After a committee of faculty, staff, and students from across Embry-Riddle's three campuses completed a multiple-phased review of Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) proposals, we are ready to implement Writing Matters. To help students become adaptable writers capable of responding successfully to discipline- and industry-specific demands, Writing Matters will enhance faculty development and support structures with the goal of providing contiguous writing support across students’ undergraduate degree programs.
Why does writing matter to Embry-Riddle students?
In the “Career Readiness Competencies Employer Survey” (2017), employers of Embry-Riddle graduates overwhelmingly indicated that they value strong written communication skills. That is because in every career field Embry-Riddle students will enter, writing matters.
- Pilots write incident reports.
- Intelligence professionals write talking points.
- Aerospace engineers write structural analyses.
- Entrepreneurs write business plans.
These are just a few of the many types of writing Embry-Riddle graduates will create on the job. Therefore, preparing to write for discipline- and industry-specific audiences and purposes is of the utmost importance. That is the goal of the Writing Matters QEP.
How will Writing Matters work?
General education writing classes currently provide Embry-Riddle students with foundational writing knowledge and strategies. The Writing Matters QEP will help students adapt that knowledge to complete more specialized writing tasks. Faculty in every college will have the opportunity to share their expertise regarding expectations for written communication in the highly specialized disciplines and industries their students want to enter.
Writing Matters will support faculty and students through several key mechanisms:
Enhanced Faculty Support: Faculty will be prepared and empowered to integrate tools and strategies to enhance student writing through quality training and development.
Program Plans: Participating programs will develop a strategy to integrate and assess learning opportunities that expand writing skills beyond general education courses.
Collaboration Across Campus: Faculty across disciplines will collaborate to help students use knowledge from general education courses to complete major writing assignments in courses within their major. Faculty and staff will work together to tap into existing resources that support student writing.
The Writing Matters Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) state that by the end of their degree programs, Embry-Riddle students will be able to:
- Describe how a composing process shaped a rhetorically responsive communication.
- Create rhetorically responsive content.
- Deliver content in a way that is rhetorically responsive.
In participating courses at three phases of their degree programs, students will tailor written communication in response to specific audiences, purposes and contexts. After learning rhetorical concepts in general education courses, they will write for discipline- and/or industry-specific audiences and purposes in at least two courses in their major. They will submit a major writing assignment, along with a reflection, to an ePortfolio for pedagogical and assessment purposes. This approach will provide scaffolded writing support that fosters an increasingly nuanced understanding of writing-related concepts upon which students can draw across and beyond their degree programs.
This glossary defines important terms from the Writing Matters Student Learning Outcomes.
Communication: A message in any form, such as written, audio, digital and/or visual.
Composing Process: Steps taken to create a communication. Composing processes are often recursive, meaning that the writer returns to a given step multiple times throughout the process. Steps in the composing process may include, but are not limited to, pre-writing, researching, drafting, collaborating, revising and editing using available technologies.
Content: The information presented in the communication. This may include, but is not limited to, research questions, sources of information, level of detail, analysis, calculations and conclusions.
Delivery: The way information is presented. This may include, but is not limited to, organization, format, document design, citation style, tone, voice (active or passive) and sentence structure.
Rhetorical Concepts: The set of circumstances that necessitate a communication and shape what the communication should communicate and how the message should be communicated. Relevant rhetorical concepts include the following:
- Audience: The person or group of people for whom the communication is intended.
- Purpose: The reason for communicating the message to the audience.
- Context: The situation surrounding the communication. This can include physical, social, cultural, political and/or economic factors that impact how the communication is composed, delivered, received and/or interpreted. In academic and professional writing, disciplinary and professional communities surrounding the communication are important aspects of context because conventions for communication within these settings emerge from those communities.
- Genre: Type of communication characterized by specific conventions. Examples of genres include memos, grant proposals, lab reports, persuasive essays and product reviews.
- Conventions: The AAC&U Written Communication VALUE Rubric defines conventions as “formal and informal rules” that guide expectations for what is appropriate in a communication. These may include:
- Genre conventions, which “guide formatting, organization and stylistic choices” for a particular genre. (AAC&U)
- Disciplinary conventions, which guide “what is seen generally as appropriate within different academic fields, e.g., introductory strategies, use of passive voice or first person point of view, expectations for thesis or hypothesis, expectations for kinds of evidence and support that are appropriate to the task at hand, use of primary and secondary sources to provide evidence and support arguments, and to document critical perspectives on the topic.” (AAC&U)
- Industry-specific conventions, which guide what is seen as appropriate for content and delivery in communications produced and consumed within specific professional industries. Genre conventions and disciplinary or industry-specific conventions often intersect to shape expectations for a communication. For example, although persuasive essays written in different disciplines may share some genre conventions, disciplinary conventions for that genre may vary greatly from one discipline to the next. As a result, an effective persuasive essay in literature will probably look very different from an effective persuasive essay in psychology.
- Medium: The technology used to deliver the message, such as paper, webpage, video or audio file.
Rhetorically Responsive: Tailored appropriately in response to relevant rhetorical concepts.
To ensure proper support of students’ work toward the learning outcomes, we identified three Writing Matters institutional outcomes. Upon the full integration of the QEP, Embry-Riddle will boast an intentional culture for writing proficiency, including:
- Implementing high quality, rigorous, and innovative educational experiences that expand written communication skills beyond general education courses;
- Enriching dynamic, integrated, and well-utilized academic support structures; and
- Expanding quality faculty development to support enhanced communications curricula.
To achieve the institutional outcomes, Writing Matters will provide faculty development opportunities focused on writing pedagogy. The QEP kicks off with a faculty development training program designed to introduce key concepts and guide faculty through a writing assessment, which they will collaborate with department colleagues to complete. Additional faculty development will be provided throughout the QEP cycle according to need demonstrated through assessment and faculty feedback. After the writing assessment, at least one unit per department will be expected to develop and implement a writing instruction plan. Academic support outside the classroom, and particularly writing tutoring, will be enhanced to support faculty and students. Embry-Riddle will provide support for the QEP as approved by Embry-Riddle leadership and as determined through its established business planning and budget process.
Students, faculty, and staff are invited to help make the Writing Matters Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) a success by joining one of the committees described below. This is an opportunity to meet new people across campus and add an impressive line to your resume.
Determine how entities like libraries and tutoring services can support the Writing Matters QEP.
Develop and promote a plan to integrate writing projects into content courses.
How to Join
Join a committee by filling out the QEP Committee Interest form.