INTD 105 Instructors' Workshop: Recent and Future Evolution of INTD 105
A number of recent and upcoming changes at Geneseo affect INTD 105, including the new companion course INTD 188, a one-year campus-wide trial of WriteLab, increased interest in open educational resources (OER) from SUNY, and the effort to revise the general education curriculum in line with GLOBE. This workshop introduced instructors to some of these changes and solicited their reactions to them.
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Remember the Writing Learning Center. It is staffed by well-trained tutors who know the conventions and vocabulary of INTD 105. But note that it has moved to Milne 221 since last year.
Also remember to do some sort of diagnostic writing exercise in the first day(s) of the semester, to try to identify non-native English speakers who may not be ready for the writing and reading INTD 105 demands. Refer such students to Irene Belyakov-Goodman and ESL courses before the end of drop-adds.
Finally, remember the INTD 105 wiki space.
INTD 105 sections have an opportunity this fall to participate in a survey from Harvard on factors that encourage or discourage students' interest in STEM fields. It is entirely up to individual instructors whether you want to do this. Watch for email with details in the next few days. (Since the workshop, I've learned that this survey will need to be registered with Geneseo's human subjects review board; I will take care of doing that before distributing it to instructors.)
INTD 188 is a 1 credit, self-guided, online companion to INTD 105. It provides instruction in college-level writing that complements INTD 105, but without requiring additional work of INTD 105 faculty. Other motivations for it are to help first-semester students reach 30 credits in order to qualify for Excelsior scholarships, and to explore what a course designed around OER could look like. INTD 188 is a corequisite to INTD 105, so all students in INTD 105 are also in INTD 188.
Because INTD 188 is self-paced, students need to make the effort to engage with it. The effort required should be minimal however: the course is graded S/U, and students pass it by completing a modest number of assignments and quizzes. Assignments are short; the longest and most complex is a 200 word reflection on using WriteLab. Students may also retake quizzes as often as they want. Students shouldn't have to devote more than 90 - 100 minutes per week to it. Nonetheless, it would be good for INTD 105 instructors to remind students that they do need to do the work in INTD 188 (not doing it is pretty much the only way a student can fail the course).
Students access INTD 188 through Canvas, available on September 1. They can also download a PDF version of the material for reference during or after the course. There is a "Help" link in Canvas, which students should feel free to use if they get stuck. INTD 188 should be a low-stress experience, and it is far better for students to ask for help than to wrestle by themselves with things they don't understand. This link generates email to WLC tutors and/or Gillian, who will respond within 24 hours.
WriteLab is an online revision tool, which suggests possible changes to writing samples users upload to it. It does not rewrite prose for its users, but rather asks them questions about parts that it believes could be made clearer, have grammar corrected, etc.
Geneseo has a campus-wide license to WriteLab for the 2017-18 academic year. In order to take advantage of this license, users must access WriteLab through links from Canvas. Every Canvas course has been given such a link, although it is disabled by default. Please enable it for all of your courses to help students find WriteLab – even if you aren't using it, your Canvas presence may be the easiest way for your students to find it for other courses. To enable this link:
- Click on "Settings" at the bottom of your course's navigation menu
- Click on the "Navigation" tab on the resulting page
- Find WriteLab in the bottom section of the navigation list, and click on "+Enable" in the gear drop-down menu.
One cool use of WriteLab is in peer editing – students can share their WriteLab documents with other students or their instructor, so WriteLab questions and suggestions can become a framework for discussion during peer editing. Similarly, they can be a starting point for student-faculty discussion.
"OER" colloquially means course materials that are free or low-cost to students. More formally, it refers to course materials that have licenses that allow free reuse, adaptation, and redistribution by other instructors.
SUNY is strongly encouraging adoption of OER, including $4 million for OER adoption as part of the Excelsior scholarship program. Geneseo is using its share of this money to pay faculty to incorporate OER into their own courses. Of particular note for INTD 105 instructors, adoption of OER for spring 2018 offerings can be covered. Contact Ben Rawlins, director of Milne Library, for more details.
To learn more about OER, talk to Alexis Clifton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Developments in Milne Library
Sherry Larson-Rhodes ran through a series of news items related to Milne Library and INTD 105, including findings from their student success project on the connections between use of library resources and later academic success, a framework for library instruction, changes to Milne's web site, and changes in research consulting hours. Also note that Brandon West will ask your students to participate in a "HEDS Research Practices Survey"; please encourage them to do so. Click here for complete slides of Sherry's presentation. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Writing in INTD 105 and Writing in the Disciplines
The central question in this part of the workshop was can or should writing-intensive courses in majors, the HUMN courses, etc. refer back to what students learn in INTD 105? There was a sense that perhaps in limited ways, with suitable prompting to students to remember INTD 105, they can. However, barriers to this working well include the fact that INTD 105 instructors come predominantly from the humanities and social sciences, meaning that other parts of the college aren't very aware of what INTD 105 does, and inconsistency between INTD 105 sections. Perhaps it would help if some INTD 105 sections consciously used the writing conventions of specific disciplines or groups of disciplines. On the positive side, parts of They Say, I Say are helpful in connecting INTD 105 to later writing, for example the metaphor of writing as conversation, the chapters on writing in the disciplines, and the templates when viewed as models for thinking, not just for writing.
General Education Revision
Geneseo is embarking on a massive revision of its general education curriculum, led by the Curriculum Design Working Group (CDWG). In what ways does INTD 105, and the things it tries to accomplish, fit in this revision?
A small first-year seminar course can play a big part in building students' sense of community at college. Such a course can also help students understand what higher education is about and what it expects of them, encourage them to reflect on their educational goals, etc., quite apart from whether it is writing-intensive or not (although some of these goals might naturally involve reflective writing).
Introducing students early to habits of rigorous thinking and academic conversation is important, perhaps more so than whether that thinking is expressed in the conventions of standard academic argument. This is related to, but not the same as, academic writing. Perhaps a first-year seminar focused on "ACT" (Academic Conversation and Thinking, with "conversation" broadly interpreted as verbal, written, online, etc.) about big ideas more than on writing would be good. It could be complemented by something focused on writing, perhaps evolved from INTD 188. An ACT course could introduce students to some general kinds of "conversation," e.g., close analysis of an idea, summary of another's argument, etc. without being specific to a single discipline or area.
Any first-year ACT course should be followed by one in the sophomore or junior year, perhaps in conjunction with majors.
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