Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Liveblogging CWPA 2009: Part 3

1:46: Heavy with lunch, we enter our afternoon session, a recap of this morning's small-group breakout sessions on various topics of concern to WPAs and other practitioners of writing (sustaining programs, organizing writing centers, organizing WAC/WI programs, and designing and directing sophomore writing courses).

1:48: Chris Warnick and Jessie Moore update everyone on sustainability and writing centers.

One issue is setting aside time for reflecting on objectives and successes.

Very poorly developed in many WPAs is the ability to say "no," and this attribute can effect program sustainability: if the precedent is set that a few people will do it all, then once those people are gone, the program may falter.

There is substantial dovetailing of both expertise and responsibility in working with other departments and programs on common writing-related goals.

1:52: The WI group (the one in which I played a part this morning) reports back. Much of our discussion focused on faculty development, achieving faculty buy-in, and managing WAC/WI programs with minimal mission, resources, and oversight. We also recognized that the bridge between first-year composition courses and more advanced disciplinary writing courses is built on the backs of writing centers and sophomore-level writing courses.

2:07: Will Banks (East Carolina University) directs his sophomore-writing group members to share their ideas.

Tony Atkins (UNC Wilmington) speaks on the idea of bringing in folks from other disciplines to teach more discipline-specific writing courses as sophomore-level offerings: not only does it help to stretch a tight budget, but it also helps to involve faculty from areas not typically involved with teaching lower-level general education courses. Moreover, it helps faculty to avoid the academic stagnation that can occur when a person teaches the same course year after year after year.

2:12: Jessie Moore returns to ask people to center themselves on some patches of common ground: (1) the issue of sustainability, (2) the encouragement of principled decision-making rather than purely logistical or fiduciary decision-making, (3) the need for physical space for meeting, planning, and reflecting, (4) the need for cross-program conversations, (5) the issue of expertise: who brings what to the conversation, and how can everyone feel and be needed?, and (6) the need for time for faculty to pursue other academic interests without feeling their lives are dedicated solely to oversight of unwieldy programs.

2:16: Our own Dee James discusses UNC Asheville's Lorena Russell's idea of instituting an "expertise barter" system by means of which area colleges and universities can effect short-term exchanges of faculty in order to more widely spread faculty expertise around the region. Jessie and Mary Alm (UNC Asheville) follow up by indicating other ways in which expertise can be exchanged.

2:24: Jessie Moore asks what CWPA can do to encourage this sort of cross-fertilization.

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