies by 2021.

U-M’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) defines inclusive teaching as follows:

Inclusive teaching involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel welcome, valued, and supported in their learning. Such teaching attends to student identities and seeks to change the ways systemic inequalities shape dynamics in teaching-learning spaces, affect individuals experiences of those spaces, and influence course and curricular design. This definition is relevant in every discipline and requires intentional practice over time. It involves setting high standards and communicating clear paths to success for all students; being as transparent as possible about expectations and norms; and creating structured opportunities for students to learn about and from each other.  

The LSA Campus Climate Committee’s Inclusive Teaching website (created and maintained with support from the LSA Dean’s Office and CRLT) represents one initiative to share classroom activities, syllabus materials, and student and instructor perspectives related to campus climate and inclusive classrooms. Sweetland’s Associate Director Naomi Silver and LSA Assistant Dean Kelly Maxwell are the current leads on the project, and current and former Sweetland faculty Carol Tell and Paul Barron have also played a substantial role. Over the last year, the site has received 59K views, from users on every continent, with most finding the site through an organic search. The site continues to add new materials to reach instructors in varied fields, and plans more extensive user testing in the Winter 2019 semester.

Meet the DRC Fellows & New DRC Books

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. It is also the home of a digital book series with the U-M Press.

This summer, the DRC welcomed its sixth 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 hosted robust blog carnivals on “Material and Digital Rhetorics: Openings for Feminist Action” and “Rhetorics and Ethics of Smart Technologies and Artificial Intelligence,” as well as publishing six Webtext of the Month reviews covering topics from digital feminist publishing to a Google Chrome extension addressing gendered writing challenges in email to a virtual roundtable on wearable and embodied technologies. Our new fellows have already jumped into the mix with a blog carnival on “Discerning Digital Rhetorics’ Futures”, and session reviews from the 2018 Watson conference are being edited as we go to press.

The 2018-2019 fellows are…

Lauren Garskie, Bowling Green State University
Lauren Garskie is a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric & Writing Program at Bowling Green State University. Her research interests include design literacies, digital rhetoric, and multimodality. Lauren’s dissertation, situated in a newly built space designed to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration at BGSU, examines how collaboration is understood and enacted/affected by a space.

Angela Glotfelter, Miami University of Ohio
Angela Glotfelter is a PhD student in the Composition and Rhetoric program at Miami University of Ohio, where she currently teaches and takes courses in digital writing and rhetoric. Currently, she researches how content creators navigate the complex systems created by algorithms and other actors to achieve success. You can follow her on twitter at @amglotfelter.

Whitney Lew James, Texas Christian University
Whitney Lew James is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at Texas Christian University. Currently serving as Assistant Director of TCU’s Center for Digital Expression, her research interests include translingual and multimodal pedagogies, digital rhetoric, and Disability Studies. You can learn more about Whitney’s research and teaching here: whitneylewjames.com. She tweets at @whitney_tweets.

Jialei Jiang, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Jialei Jiang is a PhD candidate in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she also teaches first-year composition (FYC) and research writing courses. Her research interests include new materialist theories, digital composition, and public rhetoric. She is interested in exploring the intersection between multimodal pedagogy and public rhetoric advocacy. Jialei’s dissertation focuses on examining the material and affective design of multimodal campaigns in FYC classrooms.

Jason Tham, University of Minnesota
Jason Tham is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication at the University of Minnesota––Twin Cities. His current research focuses on making and design thinking in writing pedagogy, multimodality, and emerging technologies such as wearables and mixed reality. He tweets at @JasonCKTham.

Katie Walkup, University of South Florida
Katie Walkup is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of South Florida. Her research interests are rhetoric of health and medicine, digital rhetoric, and writing program administration. Her current research project looks at the role of self-narrative in mental health literacy. She tweets at @klwalkup.

NEW BOOK from the Sweetland DRC Book Series

This October, the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Book Series, an imprint of the U-M Press, had the pleasure of publishing its fourth book, Sites of Translation: What Multilinguals Can Teach Us about Digital Writing and Rhetoric  by Laura Gonzales of the University of Texas at El Paso, and a DRC Graduate Fellow from 2013-2015. Winner of the 2016 Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Book Prize, Sites of Translation offers a groundbreaking study of the inventive intellectual work performed by multilingual communicators who translate information in academic and professional spaces. As her reviewers write, Gonzales’s study “spans multiple lines of inquiry (comparative studies, multilingual studies, and digital rhetorics)” to create “a text that is at once polyvocal and accessibly written.” Further, “the substantial and significant data (nearly 3,000 translations and nearly 5,800 second-tier codes) provides an excellent example for analyzing larger data sets that connect with ethnographic storytelling,” providing “insightful analysis from experiences that often go overlooked.”

OF NOTE: The Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Book Series publication Rhizcomics: Rhetoric, Technology, and New Media Composition, by Jason Helms (Texas Christian University), received the 2018 Kairos Best Webtext Award! Presented annually by the premier scholarly journal in digital rhetoric, this award recognizes outstanding webtexts that “take advantage of the Web as a medium to present information in ways that traditional scholarly texts cannot.”

Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study

It’s finally done! After 8 years, 169 students, 322 surveys, 131 interviews, 94 electronic portfolios, 2406 pieces of writing, and untold numbers of hours invested in reading, analyzing, and writing, the book-length study of writing development among U-M students has been finished. This ground-breaking study offers a comprehensive portrait of how students develop as writers during their undergraduate years. Results of this study show that when they graduate student writers have an increased awareness of audience, a deeper understanding of the social nature of writing, greater ability to use feedback effectively, an enhanced capacity to produce nuanced arguments, and deeper understanding of the connections between writing and their own personal and social development.

Despite these general trends, this study showed that students’ writerly development takes many paths, and none of these follows a predictable or straightforward route. Students make strides as writers and then stall for a while. They do well writing in one disciplinary area and flounder in another. They feel confident as writers and then feel overwhelmed by a new challenge. Uneveness of writing development is particularly evident in the differences between digital and traditional writing. Some less experienced writers composed more effectively in digital formats while other stronger writers were never entirely convinced that digital writing was actually what one called “writing writing.”

The book-length account of this study is available in two forms: a traditional book and an online version. The latter includes an “engagement layer” that translates study findings into language accessible to non-academics, and a “data layer” that makes all the study data available to other researchers. Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study will be published by the University of Michigan Press, and will be available in January 2019.

Graduate Student Support / Rackham – ELI Partnership

For the over 8,000 doctoral and masters students enrolled in programs overseen by the Rackham Graduate School, writing is both the means by which they have gained admission and also an instrument of their graduate work. This fact remains constant across disciplines even as each field and speciality maintains its own conventions, norms, and scholarly expectations. When we think of graduate school, it’s often the focal intellectual intensity of scholarship itself we imagine. This focus can make it all too easy to overlook the degree to which scholarly and professional practice requires not just what can feel like endless writing, but also an endless education in writing itself.

This points to a central paradox of the role of graduate school: the way you write your way in doesn’t automatically prepare you for the way you have to write your way through and out. The first graduate seminar is often radically unlike the undergraduate senior seminars; the techniques that make for a successful grant or fellowship application rarely make themselves transparent; no one knows how to write a dissertation until they write a dissertation, a task most will (one imagines) only complete once and which has no direct precedent and no exact antecedent. The challenges are many, and potentially compounded by the suspicion many graduate students have that they should know how to do all this already, that making the challenge of writing visible and explicit is somehow tantamount to admitting a flaw.

However, the flaw isn’t with the students; it’s with an academic culture that values writing without making the process of learning about writing legible and offering community, instruction, and exchange. In recognition of this need, the Rackham Graduate School is partnering with the Sweetland Center for Writing and the English Language Institute to offer support to graduate students at all levels and of all disciplines. This last summer four Sweetland faculty members, led by Louis Cicciarelli (longtime coordinator of Sweetland’s Dissertation Writing Institute), met to assess student needs and develop workshops and programs to meet the diverse array of graduate writing occasions and tasks.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, we will offer four group workshops and presentations, focusing on topics as narrowly vital as how to approach grant and fellowship applications in STEM fields to those as broadly applicable as how to achieve lucid and direct academic prose, as well as workshops that address the role of argument at the level of a dissertation, and how to structure and manage the writing of one. Additionally, Sweetland faculty member Cat Cassel is facilitating weekly graduate Write-Together sessions and soliciting feedback from the session participants to help us customize workshops we will subsequently offer. These conversations will enable us to make sure we and our partners can turn the centrality of writing to graduate life into an occasion for celebration, community, discussion, and deliberation as we continue to seek new ways to best serve our graduate writers.

Larissa Sano leads “Writing Grant and Fellowship Proposals in STEM Disciplines” workshop

Peer Writing Consultant Alumni Survey

What do peer writing consultants gain from their participation in the program? Thanks to our 2018 summer interns, Hannah Clague and Ed Mayes, we have more some robust answers to that question.

First Hannah and Ed adapted the survey instrument from the Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project, originally developed by Harvey Kail, Paula Gillespie, and Brad Hughes. Then they worked with our program coordinator Michael Zakali to send the survey out to 770 former Sweetland peer writing consultants. Two-hundred thirty-two responded, and they told us a number of interesting things about the effect the program had on them.

For instance, almost 80% of alumni said that the program had “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of effect on their development as university students and on their subsequent careers. Sixty percent of respondents believed that the program had “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of impact on their ability to work with people different from them. Open-ended responses indicated that former tutors not only developed improved writing skills, but also increased their confidence levels and ability to offer constructive feedback. The enthusiasm and insight offered by many of the alumni who completed the survey show that the experience of working in the PWC is formative in multiple ways.

Ed and Hannah also provided valuable help to the program by analyzing much of the data we collect on a regular basis. They reviewed all the applications to the peer writing consultant program over the past five years, to understand better who applies, who gets accepted, and who continues on in the program. They also studied the usage data from the peer writing centers over the past four years and compiled it into a spreadsheet that can be easily updated and analyzed, in order to track center usage over time and better understand the writers we serve.

All of these efforts, along with changes to our curriculum and professional development opportunities for consultants, are part of our ongoing work to make the peer writing consultant program both more effective and more inclusive.


What do applied liberal arts, biology, chemistry, climate studies, economics, earth and environmental sciences, material science engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, and statistics have in common? Each department or program offers one or more M-Write courses.  This means that over 15,000 students have had the opportunity to deepen their learning in these courses by writing about key concepts introduced in them. Preliminary research shows that students who participate in M-Write demonstrate more substantive learning than those who do not. In addition, writing about key concepts helps to reveal the misconceptions that students may have about them. For example, one study showed that in an introductory biology course student writing in response to an M-Write prompt revealed students’ misconceptions about protein structures. Approximately one-third of students wrote that quarternary structures are comprised of multiple proteins rather than multiple polypeptide subunits. This misconception went beyond what had previously been reported in the literature and, thereby, contributes to ways of improving student learning.

M-Write Writing Fellows meet with John Sweetland

The twelve faculty who participate in M-Write say they appreciate learning more about students’ understanding (or lack of it) regarding course content because it enables them to change their pedagogy. For example, when students’ written responses to an M-Write prompt revealed that they were confused about the concept of comparative advantage in an economics course, the instructor presented the information in a different way and the next semester students demonstrated less confusion. Another aspect of M-Write that faculty appreciate is the opportunity to work with Writing Fellows. These Fellows are nominated by faculty and trained in a Sweetland course to understand prompts, manage the automated peer review tool, convey understandings about peer review and revision, and to monitor the writing students produce in response to prompts. The approximately 200 Fellows who have participated in M-Write claim that they learn the subject matter more fully, develop confidence as writers, and feel more engaged in learning as a result of their role. Faculty report that Writing Fellows enhance their experience of teaching large classes.  Fellows help faculty feel more connected to their students at the same time that they offer useful insights into the ways students understand course material.

Looking ahead, M-Write is positioned to play a key role in the University’s Foundational Course Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to enhance the learning experience of students in all of the large enrollment courses that serve as gateways to a wide variety of disciplines. With its capacity to engage students in deeper conceptual learning, M-Write will offer an important contribution to the FCI.

DEI Summer Working Group

This summer, four Sweetland instructors (Scott Beal, Naomi Silver, Christine Modey, and Lillian Li ) came together to develop a plan for how to more effectively transform our department into an anti-racist institution. Started as part of the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, the summer working group understood that, given the complexity of structural racism and the limited summer time frame, it would be laying the foundation for further work, rather than coming up with final solutions. The two major priorities of the group, then, were to compile and begin analysis on the demographic data of Sweetland’s writing workshop and writing courses over the past five years, and to attend a two-and-a-half-day anti-racism workshop, organized by ERACCE (Erasing Racism and Claiming/Celebrating Equality) in Kalamazoo.

Three members (Scott, Naomi, and Lillian) were able to attend the weekend workshop in Kalamazoo, which was eye opening in ways that surprised and challenged them all. Participants spent as much time at the retreat learning about and reflecting on their own internalized racial inferiority and superiority, as they did the historical roots of systemic racism in America and how to organize colleagues and institutions in the fight for inclusivity. What they brought back to the working group, then, was an understanding that any work they attempted to do for the institution, they had to also be willing to do for themselves. Naomi and Lillian returned to Kalamazoo in August to attend one of ERACCE’s monthly caucuses, a space where past workshop attendees could go to keep one another accountable in their anti-racist work. Through the workshop and the caucus, they compiled three potential moves for moving forward, which they presented at Sweetland’s annual retreat in August: an anti-racist taskforce, an anti-racist reading group, and funding for up to five more Sweetland instructors to attend the ERACCE workshop.

The working group also presented statistical findings, compiled by Anil Menon, a PhD student in political science, at the retreat, with the caveat that a taskforce would need to continue analyzing the data. There was a high amount of interest among the rest of the faculty, and they have since formed both a taskforce and a reading group. The taskforce met for the first time in October, and during that meeting it nailed down three concrete projects for the year, including working on the summer DEI data. The other projects were to aggregate reflection questions for discussion, in order to help us understand each other’s personal and institutional histories with race; and to create a spectrum of anti-racist interventions to disseminate to the unit and beyond, which will address the different levels of anti-racist work, from individual, to classroom, to cross-departmental, to institutional.

The taskforce plans to meet two to three more times before the semester ends. Naomi, Scott, and Lillian have also met with ERACCE’s staff again, as potential founding members of their Eastside caucus, which they hope to start in Detroit by January. Where Sweetland stands now in its DEI efforts is on a strong foundation of accountability and institutional support. This coming year, we will continue to show our dedication as a unit, and as individuals, to social justice, equity, and action.

Faculty News

Faculty Awards

Anne Ruggles Gere was named the 2018 Michigan Professor of the Year by the Michigan Association of State Universities. Read more from the University Record.

New Faculty

Two new faculty members joined us for the fall semester. Stephanie Moody (left), who taught with us previously, returned to teach Writing 100 and Writing Workshop. Natalia Knoblock (right), joined us for the first time and taught Writing 120 and Writing Workshop.  Stephanie brought expertise in rhetoric and composition, and a rich background in teaching. Natalia, who has advanced degrees in linguistics, provided support to English language learners as well as individual students seeking help with their writing. We were delighted to have both of them with us.

Faculty Highlights

Julie Babcock’s manuscript Rules for Rearrangement was selected by Kimiko Hahn as the runner-up in the Autumn House Poetry Prize, and her novellette was a finalist for the Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Prize. She participated in the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and gave a workshop with the poet Megan Levad on how to dismantle hegemonic assumptions about revision at the Creative Writing Studies Conference.

Gina Brandolino gave a public talk, “The Monster Inside,” for the Howell Carnegie District Library at their celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

Scott Beal’s poems and prose appeared in Michigan Quarterly ReviewRattleOpossumThe Rumpus, and Little Patuxent Review. His poem “Dedicated to Neda and All Who Died” won Second Prize in the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Contest, and his manuscript Stegosaurus Moon was a finalist for the Lena Miles Wever-Todd Poetry Prize from Pleiades Press.

Cat Cassel attended the Above the Bridge Singer-Songwriter Conference in Curtis, Michigan, in June, and also attended the Peace Team of Washtenaw County Training, organized by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, in December.

Louis Cicciarelli was featured in the University Record article “Mentoring at Michigan” for his work as a mentor with the Transfer Connections program.

Natalia Knoblock organized a panel “Discourse of Crisis and Linguistic Creativity” at the Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines Conference (CADAAD), at Aalborg University in Denmark in July, and signed a contract for an edited volume “The Ukrainian Crisis: Discourses of Trauma, Aggression, and Hope” with Bloomsbury Academic.

Lillian Li’s debut novel Number One Chinese Restaurant  was published in June (Henry Holt).

With colleagues from MSU, OSU, and Texas A & M, Christine Modey has written an article forthcoming in the 2018 volume of the Journal of Writing Analytics, exploring the use of text analysis techniques on writing center data. In October, she presented this research as part of a panel at the International Writing Centers Association. In November, she traveled with three peer writing consultants, Lila Peters, Adela Baker, and Katie Seguin, to the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, where she presented a workshop on inclusive design practices for writing center spaces and the peer consultants presented their own writing center research projects.

Simone Sessolo accepted the co-director position, with Louis Cicciarelli, of the Dissertation Writing Institute.

Carol Tell published an essay, “There Must Be More to Life,” in the Michigan Quarterly Review, fall 2018. She co-presented at the CALICO (Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium) conference in spring 2018 on “Producing Podcasts in the Classroom”; and the Enriching Scholarship Workshop at U-M on “Incorporating Audio Essays into Your Courses.”

Writer to Writer Series & the Minor in Writing Marriage of the Minds Creates Writer to Writer Student-Run Journal

This year two of Sweetland’s ongoing programs, the Writer to Writer series and the Minor in Writing, joined forces. Under the leadership of Writer to Writer chair and Minor in Writing Advisor Shelley Manis, Minor in Writing students have created a student-run journal focusing on interdisciplinary multimodal writing and processes. The journal’s name? Writer to Writer.

After hearing a desire from students for an extra-curricular project on which they could collaborate to create something tangible, Manis and fellow Minor in Writing advisors Julie Babcock and Jimmy Brancho set out to make it happen. This summer, they formed a working group to explore student interest, research other student-run journals, and imagine what Sweetland’s might look like.

Writer to Writer will be comprised of an annual print publication and biannual e-publication with polished student pieces, as well as a website/blog with monthly, more informal publications of student pieces. A core group of committed students has established an Executive Board, formed a student org, and sent out calls for content based on the following vision statement, crafted by the EBoard:

Writer to Writer aims to foster interdisciplinary creativity by showcasing the literary work of University of Michigan students in a variety of modes, mediums, and genres. We hope to create a space through which we can not only cultivate an appreciation for the minds behind the content, but also encourage collaboration and growth amongst our community of writers. By building a publication of strong, challenging, and engaging content, we seek to provoke readers and celebrate the power of creative expression.

Writer to Writer’s Executive Board and teams:
Co-editors in Chief — Jacob Stropes & Antonia Vrana
Outreach Chair — Aylin Gunal | Team: Will Solmssen, Briana Johnson
Art & Design Chair — Brooks Eisenbise | Team: Lauren Weiss, Antonia Vrana
Administrative Chairs (Secretary & Treasurer) – Caitlyn Zawideh & Christine Lee
Submissions Chair — Lauren Weiss

Look for the first electronic issue in December or January, and the first annual print publication in 2019.

College Admissions Essay Workshops at the U-M Detroit Center

Every fall, students from Detroit and surrounding communities come to the University of Michigan’s Detroit Center for free college essay writing workshops run by U-M’s Sweetland Center for Writing (SCW) in partnership with the Admissions Office and its counselors at the Detroit Center. The goal of these workshops has always been to create more access, particularly for those students who are first-generation and/or under-represented.

With these goals of access in mind, students can choose from workshops offered between September and December, with several offered before Michigan’s Early Action November 1st deadline. An undergraduate peer consultant from the SCW and a doctoral student from the Joint Program in English and Education (JPEE) run each workshop, which begins with general insights about the essay writing process, ranging from advice about choosing life events, to navigating how students can better “show” their experiences using voice and imagery. Students then participate in a collaborative peer-review of sample essays, before they are divided into smaller groups for more individualized essay attention on either the Common Application Essay or one of the three required U-M supplemental essays.

Elizabeth Tacke, a JPEE doctoral student who has participated in these workshops for several years, says about this experience:

I find myself most often helping students to see and articulate how the everyday aspects of their lives matter and are applicable to the content of Michigan’s required essays. I’m always most excited to talk with students one-on-one to hear how they are choosing to represent themselves through narrative, their aspirations for study at Michigan, and the sense of self the communities they write about have given them. I recognize the stakes of these workshops through each individual I encounter. For many students, admission to institutions like Michigan is often barred because of inequitable circumstances, yet every student I encounter has a voice, a story to tell, and experiences that would positively impact Michigan’s student population.

Sweetland Summer Interns

Sweetland interns Hannah Clague and Ed Mayes spent the summer working with Sweetland faculty and administrators to improve both the Peer Writing Consultant Program and the Minor in Writing. They were involved with multiple aspects of Sweetland’s operations, assisting with campus-wide promotion and outreach, finding ways to make important demographic and usage data more readily accessible, and analyzing the lasting impact that Sweetland’s programs have on their alumni.

Notice anything different about the Minor in Writing website? One of Hannah and Ed’s big projects this summer was to rewrite the website content promoting the Minor in Writing to prospective students. This process began with a lot of research into similar minors offered by the University and the ways these programs market themselves. After completing the new content, the interns worked with Aaron Valdez, Sweetland’s Communications Coordinator, to determine the best way to visually organize the website. You may notice some new featured quotes from Minor in Writing alumni—thanks very much to everyone who contributed their experiences! These quotes help demonstrate the immense value of the program, and, together with the new written content, will hopefully draw more students to the Minor in Writing.

While content creation was the focus of their work for the Minor in Writing, Hannah and Ed’s efforts on behalf of the Peer Writing Center primarily consisted of data collection and analysis. One of their tasks was to design an alumni survey based on the national Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project (PWTARP) model. The goal of the survey was to better understand the lasting impact that working in the PWC has on the lives and careers of our alumni. The number of responses Hannah and Ed received was encouragingly high, and their analysis of the data revealed some useful insight into the enduring value of working as peer writing consultant.

Hannah and Ed learned so much during their time as Sweetland interns. They developed new data collection and analysis skills, discovered valuable lessons about program promotion and content creation, and got to know WCOnline very, very well. They even built new strategies for collaboration between co-workers, using their respective strengths to complement one another’s efforts and together produce the best work possible. Hannah and Ed loved working with Sweetland this summer, and hope to use their newfound skills to continue supporting both this program and others like it as they begin their post-grad careers.

2018 National Day on Writing

This year, in celebration of the National Day on Writing, the Sweetland Center’s Writer to Writer committee collected thank you notes addressed  to our good friend, Writing, for whatever the wonderful things it has done for us. Students who visited the Writing Workshop and Peer Writing Centers, as well as students in Sweetland faculty’s classes and many other visitors to the Center, wrote notes ranging from utmost sincerity to tongue-in-cheek parody.  Here are just a few…

2017-2018 Writing Prize Winners

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 2018.

Excellence in First-Year Writing book
Download the PDF | Amazon purchase link

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing book
Download the PDF | Amazon purchase link

First-Year Writing Prizes

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

Wisteria Deng, “Six Reasons”
nominated by Leslie Stainton, RC 100

Zofia Ferki, “As Time Ticks By”
nominated by Leslie Stainton, RC 100

Granader Family Prize for Excellence in Multilingual Writing

Pok Yu Chan, “Snickers Got You Snickering”
nominated by Scott Beal, WRITING 120

Dorcas Li, “Hey, where are you?”
nominated by Scott Beal, WRITING 120

Granader Family Prize for Outstanding Writing Portfolio

Rita Hathaway, “The Spectrum Center: Enriching the Campus Experience”
nominated by Simone Sessolo, WRITING 100

Ying-Hsuan Wu, “Past/Future of My Home”
nominated by Jimmy Brancho, WRITING 100

Upper-Level Writing Prizes

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

Jessica Baer, “Modern Sports as Pre-Modern in Media”
nominated by Emma Waitzman (GSI) Andrei Markovits (Faculty), PolSci 368

Kyra Lyngklip, “Polarization and Lobbying Influence of the Dodd-Frank Act”
nominated by Eitan Paul (GSI) Nancy Burns (Faculty), PolSci 381

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

Evan Hoopingarner, “Unreliable inhaler access plagues Detroit’s asthmatics”
nominated by Emilia Askari, Environ 320

Deirdre McGovern, “What We Learn from the Mouse”
nominated by Andrew Bernard, Anthrbio 368

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

Mateusz Borowiecki, “Human Agency and Control in the Shadow of Enlightenment”
nominated by Scott Spector, German 401

Caitlyn Zawideh, “Mother of Exiles”
nominated by Molly Beer, ENG 325