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General Education Writing Across The Curriculum Retreat Session II: The State of Writing at UNLV: Preliminary Findings October 6, 2006

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Title: General Education Writing Across The Curriculum Retreat Session II: The State of Writing at UNLV: Preliminary Findings October 6, 2006


1
General EducationWriting Across The Curriculum
RetreatSession II The State of Writing at
UNLV Preliminary FindingsOctober 6, 2006
2
Goals for the Session
  • Describe preliminary findings from the Review of
    Undergraduate Writing
  • Discuss as a group possible conclusions that we
    might draw from the preliminary findings
  • Begin to explore the following questions
  • What are we currently doing about
    writing/communication at UNLV?
  • What else do we need to do about
    writing/communication at UNLV?

3
State of Writing at UNLV
  • Review of Undergraduate Writing
  • Current writing requirements and practices
  • Current quality of undergraduate writing
    abilities
  • Faculty and student attitudes about writing
  • State of other modes of communication (speaking,
    visual, digital)
  • Produce Report--end of Spring 2007 semester

4
Sources of Data
  • First-Year Composition Program
  • Department Chair Survey
  • Writing Center/Teaching and Learning Center
  • College/Department/Program Assessment Data
  • Employers in Las Vegas
  • National Survey of Student Engagement
  • Graduate Exams (GMAT)

5
First-Year Composition Program
  • Source Fall 2005 Assessment Report
  • Employed Collegiate Assessment of Academic
    Proficiency exam by ACT
  • 72-Question multiple-choice writing skills test
  • Essay test (two 20-minute writing tasks)
  • 32-Question multiple-choice critical thinking
    test

6
First-Year Composition Program
  • Measured six outcomes associated with
    college-level writing
  • Focus on purpose
  • Respond to needs of audiences and to different
    kinds of rhetorical situations
  • Organize ideas for clarity and effectiveness
  • Adopt an appropriate voice, tone, and level of
    formality
  • Implement strategies of argument, and analyze
    and evaluate reasons and evidence
  • Control surface features such as syntax, grammar,
    and punctuation

7
First-Year Composition Program
  • Students scored satisfactory, averaging 1-3
    above or below the national means in 5 of the 6
    outcomes
  • Differences of less than 5 considered negligible
    deviation, 5-10 moderate deviation, and greater
    than 10 substantial
  • The outcome that students scored below was,
    actually, a subcategory Basic grammar and Usage
    scored 6 below the national mean
  • First-Year Composition can only tell us about the
    state of writing at the freshman level.

8
Department Chair Survey
  • Source Survey distributed by the WAC Steering
    Committee
  • Six questions about writing in the department
  • Writing requirements
  • Amount and kind of writing
  • Majors quality of writing
  • Faculty attitude
  • Feedback from outside constituents
  • Additional comments
  • Completed surveys from eight departments

9
Department Chair Survey
  • Initial observations from the surveys submitted
  • Currently no writing requirements, although most
    teachers willingly assign writing
  • Variety of discipline-specific kinds of writing
    assigned, although majority are research
    papers/reports/essays
  • Page requirements average 6-15 pp course per
    semester
  • No real revision opportunities offered
  • Very few oral assignments listed/described

10
Department Chair Survey
  • Initial observations from the surveys submitted
  • No concrete findings about quality of student
    writing
  • Faculty attitudes seem strong overall
  • Very little feedback about student writing
    outside the dept.
  • Chairs consistently like the idea of WAC, as long
    as its flexible and well-supported

11
Writing Center
  • A unit of the College of Liberal Arts, reporting
    to the Department of English
  • College of Liberal Arts provides budget for
    operations and the wages of several consultants
  • Department of English assigns graduate teaching
    assistants
  • The Regents Award Program (RAP) funds two
    positions, which must be approved on a yearly
    basis.
  • The College of Hotel Administration reimburses
    for the salary of one writing consultant
  • The Office of Information Technology funds the
    receptionists who monitor the computer lab.

12
Writing Center
  • 2005-2006 2,849 total visits
  • 967 were for composition courses.
  • 67 of all remaining visits were for all other
    courses
  • Shows students across campus are seeking
    assistance
  • Staffing varies by semester must turn away
    students
  • Need for more consistent and equitable funding













Hotel (36) Business (15) Liberal Arts (11) Health Science (8) Education (6) Sciences (6) Other/Undecided (6) Engineering (5) Fine Arts (5) Greenspun School (4) Honors (0) Law School (0)
13
Teaching Learning Center
  • Offers an array of workshops in as many as 17
    different programs on a regular basis
  • Select TLC Programs with direct or embedded
    connections to writing/communication
  • Are They Learning? Classroom Assessment
    Techniques
  • Case StudiesCreate Your Own
  • Plagiarism Deterring It
  • Research Assignment Design
  • Service Learning
  • Writing Assignments Across the Disciplines

14
UNLV College/Department Assessment Data
  • Sources Fall 2005 Assessment Reports from 87
    undergraduate programs in 12 colleges posted on
    Office of Academic Assessments website
  • These initial assessment reports are considered
    provisional with the intention that assessment
    methods employed in this beginning phase will be
    continually improved upon
  • Looked specifically for either direct or embedded
    writing and/or speaking-related communication
    outcomes

15
UNLV College/Department Assessment Data
  • Observations
  • Many departments identify which courses address
    particular objectives, including any
    communication outcomes
  • Most programs have a direct or embedded writing
    and/or speaking-related communication outcome
  • Most programs used indirect methods, such as
    student surveys and course grades
  • Practically all programs reported meeting their
    own expectations regarding learning outcomes

16
UNLV College/Department Assessment Data
  • More Observations
  • Architecture specifically noted writing skills as
    an area in need of improvement
  • Nursing noted that a standard evaluation tool,
    or set of criteria, might grant a more accurate
    reflection of students' written communication
    ability which could be tracked across the levels
  • Honors College specifically set its expectations
    higher for writing/comm as a result of its Fall
    05 assessment
  • History conducted a direct assessment of a
    sampling of student writing

17
UNLV College/Department Assessment Data
  • More Observations
  • Psychology found students performed considerably
    lower than expected on their indirect metric
    (participation in research activity)
  • Chemistry has developed direct and detailed
    communication outcomes that include
    discipline-specific sets of sub-goals related to
    each outcome
  • University College employed a direct assessment
    tool, an analytic rubric applied to capstone
    presentation effectiveness
  • Environmental Studies requires students complete
    and defend a senior thesis project in capstone
    undergraduate courses

18
Employers in Las Vegas
  • Source The Career Service Center administered
    voluntary On-Campus Recruiting Survey
  • Employers rate 9 skills and attributes on a
    7-point scale
  • 2005-2006, 17 employers completed the survey
  • 10 Business
  • 3 Hospitality
  • 2 Engineering
  • 2 Education

19
Employers in Las Vegas
  • Resume and Candidate Credential Attributes
  • Written Communication Skills (2005-06)
  • Overall difference between Importance vs. Student
    Rating for UNLV students was -1.4
  • Career and Interview Preparation Areas
  • Communication/Interpersonal Skills (2005-06)
  • Overall difference between Importance vs. Student
    Rating for UNLV students was -1.3

20
Employers in Las Vegas
  • The data continues to emphasize the critical
    need to develop students written communication
    skills and effective communication and
    interpersonal skills, both of which continue to
    be the lowest ranked qualities for our students
    year after year.
  • (UNLV Career Services Employer Activities Report
    2005-2006)

21
National Survey of Student Engagement
  • Pew Foundation-supported
  • In spring 2006, 557 colleges and universities
    participated in the administration of the NSSE
    survey, including UNLV for the first time
  • 12 questions related to written and oral
    communication

22
National Survey of Student Engagement
  • 400 students from UNLV participated
  • NSSE Report not yet available for UNLV
  • Some National Frequencies
  • Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or
    assignment before turning it in 18-very often
  • Number of written papers or reports of 20 pages
    or more 1-more than 20 42-between 1-4
  • Writing clearly and effectively (as outcome)
    34-very often
  • Worked on a paper or project that required
    integrating ideas or information from various
    sources 43-very often

23
Graduate Exams (GMAT)
  • Goal is to track all GMAT, GRE, and LSAT scores
    for UNLV graduates
  • Source GMAT only
  • Three parts quantitative, verbal, and an
    analytical writing assessment
  • GMAT-provided standard norms mean score of 47,
    or 526.6 and 80th percentile score of 640
  • Used primarily for MBA program admissions

24
Graduate Exams (GMAT)
  • Summary of TY 2005 for 266 UNLV Graduates
  • 138 (51.9) scored less than 500
  • 49 (18.4) scored 500-540
  • 43 (16.2) scored 550-590
  • 26 (9.8) scored 600-640
  • 6 (2.3) scored 650-690
  • 4 (1.5) scored 700 and above
  • Can infer that UNLV students scored lower on the
    verbal and analytical writing portions

25
Freewriting Prompt 1
  • Freewrite the two or three points that stood out
    for you as you listened to these preliminary
    findings
  • Does this preliminary data point to a need for
    WAC/CAC?

26
Freewriting Prompt 2
  • Considering the writing that you ask students to
    do in your class, describe the resources that
    you currently use
  • Describe the kinds of resources you would like to
    have available to you (in an ideal world) to help
    you use writing in your classroom more
    effectively

27
Discussion Activity
  • Compare your responses with others at your table
  • As a group
  • State the one or two findings that you found the
    most compelling
  • Is there a need for WAC/CAC?
  • State the resources you feel are most important
    for improving writing at UNLV
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