Catching Another Wave: WAC at the Graduate Level
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2014
Over the past four decades, the Writing-Across-the-Curriculum movement has grown steadily outward from its initial stronghold within liberal arts colleges and state institutions with a strong teaching mission to institutions as diverse in their missions as community colleges and research-intensive universities (McLeod & Soven, 1992; Palmquist et al., 1995; Walvoord, 1996). One constant during this period of growth has been a programmatic focus on undergraduate learning and teaching. It’s clear, of course, that undergraduate students have not been the only beneficiaries of the WAC movement. Graduate students have sought advice from WAC workshops for students and have taken advantage of the services offered through writing centers, OWLs, writing fellows programs, and other writing-focused instructional resources. Similarly, faculty and post-docs (including both native speakers of English and non-native speakers) have benefited from professional development and, in some institutions, support for the development of their own writing skills. Yet it seems fair to suggest that these groups, and in particular graduate students and post-docs, have not been viewed as a primary audience by the vast majority of WAC programs.
It would appear, however, that this is beginning to change. Although concerns about graduate student communication skills is not new, we are seeing increased attention over the past decade to this issue, with a number of WAC and writing programs launching efforts to enhance the communication skills of graduate students (e.g., Aranha, 2009; Channock, 2007; Hass and Osborn, 2007; Jordan & Kedrowicz, 2011; Simpson, 2012, 2013) and, at some institutions, particularly those with significant numbers of post-docs who are not native speakers of English, post-docs. Some of these efforts have been directed at thesis writing, others have addressed concerns rooted in multilingual concerns, and still others have responded to more general concerns about how we might help graduate students and post-docs make the transition to full participation in their disciplines and professions.
In this roundtable, the speakers and audience will reflect on WAC initiatives directed toward graduate students and post-docs. One speaker will address efforts to support international multilingual graduate students and post-docs. Those efforts have, to date, involved (1) assessing the language and literacy backgrounds and needs of international graduate students and post-docs, and the faculty who work with them and (2) initiating the design of workshops, writing courses, and a peer-tutoring program. Another speaker will reflect on efforts to support graduate students in STEM disciplines through writing center initiatives and faculty professional development. A third speaker will report on the results of a two-year pilot project, involving team-taught communications courses and thesis writing groups, that is intended to create a university-wide program targeted at graduate students.
The presentations at the roundtable are intended to be roughly half the length of a standard panel presentation. Following the presentations, the members of the panel will call attention to common themes running through the presentations and invite members of the audience to join them in a discussion of directions that might be pursued in WAC initiatives directed to graduate students as well as post-docs.