WAC Featured at 2022 Teaching Academy Winter Retreat

The Writing Across the Curriculum program is proud to have been featured in the 2022 Teaching Academy Winter Retreat on Friday, February 4. The event drew over 100 UW-Madison faculty, staff, and graduate students together in community over Zoom, where all engaged in lively dialogue on the topics of fostering belonging and equitable assessment

Three presentation slides stacked vertically. Title slide reads: "Student Belonging and Assessment (with writing!): Some insights and best practices from Writing Across the Curriculum." Second slide reads: "Already teach with writing assignments? Be sure to provide feedback on student drafts! Fosters belonging by: Strengthening connection and communication between instructors and students; demystifying expert ways of thinking, writing, and researching; Promoting growth mindset about writing. Examples for how to do this: Prioritize global concerns (e.g. the student's ideas) over local ones (e.g. grammar); Rose, Bud, Thorn: Write each student a short message identifying something that is going well with the draft (rose), something that has potential (bud), and something that needs work (thorn)." Third slide reads: "Don't usually teach with writing? Consider incorporating low-stakes writing activities! Fosters belonging by: Helping develop sense of connection between faculty and students and between peers; offering learners multiple ways to succeed; deepening student learning and engagement with course content; motivating students to prepare for class; leading to more dynamic and engaged class discussions. Examples: write-pair-share; muddiest point (what confused you); class blog post; persona piece; write-in (collaborative writing activity in or outside of class); question box (short Google form); discussion posts on Canvas (use sparingly)"

Drs. Emily Hall (WAC Co-Director) and Angela Zito (WAC Associate Director) joined colleagues from across university programs in the Retreat Q&A panel. To help launch the conversation, Hall and Zito shared two research-based assessment practices that can help foster a sense of belonging among students: using low-stakes writing activities as formative assessments, and providing targeted feedback on student writing. (You can learn more about both these practices in the WAC Online Writing Toolkit and Faculty Sourcebook.) They also shared personal experiences in teaching and assessing writing in the classroom, from co-creating rubrics with students to experimenting with different forms of labor-based contract grading.

One attendee of the Winter Retreat later shared that they “appreciated the conversation around rubrics […] and being extra mindful about how the how of assessing things can get in the way of what we’re actually looking for.” Others reflected specifically on the role that writing and writing assessment can play in fostering belonging. Considering what might change in their current teaching practices, one attendee said they will be “adding more scaffolding and self-reflection (ungraded)” throughout the semester, and another said “I am going to give more thought to having short writing assignments.” 

The WAC program is eager to collaborate with you as you consider incorporating writing assignments and activities into your courses, or as you reconsider your writing assessment practices. Click here to request a consultation with a member of our team!