Fall 2014 Minutes

Location: Quinnipiac University Biannual Critical Thinking and Writing Conference (November 21, 2014)


  • Andy Delohery, Quinnipiac, Peer Support/Retention
  • Neal Learner, Northeastern, Director of Writing Program
  • Michael Cripps, University of New England, Director of First Year Composition/Student Success Center (Writing Center)/Writing Fellows Initiative/Organizing Assessment GERs
  • Laura Ramsey, Bridgewater State University/ Co-Coordinator Writing Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
  • Maria Hegbloom, Co-Coordinator, Bridgewater State University, Writing Across the Curriculum
  • Sue Hudd, Quinnipiac University, Sociology, Co-Director Writing Across the Curriculum
  • Paul Pasqueretta, Quinnipiac University, Double-Helix Journal, Faculty Writing Retreats
  • Patricia Portanova, Northern Essex Community College, Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum Chair

Presentation by Suzanne Hudd

“Conflicting Identities? Writing and the Institutional Agenda.”

Hudd reported on 2006 IWAC, which were models grounded in thinking. They created an exchange program with Queen Mary University with a similar program. The compared learning outcomes and working backward, realizing they had almost identical sets of outcomes. They conducted interviews with top leaders at each other’s universities. They are currently reading the transcriptions of interviews framed by issues of organizational identity. They have determined that organizations try to hold on to their identity and do not try to wear too many hats.

Moment for response:

Writing Programs: Who are we?

Describe the core elements of your WAC/WID/writing program. What are its fundamental features? What distinguishes the work of your program from other programs like it?

Continuation of Presentation

Strategic Leaders/Managers/Trenches of Writing Program: conflict and tension?

There are no critical thinking programs on campuses, but there are writing programs. These programs exhibit normative functions (social) versus utilitarian functions (economic).

Michael: Observation about learning outcomes and graduate attributes. Observed communication/writing has an identifiable program. Is it the chicken or egg? Initiatives around outcomes became writing program or writing program led to outcomes. In which courses do students do this? Michael’s home institution has similar outcomes. Discussing normatively or economically creates possibilities to address these.

Sue: Should there be programs for all outcomes? Not just writing-intensive programs?

Andy: These are the challenges of writing-intensive. You need to get other disciplines to buy in. Do these outcomes represent what is pervasive across the curriculum?

Neal: There are competing narratives and identities with multiple identities that are often in conflict. Northeastern: audiences—students, ourselves, administration. Institutional identity is different than writing program. Who wins?

Sue: Faculty ownership—they align with their disciplines. As much as want them to buy in, we have to buy in. There is conflict across these different areas. Will our work be delegitimized when we look at writing as another outcome alongside out institutional/graduation outcomes?

Michael: There are tensions/conflicts around identity. Who is the puppet master? When put into real practice there is debate over words, meanings, values. Meaning-making is constant—takes place over time.

Andy: Utilitarian/Normative—a statement could have both of these qualities. The data researched shows that people tend to align with one or the other in terms of perspectives.

Neal: There is alsoiInstitutional hierarchy and institutional histories.

Sue: Negotiated leadership—all hinges on what happens. Manipulation of the writing program—used as a vehicle to advance an institutional objective. We speak more about students than we work with students.

Michael: Is the writing program being used? I am thinking about being an individual actor in the institution and having agency. We have a certain level of agency as opposed to being told what to do.

Sue: Being asked to assessment seems like an affront to the profession.

Maria: There is a particular notion of assessment—usually quantitative data. There is concern among those who feel a strong “church” identity of writing programs to feel business model is cutting out what is most important to what they do.

Sue: Much of learning in sociology feels like you know it when you see it.

Michael: Some of this is about disciplinary autonomy and opposition to a hierarchy. Institutions are operating more as business models. Resistance to assessment can be ideological. We can use assessment for professional development (what do we see when we see learning? How can we get more of that?). We can only get there if faculty buy in.

Andy: We are shifting from writing experts to consultants who were learning from experts. We were able to create a common language among occupational therapists. We realized that they had differing ideas. They found that the discipline took over and they became invisible. So we are creating different kinds of our own agency. Increasingly, what they saw as successes were moving the writing program toward being invisible.

Michael: What is lost if QUWACC goes into the new Center for Teaching and Learning? There is a mismatch between label of program and there is concern over making sure there is an awareness of the history and the breadth of scope of the program.

Discussion of terminology: attributes versus outcomes.
Sue: It would be smoother to make change when the history of an organization is built upon rather than changed. Faculty identity is imbedded in institutional identity—attacking faculty identity feels attacked.

New Business:

Ed Mueller’s request for consulting work on program assessment. Michael: NEWACC conducted a survey to cover Northeastern region. NEWACC website had been in WAC Clearinghouse just last week migrated website is on LINUX.

Spring 2015 NEWACC Centenary College, April 18-19, 2015

Anything we want to discuss? Intersections of writing centers and writing across the curriculum?