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.