A New WAC Faculty Sourcebook for a New Academic Year

Events, From the Director, Graduate Students, Higher Education, Science Writing, Uncategorized, Undergraduate Students, Writing Across the Curriculum / Monday, September 3rd, 2018

By Bradley Hughes –

Brad Hughes is delighted to be starting his 35th year as director of the Writing Center and his 29th year as director of Writing Across the Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Greetings from a new academic year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center! We had a very busy and productive summer of 2018. The Writing Center was open for 12 weeks this summer, offering consultations, workshops, and writing groups for hundreds of undergraduate- and graduate-student writers. The summer center was staffed by a great team of tutors and led expertly by Annika Konrad, this year’s summer director. Undergraduate Writing Fellows worked with incoming students in the Summer Collegiate Experience program. A wonderful team worked on developing a new website for the Writing Center which will debut in a couple of months. Colleagues imagined and created great new workshops for our fall lineup, including one on writing and walking and one for undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities about communicating their writing accessibility needs with course instructors. Matthew Fledderjohann, Maggie Bertucci Hamper, and I developed exciting additions for our Online Writer’s Handbook, materials on, for example–

  • Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses
  • Generating Ideas for Your Paper
  • Incorporating Interview Data into Your Papers
  • Using the Chicago Style Author-Date System
  • Developing Strategic Transitions: Writing That Establishes Relationships and Connections Between Ideas

When our new website goes live, these materials will join the hundreds of pages of reference materials about academic writing that are already in our Online Writer’s Handbook. For an introduction to and an historical perspective on our Online Writing Center, you might be interested in these posts on our blog: from 2015, “The Evolution of UW-Madison’s Writing Center Online: A Wayback Look”; and from 2018, “Behind the Scenes at the UW-Madison Writing Center’s Online Writing Handbook.”

Our Newest WAC Faculty Sourcebook
The bright green cover of the 2018-20 edition of the WAC Faculty Sourcebook at UW-Madison.
The cover of the new (2018-20) c. 330-page edition of the UW-Madison WAC Faculty Sourcebook. Cover design by Kathleen Daly.

Through all of its programs, the UW-Madison Writing Center cares deeply about supporting a strong culture of writing across the university. Summer is always primetime for our Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program, which works with instructors–faculty, instructional staff, teaching assistants, and graduate students preparing to teach–all across the university. For the university’s Teaching and Learning Symposium in May, for example, the WAC program led a very successful panel–“Innovative Writing Assignments That Promote Student Engagement and Build Community–featuring two awesome WAC faculty, one from Genetics (Professor Ahna Skop) and one from Urban Planning (Professor Revel Sims) and a fabulous TA from Sociology (Alexis Dennis). The WAC program published a new issue of the WAC faculty newsletter, Time to Write, which is distributed across campus. Current and former WAC staff presented new research at the International WAC Conference at Auburn University, The WAC program led workshops and consulted at the week-long Teaching Academy Summer institute in June; in partnership with the university’s Delta program, led a half-day workshop on “Designing Writing Activities to Solve Teaching and Learning Problems in Any Science Course.” WAC staff led workshops for the Teaching Academy’s introductions to teaching and learning for new faculty and instructional staff (I-LEaP) and for new and future teaching assistants (TA-LEaP). And WAC staff consulted individually about designing writing assignments with faculty in many different departments, including the La Follette Institute for Public Policy, Global Health, Sociology, Art History, Slavic, Mathematics, Music, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, the Law School, Botany, Accounting, Counseling Psychology, Curriculum and Instruction, Social Work, and many more. . . .

Every other summer the WAC program takes on an even bigger project–we revise our c. 330-page WAC Faculty Sourcebook, called Locally Sourced. We distribute between 200-300 copies of this sourcebook each year in WAC workshops, faculty learning communities, and individual consultations. A big thanks goes to Mike Haen–the current TA assistant director of the WAC program at UW-Madison–who edited the new WAC sourcebook. And a big thanks to all of the former WAC assistant directors who edited previous editions.

What’s in this sourcebook? Lots! Advice for disciplinary faculty about teaching with writing, principles for aligning writing assignments with learning goals, foundational concepts from writing studies, information about writing-intensive requirements at our university, advice about peer review and conferencing, examples of information-literacy assignments, and advice for responding to and evaluating student writing and oral communication. But at the heart of the sourcebook are–the vast majority of it showcases–successful writing and oral-communication assignments created by faculty, instructional staff, and teaching assistants in departments across our university.

The Rhetoric of Our WAC Faculty Sourcebook
Photo of four instructors discussing draft assignments at a WAC workshop for science instructors at UW-Madison, August 8, 2018.
Faculty, staff, post-docs, and teaching assistants participating in a WAC workshop done in partnership with the Delta Program at UW-Madison, on August 8, 2018.

Every text (every thing) is, of course, rhetorical. For its audience of faculty, instructional staff, and teaching assistants, what does our WAC Faculty Sourcebook argue? I hope that it makes a number of arguments, all ones that I believe are crucial for WAC work.

First, our WAC faculty sourcebook argues that faculty in all disciplines should teach with writing. I make that argument explicitly, in a piece I wrote for our WAC Faculty Sourcebook titled “Why Should You Use Writing Assignments in Your Teaching?”

We also make that argument implicitly. The second key argument we try to make through our faculty sourcebook–as well as through our WAC faculty newsletter (Time to Write)–we want to honor some of our wonderful colleagues who use writing in such smart, innovative ways to teach the subject matter of their courses. Too rarely do we honor and celebrate excellence in teaching and learning at a research university. These great colleagues in all disciplines devote their time to designing effective writing assignments and to creating an interactive writing process for assignments and to responding to and evaluating student writing–they deserve to have that work recognized in at least some small way. And how easy it is for WAC programs to be too quiet and to struggle for attention in the complex landscape of 21st-century higher education, associating WAC programs with great teachers across their university is strategic: it cannot help but benefit the WAC program.

Four teaching assistants from writing-intensive courses--Kayci Harris from History, Harvey Long from the Information School, Angela Serrano from Sociology, and Micah Kloppenberg from Biology--participate in a panel discussion as part of WAC training for c. 70 new writing-intensive TAs from across UW-Madison on August 27 and 28, 2018.
Four TA Fellows–Kayci Harris from History, Harvey Long from the Information School, Angela Serrano from Sociology, and Micah Kloppenberg from Biology–help lead WAC training for c. 70 new writing-intensive teaching assistants from across UW-Madison, on August 27 and 28, 2018.

Third, we want to advocate for particular approaches–theoretically sound, research-supported, and experience-tested approaches–to designing effective writing activities. As Eric Miraglia and Sue McLeod explained in 1997 and the same is true today, “virtually all WAC activities are still [then, in 1997, 25 years after initial WAC faculty workshops began] designed to encourage colleagues across the disciplines to make changes in their pedagogy and to provide the tools so that these changes can be made successfully” (“Whither WAC: Interpreting the Stories/Histories of Enduring WAC Programs, WPA Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, p. 51). Most of the assignments featured in our WAC faculty sourcebook–

  • carefully align the kind of assignment with specific learning goals in a course
  • give students substantial meaning-making intellectual tasks
  • integrate instruction and process appropriate to the level of the course and to the previous experience students have with that kind of assignment
  • identify specific evaluation criteria and make those criteria part of the learning in the assignment

And fourth and finally, we believe that a locally created WAC faculty sourcebook sends a low-key but powerful message to all faculty, instructional staff, and TAs at a particular college or university–your colleagues are integrating writing activities into their teaching and their students’ learning. You can too–and you should!

A Sample of What’s New

In the new edition of the WAC Faculty Sourcebook, we’ve added c. 40 new assignments from courses across the curriculum at UW-Madison. For access to the entire Sourcebook, head to our WAC program website and in the lower right-hand corner of the home page, click on the bright green cover of the sourcebook. The following list offers a sample of what’s new in the 2018-2020 edition. I hope that you will notice the intentional variety of disciplines represented here–again, all from faculty, instructional staff, and TAs at UW-Madison–and the variety of levels, size of courses, and types of assignments. And I hope that you will see how these additions to the WAC sourcebook help make the arguments so essential to WAC that I’ve outlined above.

DisciplineProfessor, Instructional Staff Member, TAAssignment
PsychologyProfessor Joe AusterweilFor a course on cognition and society--a final project (analysis of societal or health issue) and recommendation to government officials, in a traditional paper, brochure, poster, website, or video.
HistoryProfessor Charles CohenFor an introductory history course, a series of 50-word assignments.
Communication ArtsLecturer Kathleen DalyFor a course on rhetoric and power on the Internet, a rhetorical analysis of a hashtag as it moves across a social-media platform.
Biomedical EngineeringProfessor Megan McCleanFor a course on engineering principles of molecules, cells, and tissues, a short explanation to a student who took the class last year explaining why their equation for estimating the pressure drop across a piece of cylindrical tubing is wrong and suggesting and explaining an improved equation.
Political ScienceProfessor Yoshiko HerreraFor a course on social identities, an original research project about social identities, using content analysis, surveys, or interviews, as well as library sources.
MarketingProfessor Amber EppFor a course on consumer behavior, a market segment analysis for a new product, done in stages as a group project. Includes a status report, a paper, and a presentation.
PhilosophyProfessor Steven NadlerFor an introductory philosophy course, a final paper in the form of a philosophical dialogue, about one of the topics covered in the course and two or three of the philosophers in dialogue.
EnglishTA Brandee Easter, adapted from assignments developed by Professor Caroline LevineFor an online course on mystery and crime fiction, weekly writing assignments, online discussions, and literary analysis papers.
Occupational TherapyProfessor Karla AusderauFor a graduate course on evidence-based practice, peer review questions for a systematic literature review.
Public PolicyProfessor Emilia
For a graduate course, an annotated bibliography assignment as part of a cost-benefit analysis paper.
PhysicsProfessor Justin VandenbrouckeFor an introductory course on energy, a brief article-response assignment done six times during a semester.
SlavicTAs Melissa Azari, Megan Kennedy, Zachary Rewinski and colleaguesClose reading of a passage from a Pushkin novel.
Integrative BiologyProfessor Prashant SharmaFor an advanced course on evolutionary developmental biology of animals, peer-review guidelines, revision, and rebuttal
EnglishProfessor Caroline DruschkeFor an intermediate-level course on writing rivers, a sequenced action project and rhetorical critique of applied environmental rhetoric.
Biostatistics and Medical InformaticsDr. Thomas CookFor a graduate course, an article summary of a randomized intervention trial.
Asian Languages and CulturesProfessor Charo D'EtcheverryStudent create a short poem in English about an object in the textiles collection on campus, following rules from Japanese court verse, and then respond to a classmate's poem.
Biomolecular ChemistryProfessor Angela KitaIn-class presentation about an original scientific paper, including a written mini-proposal about the published paper.
ClassicsProfessor Nandini PandeyFor a course on the Romans, a final paper about life for a particular marginalized group without Roman citizenship.
GeneticsProfessor Ahna SkopFor a senior capstone course, creating a website about a gene and a disease, based on an in-depth genomic and bioinformatic analysis.
Journalism and Mass CommunicationProfessor Lindsay PalmerFor a course on international communication, a group presentation pitching a proposal for a new global news network.
EnglishProfessor David ZimmermanStreamlining your writing curriculum in a literature course.
An Invitation

Thanks very much for reading this post! What interests you about this WAC faculty sourcebook from the University of Wisconsin-Madison? Are there other arguments that a locally focused WAC faculty sourcebook makes, arguments you would add to the ones I’ve outlined above? Does your university’s WAC program do something similar or different to showcase writing assignments and writing-intensive courses across the curriculum? Do you have any questions about this sourcebook? Suggestions for future editions? Thanks SO much for your interest.

*Featured aerial photo of Bascom Hall and Lake Mendota on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, looking west, by Jeff Miller, University Communications.

22 Replies to “A New WAC Faculty Sourcebook for a New Academic Year”

  1. I loved reading this post, Brad!

    I was absolutely thrilled to see the new version of the sourcebook when I picked up my copy last week (and I’m honored to have a couple of my assignments included alongside materials from all of these fabulous faculty and instructors!).

    While working as Assistant Director of the WAC program from 2015-2017, I carried my copy of the sourcebook around just about everywhere I went. In consultations, workshops, discussions, and trainings, I found it to be one of the most valuable resources that I could offer to faculty, instructional staff, and TAs. Why? Because the sourcebook reveals something that isn’t always made evident in other contexts, namely, that a LOT of UW-Madison faculty, instructional staff and TAs from a LOT of different disciplines are teaching with writing, and they’re doing it in a LOT of smart and creative ways.

    Although it has been over a year since I served as AD of the WAC program, I have continued to keep the Sourcebook close. I find myself returning to it quite often, not only in the context of my WAC work, but also in the context of my own teaching. And each time, I come away with new insights, refreshed motivation, and “locally-sourced” inspiration. Needless to say, I can’t wait to continue digging into the newest version of the sourcebook.

  2. Thanks, Brad, for this wonderful summary of our summer 2018 Writing Center work and a preview of the new edition of the WAC sourcebook!

    This post comes at an opportune moment as I design new assignment and redesign old ones. Although I am teaching a composition course, I am continually inspired by the many creative and critical ways instructors across disciplines teach with writing. I genuinely enjoy creating writing assignments and as WAC has taught me, I view each assignment as an argument to students that what I am asking them to do is a productive means of reaching our learning goals.

    I have also used the WAC sourcebook when educating Undergraduate Writing Fellows. When I taught English 403: Seminar in Tutoring Writing Across the Curriculum, a required seminar for new Undergraduate Writing Fellows, I hauled stacks of sourcebooks into our classroom when we discussed the debate over disciplinary versus generalist tutoring. I asked Writing Fellows to select a handful of sample assignments from the sourcebook and do some detective work about what kinds of thinking and skills they attempt to teach. Students found that in general, even across disciplines, many instructors hope that their writing assignments will teach similar kinds of thinking and skills. While Writing Fellows are sometimes intimidated by the idea of tutoring writing in a discipline they are unfamiliar with, this activity helps Writing Fellows see that while disciplinary conventions and content may vary, some of the thinking and writing skills remain the same. More than anything, though, Writing Fellows are simply AMAZED at this wonderful resource and they request to take a copy of it home with them, even if it weighs down their already-heavy backpacks.

  3. Hi Brad,

    Thanks for this post about the WAC sourcebook, which gave me a really interesting window into the culture of writing instruction across the university! As a writing center instructor who gets to see the great variety of assignment prompts that students bring in, it’s clear to me that the WAC sourcebook and WAC programming have had a profound influence on the way professors approach writing in their course design. Writing is foregrounded here as a way to learn, and it’s thanks in part to everyone who has worked on the WAC sourcebook!

    I was also really interested in your mention of Neil Simpkins’ workshop about communicating with professors about access needs. To me, this workshop seems unique because it takes an explicitly activist approach to the discussion surrounding academic writing and disability. I can’t wait to hear more about it.

    Thanks again for this post, Brad!


  4. Hi Brad (and everyone),

    Thanks so much for spreading the word about the new sourcebook. I enjoyed editing it and I hope everyone takes the time to learn about the strong culture of writing across campus–these new additions (and really everything in the sourcebook) are a great starting point for that.

    As I worked on the new edition, I was most excited about the multimodal assignments (Skop), the peer review resources (Sharma; McKinnon), and the resources for teaching online (Easter) that we added. I learned a lot from those additions and I am confident teachers across the university will find them helpful too.

    I also think readers of the new sourcebook can learn a lot about the ways they can use writing in-class (I’m thinking of Kita’s assignment you cite above). While we can encourage teachers to use writing in their classes, some will not be able to assign longer papers due to large class sizes/lecture courses. Nonetheless, I think there are countless opportunities for using low-stakes writing in the classroom, and I’m happy that we value that in the sourcebook.


  5. Thank you for writing about the latest additions to the WAC Sourcebook. and the Online Writer’s Handbook. I think the new additions to the Sourcebook especially is a testament of your argument’s effectiveness, Brad! So many faculty have joined the Writing Center’s commitment to creating a culture of writing on campus, and hopefully more will come.

    What I like about Sourcebook is not only how many professors from different disciplines feature writing assignments in their courses but also that some writing assignments mirror genres that students may write themselves in their actual profession. For example, Professor Amber Epp’s status report assignment caught my eye; writing isn’t confined to the Book Review or the Research Paper (which is what I had to write in high school and in my freshman year in college). Writing is flexible. It’s versatile. it shape shifts to meet writer’s rhetorical needs. And that can make both writing a thing do and a fun thing to teach. The Sourcebook brings the range of assignments together to really underscore this point.

    Congrats to everyone working in the UW-Madison Online Writing Center and in Writing Across the Curriculum on these new editions! I hope it’s a great year for you, the faculty and, most important, the students!

    Antonio Byrd
    2017-2018 Assistant Director of the UW-Madison Writing Center

  6. Thank you, Brad, for this post and sharing this remarkable WAC Faculty Sourcebook for those who are not at UW. It really is amazing on so many levels.

    First, in terms of writing process, I have used the sections on assignment sequencing with my colleagues here at Suffolk University (giving full credit to Brad Hughes and Rebecca Schoenike Nowacek of course!). Faculty have found it remarkably helpful.

    Moreover, the sheer range of assignments contained in this book is simply stunning. After reading about writing assignments for an English class on mystery and crime fiction, I found myself looking at an assignment from a science class that contains symbols in a formula that I didn’t even know existed! It simply reinforces one of the central messages of this book: one can strategically use writing in every discipline as a means of promoting reflection, engagement, and deeper thinking.

    Finally, reading this book makes one realize that one can always learn new ideas from others regardless of how long one has been teaching writing. The 50-word assignments in Professor Cohen’s class provides a much better model of something I have tried myself in the past. I completely agree with the premise behind this assignment: challenging students to summarize succinctly the main point of a reading (or a lecture, or a series of maps, etc.) requires them to truly grapple with the essence of that “text.” I plan on using a variation of this assignment in future classes.

    Wisconsin is so lucky to have you, Brad, as well as the many people who compiled this incredible resource. My sincere thanks for your generosity and for sharing it with the world!

    Bryan Trabold
    Associate Professor, English
    Suffolk University

  7. *scurrying off to bookmark the latest Sourcebook immediately*

    It’s so energizing to read about these latest updates to the Sourcebook. It has been invaluable for me in its various incarnations as I find ways to engage in WAC work, whether through creating workshops for faculty across campus about incorporating writing into their courses or developing our fledgling Writing Fellows program. The variety of assignments is wonderful, and the depth of the partnerships both the Sourcebook and the WAC program as a whole represent is impressive. Kudos to you, Brad, and to everyone involved!

    Rachel Azima
    Writing Center Director and Assistant Professor of Practice, English
    University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  8. “Locally Sourced”–such an apt title for this invaluable resource. Can anyone claim credit for it?

    Thank you SO much to all involved in the production of this latest version AND for making it accessible online. The productivity and generosity of those involved in the Writing Center and WAC program at UW-Madison is truly inspiring.

    And thanks, Brad, for the big-picture reminders about WAC work and the sampling of new materials in the sourcebook.

    On, [WAC at] Wisconsin!

    Dave Stock,
    Coordinator, BYU Writing Center
    Assistant Professor, English

  9. Brad–All the work done at your Writing Center and on the Sourcebook during the summer is impressive! I read your post with great interest because we don’t have a WAC program or even the signs of a university-wide WAC culture here at Iowa. The irony is that we call ourselves “the Writing University” mainly because of our creative writing programs. However, we do have a Writing Fellows Program and a multifaceted Writing Center that serves 55 departments in our liberal arts and sciences college and courses with writing in 4 other colleges within the U. So there’s potential.

    In fact, in our Center, we’ve designed a university-wide faculty survey to find out who uses writing in their courses and if so, what types of writing they use. Your post and the Sourcebook inspires me to use the survey to include the explicit message that if instructors share and upload their writing assignments, we will compile them into a sourcebook also and use it like you do–to train faculty and also to recognize and commend instructors who use writing-to-learn and learning-to-writie (professionalizing) assignments in their courses.

    Carol Severino
    Professor of Rhetoric and Director of the Writing Center
    The University of Iowa

  10. Thank you, Brad! Downloaded Locally Sourced and will be reading it riding the Broadway local. You must be exhausted, doing all of our jobs for us!

    Seriously, though–I WAS being serious! I have learned more from you, including what I’ve been doing right, what I could be doing better, and what (if we had the budget and staff) we could be doing, than I have from any other single source in the field. It helps, as it helps us all, to have extraordinary colleagues, in the Center and across the curriculum. But you demonstrate, in your rhetorical self, the principled ethos of Centers and WAC: the generosity of spirit that is not only enthusiastic about learning, but excited to share that enthusiasm with other learners.

    And you look great on a boat–

    Dennis Paoli
    Rockowitz Writing Center
    WAC Program
    Hunter College, CUNY

  11. Brad, I really enjoyed reading your updates and, as always, am so impressed by the work you and your wonderful staff are able to do. No gathering moss at the UW-Madison Writing Center and WAC Program!

    While, like others, I eagerly will download and share sections of Locally Sourced (yeah, kind of ironic that we’re using your local work in our local context), I do wonder what you might now about how your target audiences engage with this text, particularly online. Any data analytics re: downloads and page views? Any research on what engagement with the material might look like? I’m very curious, partially just to know but also as we try and figure out how much of our own material to develop as we try to cultivate a nascent WAC program.


    Neal Lerner
    Writing Center Director
    Northeastern Univ.
    Boston, MA

  12. Impressive work by you and your team, Brad! When I was serving as Director of Clemson’s Pearce Center for Professional Communication, which houses many of the university’s WAC initiatives, we used to emphasize a point you illustrate expertly here: that there is exceptional writing instruction already happening all over the university, and one of the most important things we can do is locate and promote that kind of work. That is, our job is not to proselytize or act as if our colleagues can’t teach writing without our expertise; rather, we want to add our expertise to good work that is already happening. Another point that you illustrate terrifically here: that you’ve created a robust and sustainable culture of writing at the university — so admirable!

    Michael LeMahieu
    Associate Professor of English
    Clemson University

  13. One of the (too many to count!) impressive things that stick with me about the UW-Madison WAC program is this amazing resource. I still have my physical copy from 2009-2010, when I was last working for the Writing Center as a grad student. And I requested a physical copy last year, as I was beginning to head into administration of our Composition program at University of Pittsburgh.

    Of course, the contents of the sourcebook are **amazing** and Brad and the WAC director do such wonderful work in soliciting them. But a few aspects of the framing of this content are particularly striking to me as being sheer brilliance:
    -The physical presence of the book on campus. While those of us in the UW diaspora can all download the sourcebook in the UW, the circulation of the sourcebook **as a physical copy** is so important. While digital resources are often more convenient, it’s easy to ignore them or miss them. It’s hard to miss the substantive tome of resources the sourcebook provides when it’s a physical book!
    -The explicit and implicit arguments that the book and Brad make about the importance of writing across campus. Some of the explicit arguments are reminders to those of us in the field, but they’re new information to others. And it’s wonderful to have these arguments readily available as we have to make the arguments for resources and buy-in from willing but also pinched deans and other administrators. Brad has always been exceptionally savvy about Writing Center and WAC rhetoric! The sourcebook is a physical reminder of this need and also how to respond to it.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing these resources and strategies, Brad!

    Annette Vee
    Associate Professor of English
    University of Pittsburgh

  14. Oh, Brad! When I read this post, even though I was taken aback by the new offerings and great work by all the faculty, staff, and amazing graduate students at UW-Madison, I was most moved by the consistency of the tone. It’s a tone of caring about writing and people involved in making writing happen for others. What I’m trying to express is how clear it is to me in any and every sentence (“Lots!”) that you care about writing and about helping people to care about their writing, and the writing they do with, and for, others. Everything that the other wonderful individuals (in the above comments) have said is true, and insightful, and what they said is a testament to how you have trained, and helped, and inspired so many others who have worked and learned their way through the UW-Madison Writing Center to train, and help, and inspire others with a caring message about writing.

    When I think of the work that I am trying to accomplish at my own institution, I think about all the explicit and implicit training I received, all of the learning about what to do and how to be, and I can only admit to being thankful, and that I will continue to count myself lucky, undoubtedly, as long as I can continue to make active all the administrative and mentoring lessons, and all the pedagogical and philosophical lessons, and most of all, the lessons that teach us about how writing provides us with an opportunity to show how much we care for others in and through the act of writing.

    Christopher J. Syrnyk
    Director of the Oregon Tech Honors Program
    Associate Professor, Communication

  15. I always love a good behind-the-scenes special, so I delighted in reading this post; I see it as “The Making of the WAC Sourcebook.” Some of what you recount, Brad, brought back memories of seeing past Sourcebooks come together, but I also gained a new appreciation for the scope of the project that is WAC at UW. What an amazing range of disciplines and assignments you all have assembled. What an impact this work has on student learning.

    As a WC [and now WAC] director preparing to launch a new WAC program, I appreciated the way your discussion pushed me to think about the argument a WAC program makes. As administrators, we become so used to making certain kinds of arguments quite frequently; we know what resonates with upper administration when it comes to budgets, and we have a good sense of the best points to make when urging students to visit a writing center. But being forthright about how we believe WAC will improve the experiences of our students and faculty makes an altogether different sort of argument–a compelling, local case for doing what we do.

    As always, Brad, thanks for making me think harder and smarter. And thanks too for the stack of well-worn, colorful Sourcebooks I still keep on my shelves. On Wisconsin.

    Mary Lou Odom
    Professor of English
    Director, Writing Center & Writing Across the Curriculum
    Kennesaw State University

  16. Dear Brad,

    your wonderful post has me thinking about the role a Writing Center can play as some kind of collective memory of an institution.

    As you said, great examples of teaching writing and designing meaningful writing assignments are worth being collected, shared, and remembered. And your source book is doing that in so many different ways.

    At a university, people come and go. That means we need constants otherwise we will forget the good things that have been invented, tested, evaluated by many generations of teachers and researchers.

    A source book also encourages people to think about how other disciplines shape their body of knowledge, how they work, and how they teach the essential skills of their “trade”. From my experience, there are still not so many opportunities where faculty members are enabled (and encouraged) to think “outside their box”. Your book provides its readers with incredibly many and tempting learning opportunities, I still have my paper copy and I will *never* let go of it!

    Your book may be called “locally sourced” but that is actually deceiving, because it has caused ripples in places that are far, far away from your own institution. It is a treasure trove of inspiration and should therefore be renamed as “globally used”. 🙂

    Dr. Stephanie Dreyfürst
    Academic Writing Center
    Goethe University
    Frankfurt am Main

  17. In my office here in Minneapolis, I have a poster of Bucky in front of me and a bookshelf of WAC Sourcebooks behind me, giving me the energy, inspiration, and concrete resources I need to work with student writers and those who teach with writing across my institution and throughout the state (yep, still doing the “Wisconsin Idea” in the state next door!).

    Thank you, Brad, for sharing this insightful look at the history and present day of the WAC Sourcebook. As perhaps the oldest former WAC Assistant Director chiming in on this thread (though I bet Rocco would have even more good stories to tell!), I remember the tears I shed converting an old WordPerfect version of the Sourcebook to MSWord in the mid-1990s. That memory makes it even sweeter to see how the Sourcebook grew and evolved past those early technical challenges to become the big, beautiful, and accessible resource it is today. Indeed, as many of you have noted, the Sourcebook is “locally sourced” and “globally used” and, let me add, universally loved!

    Kirsten Jamsen
    Director, Center for Writing
    University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

  18. Thanks, Brad, for another inspirational post. We’re just beginning talks of reviving our long-lost WAC program at UT-Chattanooga, and I’ll be sharing this post with my colleagues!

    Like Annette, I still have my 2009-2010 copy of the sourcebook, and I see the latest version as a model for what we can do locally! Hopefully!!

    Dr. Rik Hunter
    Director of English Graduate Studies
    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

  19. Thank you for sharing again all the wonderful things you do in your writing center, Brad. It is always so inspiring! I am especially grateful that you offer the wac sourcebook so generously online. Although I totally agree with you that having a local resource is very valuable, because it encourages faculty especially at your university, it is also very useful for as at the European University Viadrina in Germany, because it shows the variety of possible assignments. As you know, for faculty in Germany the idea of giving written assignments to students is still new. We just started a new program for faculty that allows them to take workshops on integrating and facilitating writing in their teaching and we hope that at some point we will be able to generate a local resource here, too. I am especially delighted about your text on why faculty should use writing assignments. Not only will it help us for our argumentations, but also you provided us with some hints to studies you refer to that I did not know yet. Thanks again and greetings from Germany
    Katrin Girgensohn
    Academic Director of the Writing Center
    European University Viadrina, Germany

  20. Brad, I loved reading your breakdown of the different arguments made by these locally sourced materials presented together in the WAC Sourcebook. I too have my copy sitting by my desk to refer to for inspiration, courage, and persistence as I work to bring more communication and writing assignments into courses at Waterloo using “globally used resources” and–as I learned from Brad–to highlight the excellent teaching my colleagues are already doing “locally.” Both sides of that coin matter; both are crucial for faculty.

    @Mary Lou: you’re launching a WAC program?! We’ve got to talk soon!
    @Kirsten: I laughed when I read your comment about shedding tears when converting documents. It made me recall the late-night expletives echoing down the halls of Helen C. White from my office as I tried to print pages for my team of copy editors waiting with pizza…
    @Katrin: I miss you!

    Stephanie White
    Instructional Developer, TA Training and Writing Support
    Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo

  21. Brad, thank you for this piece. I am so appreciative of your (and the entire WAC staff’s) generosity.

    I was immediately struck by the workshop about communicating accessibility needs with professors. What a brilliant idea! This got me thinking about how important it is for students to learn how to advocate for themselves effectively. Of course, that’s rhetoric at work. Rhetoric, it turns out, is not just persuasion, but also writing in a way that acknowledges and speaks to your audience’s point of view. This is, I think, one of the implicit arguments of the WAC Sourcebook.

    Reading other faculty members’ assignments (especially in fields outside my own) makes me read like a student again. I think “Wait, what is this assignment asking me to do?” One argument the Sourcebook is making is that our assignments are rhetorical. The Sourcebook reminds me that writing assignments are most effective when they attend to the point of view of the students who are completing them.

    Thank you for the ongoing opportunities to examine my own teaching practices!

    Lauren Vedal
    Instructor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
    Surrey, British Columbia

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