On Friday, Oct. 28, more than 30 CCRI educators gathered to participate in the kickoff event for CCRI's yearlong initiative on written communication, a workshop titled "Sources and evidence: Improving our students' writing."
Bonnie Orcutt, Ph.D., a professor of economics at Worcester State University, began with an introduction of the Multi-State Collaborative Project to Improve Student Learning and presented the project-level data as well as CCRI's own data from our two years of participation.
One of the primary lessons learned from the project thus far is the primacy of assignment design in eliciting student skills. Orcutt shared "before" and "after" versions of her own research paper assignments to demonstrate the kinds of guidance and support we should give students to elicit their best performance.
Orcutt also advocated for scaffolding student writing both within and among courses to guide and support students at the beginning and then gradually removing the assistance to promote their becoming independent learners.
She shared a matrix for evaluating the effectiveness of assignment instructions and whether the assignment is appropriate for evaluation against the written communication value rubric. It is available for download from the CITLA site.
Attendees rated the session excellent and the speaker engaging and motivating. They especially appreciated the time spent working and brainstorming with colleagues.