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Strategic Plan for Supplemental Writing Skills

Mission

The mission of the SWS Program is to enable students to write effectively* for multiple purposes and audiences through the integration of writing across the curriculum. *Effective writing is sensitive to rhetorical situation and genre constraints. It meets established standards for style and correctness in that situation. Edited Academic Written English (EAWE) is one dialect, and often not the only one, that students need to master in order to shape their lives, their professions, and a linguistically diverse society.

Vision

The SWS program inspires and equips students to write effectively in a variety of rhetorical situations. The SWS program helps departments to improve the quality of teaching in a framework of courses that integrate writing with content. The SWS program effectively disseminates current research and theory in writing.

Value Statement

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

1.A.1. All SWS courses will require learners to write at least 3,000 words, supported by at least 4 hours of writing instruction, personalized feedback, and revision.

Baseline

N/A

Progress

2021 Status
Substantive Progress
Fall of 2021, 14 SWS section syllabi were assessed during the week before classes began. None of the submitted syllabi required revisions to meet SWS requirements. All syllabi met all requirements.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
Fall of 2019, 21 SWS section syllabi were assessed during the week before classes began. 2/21 required revision to meet the program standard. These 3 were revised by the instructors, and resubmitted for successful review.

Objective 1.A.2

1.A.2. Students taking their second SWS course will achieve proficiency of written communication skills.

Baseline

N/A

Progress

2021 Status
Substantive Progress
Not all the Course Assessment Reports (CARs) for Fall 2021 have been completed and so assessment data is not yet available. Assessing students' progress on this in terms of programmatic effectiveness will be challenging to compare with previous data anyway because of so many shifting variables including, of course, the conditions of the pandemic. A new baseline under pandemic conditions may have to be established for future comparisons of data.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
2019: Over the last three years, data suggests that students make statistically significant progress toward improved writing skills from their first to their second SWS course. In Winter 2018, the average overall score given by faculty assessing the written communication skills of students completing their second SWS course was 2.8, on the following scale: Score 3 Proficient (Most graduating seniors should be at this level); Score 2 Progressing; Score 1 Baseline (Most freshmen will be at this level).

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

SWS courses will encourage students to write about course content for multiple purposes and audiences in the most fitting discourse, including the discourses used in students' family and community lives. 

Baseline

1 workshop given during the 2016 Teach-In.

Progress

2021 Status
Minimal Progress
Worked with the FTLC to create a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) addressing "Effective SWS Instruction." FLC focused on fostering a more sophisticated understanding among SWS instructors of the purpose of SWS instruction to help students write effectively in discipline-specific ways. The FLC also involved developing pedagogical methods that involved students writing multiple kinds of texts within a given course to develop facility with shifting between audiences and addressing different purposes--including the purposes that characterize particular disciplinary practice. The Director also met individually with three different faculty on separate occasions to help them develop their assignments and units for their SWS courses which likewise stressed the importance of developing students rhetorical meta-awareness and facility shifting between audiences and purposes.

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
Former SWS Director informed current director of the project to create MESH journal. Current Director gave research presentation to University Writing Skills Committee about the role of SWS instruction in fostering student engagement and retention, especially among students from disadvantaged or underrepresented populations whose home discourses differ significantly from traditional Academic discourse.

Objective 1.B.2

1.B.2. SWS courses will teach the conventions of EAWE (Edited Academic Written English) without disrespecting other dialects of English.

Baseline

1 workshop given at 2016 Teach-In. 0 CARs No question yet on survey

Progress

2021 Status
Minimal Progress
No assessment data was collected for 2020 and no assessment data for Fall 2021 is available yet.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
Students' mechanics scores (the extent to which their writing demonstrates careful editing of grammar, punctuation, usage, citation, and formatting conventions appropriate to the specific writing situation) improve from Freshman/Sophmore year (2.1 average) to Junior/Senior year (2.6 average) in SWS assessment. Students taking their first SWS course average 2.3 on the Mechanics goal, and those taking their second SWS course average 2.6. These are both statistically significant improvements, given the sample size of the sections completing SWS assessment.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 1.C.1

1.C.1. The SWS program will maintain an SWS waiver system to support the success of students who study abroad or transfer from other institutions.

Baseline

1 complaint to dean-level administration in 2015.

Progress

2021 Status
Substantive Progress
No known complaints to dean-level administrators in 2021.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
No known complaints to dean-level administrators in 2019.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 2.A.1

2.A.1. All SWS faculty will receive resources to design four hours of excellent writing instruction.

Baseline

2014-2016: >7 annual workshops, attended by faculty voluntarily. 2015-2016: sporadic Q % A on SWS newsletters to faculty teaching SWS courses Website exists with some resources

Progress

2021 Status
Substantial Progress
In 2020 the SWS Director facilitated 3 online workshops about aspects of SWS instruction (teaching writing online; writing effective feedback on writing assignments; designing effective assignments). Over 60 different faculty attended these workshops. In Fall 2021, the SWS Director facilitated a semester-long Faculty Learning Community on effective practices of teaching SWS courses. 9 faculty participated in the FLC. The SWS Director also met individually via zoom with three different SWS instructors on multiple occasions to help them develop assignments and lesson plans for teaching writing effectively in their courses.

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
SWS Director held Open Q&A session for SWS instructors at the FTLC fall conference to introduce new director and address SWS instructors concerns. SWS Director met individually with 3 SWS instructors to discuss in detail strategies for effective SWS instruction.

Objective 2.A.2

2.A.2. Representative faculty from every department offering SWS courses will make a plan for teaching writing, assess student learning outcomes, analyze results, and make a plan for future action.

Baseline

0% of SWS courses completed CARs in 2015-16.

Progress

2021 Status
Substantive Progress
The SWS Director Facilitated a semester-long FLC which included 9 faculty participants and offered direct consulting to three different faculty.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
For the fall 2019 semester, 17 professors completed SWS Course Assessment Reports. 5 professors in addition to these 17 were asked to complete CARs. Hopefully theirs are pending.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 2.B.1

2.B.1. The SWS program will provide professional development for faculty on teaching EAWE to speakers of other languages and dialects of English.

Baseline

1 workshop in 2016

Progress

2021 Status
Minimal Progress
Professional development offered by the SWS Director took up the topic of student speakers of non-mainstream dialects in the general approach to teaching all students academic writing more effectively.

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
Incoming SWS Director met with 3 different faculty one-on-one and discussed the purpose of discipline-specific writing and tactics to demystify discipline-specific academic writing for all students, especialy those whose home discourse is not proximate with traditional academic Englishes.

Objective 2.B.2

2.B.2. The SWS program will provide professional development for faculty and undergraduate Writing Center consultants aligned with policy resolutions on linguistic diversity and students rights published by NCTE, CCCC, and AAAL.

Baseline

1 workshop in 2016

Progress

2021 Status
Substantive Progress
SWS Director redesigned the WRT 306 course to better help writing center consultants assess student writing in terms of what students are attempting to accomplish in their writing and building on that to make students more effective writers in different contexts instead of identifying problems and fixing them according to a universalized academic writing standard that has historically been deployed to devalue home discourses. SWS Director also promoted similar approaches to student writing in SWS professional development workshops and with faculty in the 2021 FLC.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
Writing Center developed and integrated a statement on linguistic inclusivity into its training of WC peer consultants. See resources at https://www.gvsu.edu/wc/linguistic-diversity-initiative-89.htm

Objective 2.B.3

2.B.3. The SWS program will provide professional development for faculty on writing to learn activities.

Baseline

0 workshops or newsletters on this topic in 2015-16

Progress

2021 Status
Minimal Progress
The SWS FLC in Fall 2021 foregrounded writing as an act of thinking and "writing to learn" activities as an integral part of SWS instruction. Faculty in the FLC worked with these concepts to imagine new ways of teaching content. The SWS Director also foregrounded activities based on writing-to-learn approaches to faculty in one-on-one consulting sessions.

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
Incoming SWS Director hosted a Q&A session at the annual FTLC Teaching Conference in Fall 2019 and discussed writing-to-learn strategies with attendees. Incoming SWS Director has also met with 3 SWS instructors one-on-one to discuss SWS instruction in their courses which has involved explicit discussion of writing-to-learn as a pedagogical approach and specific strategies for each course. UWSC feedback on CARs offer specific writing-to-learn strategies when appropriate.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 2.C.1

2.C.1. The SWS program will collaborate with GRCC in developing professional development resources.

Baseline

10 year collaboration with GRCC (Lindsay Ellis & Susan Mowers) already in place. >1 workshop influenced by collaboration

Progress

2021 Status
Not Yet Initiated
No progress was made on this project. The needs of faculty and students at GVSU under the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated focusing efforts on localized support such as online professional development workshops, helping SWS faculty construct online course materials (including videos) and facilitating the Fall 2021 FLC.

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
The incoming SWS Director became aware of this project late in Fall 2019.

Objective 2.C.2

2.C.2. The SWS director will collaborate with other universities WAC initiatives and resources.

Baseline

Director attended 1 national conference on WAC assessment in 2015.

Progress

2021 Status
Minimal Progress
The SWS Director has presented at the International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference and attended other presentations there to develop new insights into different university programs. The SWS Director presented a professional training workshop at Saginaw State University in Fall 2019 and established possible connections there. But the pandemic of 2020 has limited opportunities to build on those connections.

2019 Status
Not Yet Initiated
Incoming Director was unaware of this objective.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 2.D.1

2.D.1. The SWS program will support faculty scholarship on disciplinary rhetorical analysis.

Baseline

0 FLCs on disciplinary rhetorical analysis

Progress

2021 Status
Minimal Progress
SWS Director has made contact with multiple faculty to discuss possible collaborations on such disciplinary analysis work. This has taken the form of discussions on collaborating on research projects, on team-teaching courses, and on meeting with entire departments to help them reflect on their own disciplinary discourse. The UWSC was developing badges that rewarded faculty who implemented professional development in the form of research or research presentations to other faculty about discipline-specific writing. Changes in university policy regarding microcredentialing led to this effort being redirected toward an SWS FLC for instructors.

2019 Status
Not Yet Initiated
No progress yet.

Objective 2.D.2

2.D.2. The SWS program will support action research/faculty scholarship on effective methods of teaching writing.

Baseline

1 FLC exploring research designs to investigate teaching strategies to inhibit confirmation bias. 0 published articles

Progress

2021 Status
Minimal Progress
SWS Director has made contact with multiple faculty to discuss possible collaborations on research into teaching. One faculty member has expressed interest in collaborating on a research project about teaching writing in a specific discipline. In addition, the SWS Director has reached out to two other faculty about team-teaching courses or guest-facilitating class activities to support SWS instruction with the possibility of collaborating on a research project on teaching writing in the specific discipline. The challenges of the pandemic have put these efforts on hold at present.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
University Writing Skills Committee collaborated with English Linguistics and Writing Center to present at the Teach-In for the third time.

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 3.A.1

3.A.1. The SWS program will create an efficient and effective assessment system by aligning its assessment practices with the GenEd program.

Baseline

0% courses assessed

Progress

2021 Status
Achieved
The SWS assessment process is well established and ongoing.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
The assessment cycle for SWS courses was extended to a 4-year cycle in light of the Gen Ed extension to a 4-year cycle. The University Writing Skills Committee discussed how to assess SWS instruction in ways that attends to the discipline-specific nature of writing, empirically assesses student achievement of SWS outcomes, but maintains curricular autonomy of academic departments.

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 3.E.1

3.E.1. The SWS assessment system will build upon the existing digital platform of the GenEd program.

Baseline

Draft of rubric approved by the UWSC. No IT duplication and revision of GenEd program yet.

Progress

2021 Status
Achieved
SWS now has an assessment data entry system using SAS, similar to the GenEd system.

2018 Status
Achieved
SWS now has an assessment data entry system using SAS, similar to the GenEd system.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

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