In the Fall semester, Ms. John worked with the Honors Media course, helping students with the draft process for their essay. In the Spring, she also worked with a faculty member and TAs in the History Department to develop an assessment project for History 151, a required course in Hunter’s General Education Requirement, as part of the college’s Middle States Accreditation effort. Providing workshops and tutorials for students in History 151, Ms. John participated at every level in the writing assessment project. She joined with Hunter’s Fellows in presenting at CUNY’s General Education Conference, focusing on the socio-political contexts operational in responding to student writing. And she completed the research for her dissertation in the field of Social-Personality Psychology.
I’m a doctoral student in composition-rhetoric. My dissertation considers the convergence of liberation theology and Marxist critique in Paulo Freire’s rhetoric and pedagogy with particular concentration on how the radical Christian-Marxist dynamic of Freire’s thought can infuse teaching practice in secular, public, and pluralist North American classrooms.
As a Writing Fellow, my work this year was focused on English 120 (Hunter’s Freshman Composition course), academic discourse, and ESL/ELL issues. One main area of focus was on the importance of highlighting academic discourse as such in teaching college writing, so that a valuable and wide-reaching goal of English 120 might be to explicitly discuss the conventions, assumptions, and epistemologies of academic discourse (rather than to take it as a familiar given), and to equip students with the rhetorical tools to navigate this discourse. Additionally, I supported English 120 instructors regarding pedagogical issues, such as ways of responding to student writing, assessment, syllabus design, developing reading lists, and facilitating classroom writing and participation. I also addressed the complexities of working with ESL/ELL students in mainstream writing classes. Along with raising this issue in our regular Writing Fellow meetings, I took the lead in developing a panel presentation at the year-ending General Education conference.
I worked closely with the Hunter Economics department this year and specifically with students who were writing a master’s thesis for the combined BA/MA program in Economics. I developed a number of workshops for students, most of whom were facing the task of writing their first large-scale empirical paper. Over the course of three workshops, students learned how to develop a strong research question, write a strong paragraph, and structure an empirical paper. In the ‘Research Question’ workshop, we addressed how to move from a vague idea to a more developed question. In the ‘Paragraph’ workshop, we discussed the building block of a strong paper – the paragraph. This included learning about the basic components of a paragraph, the order of these components, and how to build a successful argument using a succession of paragraphs. Finally, in the ‘Empirical Essay’ workshop, we put these pieces together and discussed the structure and components of an empirical essay, such as the MA thesis. This workshop detailed the order of the sections (including Introduction, Lit Review, Methods, Results, etc.), the purpose of each section, what goes in each section, and using this structure to help you think carefully about the logic and clarity of a good argument. I also gave a workshop on RefWorks to the Hunter Writing Fellows and Coordinators, and contributed to the presentation they gave at the General Education Conference at Baruch College.
During the 2007-2008 academic year I worked with students and instructors in First Year Seminar at Hunter (FYSH, formerly known as ORSEM). I also worked with students in the Hunter History Department in weekly office hours and by appointment. My work with FYSH students focused on providing them, through presentations to sections and individual student tutoring, with a general understanding of the writing process, information that could be used as well in other courses. A primary focus of my work with History students was supporting History 300. In this independent study course, History majors are required to write a research paper of 22 to 25 pages. Professors referred students to me, and other students sought my services on their own initiative. I helped the WAC program provide copies of John Bean’s Engaging Ideas to all instructors of writing intensive courses, and presented with Hunter’s Fellows at the CUNY Gen Ed conference.
Meredith L. Theeman
As an Environmental Psychology PhD candidate, I am investigating how people attribute their changes in mood and behavior to the physical environment. 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 my first year as a Writing Fellow, 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 2006-2008 academic years, 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.
Over the last year, I have coordinated a collaborative design project with Hunter’s Reading/Writing Center, ICIT, and Library that will result in the creation of a dynamic, interactive online digital resource about MLA citation. This collaboration is an impressive example of cross-community communication!