Call for Participants: F2019-W2020 Faculty Writing Fellows

Are you interested in exploring the contemporary literature on writing instruction, critical thinking in disciplinary contexts, and active learning?  In developing new strategies and materials in the supportive environment of a faculty learning community of teachers from across the college?

The Call for Participants for the F2019-W2020 Faculty Writing Fellows is now open.    The deadline for applications is Monday, March 11, 2019.  Interested teachers should review the program objectives, application process and selection criteria.

The facilitator of the F19 Writing Fellows will be Jeff Gandell (English).

Application Process and Selection Criteria

Applicants for the Writing Fellows should respond by the deadline with a one-page letter to WID Director Ian MacKenzie that touches on the following:

  • Reasons for interest in learning about evidence-based approaches to writing, critical thinking and active learning
  • Some specific challenges in current teaching practices related to writing
  • Commitment to producing artifacts that can be shared within and across departments
  • Willingness to learn and produce in a cross-disciplinary, collaborative initiative with other Writing Fellows

Applicants letters are read by the WID Working Group, which consists of several former Writing Fellows, the WID Director and at least one Dean.  Candidates are selected on the basis of three criteria: 1) their degree of interest in innovative pedagogies for writing, critical thinking and active learning; 2) their capacity for leadership on behalf of WID within their departments and programs, including the production of a discipline-specific teaching portfolio.  The WID Working Group also considers 3) the participation within the Fellows of a variety of departments and programs across the college.

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To view examples of the work of the Writing Fellows, browse the Teaching Portfolios page.   There are now 82 Writing Fellows in 29 different departments & programs, and we welcome applications from both new and experienced teachers.  Before applying, please verify with your department chair that you will have a full teaching load for the Fall 2019 semester.  Contact Ian MacKenzie with any questions.

Browse some of the feedback from the F2016-W2017 Writing Fellows:

How would you characterize the experience of working alongside teachers from other departments in the Writing Fellows?

– Very good! I really liked having courses in common, like IS, to talk about and anchor new topics.

– It was wonderful to learn from and work with colleagues for other disciplines. We are too often siloed off from one another.

– It was great! Lots of interdisciplinary exchanges.

– C’est très intéressant et enrichissant. Pour la première fois depuis j’enseigne au collège Dawson, j’ai pu avoir des échanges à la fois éclairants et utiles avec mes colleagues, d’autres départements, la communication et l’échange entre les différents départements sont, selon moi, essentiels pour une démarche pédagogique cohérente et efficace.

Really wonderful to see how common lessons and frameworks can apply to different disciplines – I was surprised to what degree some of their applications also could be adjusted for my classes.

Has the experience informed, advanced or changed the way you think about and practice the teaching of writing in your discipline?

Gave me many more ways to think about how to incorporate writing, and appreciate low stakes writing activities in particular.  Helped me recognize the importance of student reflection on process, which is applicable in all courses, not just writing courses.

– Yes, I now pay more attention to audience and genre, and clarifying student expectations.

– Yes, I’ve incorporated some of these great ideas already into my courses.

– WID m’a ouvert les yeux surs les plusieurs aspects: l’importance d’une bonne planifaction des cours, la necessite de varier les exercises d’écriture, les bienfaits d’une bonne grille d’évaluation, etc. et surtout m’a aidé à acquérir plus d’assurance, plus de confiance dans ma démarche.

Yes, especially the utility of freewriting, and my ability to step away from copy-editing every piece of work that is submitted for assessment.  Also, I am thinking much more about audience.

Do you foresee these changes having an impact on student engagement and learning in your courses?

As I become better at incorporating writing, I see engagement increasing.  Asking students to do even brief  writing tasks keeps them involved actively in the class.

– I think – and already know from introducing new assignments – that my WID expertise will help students become more engaged.

– Hopefully an increase in engagement, learning!

– Je pense que tous les changements que je suis en train de faire en ce moment dans mes cours vont aider à concevoir des activites d’apprentissage plus motivantes et plus connectées à la vie réelle.

– I think when you show students “process,” and focus on praxis, they become aware that there can be a point to their writing, and especially when you talk of process & praxis that lead to persuasive, authoritative texts for different real-world audiences.

Psychology WID Department Project W2019: Development of Experiential Laboratory Components in General Psychology

Just like other science disciplines, Psychology is built upon conducting empirical studies, mostly via experimentation.  However, for more than two decades at Dawson, Psychology courses have not included a lab component. As a result, students do not get exposure to how Psychology is done in the real world of academic research.  In addition, incoming students have an unrealistic view of what Psychology is all about.  A majority believe that the discipline is mostly about helping people in difficulty by doing therapy.  While this is an important aspect of Psychology, this constitutes only a sub-field within the discipline. 

We offer 45 sections of General Psychology every year.  Experiential labs would have impacts on the levels of the students, teachers and the department, allowing

  • Students to learn some of the content of the General Psychology course in a more experiential learning context;
  •  Students to be exposed to the research-oriented genre of the discipline.  It would allow them to understand the research process behind the findings;
  •  Teachers to use models that can engage student’s critical thinking;
  •  Teachers to develop and use a reflection and self-assessment approach in the labs so that students are encouraged to be engaged in their learning process;
  • The Department to offer sections that would be more lab-oriented for groups that could benefit from such an approach. 

We are therefore working this winter to develop a series of labs that could be used in the General Psychology course.  These labs would have a written component that could take different forms but essentially would allow students to engage both with the content, the scientific process, and the written genre in this discipline. This will help correct the misconception that many students have of the discipline when they first enter college and get them to learn in a more hands-on manner.  Lab writing would be required and would gradually teach students how to write in Psychology.  Our work so far has involved literature searches, faculty consultations and an interview with a focus group composed of former General Psychology students.  The insights from the focus group have proven especially useful in determining to what extent students are learning and applying the scientific practices specific to the discipline of Psychology.

Madelaine Côté, Selma Hamdani and General Psychology student focus group

The Physics WID project done in 2017 by Nadim Boukhira and Jean-François Brière makes a reference to an article written by Cary Moskovitz and David Kellogg (2011),Inquiry-based writing in the laboratory course,” which summarizes an innovative approach to the traditional science lab.  This inquiry-based approach incorporates many of the elements presented in Bean (2011) that we have learned about previously in different Dawson WID activities.   We aim to apply a similar, but modified approach for the social sciences, more specifically in psychology. 

Project proposal authors:  Marie-Pierre Gosselin, Madeleine Côté, Cote, Selma Hamdani, Rajesh Malik (Psychology) 

Design Thinking for Learning Experiences: WID Spring Institute 2018

The June 2018 WID Spring Institute launched a new and innovative level of collaboration between Dawson faculty development initiatives.  WID, SPACE, DALC and UDL animators gathered for two days with SPACE students to investigate how design thinking methodologies could be applied to the development of engaging new learning activities and assignments.  Continue reading