WID Program Experience: Faculty Voice
Elizabth Desouza, ESL/English
This past year has been a growing and “painful” experience as I participated in the WID Study Group “course.” I learned how to design low-stakes assignments to scaffold for high-stakes assignments. I learned that if we break down the assignment into segments, it would be less overwhelming to students. The breaking down takes carefully planning and thinking. In addition, I learned that the best learning is done through trials and errors. We started this project last semester, and by the following semester, I had to change most of my lesson plans to meet students’ needs. As Dr. K. Liu reminded me, the process of learning is painful, but at the end very satisfying. I recommend the WID training project to all those who want to become effective instructors.
Keshia Graham, Freshman Year Program
In the 2012-2013 academic year, I participated in the Writing in the Discipline program and implemented the WID strategies (which included such techniques as low stakes, high-stakes and scaffolding assignments) to help students strengthen their writing and critical thinking skills. Since Freshman Seminar 102 is a course that has been designed to focus on a college student’s developmental process during their first year experience it is vital that groundwork is built and the WID program assisted in this effort to create a successful foundation.
Upon completion of the program, I find not only did WID allow me to meet the course objective (to foster critical thinking and problem solving skills) but I was also able to reinforce the importance of the writing aspect in the course. By incorporating both the WID techniques with the goals and objectives of the Freshman Seminar II course, I feel that the students were able to be mindful of the importance of writing and the critical thinking process, and thus make better decisions.
My interest in participating in WID was to complete empirical research on teaching writing in a non-creative setting. I was interested in developing my pedagogy for formal writing in my Children's Literature class, which is taught mainly to Education Majors as their only requirement in literature. My research interests include literature and literacy in culturally, socio-economically and ability inclusive classrooms, so this program was excellent for informing me on how I educate students to articulate their own needs and goals not only as writers, but as future educators.
I believe that a major issue in teaching mathematics is not properly teaching students to read and write well in the subject. Over the past few decades, a focus on performance testing in exchange for learning and comprehension is really at the heart of our shortages in mathematics and science. The WID training has taught me how to effectively use writing in my discipline to frame students' approach to learning mathematics. I very much enjoyed engaging with the other faculty and hearing about their challenges and strategies to overcome literacy issues, as well as recognizing how these problems overflow across the disciplines. Students enrolled in the experimental WID course in the spring semester have a new appreciation for “writing to learn” and “thinking'. Several of them expressed that they had believed that they were just supposed to get the right answers in a math class. To move away from this argument, our motto in class was “You must think if you want to be a successful mathematician, scientist...or anything else. While it may hurt, it won't kill you.”