Writing Excellence Initiative: Student Life incorporates reflective and professional writing

New writing outcomes designed by the Division of Student Life increase students' focus on reflective and professional writing.

This article is one in a series of articles showcasing the successes of Elon’s Writing Excellence Initiative, the university’s 5-year Quality Enhancement Plan to enhance the teaching and practice of writing in academic, professional, and co-curricular contexts.

The Division of Student Life began its Writing Excellence Initiative work in the initial launch of Fall 2013, and have made excellent progress during the past four years.

Student Life’s participation in the Writing Excellence Initiative is especially important because it expands the university’s commitment to writing instruction beyond academic contexts and into co-curricular and professional contexts as well. A major goal of Elon’s WEI is to prepare students so that they can be successful writers in their personal and professional lives after graduation, and Student Life’s participation in the WEI contributes greatly to that goal. 

Initially, the following Student Life programs began this initial WEI work:

  • The Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement (working with Alternative Breaks)
  • New Student and Transition Programs (working with GAP Program Service Learning Reflections)
  • Campus Recreation (working with Campus Recreation Team Leader Monthly Reports)
  • The Center for Leadership (working with Leadership Fellows Writing)

Each of the above “first flight” Student Life programs identified writing outcomes, assessed current student writing in these areas, implemented pedagogical improvements based on these assessments, and then reassessed student writing for the identified writing projects. As a direct result of this work, Student Life staff members developed a “Guide on Reflective Writing” and a “Guide on Student Worker Reports” to help other Student Life divisions focus more on writing instruction and implement similar writing pedagogies.

A similar process to assess current writing, implement strategies to improve writing, and assess that writing was completed in the 2016-2017 academic year with Living Learning Community Applications, The SAGES Program, Panhellenic Recruitment Reflections, and the ELR workbooks for both Service Learning and Leadership.

These efforts with student writing have had wonderfully reciprocal benefits. Beyond the original goal of improving student writing, Student Life programs have seen strong improvements in student learning through a more intentional approach to writing. Moving forward, the guides will be updated, additional co-curricular programs will implement writing initiatives, and existing programs will continue to improve student writing throughout the Division of Student Life.  Finally, a leadership team for Writing Within Student Life has been created and will work to ensure efforts are sustained in the Writing Excellence Initiative throughout upcoming years.