Spring 2017 Meeting

April 2, 2017 (Pace University, Pleasantville, NY)

Attendance: Nick Van Kley, Dartmouth; Mark Cook, Dartmouth; Kate Tirabassi, Keene State College; Michelle Cox, Cornell University; Laurie Ann Britt-Smith (Vice Chair)
NEWACC Business

  • Melissa Bugdall, doctoral candidate at UConn Storrs (chair) not here – defending her dissertation soon and needed to write
  • We need a new Vice-Chair
  • Kate Tirabassi stepped forward

We need to discuss role of NEWACC/future of the group.

History of NEWACC

  • Michelle Cox, Kate Tirabassi, Robert Smart, and others on the founding of NEWACC (Michelle will share with Laurie)
  • Susanmarie Harrington is still running the listserv
  • Michael Cripps is still editing NEWACC website (hosted by the WAC Clearinghouse)
  • There used to be a seat on the NEWCA steering committee for the NEWACC chair

Started because people wanted an opportunity to learn from other WAC directors – seeking mentorship, sharing of ideas, meeting people in the area.
The fall meetings are better attended than the spring meeting at NEWCA


  • Perhaps only have fall meeting, and have a small social event or SIG meeting at NEWCA
  • WAC as a field is in the process of reorganizing—forming a national/umbrella organizations—could hook into this
  • Possibility of summer institute for WAC directors
  • Paul Anderson is currently trying to start one at Miami University
  • NEWCA has state reps; these state reps could help get the word out about NEWACC events or use their lists to share survey (NEWACC includes New York, New Jersey, all of New England)
  • Could do some research
    • Could survey area WAC programs to learn more about what WAC programs in the region
    • Could do this through NEWACC membership
  • The Consortium on Graduate Communication asked new members to fill out survey when they joined on what graduate communication support looked like at their institution and got IRB approval to share the results
  • Could connect to National Census on Writing
  • Could attach a workshop or institute to a regional writing-related conference
  • Regional CCCC (at Northeastern this summer)
  • Boston Rhetoric and Writing Network (BRAWN)

Bridge Programs

Keene State College
Links Program (most successful model Keene has tried)

  • TRIO grant funded
  • Run through the Aspire Office
  • Students take 3 courses in 6 weeks: a first-year writing course or a quantitative literacy course and a couple other courses
  • Have access to writing tutors
  • Live in a residence hall
  • Marketed to high-credit majors, to help students get ahead
  • Because it’s a TRIO program, it’s marketed to at-risk students

Had tried a “Summer Momentum Program” before Aspire, but didn’t work, led by adjunct faculty member who left at a couple of years
Tried the “Smart Start Program” – students could opt in, only for students with low GPAs, run during the year, four meetings, but no leverage to require students to do, the meetings focused on available resources like the writing center, not effective—students still dropped—this program is being rethought

Holy Cross—Passport

  • Run through Academic Services
  • The admissions program targets students through a secret algorithm (at risk students and international students)
  • Holy Cross has been slow to embrace international students—mostly Chinese, small percentage of overall student body
  • Includes a writing course and math course – only 3 weeks
  • Credit-bearing (but doesn’t count as regular credit courses)
  • Grades (not pass/fail)
  • Includes social components
  • Writing courses had been taught by adjuncts, now recruiting faculty from the disciplines
  • 12 students in each writing course section
  • Every section has a Writing Fellow (runs afternoon writing lab) and a TA (in class)
  • Laurie hires and trains the writing instructors and trains the student-workers (WFs and TAs)
    • Concerned about students of color, for most—this is the first time being a minority in an academic context
    • Trying to figure out how to shape the curriculum to do the least amount of harm and most amount of good
    • Trying to figure out how to assess the program
      • Administration not seeing a difference between how these students perform after the program in relation to those who don’t participate in the program
      • There are other benefits that are hard to capture
      • Are these students using the writing center more than other students?
    • Trying to figure out if worth running – may be causing more harm than good – students on campus before rest of student body there, only football players and cheerleaders, animosity between the Bridge students and football players/cheerleaders starts in cafeteria before semester even starts; (talk to Kathy Neilsen-Dube who wrote a chapter on similar tensions at Merrimac College in North Andover in the collection Reinventing Identities in Second Language Writing, edited by Michelle Cox, Jay Jordan, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, & Gwen Gray Schwartz, 2011, NCTE)

    Dartmouth: FYSEP (First Year Student Experience Program)

    • 8 day event that immediately precedes the term
    • 25-40 students
    • non-credit mini-credits
    • lectures from faculty in the social sciences
    • complete a writing assignment in consultation with a writing faculty member
    • loan experienced tutors for one night of tutoring (introduces them to the idea of using the writing center)
    • run by Student Support Services
    • Director of writing program recommends the writing instructor and has close ties to the social science faculty who is involved (on the writing program’s advisory board)
    • A couple other small programs – one for veteran students
    • Retention not a concern at Dartmouth (not at Holy Cross either, but those who do leave tend to be students of color)
    • A fully funded program

    Brandeis has a year-long bridge program that is worth looking into

    • Launched in the late 70s
    • Privately funded
    • Designed to increase number of students of color on students
    • Take two TYP seminars: one in writing and one in the sciences or social sciences plus one course in the larger college
    • TYP courses not graded or credited; but do get grade/credit for larger college class
    • If pass this year-long program, fully admitted into the college
    • This model can be difficult in terms of student funding – most students funded for four years so then run out of funding at end of junior year

    Placement in First-Year Writing Programs

    Dartmouth working on revising Directed Self-Placement process

    • About a quarter of the class gets invitation to go through self-placement process
    • About half of these students are recommended to take Writing 2/3 rather than Writing 5
    • Those students then make the decision
    • Most of the 2/3 students who are recommended there tend to stay
    • Every year about 10 students in Writing 5 move to 2/3 after the term starts

No required writing course at Holy Cross

      • Students self-select into English 110
      • Laurie clarified course description (not a grammar course)
      • The course always fills
      • Students will lose AP credit if they take the writing course
      • Some students think the writing course will fulfill the literature requirement, but it doesn’t

Some universities use the DSP process to help students develop habits of mind of successful college students.