3:00 pm-4:00 pm EST: Concurrent Session Three
Individual Paper Panel 4: Program Development
“Directed Self-Placement in the Online Composition Course”
--Jude Miller, Rowan University
--Kate Brown, Rowan University
Composition classes are excellently positioned for transposition from face-to-face to online contexts, due to the high literacy load of online coursework. As Snart(2010) notes, however, attrition rates in online classes are notably higher than in face-to-face classes, and individual writing programs often confront an institutional push to increase their online offerings. FYW programs are often a proving ground for institutions to experiment with online learning, shepherding a vulnerable population of students toward courses that involve nuances that they may not be prepared for.
The FYW program at our institution (an East-Coast, four-year university) offers only the capstone course in the FYW sequence online. While both face-to-face and online versions of this course are offered each semester, institutional scheduling constraints often lead students to enroll in the online iteration not because online learning is their preference but because the face-to-face sections are all full. Worse yet, some enroll in the online version because they have recently failed the face-to-face one, leaving them with the online sections as their only option. In our experience, this particular sub-population of students is uniquely vulnerable to the perils of self-paced, online learning.
As a solution to this institutional challenge, we have created a Directed Self-Placement Survey that students can take prior to enrolling to decide if an online composition class is truly a good fit for them. In addition to explaining the unique features of online learning, the survey has students rate, on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), their preparedness for this learning environment, through such questions as “Do you feel that you are good at communicating with others through writing - both expressing yourself and understanding others?” Or “How well do you learn by watching videos (as opposed to having an instructor guide you through a lesson)?”
Once students have completed this survey, they are given a score that indicates how well suited they are for the course. Regardless of the score they receive, they have been made aware of some of the ways that online classes differ from face-to-face ones. Students’ responses to this survey are also sent to their instructors so they can best know how to support individual students.
“Exploring Video Analytics as a Course Assessment Tool for Online Writing Instruction Stakeholders”
--Jason Godfrey, Brigham Young University
Online Writing Instruction (OWI) programs, like online learning classes in general, are becoming more popular in post-secondary education. Yet few articles discuss how to tailor course assessment methods to an exclusively online environment. This presentation explores video analytics as a possible course assessment tool for online writing classrooms. Video analytics allow instructors, course designers, and writing program administrators to view how many students are engaging in video-based course materials. Additionally, video analytics can provide information about how active students are in their data-finding methods while they watch. By means of example, this presentation examines video analytics from one semester of a large western university’s online first-year writing sections (n=283). This study finds that video analytics afford stakeholders knowledge of patterns in how students interact with video-based course materials. Assuming the end goal of course assessment is to provide meaningful insight that will help improve student and teacher experience, video analytics can be a powerful, dynamic course assessment tool.
“Designing Online Writing Programs to Support Underprepared Students’ Literacy Development”
--Joanne Baird Giordano, Salt Lake Community College
--Cassandra Phillips, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Waukesha
The co-presenters will provide a framework for designing online writing programs that serve diverse learners at two-year colleges and other open-admissions institutions. Online two-year college writing programs arguably serve the broadest range of students in higher education. In some courses, underprepared students who are inadmissible at other institutions and second language writers with limited proficiency in English are enrolled in the same course sections as college graduates who need additional writing credits to apply for graduate school.
Beth L. Hewett describes the development of the CCCC OWI principles as “a story that admits of uncertainty and a need for A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for OWI to be organic; changing with research, scholarship, and experience; and one to which the practitioners in the field can contribute as well as from which they can benefit” (in Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, p. 37). In our proposed presentation, we hope to contribute to disciplinary conversations about online program design principles for teaching underprepared students within the constraints of underfunded two-year access institutions.
Drawing from program development work and research on student writers at a statewide two-year institution, the presenters will describe a backwards design process for developing an online writing program that supports students who have limited proficiency in English, experience with academic writing and reading, and/or experience using technology for learning. The presentation will focus on program design strategies for supporting underprepared students across all levels of a two-year writing program (from developmental to sophomore composition), facilitating transitions between courses, and increasing course success rates. The presenters will provide an overview of effective practices for assessing program needs, drawing from assessment data to create program outcomes, aligning online writing courses with face-to-face courses, and incorporating inclusive pedagogies into an online program to increase the academic success of underprepared students. The presenters will provide a set of online resources to help participants assess program needs and design or revise an online program to support access and inclusion for diverse college writers.
“‘If I could turn back time’: Students' Perceptions of Time Management”
--Catrina Mitchum, University of Arizona
--Shelley Rodrigo, University of Arizona
Many students that enroll in online courses often do so because they are short on time due to responsibilities outside of their educational pursuits (Fike & Fike, 2008; Barnes & Piland, 2010; Torres, Gross & Dadashova, 2010; Mamisheishvili & Deggs, 2013; Morris & Finnegan, 2009; Rovai, 2003). However, it’s not clear how this lack of time is addressed once those students enroll in an online class (or two, or three). In the fall of 2018, the online writing program research team at a large university in the southwest conducted a programmatic assessment. One aspect of that assessment asked students to identify characteristics of a “good” online student before and after they took a fully online first-year course. This presentation will share the results of that study and suggest that we consider how our understanding and students’ understanding of time available and the time it takes to practice literacy are impacting student success.
“Academic Mimicry: Ethos in the Age of Digital and Information Literacy”
--Stefanie Davis, Danville Area Community College
The emerging technologies of the 21st century have armed instructors and students alike with the tools to dig deep and discover new and innovative research across the disciplines. From improved online databases to YouTube tutorials on how to evaluate sources, first-year writing instructors are equipped with dynamic and engaging resources to improve the teaching of researched writing, but many of these same technologies also complicate the teaching of writing in unexpected ways, particularly when novice researchers encounter conflicting “expert” opinions online. This paper will explore the challenges that one instructor faced while (re)designing the first-year curriculum at a two-year college to focus on Digital, News, and Information Literacies. More specifically, this paper will trace the development of a first-year writing course on global warming disinformation that focuses on cases of “academic mimicry” where non-expert voices are able to convince novice (and sometimes even more seasoned) researchers that they are in fact authorities on the topic. By outlining effective strategies for evaluating ethos in the digital age, this paper will provide specific, actionable strategies for cultivating the kind of “informed skepticism” that the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education describes.
“Open-Access WaW: Theory, Practice & Aspiration in FYW”
--Jessica Kester, Daytona State College (faculty) and Univ. of Central Florida (PhD student)
The responsibility invoked in Truman’s 1947 Commission on Higher Education is not lost on anyone attempting to teach writing well in online spaces at open-access colleges. Truman remarks, “Education that liberates and ennobles must be made equally available to all.” In open-access colleges, first-year writing (FYW) faculty daily exist in complicated political systems that press us to make difficult decisions between false binaries: job training versus academic training; content versus skills; rigor versus student success. The affordances (Norman, 2013) of web-based classrooms further complicate, extend, and constrain how we put theory into practice, and how we reconcile our aspirations to “liberate” and enculturate. Adopting a Writing about Writing (WaW) approach to online FYW offers one possibility for negotiating the thorny landscape of theory, practice, and aspiration. Using open-access resources to do so provides additional monetary relief to our students, as well as opportunities to develop multiple literacies.
Writing about Writing (WaW) curriculum positions writing faculty as stewards for writing studies, a first point of access to the rich discipline that provides content and skills to writing students (Bazerman, 2002; Dew, 2003; Wardle and Downs, 2007). Taking a WaW approach to FYW means that students’ read and write about writing in order to consider principles about writing that transfer to diverse writing situations.
Given the amount of scholarly attention to WaW theory and practice, there is surprisingly little research or discussion about WaW in online literacy education. The absence of such discussion and scholarship is particularly startling given the excellent, free options for creating WaW-based course materials. Resources like Writing Spaces, Writing Commons, and full-text articles from institutional library databases not only support effective WaW pedagogies, but also supportive online environments in which students interact, for free, with authoritative, web-based course materials.
As a teacher-scholar at an open-access, state college that primarily serves its community through two-year degrees, technical programs, and direct-connect transfer opportunities, I often work alongside historically underserved students who reliably need excellence (both the field’s and instructors’) to thrive in academic and professional writing situations. WaW with open-access materials offers a meaningful possibility for negotiating the busy intersection of theory, practice, and aspiration in online FYW—one that is customizable to the needs of localities and connected to the larger conversations and research in the field of writing studies. WaW approaches also serve our students multiple identities, our complex identity as teacher-scholars, and the field.