Professional Development

|WAC Professional Dev. Goals | Training Opps | Participation | Focus of WAC Workshops |

Inherent in the implementation of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s QEP, Enhancing WritingWrite On!  is the necessity for well-planned, practical professional development. 

A Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) program is, in essence, a faculty development program that stresses using writing as a tool for student learning, not as an assessment tool for student performance

A Writing across the Curriculum program must focus on:

  • faculty attitudes and behaviors concerning writing,
  • evaluate existing attitudes and practices, and
  • work as a change agent to help faculty implement best practices in the courses they teach. 

Faculty and staff whose program areas traditionally focus on skills not associated with writing must have opportunities to develop and practice the skills needed to integrate writing into their courses of study.  Students are not the only ones who find themselves intimidated and threatened when asked to demonstrate proficiency in putting information on paper in clear, concise, and cogent ways.

The WAC professional development program will:

  • Encourage faculty to incorporate “best practices” regarding writing,
  • Utilize the wealth of knowledge available through current faculty and staff,
  • Remove barriers to participation by all faculty and staff,
  • Promote accountability of faculty and staff, and
  • Provide incentives that will encourage and enhance positive outcomes.

Assessing needs in WAC professional development

A professional development survey was administered in October 2005. One hundred sixty-four (164) faculty and staff responded to the survey identifying the following general trends:

  • Need for broad, campus-wide participation in the professional development activities
  • Desire for campus wide standards
  • Need for departmental rubrics
  • Need for practical applications particular in the non-traditional areas
  • Desire for “expert” training; small groups, hands-on, practical
  • Emergence of several “in-house” experts who are willing to share expertise
  • Recognition of some resistance among faculty and staff.

Goal of WAC professional development

The goal of the WAC professional development program is to emphasize the importance of written communication throughout the college.  On the academic level, this will involve assigning writing in courses other than English.  As more and more faculty move through the professional development program, we hope to see informal “writing-intensive” courses evolve. 

The final effort of the WAC professional development program should accommodate, as much as possible, faculty and staff needs and interests.  By offering meaningful and substantive training and activities, faculty participation is expected to increase over the course of the QEP. 

Participation should not be mandatory.  Instead, incentives and encouragement from past participants should function to assure widespread participation.  Over the next five years, we expect representatives from all academic departments to have participated in this program.

Types of WAC training opportunities

An important component of the professional development program is that outside consultants will act primarily to establish credibility of the concept. 

On April 18, 2006, Chris Anson, director of the North Carolina State University Center for Speaking and Writing Center, presented a 3-hour workshop on the concept of writing across the curriculum and writing to learn.  This event served as a kick-off for this new campus initiative and was well attended with 133 participants. 

Dr. Anson addressed the entire college about the importance and value of improving written communication, both in classes and in the general functioning of the college.  He introduced the concept of “writing to learn” and gave numerous concrete examples of how to incorporate writing into a wide variety of curriculum courses. 

Additional workshops and training will be coordinated by the professional development coordinator and conducted by CCC and TI faculty and staff.  These workshops and trainings will take place on both campuses and will be shaped to fit the differing needs and student populations of the two campuses. 

Depending on the initial response, workshops and trainings will address the different emphasis of the two campuses.  Efforts should be made to develop multidisciplinary cohorts, and academic department chairs will encourage participation of faculty members from their areas.  In addition, faculty and staff should feel confident that this is a permanent program, and everyone will have the opportunity to participate.  As the WAC professional development program evolves, the professional development coordinator will continue to develop program components serving the needs of participants.

How participation will work

We plan to begin with a small group of faculty volunteers who want to improve or to change the ways in which they use writing in their coursesWe expect to broaden the effort to include every academic department, so that all areas of CCC and TI will be involved eventually. 

This first group of faculty who are already incorporating, or who are interested in incorporating, significant writing into their classes will remain together throughout the entire training and become our first cohort group

Once the initial group moves through the first series of workshops, this group of participants will be expected to lead subsequent workshops, act as mentors, and help develop additional professional development activities for the second wave of participants. 

Each year a new cohort group of volunteers will move through the program.  In addition to workshops for faculty, sessions also will be offered for non-academic staff on areas in which they express interest (e. g., review of grammar, techniques for writing more efficiently, etc.).

Focus of WAC workshops

  • incorporating writing into academic courses,
  • establishing grading standards for writing,
  • conducting classroom-based assessment,
  • developing rubrics for instructor use, and
  • providing a foundation for the concept of writing to learn. 

Potential topics covered in WAC workshops

Topics covered in WAC workshops may include, but will not be limited to:

  • instructional strategies,
  • writing assessment,
  • methods of organization,
  • methods for grading written work efficiently,
  • managing mechanics, and
  • integrating writing into the existing curriculum.