Office of Student Life

Student Life Writing Excellence Initiatives

In the summer of 2013, Student Life’s writing initiative committee selected First Flight pilot programs to serve as models for the rest of the division. These programs represent traditional co-curricular levels of engagement with varying forms of writing. The committee identified where and how students are currently writing, developed writing outcomes aligned with programmatic and institutional goals, and gathered existing writing examples to serve as a baseline for assessment. The programs have worked to pilot or prepare for full implementation in 2014-2015.

International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference Presentation

The formal writing outcomes for each of the four programs are listed below.

Kernodle Center for Service Learning – ALTERNATIVE BREAKS

Evan Small, Assistant Director,, 336-278-7250
Mary Morrison, Assistant Dean of Students,, 336-278-7250
Building on the department’s strong tradition of using reflection as a way of eliciting learning, the focus has been on developing writing prompts for the week-long trips over Spring Break.

  1. Participants will write their personal philosophy on an approach to social change, with the purpose of instructing and involving other Elon students in local responses that social issue. (Writing to learn.)
  2. Participants will write a letter to future participants reflecting on their experience, with the purpose of helping them understand the reason for the program and nature of the experience. (Writing to learn. Writing as a citizen.)
  3. Participants will write in and contribute to a group journal during their program, with the purpose of reflecting on the experience, how it applies to them as a group and how it influences their plans for the future. (Writing as a citizen.)

Alternative Breaks Writing Outcomes

Campus Recreation – TEAM LEADERS

Debbie Norris, Associate Director,, 336-278-7529
Student staff in leadership roles will work to develop their professional writing skills.

  1. Team Leaders will write professional performance appraisals to staff employees with the purpose of providing constructive feedback to improve employee performance. (Writing in a discipline.)
  2. Team Leaders will write monthly reports that will be submitted to professional staff for the purpose of enabling professional staff to evaluate program’s success and identify potential areas for improvement. (Writing in a discipline.)

Campus Recreation Team Leaders Writing Outcomes

New Student and Transition Programs – GAP SEMESTER

Steve Morrison, Coordinator of Gap Programs,, 336-278-7325
In the fall, 15 first-semester, first-year students participate in a semester-long program that focuses on leadership, service-learning, and cultural awareness. In the middle of the term they do 4 weeklong service-learning projects.

  1. Gap students will write goals and an actionable plan to Elon fac/staff for achieving their goals for their service learning weeks so they enter each week with purpose. (Writing to learn. Writing as a citizen.)
  2. Gap Students will write blogs to potential students about their experiences giving them a channel to tell their story to aid in the processing of their experiences. (Writing as a citizen.)
  3. Gap students will write  a reflective analysis paper to our community partner to process their experiences, evaluate their efforts toward achieving their goals, and identify what could be done to stay involved in the issue on campus or in the future. (Writing to learn. Writing as a citizen.)

Center for Leadership – LEADERSHIP FELLOWS

Steven Mencarini, Director,, 336-278-5323
Jodean Schmiederer, Associate Dean of Students,, 336-278-5323
Leadership Fellows are intensively engaged in a leadership development program that spans their four years at Elon. Through completion of the program, the Leadership Fellows will demonstrate a theoretical and practical understanding of leadership by:

  1. Creating a personal philosophy statement for their leadership coach. Fellows will be able to choose, analyze, synthesize, and apply leadership theories in order to articulate an individual statement of values. (Writing to learn. Writing in a discipline.)
  2. Identifying a global issue and writing a contextual analysis that prepares them to complete a change-maker initiative. This will include recommendations to make a sustainable difference at the local level. (Writing to learn. Writing in a discipline. Writing as a citizen.)
  3. Developing a mission statement, vision statement, and strategic goals for a change-maker initiative that addresses a community need. (Writing in a discipline. Writing as a citizen.)
  4. Presenting their paper and change-maker project to a Board of Review made up of faculty, staff, students, and external reviewers who are experts in the field. The presentation will utilize technology appropriate to the audience and adhere to professional conventions. (Writing in a discipline. Writing as a citizen.)

Leadership Fellows Writing Outcomes

Lessons Learned

  • Schedule regular meetings. Because writing may not be a natural priority for staff the committee structure and regular meetings provided appropriate prodding and peer accountability.
  • Capitalize on existing strengths. We have strong programs with intentional learning outcomes that are lead by highly competent people. Use their area expertise to connect to writing initiatives.
  • Take small bites. Identify projects that are manageable for staff. It may take time in the planning stages, but learning will be deeper and may not take significantly more time on a regular basis.
  • Ask for (or offer) help. Partnerships with writing and assessment experts are critical for staff and programmatic development.
  • Start with a pilot. It’s less intimidating than to call it a full program change.
  • Develop resources through the pilot and provide them to the next group… it makes expansion less intimidating.


Smith Jackson

Smith Jackson
Vice President for Student Life and
Dean of Students