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Collaborate with WRAP Lecturers on Assignment Design

Pedagogical Issues

As in any team-teaching situation, the collaboration between subject instructors and WRAP lecturers should stem from shared pedagogical goals. WRAP lecturers (including writing advisors) bring expertise in rhetoric and writing pedagogy to the subject, and initial meetings help to map the intersections of subject matter, disciplinary writing conventions, and pedagogical approaches. We have found that discussing the following questions is useful in defining the role of writing in the CI subject and planning the methods of instruction:

  • How are the writing assignments related to the rest of the work of the class?
  • What are the writing goals for the class?
  • Where do students struggle, and what do they often misconstrue in these assignments?
  • To which conventions of writing in the discipline do students need to adhere?
  • What must students have already learned about disciplinary methodology and genre conventions in order to write the assignments?  How will the class teach these?
  • What models of writing in this discipline do students see or study in this class, and how similar are they to the writing that students need to produce?

In addition, faculty and WRAP lecturers often find it useful to examine a few student papers together. Because of their training and experience working with many CI subjects, WRAP lecturers can provide useful suggestions for assignment design, and develop a variety of workshops, lectures, handouts, and strategies for preparing students for writing and speaking assignments.

Practical Issues

Due to the many written and oral assignments and quick turn-around times for commenting and revising, CI subjects are often tightly orchestrated sequences of preparation, writing, and conferencing, for both students and instructors.

Collaborations function most effectively if the practical groundwork is prepared beforehand. Questions to address include:

  • Will student meetings with the WRAP lecturer be mandatory or voluntary? (Most writing advisors in CI-H subjects find that initial mandatory meetings help students understand the benefit of individual conferences, and that most students will then seek the writing advisor voluntarily for future assignments. Practices in CI-M subjects vary.)
  • Which class sessions will the WRAP lecturer attend or teach, and to what pedagogical end? Will the WRAP lecturer aid students in class discussions, run workshops, lead classes on the writing process or disciplinary genre conventions?
  • Will the WRAP lecturer develop pedagogical materials for students, such as models of revision, explanations of disciplinary genre conventions, or instructions on how to conduct peer review? When will these need to be ready?
  • Will the WRAP lecturer help students prepare for oral presentations? How and where will practice sessions take place?
  • When are due dates for assignments, and how much time will the WRAP lecturer have to meet students beforehand? To provide feedback afterwards?
  • For subjects in which several WRAP lecturers are assigned, how best should the workload be divided?

Continuing Dialogue and Feedback

As the semester progresses, the subject instructor(s) and the WRAP lecturer (or team of lecturers) should meet regularly to discuss student progress and common issues with student writing. In larger classes with TAs, WRAP lecturers should be part of the regular teaching meetings, and lines of communication, as well as individual areas of responsibility, should be clear for both students and teaching staff. In smaller seminars, meetings between subject instructors and WRAP lecturers are likely to be less formal, but consistent communication still promotes successful collaboration. In particular, please be sure to communicate any changes in the syllabus or assignments to WRAP lecturers, and to confer with them before giving extensions or changing due dates to ensure that lecturers will have time to meet with students and respond to assignments on the new schedule.

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