Philadelphia Writing Program Administrators
Spring 2022 One-Day Conference
Hosted by Jefferson University Writing Program
Friday, April 29, 2022
The Focus of the Day
For our Spring 2022 meeting, we will focus on writing in the disciplines and professions. Many of us teach in writing classrooms in which students have become increasingly pragmatic, vocational, and concrete in their goals for attending college. COVID intensifies these pressures and desires. In this meeting, we’ll center the discussion on how to more specifically tailor the writing classroom so that it responds to these practical, professional, and disciplinary motives. What are the institutional, academic, and affective needs of the professionally-oriented classroom? Does “learning for its own sake” still fit into such a classroom? What are the roles of canonical texts, genres of writing, and conventional modes of learning such as lectures?
We have an excellent program of roundtables, lightning talks, and presentations from our PWPA Members.
We know a six-hour Zoom conference can seem daunting, and we encourage you to pick and choose the events that work best for your schedule and that interest you.
Schedule of Events
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Liz Kimball, Gabe Cutrufello, and Abigail Orenstein
An Equity- and Justice-Oriented Approach to FYW for Computer Science Cohorts
Presenters: Dr. Tiffany DeRewal (Rowan University) and Prof. Jude Miller (Rowan University)
This roundtable will guide attendees through our journey in creating an FYW course cohorted for computer science students. In designing this course, we sought to bridge a gap between curriculums and orient ourselves (and students) in research in the broader field of CS, while also gaining familiarity with CS-centric genres and audiences. We also needed to balance disciplinary expectations that the course prepares students for real-life writing scenarios in their field with our own goal of resisting the equation of technical and professional writing with neutrality and apolitical objectivity. To meet our own FYW values for seeking diverse stakeholders and centering the pursuit of equity, while encouraging student buy-in on the professional benefits of the course, we have designed a curriculum that focuses on the ethical, legal, and social aspects of computing, and our process has illuminated the ways FYW can function as a meaningful site for engagement with disciplinary-specific ethical questions and considerations.
In our conversation, we will first provide an overview of our evolving approach to designing and delivering the course, with practical examples of sample assignments, approaches to research, and activities. We will then engage the audience with a series of reflective questions for programs and instructors forging their own interdisciplinary partnerships, including:
How might participants leverage the disciplinary assets of individual stakeholders in interdisciplinary partnerships while also meeting the unique contours of institutional contexts?
How do we maintain an uncompromising, directive commitment to social justice in TPW in the current climate?
How do we establish sustainable yet dynamic curricula that can be expanded and adapted without compromising the needs of individual stakeholders?"
Designing Pragmatic Assignments in Professional Writing Courses
Presenters: Dr. Laura Feibush (Juniate College) & Dr. Hannah Bellwoar (Juniata College)
Students increasingly come to professional writing classrooms looking for specific, real-world experiences that work in tandem with broader learning outcomes. In this workshop, attendees take steps towards developing an assignment sequence that incorporates community-engaged projects and vocational genres while implementing best practices for writing instruction. Speaker 1 will briefly present on assignment design techniques based on her experiences teaching a Professional Editing course that incorporates a local, community client. Speaker 2 will present approaches to scaffolding grant-writing assignments based on real non-profits and foundations. Attendees participate in guided reflection and brainstorming to identify aspects of their own courses that could be enriched by community-engaged or vocational assignments. Participants then engage in interactive group work to implement scaffolding and other pedagogical techniques into new or existing assignment sequences. Attendees leave with an action plan for developing an assignment or module that brings together “real-world” elements with best practices in writing instruction.
Keynote Talk - Multimodal Composing: Writing/Designing Futures
Dr. Kristin Arola (Michigan State University)
In this talk, Professor Arola will briefly outline the goals, possibilities, and challenges of a multimodal pedagogy. She will share how assigning and assessing multimodal projects, specifically through the lens of a slow composition rooted in American Indian ways of knowing and making, can help meet the learning outcomes of writing courses and writing assignments. As part of the presentation, Arola will ask participants to engage in a low-stakes multimodal assignment so as to brainstorm possibilities for assigning and assessing such work.
Kristin Arola is the Karen L. Gillmor Endowed Associate Professor in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture at Michigan State University. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program, the Digital Humanities program, and the Center for Interdisciplinarity. Her research and teaching focuses on composing as culturing. Specifically, she explores how the ways we write/design/make, as well as the ways we teach writing/designing/making, culture us into particular ways of being and particular sets of values. By looking to the relations between land, histories, and cultures, she considers how the words, designs, and images we compose evoke the past while opening up possible futures. To do this work, she brings together composition theory, making culture, digital rhetoric, environmental rhetoric, and cultural rhetoric. Through her mother, she is a first-generation descendent of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians (bear clan). She is also a proud Finnish-American.
12PM-12:50PM: Lunch Break
"Going Beyond COMP: Writing for the Professional Workplace"
Presenters: Dr. Katie Baker (Rosemont College) and Dr. Keith Kopka (Holy Family University)
Writing of all kinds opens lines for communication and for many students, that begins with the composition classroom. This round table will explore the ways that the composition classroom prepares students of all majors and degree paths to enter the workforce, with realistic writing that promotes collaboration, creative and critical thinking, and analysis. This discussion will also cover and demonstrate how the composition classroom uses digital technologies and social media tools for academic, professional, and community practice, as well as digital tools that help students become more efficient as they write in and for a diverse amount of career paths.
Lightning Talks: A variety of five-minute presentations
1. “Career Genres: A New FYE Writing Assignment”
Presenter: Dr. Elizabeth Knauss (Gwynedd Mercy University)
In this lightning talk, I will present a newly developed writing assignment for FYE. I designed this assignment in response to the growing focus on student career trajectories; the majority of GMercyU freshmen have declared majors that directly connect to their career goals. This new assignment requires students to identify genres in their major or career field, provide an analysis of one of those genres, and then practice that genre. This assignment was developed directly in response to student feedback that demonstrated a desire and need for more practical writing application earlier in their college educations. This assignment acts as the capstone for First Year Writing, which is structured around the rhetorical situation. I hope to present this assignment to the PWPA, comment on initial successes and failures, and gain feedback on future directions for this assignment.
2. “Crafting the Career Counternarrative”
Presenter: Dr. Nicole Cesare (Rowan University)
This talk offers an alternative or supplement to the standard resume/cover letter assignment often used in professional writing courses. It will focus on an assignment I call the “Career Counternarrative,” which invites students to think holistically about their relationship to the professional sphere and articulate their professional identities through storytelling. The scaffolded project involves readings that foreground the voices of those for whom the professional sphere has historically been less accessible, and asks students to think critically and rhetorically about how we define and perform professionalism through practices such as language, dress, and labor. The project deliverables include a skills inventory, elevator pitch, and written narrative. I will share my experience developing this project in a community college partnership program, with students whose educational and career trajectories have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as financial and other external pressures.
3. “Partnering with the Writing Center to Support Near-Peer Mentoring and Future Job Market Success in the First-Year Writing Classroom”
Presenter: Dr. Stacy Kastner (University of Pennsylvania)
The Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania asks students to compose a resume in our FYW seminars. While I teach an online professional writing class on this very topic, I’ve learned to step back in the FYW classroom when we get to this assignment. Instead, I invite writing fellows from our Writing Center to join me as guest facilitators. I ideally recruit a sophomore, junior, and senior or two and ask that they share their own materials with us, including an internship or fellowship posting, a cover letter responding to this, and their resume. These near-peer facilitators help students in my classrooms see concretely how they built out successful resumes over time and engages FY students in a peer-to-peer mentoring culture that they can lean on well beyond our time together in the course. This lightning talk shares the facilitation guidelines and anecdotal outcomes.
4. “A Narrative Approach to Visual Argument-Making”
Presenter: Seth Steinbacher (Thomas Jefferson University)
In the current political climate, in which social media dominates public discourse, professional organizations are no longer able to remain silent on issues such as systemic racism. This talk will discuss an assignment I use in my Multimedia Communications courses in which students are required to analyze examples of public statements on systemic racism from a variety of organizations in their future professions. They are then required to craft a public statement of their own from the perspective of an organization in their fields, real or imagined. However, they must take a narrative approach in which they present this stance over five Instagram Posts. This assignment asks students to analyze visual rhetorical strategies in particular and works as an introduction to a semester-long examination of multimodal rhetoric.