This past academic year I worked with three professors in the Biology department. In a survey course on Current Topics in Biology (Biol250.01W), taught by Dr. Shirley Raps, the department chair, I worked closely with students in designing research topics, outlines, annotated bibliographies, and the various parts of a 15-20 page research paper. In Dr. Benjamin Ortiz’s graduate course on Gene Regulation (Biol790.52/470.63), I instructed students on abstract writing, and worked closely with them to design specific hypotheses and aims for a major grant writing exercise. In the spring, I worked with Dr. Figueiredo-Pereira in her graduate/undergraduate course entitled the Ubiquitin/ Proteasome Pathway (Biol790.55/470.90) to provide critical feedback to her students on their abstract and grant writing projects.
In addition to working with students, I worked directly with each faculty member to incorporate significant writing exercises into their curriculum. These exercises (e.g., single page abstracts, annotated bibliographies, etc.) addressed students’ abilities to write concisely and to explicitly state the main hypotheses of the scientific articles they cited in their grants. I also provided in-class workshops on all the above-mentioned science writing issues.
During the spring I also helped established the use of blogging in the Hunter WAC program. I researched software options and taught basic blogging techniques to the other Writing Fellows and the program coordinators, which led to the creation of several blogs for different classes and groups of instructors, each offering a diverse array of educational and pedagogical possibilities. As a collaborative project with the other Fellows and the coordinators, these “blog” developments were then presented at the WAC/WID Conference and the CUNY General Education Conference.
Finally, I was also able this year to defend my dissertation entitled “Pbx Genes in Vertebrate Limb Development and the Implications of Their Study to Primate Evolution,” based on interdisciplinary research involving studies in Anthropology and Developmental Biology. Currently, I am looking forward to post-doctoral study in the field of Evolutionary-Developmental Biology.
Last year I worked again with the History Department at Hunter. My aim was to aid professors teaching the History 300 writing requirement, for which History majors are required to write a 15-20 page research paper. Professors and students must make time outside of class to meet to discuss the project, and due to the fast pace of the college semester, I believed that both professors and students would benefit from a Fellow’s help. Professors could feel a sense of relief that students who needed help or wanted a greater challenge would not “slip through the cracks,” and students could benefit from one-on-one time with a Fellow to consult with them on writing and research issues. Common issues we discussed included: how to refine research questions, balance researching and writing, create a compelling thesis statement, maintain a consistent argument throughout a paper, and, more generally, how to organize, cite, and use appropriate language.
In the fall semester, I set up writing groups of History 300 students, met with individual students, and appeared in classes to discuss writing and writing resources at Hunter. In the spring, I made our writing groups virtual by creating a blog, which was not only a space for discussion of research and writing, but also a collection of useful links for college writers. The goal was to adapt my work to the average Hunter student, who is always on the go. I maintained a busy schedule of meetings with students and professors, meeting with not only classes and individuals in the 300-level course but also those at the introductory level.
Looking back on this year at Hunter, I feel grateful for the opportunity to work with such outstanding students and faculty, and smile as I remember the many thanks I received for my hard work. As in teaching, work as a Writing Fellow is an opportunity to learn as well as to teach.
I am a doctoral candidate in American History writing a dissertation on race and real estate in Harlem, 1890 to 1920. The dissertation draws on my interests in urban history and African American business history.
During the 2006-07 academic year I worked with instructors in the Orientation Seminar (ORSEM), a one-credit course for first-semester Freshmen. I provided instructors with feedback on designing writing assignments, with a particular focus on encouraging the use of scaffolding as a way to encourage students to begin working on their papers and to provide instructors with early perspectives on the students’ responses to assignments. In addition I gave an in-class presentation on the writing process and provided one-on-one tutorials to ORSEM students to assist them with their writing. In the spring semester I also provided tutoring to students in Hunter’s Black Male Initiative program and assisted the WAC Co-coordinator in initiating a pilot blog for instructors of the college’s Significant Writing (writing intensive) courses.
Irwin Ramirez Leopando
Irwin spent his first year as a Writing Fellow in support of Hunter’s English 220, Introduction to Literature, a required course in Hunter’s General Education Requirement, and in support of the College’s ESL Committee. He collaborated with the English 220 Coordinator on faculty development and community-building, including establishing a blog for instructors, and in the process addressing, in direct discussion and on line, issues including assessment, revision, analysis of literature, and responding to student writing. He also served through the Provost’s Office as a researcher on the ESL Committee, gathering information on ESL policies and structures within Hunter and throughout CUNY as a whole. He is currently working on a dissertation on the intersection between critical pedagogy and liberation theology in the work of Paulo Freire, a topic on which he presented at the 2007 Conference on College Composition and Communication.
This year I collaborated with several professors in the Philosophy department. I began by observing course lectures and sections to get a sense of their different pedagogical approaches and to figure out the best ways I could support the teaching and learning of writing in their classes. Throughout the year, I consulted with faculty on an on-going basis on the development of writing assignments. In one course, for example, we modified the main writing assignment of the course to allow students the opportunity to revise their papers (after meeting with me to review them) and to learn to write a critique paper rather than just a report. In another course, we developed an initial writing assignment which included a one-on-one writing conference with one of the course faculty before the student revised the paper for a grade. For the second half of the semester, instead of two discreet papers originally assigned, I developed a scaffolded two-part assignment in which students had the opportunity to get faculty feedback on and revise part A as they developed their ideas further in part B of the assignment.
To support the modifications to the writing assignments, I conducted several workshops in which I modeled the skills we hoped students would employ. I also reviewed the documentation requirements for all papers to make sure they were in line with what students are learning in Freshman Composition at Hunter. For one of the courses, I met with faculty and teaching assistants on a weekly basis to discuss the writing demands of the course. We held a norming session at the start of each semester to establish common criteria for grading student papers.
An important part of my work was meeting with students. I held weekly office hours in the Philosophy department so that students could stop by for individual assistance in a familiar environment. I also consulted with several students via email when they were unable to meet with me in person.
Last, but not least, in the spring 2007 semester, I finished writing and successfully defended my dissertation and graduated with a Ph.D. in Urban Education.
Meredith L. Theeman
As an Environmental Psychology PhD candidate, I am investigating relationships between light exposure, affective disorders, the social construction of illness, and well-being. I bring the program's multidisciplinary perspective and problem-focused orientation into my role as a Writing Fellow.
The Thomas Hunter Honors Program sought to screen new, incoming students for writing-related issues. In the Fall semester, I devised a prototype THHP Writing Sample Scoring Rubric accompanied by a plan to facilitate its use in the process. Then I helped revise the rubric to best accommodate varying styles of writing samples, as well as helping to reassess and implement follow-up recommendation guidelines. The resulting diagnostic and developmental process allows the THHP to support the ongoing acquisition and refinement of academic writing skills among its high-achieving student population, demonstrating that learning to write well is a continuous process, even for the best students.
Over the 2006-2007 academic year, I have enjoyed the opportunity to assist a large number of students in one-on-one contacts as they conceptualize, organize, revise, and polish pieces of academic writing, scholarship applications, and personal statements for graduate school applications. I have also consulted with THHP participating faculty on writing and assessment issues and with the WAC Co-coordinator on best practices for advising students on writing personal statements. I designed and drafted the Powerpoint presentation for the Fellows’ sessions at the CUNY WAC/WID and GER conferences, and presented at those events.