Presenting the CBW Pre-Conference Workshop, 2015

Risky Relationships in Placement, Teaching and the Professional Organization
Council on Basic Writing Pre-Conference Workshop 2015

For our 2015 preconvention workshop, the Council on Basic Writing answers CCCCs’ thematic call to rethink BW practice and policy and to share stories of various efforts at trying something new. What happens, for example, when we reach outside of BW and composition scholarship to help inform the design of writing programs that strive to be more democratic and respectful of language diversity? How can BW faculty better utilize campus and community resources, as well as resources from unexpected and surprising places to help balance their lives outside of school with the often demanding challenges of being mentor and teacher to students with equally complex lives? In what ways can we rethink writing placement methods in order to increase access to multilingual and other culturally and racially diverse students? These questions will guide the CBW workshop as we examine the risks and rewards of BW relationships in writing placement, in student and instructor lives, and in our professional organizations.

9:00 a.m. Welcome
CBW Co-Chairs:
Sugie Goen-Salter, San Francisco State University
Michael D. Hill, Henry Ford College

9:15-10:15 a.m.
The 2014 Innovation Award for Teaching of Basic Writing
Session Chair: Sugie Goen-Salter, San Francisco State University

Presenters: Candace Zepeda, Our Lady of the Lake University; Mike Lueker, Our Lady of the Lake University; Thomas McBryde, Our Lady of the Lake University; David Hale, Our Lady of the Lake University

Almost 40 years ago, when Mina Shaughnessy introduced Errors and Expectations, she challenged instructors to look beyond the errors of students’ work by studying their linguistic (and cultural) identity. Nearly four decades later, Gregory Shafer questions what we have learned from Shaughnessy and if instructors (and even writing programs) “respect the linguistic competence that students possess.” Shafer proposes that if the goal of current basic writing scholarship is to “foster a writing that is democratic, that expands literacies to authentic contexts and cultivates a truly creative spirit, a paradigm shift is clearly in order and must begin with the way we see dialects and language diversity and the way we handle them in the placement process.” The paradigm shift Shafer suggests is a rather ambitious vision, but offers a vibrant description of the QUEST First-Year Writing Program at Our Lady of the Lake University. QUEST is an innovative curriculum that offers a democratic, hospitable and progressive writing curriculum that responds to the needs of our student population. OLLU is a Hispanic Serving Institution that serves a considerable amount of first-generation, Latin@ and low-income students with more than 86% historically placing into developmental courses. The QUEST model is a product of risk-taking, grounding our theoretical and pedagogical design using scholarship from outside basic writing and composition studies. As recipients for the 2014 Inny Award, our panel invites an interactive workshop with audience members where we will cover areas related to program and theoretical design, pedagogical practices, assessment measures, and faculty support. Audience members will be encouraged to participate in discussion and with workshop activities.

10:30-11:30 a.m.
The Risks and Rewards of Complex Lives: Balancing Basic Writing with Instructor and Student Lives
Roundtable Chair: Marisa Klages-Bombich, LaGuardia Community College

Participants: Candace Epps-Robertson, Michigan State University; Marcia Buell, Northeastern Illinois University; Dawn Lombardi, The University of Akron; Annie Del Principe, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY; Elaine M. Jolayemi, Ivy Tech Indianapolis; Daniel Cleary, Lorain County Community College; Jason Evans, Prairie State College; Kerry Lane, Joliet Junior College; Marcea Sible, Hawkeye Community College

Teaching is hard work, and unlike careers that get to stay in the office, teaching often comes home with us- not only in the form of grading and class preparation but also in the way that the often complex lives of our basic writing students find their ways into our own narratives as instructors. Figuring out how to balance our roles as teachers and mentors (available to students for guidance and assistance), our scholarly selves (with responsibilities for publishing and institutional service) and our lives as caretakers (parents, elders, our own illnesses) is ultimately complex and requires careful navigation. These problems seems particularly relevant in the field of composition and rhetoric, where grading essays often takes significantly longer than grading multiple choice exams, and where one-to-one conferences on student papers often elicits discussions about issues in students’ personal and academic lives. This roundtable will focus on helping faculty think through the challenges on balancing their lives, and student lives while teaching Basic Writing. We will have a number of co-leaders facilitate discussions on various issues in our classrooms and lives including: Utilizing Resources on Campus and in the Community, Finding Mentors and Support in Unexpected Places, and Learning from Our Students.

11:30-12:30 p.m.
Best Practices in Placement and Pedagogy: Progressive Policy Statements by the BW Community
Presenter: William Lalicker, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Basic writing still, in too many sites, enacts a system of gatekeeping, where risk is in difference and reward resides in the normative. Placement policies broadcast institutional values: how we sort students may express old prejudices, or may transform our institutions into progressive communities of learners. Moreover, placement presages pedagogy. In the capstone segment of our workshop, the facilitator will first invite all workshop participants to contribute to the creation of a policy statement that establishes principles for placement policies that can respect difference, can recognize the generative intersections of culture and voice and identity, and can honor the strengths of developing student writers by inviting them into the academic conversation. Then this segment will invite participants to apply these progressive placement principles, using these values to create a statement of best pedagogical practices in basic writing. The result will be two policy statements, drafted by the workshop that will integrate basic writing placement and pedagogy, scaffolding more humanistic, pluralistic, and welcoming basic writing programs for all developing student writers.

12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch

Afternoon Joint Session with CBW and TYCA

1:30-2:30 p.m.
Writing Placement that Risks the Academy: Rethinking Ways of Access and the Reward of First-Year Writing
Keynote Address: Asao Inoue, University of Washington, Tacoma

This keynote will discuss ways to rethink writing placement methods, procedures, validation, and outcomes in order to address the increasingly diverse students entering first-year writing programs. Most placement systems are designed with the assumption that the placement decision must come from a measurement of student writing ability, coming perhaps from a test score, a timed writing exam decision, or even a directed self-placement that asks students to perform writing tasks or self-assessments of some sort. This keynote address will question two assumptions that work in all these placement models: (1) the nature of the writing construct against which readers or raters measure student performances (e.g. as a white construct, as a transactive rhetorical construct); and (2) the nature of the kinds of judgments needed to make a placement (e.g. judgments of cognitive dimensions of writing that seem to be associated with writing “quality” or success in first-year writing courses). This keynote will ask the question: How do we increase access to multilingual and other culturally and racially diverse students in our writing programs? The larger purpose of this discussion, beyond rethinking writing placement, is to suggest a rethinking of the nature of the academic discourse(s) we expect in the academy.

2:30-3:30 p.m.
Situated Placement: The Rewards of Developing Placement Processes

Participants: Heidi Estrem, Boise State University, Dawn Shepherd, Boise State University; Leigh Jonaitis, Bergen Community College

This afternoon roundtable discussion will focus on placement. Our roundtable discussants represent a range of institutions (doctoral institution, regional campus, and two-year colleges), and all speakers have developed new placement processes at their institutions. The first group of speakers will describe how a new course matching process at their doctoral institution mediates students’ understandings of college writing courses prior to enrollment and encourages student self-efficacy while also increasing retention across all first-year writing courses. The second speaker will share how her regional campus used a state mandate to eliminate “remedial” education as leverage to develop a new basic writing curriculum and a guided self-placement process that led to better outcomes and increased satisfaction for instructors and students. The final speaker will discuss the challenges of placement at a two-year college and how her program has used its placement process to respond to student needs.

3:45-5:00 p.m.
The Rewards of Collaboration Between TYCA and CBW
Session Chairs: Michael D. Hill, Henry Ford College and Suzanne Labadie, Oakland Community College

Roundtable discussants will facilitate collaboration between CBW and TYCA attendees around research in our field. The goal of this session of the workshop will be to determine the key areas of crossover in our organizations where research needs exist, and to develop professional communities of instructors to support, produce, and participate in work in these particular areas. Attendees will be actively engaged in this session through conversation, brainstorming, and planning future collaborative work around key topics, such as placement, retention, acceleration, critical thinking, rigor, and changing expectations in college-level writing.
And don’t forget to join us for the CBW SIG on Thursday night to congratulate Boise State’s PLUS: ‪Projecting Learning, Understanding Success‬, winner of the 2015 Innovations in Basic Writing Award. Our SIG is located in Marriott, Grand Ballroom C, Level Two from 6:30-7:30 pm.‬‬

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