Pittsburg State University
Writing Across the Curriculum Committee
Change in Awarding the WL Stipend
At PSU, we are not immune to the national trend toward reduced academic literacy on the part of high school graduates, with the result that our own students arrive significantly under-prepared for college-level reading and writing. At the same time, drastic changes in the nature of the workforce and the nature of working life put increasing stress on the ability to get and make use of information from written texts and the ability to create written texts that effectively convey information to others. So while success in their lives after college requires that our students have increasingly sophisticated literacy skills, the literacy skills they bring with them to college are decreasing. The result is an ever-increasing gap between what our students can do and what they will need to be able to do in order to have the lives they aspire to.
As part of the University’s goal of promoting students’ success in their lives after college, the Provost’s Task Force on Writing was formed to address this gap by finding ways to strengthen and improve writing instruction University-wide. Because of its long-standing success in combining writing with course content, the Writing-to-Learn program presents a powerful opportunity to enhance students’ experience of academic writing at the college level.
The WL program at PSU has always promoted writing as a tool for learning course content. To meet the needs of today’s students, however, it is important that WL courses also use writing assignments in a way that supports and enhances students’ ability to communicate as professionals. With this in mind, the WAC Committee has developed PSU’s Best Practices for Writing-to-Learn Courses.
The emphasis in the Best Practices is on developing the writing skills outlined by the Pittsburg State University Writing Rubric through formal writing—that is, writing designed to communicate ideas effectively to an academic or professional audience. However, following the Best Practices does not require that formal writing replace the kinds of informal writing tasks often used in Writing-to-Learn courses. Rather, we ask that informal writing be complimented by writing assignments that are evaluated for their ability to communicate clearly to others. Individual faculty will determine the appropriate balance of formal and informal writing assignments for their courses.
In the past, the WL stipend was awarded to those who participated in the Faculty Feedback and Response assessment project. Beginning Fall 2012, the WL stipend will be awarded to faculty who demonstrate (through course syllabi and supporting materials) that they are employing PSU’s Best Practices for Writing-to-Learn Courses. Faculty who teach WL course are not required to use Best Practices; however, the stipend will only be awarded for courses that use Best Practices.
In keeping with the Writing Task Force’s recommendations on Writing to Learn, we remain committed to a low enrollment cap for WL courses, allowing for a smaller student/teacher ratio and more one-on-one interaction between students and teachers.