Resources and Beyond
Because this site--and WRAD--are for both faculty and students (and, for staff, as well), the resources will have crossover value, and the pages set aside for community musing will host commentary from across the campus.
Writing Resources and Programs on Campus
Early Assessent Program
In this section, sites treating topics of interest relevant to WRAD issues will rotate
News and Events
WRAD, in collaboration with the Core Commitments Project and the Academic First Year Experiences Program, is sponsoring a workshop for all faculty interested in the art and science of designing effective writing assignments that will meet the goals we have for them and in building rubrics both to guide students and to help us evaluate them.
Faculty joined us on November 14 from 1-3pm in the Whitsett Room (Sierra Hall 451--"The Roof") A very successful workshop, with both helpful information and good questions.
And learn more now on the website for the Program
More Collaborations with Core Commitments: A Faculty Grant Opportunity
The Core Commitments Project connects CSU Northridge to a community of faculty, advisers, and students across the country under the aegis of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) who seek to “revitalize the academy’s role in fostering students’ development of personal and social responsibility.”
Core Commitments' first year engaged in connecting its own goals to those of first year writing classes. This year, WRAD, seeking to collaborate with this program, is offereing an initiative that should widen that base.
What connects the WRAD and the Core Commitments Project is that critical reading, guided discussion, and reasoned writing provide natural pathways for communicating and assessing students’ progress across courses, majors, and time, toward reaching the goals that various programs under the Core Commitments tent have set for them.
WRAD, therefore, in collaboration with the CSUN Core Commitments Team is offering ten (10) fellowships of $1,000 each to faculty who seek to make connections in their courses with the goals of Core Commitments through student writing projects.
The focus is to provide ways of measuring our students’ understanding of a selected set of principles that are part of this initiative’s strategic goals, even as we are encouraging them to use the exercise(s) of reading, writing, and talking about them as vehicles for both learning and expression.
Spring 2009 Pilot Project
In collaboration with faculty from five departments, WRAD is planning to establish a set of experimental discipline specific writing centers, where undergraduate majors will consult with writing mentors about reading and writing assignments in both their gateway (upper-division fondational) and their capstone (senior level culminating) courses. The Departments and Programs in which faculty have been actively at work on this project are: Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chicano/a Studies, Pan African Studies, and Recreation and Tourism Management. WRAD is in consultation as well, with the Department of Economics, as well, and the Asian American Studies Department has joined the planning group.
Planning includes the recruitment of advanced students (to be our WRAD Mentors) whose reading and writing proficiency has singled them out, and projected activities include collaboration and consultation among the mentors, the teaching faculty, and WRAD about the roles of reading and writing in these courses and the ways in which we can make the work of the selected WRAD mentors most effective. This web of collaboration--with students at the center--is the heart of these experimental pilots.
History and Goals
It is no secret--either to students or faculty--that when they arrive and begin their undergraduate studies, students are meeting what seem to be new challenges of college writing. While they have excellent preparation in their freshman year writing experiences, somehow, even as they begin to focus in their majors, they are still struggling to master the demons that lurk between the lines on the pages of their written assignments. Questions remain: What should that lab report really look like? How can the sources of some of the evidence for that particular design be cited? What exactly is wrong with that sentence and should this sentence begin a new paragraph?
Faculty have been discussing the issues of student writing for a while. Challenged student performance has been a consistent topic at faculty coffees with the President and Provost as well as at department meetings. This survey, designed by the Director of Faculty Development, reflected the depth of such concerns and it reflected faculty intuitions about how to respond to them. Those intuitions were sound, and they are at the core of the WRAD initiative.
Added to such writing challenges was the recognition that students struggle with reading assignments as well. Reading in a range of disciplines is no mean feat; individual faculty members do not generally read articles across disciplines in which they are not actively teaching or studying. Students must. And the reading is different in these fields. WRAD, with Reading as one of its middle names, seeks to make an explicit connection between the texts students "consume" in their majors and the ones they produce.
Programs have been responding to the perceived need to help students perform more effectively as college writers since, well, the founding of colleges. But in our more recent history, we can trace the beginnings of our WRAD to the first WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) Programs, which began to take root in the early 1970s. Read more
There are two central goals of WRAD. First, we need to identify our students' needs in the areas of reading and writing in their majors and beyond. Second, we need to engender and sustain campus conversations and collaborations that will both trigger and support the most effective responses to these needs, responses which include helping students discover ways to address them independently as well.
Corollary to these central goals are others. The first of these is to partner with related initiatives on campus and either participate in or complement their efforts. The second is related insofar as it seeks to reach out to relevant K-12 settings--through the existing networks on campus that connect CSUN with the K-12 community.
Facets of WRAD
This is not a simple word. The concept has a rich and complex history, and most scholars agree that writing is an "unnatural act."
If writing is an unnatural act, you can bet that reading is high on the scale of human challenges. In order to read--to break the code--children's brains must be "re-circuited" And for us to understand what we read, we must be constantly developing new networks of understanding. If you go to the Visual Thesaurus site, and type the word "light" into the trial search, you'll see the complexity of our knowledge of even what seems to be a "simple word" boggles the mind.
Disciplines, Discourses and Divides
What do we mean by "discipline," "discourse," and "divide?"