Course Prepares Faculty to Improve Student Writing

Excelsior College offers a professional development training for college-level faculty who are interested in improving their students’ writing skills for academic, career, and life success. The free, self-paced Writing in the Disciplines Certificate Course includes assessments and optional networking discussion forums during which faculty who wish to can share resources and collaborate on designing assignments related to writing in the disciplines.

The training consists of four modules: Introduction to Writing in the Disciplines, Creating Effective Writing Assignments, Peer Review and Revision, and Effective Feedback and Rubrics. Each module includes readings and videos. It is hosted on the popular MOOC (massive open online course) platform within the Canvas network.

Upon successful completion of this course, faculty receive a downloadable certificate in Writing in the Disciplines (WID). Writing in the Disciplines is a subfield of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), a nationwide movement designed to ensure students have frequent and significant opportunities to write, revise, and discuss their writing in their classes.

“This certificate course was a labor of love for our team …  This course provides faculty with the tools to teach students robust writing and revision skills within the context of what they are writing about …” –Anna Zendell, PhD, MSW

“We think this is an excellent professional development opportunity for faculty in any discipline,” says Ben Pearson, PhD, co-chair of Excelsior College’s Writing Across the Curriculum initiative. “Writing is a crucial 21st-century skill, and it’s not something students can master in just one to two required writing courses. The more opportunities that we can create for high-impact, high-quality writing assignments in our classes, the better prepared students will be for life and career success.”

This certificate training was developed by a team of about 10 faculty members with experience in teaching writing across a variety of disciplines and was supported by a grant from the Booth-Ferris Foundation. Many key elements of the training were developed as part of grant-funded collaboration among Excelsior College, SUNY Rockland, SUNY Clinton, SUNY Monroe, and other colleges.

“This certificate course was a labor of love for our team,” says Anna Zendell, PhD, MSW, co-chair of the Writing Across the Curriculum initiative at Excelsior College. “We wanted to design a course that equips faculty to support students in their writing. Faculty often feel quite confident in teaching course content, but much less confident helping students with writing challenges. This course provides faculty with the tools to teach students robust writing and revision skills within the context of what they are writing about, rather than compartmentalizing writing mechanics from disciplinary content.”