Writing Across Disciplines – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Writing Across Disciplines

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides a variety of programs and resources both to promote the love of learning and encourage student engagement, and this past semester was no different.

In an effort to enhance writing across the curriculum and in the disciplines, CTL writing fellows embarked on a research project to create a series of disciplinary-specific resources that address common writing concerns and conventions.  

Writing fellows are trained peer facilitators who help students develop their writing processes by asking facilitative questions and providing feedback during one-on-one or small group meetings.  Through this collaborative process, writing fellows help students become more confident, conscientious and effective writers.

“The project stems from conversations with faculty about discipline specific writing conventions, writing fellows’ observations when working with students on writing, and usage patterns of students utilizing writing fellows to further develop their writing skills,” says Coordinator of Writing Initiatives Caitlin Caron ’08, MAT ’10.

Writing fellows focused on developing resources for economics and philosophy courses based on usage in the CTL.  The project took on multiple steps, from identifying core writing issues based on their work with students, to interviewing faculty to further understand how these core issues inform writing at HWS. The end result is a comprehensive resource to share with students and faculty, which also supports the ongoing work of the writing fellows.

“The goal of the project was to engage faculty in discussions about writing in different disciplines, provide writing fellows with professional development, build collaboration with faculty to produce resources, and to support students writing in those disciplines,” says Susan M. Pliner, associate dean for teaching, learning, and assessment.

Meghan Gaucher ’14, a political science major and writing fellow, says the project has been a successful way to differentiate writing styles and structures in different departments, thus making her job easier when it comes to subjects she’s unfamiliar with.

“I feel more confident with my skills as a writing fellow, especially when working with economics and philosophy majors- subjects I haven’t even touched outside of introductory classes,” says Gaucher. “I have felt the meetings are more productive and efficient when the student does not have to explain to me what the professor wants or how they wrote their paper; I am able to draw information from my own research and interviews with faculty.”

The photo above features Director Susan Pliner meeting with teaching fellows.