Educating Excellent Writers at Elon
The Writing Excellence Initiative is an innovative, institution-wide project designed to make writing a signature experience of every student’s Elon education.
The Elon community has been working together since 2010 to develop the initiative, building on many of our strengths and our shared mission of “integrat[ing] learning across the disciplines, put[ting] knowledge into practice, and preparing students to be global citizens and informed leaders motivated by concern for the common good.”
The Initiative, which satisfies a requirement of Elon’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), earned praise from our SACS reviewers in April 2013. We officially launched the Initiative in Fall 2013. It is described in our 81-page QEP report.
Through the Writing Excellence Initiative, we aspire to prepare every Elon student, undergraduate and graduate, in every major, to be an excellent writer. We have chosen to focus particularly on developing students’ abilities related to three kinds of writing that are aligned with the Elon Commitment’s goal of educating “engaged minds, inspiring leaders, and global citizens.”
- Writing to learn: We will prepare every Elon graduate to use writing to understand new content and perspectives, analyze information and problems, and generate knowledge.
- Writing in a discipline: We will prepare every Elon graduate to develop and communicate ideas effectively to readers, for purposes and in contexts that are appropriate for his or her field of study.
- Writing as a citizen: We will prepare every Elon graduate to communicate effectively with other members of his or her communities on issues of local, regional, or global significance.
Every element of the university will play an important role in developing students’ writing abilities. We begin with small-scale pilot programs in order to in order to test the process and develop resources that can be used by other programs that will begin their Writing Excellence Initiative work in the following years.
- Academic departments will enhance the writing instruction and support they provide for their majors. They will create or refine existing writing outcomes for their majors, and they will refine their courses to progressively and intentionally build their students’ abilities toward these outcomes. Seven undergraduate programs and the Law School began pilot testing in 2013-2014.
- The Core Curriculum will refine its courses to provide additional instruction and support for steadily developing undergraduate students’ abilities to write as citizens. So that students can receive more instruction in writing in The Global Experience (COR110), we will reduce class sizes substantially over the next five years. Faculty for four sections have been piloting the reduced class size and increased emphasis on writing in 2013-2014
- The Division of Student Life will enhance the instruction and support for the writing students do in its programs as well as the guidance and feedback it gives its student employees who write as part of their jobs. In 2013, the Four Student Life programs have been planning their enriched emphasis on students writing: Gap Semester Program, Leadership Program, Campus Recreation (which employs many students), and weeklong service learning experiences.
The initiative supplements our commitment to improving student writing, by also supporting the writing of faculty and staff in a variety of ways.
While we look to following two resources for leadership and assistance as we pursue our goals with respect to student writing, we are undertaking the Writing Excellence Initiative as an entire community of faculty, staff, and students.
- Writing Center. The Writing Center has been expanding its hours and offerings for students, as well as opening satellite locations. In addition to assisting students with their writing, it provides support for faculty and staff with their own writing and provides feedback on writing assignments. More on the Writing Center.
- Writing Across the University Program. Through the WAU program, the Writing Excellence Initiative helps faculty plan the writing assignments, instruction, and assessment in their courses. It also assists programs in planning their strategies for integrating and coordinating their writing instruction, assignments, and feedback to progressively develop students’ writing abilities. More on the Writing Across the University Program.
Through the Writing Center and the Writing Across the University Program, the Writing Excellence Initiative provides workshops, individual consultations, writing retreats, seminars, recognitions programs, and a variety of grants.
To emphasize Elon’s focus on writing, the Writing Center and the Writing Across the University Program are being housed together in newly redesigned space at the very heart of the university: the first floor of Belk Library.