Monday, July 23, 2012

Learn and Earn!

This fall, SNL Writing Coordinator Michelle Navarre Cleary will be offering two sections of a six-module, online professional development course for SNL faculty on using writing for teaching and learning in your classes. Below you can find a brief syllabus for the course.

Participants who successfully complete the course will earn a certification of completion and a $500 stipend.

Enrollment in each section is limited to 15. If you would like to reserve a place in the course, please send an email to

School for New Learning
DePaul University
Fall 2012

Because You are Not a Writing Teacher: A Professional Development Course for SNL Faculty
Michelle Navarre Cleary, PhD
School for New Learning
Assistant Professor & Writing Coordinator
E-mail: (best way to reach me)
Phone: 312-362-7301
Skype: michelle.navarre
Office: Room 1423, 14 East Jackson

Course Location:  Online

Section One: 9/17/12 – 10/28/12
Section Two: 11/26/12 – 12/16/12 (intensive 3-week version)

Course Description:
This six-module course will give you practical ideas and coaching on how to make the most of writing as a tool for teaching and learning in SNL’s writing-intensive program. 
You will learn about short in-class writing assignments that allow you to set up discussions and to get quick feedback on what students are learning. You will learn how to develop assignments and provide feedback on student writing that enhances student learning and decreases your frustration and time spent on student writing. You will have the opportunity to share ideas with each other, get feedback on your current writing assignments and ways of giving feedback and create new assignments. Finally, you will learn about additional resources at DePaul to help you continue to develop your teaching.

About the Instructor:
I am an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of Writing at DePaul University's School for New Learning. I received my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Theory from Northwestern University and taught reading, literature and writing classes at Olive-Harvey College before coming to DePaul. I have published scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals including Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy and WPA: Writing Program Administration. My current research is motivated by two questions: How do adult students develop as writers when they return to school? How can the teaching of writing to adult students be improved? To learn more, see

Required Text (will be provided free to participants):
Gottschlak, Katherine and Keith Hjortshoj. The Elements of Teaching Writing: A Resource for Instructors in All Disciplines. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004.
Additional selected readings which will be available on E-Reserve or online

All assignments and discussions in this course will be marked complete or incomplete at the end of each module. There are 13 discussions and 3 assignments in the course, and all must be completed to earn the course completion certificate and $500 stipend.

Course Schedule:

Module One
“Why can’t they write?” and other perennial questions about student writers
  • Have an overview of research findings that address common questions about and frustrations with student writing
  • Understand how this course will answer questions and give teachers in a variety of disciplines strategies for working with student writing in their courses
  • Try low-stakes writing assignments
  • “Introduction” (pages 1-11) in The Elements of Teaching Writing: A Resource for Instructors in All Disciplines
  • Write or Die (
  • Discussion 1.1: Introductions and Being a Beginner
  • Discussion 1.2: Experiencing Freewriting and Responding to the Readings
  • Assignment 1.1: Muddiest Point

Module Two
Using Writing for Teaching and Learning
·         Examine assumptions about having to choose between teaching content and teaching writing
·         Understand what low-stakes writing is and why it is useful
  •   Identify at least two low-stakes writing assignments that you can use   in a course

  • Discussion 2.1: Writing vs. Content
  • Discussion 2.2: Low-stakes Writing

Module Three
Course Design and Assignment Sequencing
·         Identify writing assignments that are aligned with course learning goals
  • Sequence writing assignments to support student learning
  • “The Complexity of Research Writing: What Teachers Should Appreciate About Students’ Difficulties with Term Papers” from John C. Bean’s Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom
  • Chapter 7 in The Elements
  • View “Alternatives to Term Papers” ( from Lawrence University.
  • Read pages 40-46 in The Elements
  • Discussion 3.1: Identifying course learning goals
  • Discussion 3.2: Research papers
  • Discussion 3.3: Sequencing assignments

Module Four
Assignment Design


  • Evaluate what students need to know to complete an assignment and can provide scaffolding when necessary
  • Design or redesign assignments that target desired learning and set students up for success
  • Use revision to support student learning
  • Pages 29-40 in The Elements
  • Pages 62-72 in The Elements
  • Assignment 4.1: Drafting an Assignment
  • Discussion 4.1: Peer Revising Draft Assignments
  • Discussion 4.2: Assigning Revision

Module Five
Feedback that Support Student Learning (and Does Not Take All of Your Time)
  • Understand the importance of feedback for student learning and have a variety of strategies for providing feedback
  • Understand why editing student papers helps no one and have strategies for responding to student papers with many errors
  • Provide feedback on student papers that promotes learning
  • View “Beyond the Red Ink: Students Talk about Teachers’ Comments”
  • Chapter 3 in The Elements
  • Chapter 6 in The Elements
  • Pages 72-75 on “Methods for Structuring Peer Revision” in The Elements
  • Discussion 5.1: Response to the Readings
  • Discussion 5.2: Practicing
  • Discussion 5.3:  Your Feedback Plan

Module 6
What’s next?
·         Know about resources available for continuing to learn about working with student writing
  • Have a plan for continuing to experiment with using writing for teaching and learning
  • Discussion 6.1: Your Plan
  • Assignment 6.1: Making a Date

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Advanced Project and Research Seminar Proposals Posted on SNL Writing Guide

Do you have students working on Advanced Project or Research Seminar proposals? If so, the SNL Writing Website,, has been updated with new AP and Research Seminar sample proposals, projects and papers. All of the newly posted items were 2011 – 2012 Student Excellence award winners.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New 5-week Course available in the Fall (A5X, A2X, and FX competencies available)

WriteNow: National Novel Writing Month
Course Description: November has been designated National Novel Writing Month, and over 200,000 participants each year challenge themselves to write a book-length project during this month. As part of this 5-week course, SNL students are invited to earn competence by accepting a similar challenge: Anne Lamott said that the most important ingredient for writing is the act of “sitting.” During five weeks in October/November, students will focus on this seemingly simple act of the creative process. The focus of the course is on the generation of written material – the quantity rather than the quality. As such, students choose their own fiction or nonfiction writing topic(s) and project for these five weeks, and may use the material they create in a later effort (ILP, AP, etc.) To kick off one session, a group of professional writer panelists will reflect on their own creative processes as they have developed their latest works.

Dates/Time:     LATE START Fall 2012 Quarter
                        Class meets Wednesdays in the Loop 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7

Credit Hours:  2

Students must choose one competence only: A5, A2X, FX

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2011 - 2012 SNL Writing Program Accomplishments

1. Writing Faculty Development: We completed eight course evaluations, held two writing faculty development workshops, and continue to use and refine our process for evaluating the Writing Workshop portfolios and course yearly. In addition, we have begun additional work on writing faculty development through a) participation for writing faculty in the Melissa Peet workshop and follow-up, b) review and revisions of AWA syllabi, and c) by using the AWA TLA portfolio grant to see where we have opportunities to improve teaching effectiveness.

2. Curriculum Revision: We consulted with BACA throughout the development of the curriculum and look forward to more collaboration on the implementation of the curriculum revision.

3. E-portfolios and Portfolio Assessment: We are now requiring final portfolios in both writing courses (Academic Writing for Adults and Writing Workshop). Seven writing teachers participated in Melissa Peet's workshop on ePortfolio pedagogy, helping us to lay the groundwork with first adopters for moving all of the writing faculty to e-portfolios. A TLA grant allowed us to develop our understanding of best practices for assessing portfolios in general as well as our criteria for assessing AWA in particular. We have begun incorporating what we learned from this portfolio review into our planning for faculty development, course improvement and portfolio review in 2012-2013. In addition, we contributed as members of the SNL team to DePaul’s successful application to join the International E-Portfolio Cohort. We anticipate that our work with this cohort will allow us to extend our learning on how to best use ePortfolios to support student and teacher learning and curriculum improvement.

4. Hybrids: This year, we engaged part-time faculty to learn their ideas about hybrids, developed a template for the writing course hybrids with input from SNLonline, and got buy-in for our hybrid plan from campus directors. We are scheduled to pilot these hybrids in selected classes during the 2012-2013 school year. As we pilot the hybrids, we will tweak the template as necessary and develop training materials for teachers. We anticipate that the new hybrids will improve instruction in all writing courses by providing writing faculty with a rich resource for assignments and teaching ideas. In addition, by standardizing the writing course hybrids and providing faculty development on how to teach the hybrids, we will improve the quality of the hybrid writing courses.

5. Cohort project: We have been collecting data on the cohort project through Summer 2012. We will analyze this data and report our findings in 2012-2013. However, we believe that we may have too little data to draw any firm conclusions because of the ways students moved in and out of the cohort and the challenge of getting enough responses to our surveys.

6. Writing Center and Writing Fellows: We successfully worked with the University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL) to expand their Writing Fellows program to online classes. We have continued to promote the use of Writing Fellows, with at least 4 full-time faculty members using them for the first time this year. Due to ongoing communication and coordination, we also saw a much smoother integration of Writing Center initiatives (such as AP and ILP workshops) designed to support SNL students this year. Tutors now regularly provide support at quarterly Incomplete Boot Camps (which also cater to students working on ILPs and APs). In addition, SNL writing faculty, administration, and IDs met with two Writing Center tutors in Winter 2012 to design the first online writing group. It was scheduled to pilot in Spring 2012, but will pilot in Fall 2012 instead because of issues with D2L’s Blackboard Connect. We have advocated for and received additional support from the Writing Center at the Oak Forest Campus. We continue to advocate for online writing groups, online tutor training course, online fellows, and targeted support at suburban campuses.

7. Other faculty development: We led a three-day workshop on using writing for active learning at Tangaza College. We presented on writing anxiety and adult students at the Spring 2012 faculty professional development meeting. And, we began building a 6-module online professional development course for SNL faculty.

 8. Additional curriculum development: Katie Wozniak developed a Professional Writing course for the DCM program and is currently revising it to add competencies so that it will work for BA-99 students also. Katie Wozniak supported part-time faculty member Jane Wagoner in developing a six-credit Academic Writing plus literature course option. Steffanie Triller and popular educator Janise Hurtig continued to provided leadership for the six-credit Academic Writing for Adults and community-based writing course they developed. Steffanie Triller also team-taught the LifeLong Learning cohort with Pat Ryan this year to see if ongoing, direct writing instruction would help students be less anxious and more successful at SNL.

9. Placement and Admissions: We have developed a proposal to move to a directed self-placement process and are currently piloting elements of this process. We currently provide accurate placement and supportive comments to all LAS students submitting WPEs, return all WPEs within four business days and expedite communication process with instructors. We track and analyze data on the placement process to monitor and improve it. In addition, we have begun to track individual students who we believe may be at risk. We respond to AEC second reads, communicate and share data with the admissions team as necessary and work with others (i.e. LAS, Advising) to ensure a smooth process.

10. Promoting and sharing information about writing across the curriculum: Between 9/1/11 and 6/12/12, the SNL writing website had 6,782 visitors from 10 countries, with 6,394 from the US and 40 from Kenya. With the help of our administrative assistant, we have been able to make the SNL Writing News blog (for faculty and staff) and the SNL Writing blog (for students) richer sources of information about writing in general and writing at SNL in particular.

11. Completed research that both informs and raises the profile of the SNL program:

• Michelle Navarre Cleary gave one peer-reviewed conference presentation, published two articles, and had one book chapter accepted based upon her research and work on adult students and writing anxiety, the Writing Workshop course, and writing program administration at SNL.
• Under the leadership of Katie Wozniak, we completed the DePaul TLA grant on portfolio assessment for AWA course, and joined other DePaul programs in successfully applying to join the International ePortfolio Cohort.
• Katie Wozniak gave two peer-reviewed conference talks and two peer-reviewed poster presentations based on her research and work on ePortfolios and on ePortfolios and service learning at SNL.
 • Steffanie Triller gave one peer-reviewed conference talk and one peer-reviewed poster presentation based on her research and work on placed-based writing and community engagement in writing courses at SNL.

Writing Anxiety and Adult Students

The following excerpt from "Anxiety and the Newly Returned Adult Student," which appeared in Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC) 39.4 (2012): 364-376, is based upon a study of SNL students:

It’s a challenge, especially the writing. Pretty much just getting back into it. — Jessica

Yeah, I had mouth sores. — Sam

Jessica and Sam were two of twenty-five newly returned adult students whom I spent over sixty hours interviewing in the fall of 2008. Twenty-three of these students expressed significant anxiety about writing for school. Like Sam, some had anxiety so intense it produced physical symptoms like mouth sores and muscle spasms. The main sources of their anxiety were not knowing what to write because they had a hard time imagining the university and not knowing if they were writing well enough because they had a hard time imagining themselves in the university. As David Bartholomae has pointed out, “every time a student sits down to write for us, he has to invent the university for the occasion” (60). Because adult students are less likely to have the academic currency and cultural capital of their younger peers, inventing the university can be particularly challenging. As Sam put it, “I don’t fit in here; I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” Focusing on Jessica and Sam, this essay shows the sometimes unexpected ways in which teaching decisions did and did not reduce students’ writing anxiety.

. . .

Sam’s and Jessica’s unique histories shaped their responses to their learning in fall 2008 in ways that sometimes challenged expectations. For Sam, writing about prior learning, but not being able to use prior learning methods, only increased her anxiety and made new learning more difficult. For Jessica, positive feedback successfully reduced her anxiety and enabled learning. Although incoming adults have higher anxiety than younger students, research indicates that adults improve their writing more quickly than younger students (Krause, “Supporting” 209), and adults who persist have no more writing anxiety than younger students (Elias 40–41). The risk is that returning students give up before they gain confidence in their writing. Sam’s and Jessica’s experiences suggest that more adults could be retained through their first year if they received writing instruction that responded to their individual needs. As Mary Kay Morrison says, “What it all comes down to is a willingness to be flexible and individualized in our approach” (32).

The rest of the article is available for download at:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Writing Bootcamp - Wednesday, July 25th

The School for New Learning and The University Center for Writing Based Learning are offering an upcoming Writing Bootcamp to help students get assignments finished!

Do you have students or advisees with incomplete grades, or a final project that is dragging on?

Encourage them to attend the upcoming faculty led session to complete missing assignments, ILP or AP on July 25th. This program is designed for SNL students who currently have an incomplete grade on their transcript or students working on writing assignments. Sessions are set up to increase the likelihood students will complete necessary courses to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Sessions offer a supportive academic environment, writing assistance, and help with library services so that students can get assignments completed.

Session Date: Wednesday, July 25, 5:30pm-9:00pm
Session Location: Loop Campus, Daley Building 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 1325 Chicago, IL


Please send students the below information if they would like to attend:

To Register: Email your name, DePaul ID# and the incomplete course title(s) you wish to work on to at least 3 days prior to your desired sessions (messages to this email are reviewed by DePaul / SNL college faculty and staff only)

Items to Bring to Session(s): Please bring a flash drive, your copy of the incomplete contract, all prior assignment preparation, including research material, assignment instructions, and assignment writing format (APA/MLA). Please let your faculty mentor know you plan to attend.

SNL Writing Showcase winner, Kristine Shultz, discusses her writing process

SNL student Kristine Shultz, was one of this year's winners of the annual SNL Writing Showcase. SNL Writing invited her to guest blog about some of her “aha moments,” struggles, and tips and tricks for writing at SNL below.

As could be expected, I refined my process of writing as I progressed through my classes at DePaul. For my purposes, I separate writing methods and products into two categories: Narrative and Academic. In either method I use the technology available to my best advantage. Search, language options, and cut/paste functions are my best friends and I use them liberally. In stark contrast to the technology available at the stroke of a key or click of a mouse, it never fails to amaze me that the structural rules I learned writing fourth grade themes form the solid basis for all my writing.

When writing a narrative piece I find myself working in a free form style, jotting notes on scraps of paper for future development, creating outlines to be revised and filled in. Because narrative writing draws almost exclusively from my imagination and memory, I find that I hop from one thought to another and back again. I can often compose a piece from start to finish in one sitting but have embraced the value of re-reading it the next day with a fresh eye. The process of gathering the bits of my narrative has a dream like quality. The process of knitting these pieces together into smooth coherence requires careful editing, ordering and transitions. My process for writing academic papers incorporates all the elements of narrative writing with the very important addition of using a spreadsheet.

Early in my experience at DePaul, my academic writing skills took a huge leap in Applied Research. I read about and employed an extremely valuable method using excel spreadsheets to record concepts and quotes as I read journal articles. I recorded all pertinent information: title, author, page number, etc. and created citations for each source. As I moved through my outline, I replaced the tedious and time consuming method of paging through hard copies of articles for highlights or margin notes by electronically searching my file for a concept or key word. At this point, my academic writing was far more easily done, my citations were more accurately documented and creating my source page was reduced to a minute’s long process of copying, pasting and sorting alphabetically. I cannot recommend this method enthusiastically enough.

 If I am limited to offering only one suggestion to undergrads regarding writing, it is to avoid turning in assignments at 2:00 a.m. no matter how confident you are in your final product. The few hours between your completion and when you awaken the following day all too often reveal errors in grammar, obvious duplications or worse. Like many undergrads, I learned this lesson the hard way.

When I attended my first information session in Naperville to learn about the DePaul School for New Learning, I vividly recall the session leader declaring “This is a writing intensive program”. I also recall my reaction. I steeled myself and thought “…well, if that’s what it takes I’ll take my best swing”. Although I was intimidated, I saw it as a challenge to be faced with strength and tenacity. I dare say I met this challenge and emerged the victor.

To read Kristine's winning showcase entry, please visit: