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INTD 105 Instructors' Workshop: WLC, Research, INTD 106

This workshop took stock of changes to INTD 105 both in the recent past and in the near future. In particular, we heard how the research assignment has worked since it became a required part of the course, and about how INTD 106 is developing as a companion to 105. We also heard from Writing Learning Center tutors about how they support INTD 105.


Some announcements and reminders...

    • WriteLab is no longer available at Geneseo.
    • They Say, I Say is now in its 4th edition; Gillian Paku has some desk copies for instructors who are using it.
    • Remember that the Writing Learning Center is available and helpful to INTD 105 students (more on this below).
    • The INTD 105 wiki space ( is another helpful resource for instructors.
    • Remember to do a diagnostic writing exercise (i.e., a short writing exercise to expose difficulties with English that would be a barrier to writing in it) during the first week to help non-native English speakers figure out if they should be in INTD 105 or in an ESoL course. They have the option of postponing INTD 105 until their second year if they need to build English proficiency. Contact Irene Belyakov-Goodman for more information on this or ESoL in general.
    • See Milne Library's INTD 105 Research Skills Instruction web page for the kinds of skills the (required) research instruction sessions can help your students develop. This page also has a link to the form for requesting library instruction.

Writing Learning Center

Two Clio Lieberman and Abby Ritz, both tutors in the Writing Learning Center tutors presented , talked in detail about how the WLC works with students and what they provide. See the WLC web page for additional information.

Students schedule appointments through the WLC web page. Ideally they schedule multiple appointments over the course of writing a single paper, so the WLC can work with them throughout the process of identifying and refining ideas.

During a typical appointment, tutors will read over a student's work and then discuss the student's questions or offer advice of their own. They typically focus, more or less in this order, on...

  • Thematic issues, e.g., is there a clear thesis
  • Organization
  • Mechanics

Tutors are sensitive to the fine line between advising students and writing their papers for them. They definitely do not write papers. They will try to guide students towards content that seems to be missing, although more in the form of suggesting sources the student might look at and leaving it to the student to see the relevance than in the form of directly telling students they should include certain things.

The WLC has some tutors specifically trained to work with non-native English speakers. Sessions with these tutors may, for example, spend more time on mechanics of English than sessions geared to native speakers do.

Instructors can help the WLC in a number of ways, including...

  • Giving clear assignments and making them and any supporting material available on Canvas. Rubrics are particularly helpful. Tutors read these things in figuring out what advice to offer.
  • Encouraging students to go to the WLC as early as the brainstorming phase of writing.
  • Pointing out the WLC during library visits.

The WLC can help with writing-intensive classes in other ways too, for example sending a tutor to help with peer review sessions during class meetings. Talk to Gillian Paku about ideas you might have.

Research Assignments

Jun Okada and Michael Masci briefly described research assignments they use and some of their goals in those assignments, while Sherry Larson-Rhodes talked about how the library can help with research assignments. General discussion followed.

Okada. The research paper is the last assignment, and is coordinated with the library instruction session. The general goal is for students to find out what other people say about a certain film, and then to provide their own thoughts.

Masci. The research paper is the culmination of a series of writing assignments that progress from short and concentrating on the "they say" aspect of writing, to longer papers that combine "they say" and "I say," to the research paper which should provide some analysis of a scholarly work. The research paper is the longest, typically 7 to 10 pages. However, students have trouble dealing with the length of the paper and finding a scholarly work that they can understand and meaningfully analyze. To deal with these problems, particularly the first, Michael is exploring ways of getting students to think about purposes in writing (e.g., this paragraph introduces so-and-so's ideas, this paragraph summarizes such-and-such an argument, etc.) and to develop outlines that focus on those purposes. In this way, students can (he hopes) come to see long writing as decomposable into multiple short writings and to identify places where they need additional information, i.e., where research plays a purposeful role.

Larson-Rhodes. Instructional librarians can be "consultants" to faculty as they develop their research assignments. The clearer the requirements of a research assignment are the better, especially when students may seek individual research consultations with librarians as well as using what they learn in the library instruction session(s).

Discussion. It can be hard for INTD 105 students to find scholarly articles that they can understand, and indeed that may be a more appropriate expectation within a major than in a first-year general education course. It's even harder for INTD 105 students to find scholarly articles that they can meaningfully use in their own writing. But it's not as hard for students to find credible but not necessarily scholarly sources that provide "they say" input for a paper. Instructors who want students to read scholarly articles may find it helpful to devote a day of class to how to read such works.

Students also don't necessarily understand the difference between a research question and a thesis statement. Library research is usually more productive for exploring a research question and forming a thesis from it than for justifying an already-formed thesis. Librarians are good people to enlist in helping students make these distinctions.

INTD 106

(INTD 106 is the official number for the now-approved-as-permanent course once known as INTD 188.)

INTD 105 instructors can see what's in INTD 106 through the "INTD 188 Test Course: Conventions of College Writing" on Canvas. All INTD 105 instructors, and all WLC tutors, are "teachers" for that course as far as Canvas is concerned, which gives them access to all its components at any time (regular students may have to wait for things to open or complete prerequisites before seeing some parts). INTD 105 instructors can also add their TAs to this course. Note that first-year students are enrolled in a different Canvas course with the same content, which spares all of us teachers from getting all the notifications and emails the real students would generate.

WLC tutors are familiar with INTD 106, and have in fact worked through it. It's thus entirely appropriate for INTD 105 instructors who get questions about 106 to simply refer students to the WLC. But of course INTD 105 instructors who want to answer students' questions about INTD 106 content and feel able to may.

Notice that INTD 106 has a few deadlines. To the extent it's feasible, put these deadlines on INTD 105 syllabi to help students remember them.