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PD Follow-up: WAC Principles SIGNATURE PROJECT

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    Rebecca Mazumdar


    By the end of your year as a WAC Fellow, you should have a Signature project: something that you initiated. We’ll have a chance to share these with other WAC Fellows across CUNY at our April workshop session, but the key is that you need something that you can say is yours from your year as a WF.

    Obviously this will develop over time, as you get acquainted with your campus, its environment and its needs. BUT: it’s time to start brainstorming now.

    As you were reading through McLeod and Miralgia’s article on “Writing Across the Curriculum in a Time of Change,” did anything catch your eye?

    As in: that’s something I could work on.
    As in: that’s something that represents a kind of coalescence of my interests, my abilities, my skillset with some of the challenges or intersections or opportunities that I could possibly work on, as a signature project of my own.

    Another source of ideas, besides the reading:
    Spend some time clicking around the WAC Clearinghouse–a great source of ideas for WAC projects

    Think about possibilities for your signature project. Write about them here in the Forum
    Do it by tomorrow (Wednesday 8/26)!
    And read and respond to others’ ideas.

    Danielle Stewart

    I’m not sure if this has already been done, or if it is needed, but I was thinking of developing a PPT series of 10 minute “mini-lessons/in-class activities” that address some common writing hang-ups (from common grammatical mistakes, to the proper use of quotations, to what constitutes a thesis.) Hopefully these would be short enough for professors to add to their lectures without feeling like they had to sacrifice too much class time to teaching writing, but catchy and informative enough that students could understand the basics of each concept and be provided with some resources for further help, if needed. I envision the series as sort of a writing “Schoolhouse rock” (unfortunately sans the awesome ’70s era illustration). Professors could pick and choose which topics they thought would be most relevant for their courses, and give the “mini-lessons” like a series of writing “episodes” throughout the semester.


    As a WAC fellow at BCC, I hope to establish a project that will work towards encouraging faculty to weave experiential learning activities paired with structured reflective writing into their lesson plans—and supporting them in the process. My dissertation research explores experiential pedagogies within study abroad programs, and I have found that engagement with new and even familiar environments can aid students in personalizing, contextualizing, and thinking critically about class material and the overall learning process. While I imagine that many faculty members are open to including experiential learning into their classes (e.g., visiting a museum or botanical garden, or even simply having students take a walk through their neighborhood and make observations), it may not be a top priority.

    Planning an outing or experiential activity that is meaningful, connected, and integrated with class material can be a time consuming venture, but the impact on student learning and engagement are often well worth it. I hope to find ways to support faculty in this regard, for example: meeting one-on-one, reviewing syllabi and offering suggestions, offering a workshop, and/or creating a guidebook and repository of experiential learning activities and potential writing assignments by topic. Pairing experiential activities with structured reflective writing can be a great tool to welcome student voices and diverse perspectives into the classroom. Many students have narrative skills that are often overlooked or undervalued in the context of formal education. The inclusion of experiential activities and structured reflective writing can help make space for them to explore these narratives skills, while considering how knowledge is produced, and the ways in which their learning experiences may be impacted by their environment. Considering my research is focused on experiential learning within study abroad programs, I am excited and look forward to the challenge of finding creative and realistic ways to help faculty incorporate experiential learning and writing into their courses locally.

    James J. A. Blair

    As a WAC fellow at Baruch, I will be working in the English Department on projects related to two large undergraduate programs: Great Works of World Literature and First-year Writing. These are major courses in the General Education core at Baruch, and my initiatives will include: a new website for both programs; digital platforms for student writing such as an intellectual journal of undergraduate writing and a collaborative annotation site for classroom use; program assessment projects; and faculty development workshops and initiatives. For my signature project, I am interested in using some of the tools I developed as a data visualization assistant for the CUNY Undergraduate Study Habits Ethnography Project two years ago, focusing in particular on methods for scaffolding assignments. I am interested in presenting students’ own strategies for scaffolding methods on the respective websites of these programs through digital platforms, such as Timeline JS and Prezi. I will adapt these products for program assessment and further collaboration among students and faculty.

    Jennifer Chard

    I’m interested in exploring how WAC pedagogy could serve the needs of multilingual learners. I think I’d need to find out more about some work that’s already been done on multilingual learners to figure out what a useful next step might be.

    Also, one thing that I’ve been thinking about recently is the set of expectations that college level instructors have about how their students should communicate with them via email. Specifically, the level of professionalism, how to politely request more information, appointments, letters of recommendation, and that kind of thing. Also the expectations about what students should automatically do if they they are absent from class. A possible project could be to design a workshop for students about basic expectations for email communication with faculty, and then I could host the workshop at Hostos and share the materials with the CUNY WAC community. Maybe advertise the workshop as a “Lifehack / how to get what you want” type of thing.


    As a second-year fellow at City Tech, I am interested in finding ways that the WAC program can link up with other programs within the college. There is already a great relationship between WAC and the Emerging Scholars and Honors Scholars programs on the student side, and Faculty Commons on the faculty side, but I’d like to see where we can make connections to others such as the folks over at the Open Lab (City Tech’s installation of Commons in a Box). The objective here would be twofold: build relationships to make this small program more integral to the institution, and improve student and faculty experience of student writing on a larger scale.

    Zoltan Gluck

    One thing that struck me while reading through the workshop materials and throughout the various presentations at our WAC Fellows orientation was the homology between WAC ideals and ethnographic writing. Particularly practices such as writing to learn and scaffolding are crucial aspects of what anthropologists do as a core part of their ethnographic writing. The anthropological practice of taking fieldnotes as an essential aspect of data collection and a first cut of analysis is built on the premise that in order to know about a given set of social phenomena we must write about them; in turn, the writing of future analysis builds upon the scaffold of the first set of fieldnotes. Yet, while this structure is implicitly in place in ethnographic practice, it is often difficult to integrate such methods into the classroom. For my Signature Project I would like to develop (1) a set of tools for anthropologists to explicitly integrate WAC methods into the instruction of ethnographic practice, and (2) a module for teachers in other disciplines to use anthropological field exercises into the scaffolding of different writing assignments.

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