2017-2018 Research-Based Teaching Series Call for Proposals

UNG faculty and teaching staff are invited to submit a proposal to conduct a teaching workshop as part as the 2017-2018 RBTS. Workshops must feature activities and approaches founded in research on teaching and learning.

Co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL), Research-Based Teaching Series (RBTS) seeks to support the work of faculty from all disciplines, colleges, and campuses by offering faculty presentations and workshops on best practices in teaching and learning. These workshops not only provide information and resources for faculty seeking to enhance their own pedagogical practices, but also give faculty an opportunity to present their work to peers.

As a partnering institution for the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AAC&U) Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), we encourage submissions that support the principles of this initiative. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

Please use the link below to submit your proposal. Your proposal should include the following information:

  • Name, contact information, primary campus, and A/V requirements
  • Title, 300-word abstract, list of 3-5 sources in the citation style of your choice
  • Date(s) available (from the list below). You can choose more than one.
  • Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 12-1pm
  • Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 12-1pm
  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 12-1pm

Applicants can submit their proposal here.

Submission deadline is August 1, 2017 at 5 p.m. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision by August 21, 2017.

For questions, please email Diana Edelman at diana.edelman@ung.edu.

Write@UNG Series 2016-2107

The Write@UNG workshop series has wrapped up its first year of workshops 2016-2017. This faculty development program stretches across five campuses and enriches scholarly productivity through a focus on research and writing skills. The Write@UNG workshops was facilitated by Dr. Michael Rifenburg, Department of English and a Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL) Faculty Fellow for Scholarly Writing.

The program for the Write@UNG series included six workshops. This series will continue in 2017-2018. Stay in touch with CTLL to learn more about next year’s offerings!

Past Write@UNG Events 2016-2017:

September 12, 2017- Writing Productivity

This opening session featured discussions about structure and accountability at the beginning of the academic year. Dr. Tara Gray, the Director of the Teaching Academy at New Mexico State, found this formula for writing productivity: 30 minutes a day for 4.5 days a week=180 pages of revised writing annually. Writing productivity comes down to structure and accountability.

October 10, 2017- Co-Authoring

Dr. Steven Lloyd, Department Head of Psychological Science, and Dr. Ryan Shanks, Professor of Biology, joined the workshop talking about co-authoring: how and why. Attendees left the workshop with a stronger sense of the role co-authoring, even the non-writing co-author, can play in academic disciplines and scholarship.

November 14, 2017- Cultivating a Journal Article from Your Work

In this workshop, participants shared concrete advice about journal authoring from their experiences and the scholarly literature. Professors don’t need to start from scratch; rather, most faculty have materials for a first draft.

January 30, 2017- Copyright for Authors

Few subjects are more opaque but vitally important than intellectual property—especially in the increasing digital age in which we live, teach, and write. The Framers of the Constitution granted Congress the ability to secure “for Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their Respective Writings and Discoveries.”  Amy Beard and Corey Parson, both with the UNG Press, joined the workshop to consider what is needed to know about intellectual property for writing and what “Writings and Discoveries” mean in your field.

February 13, 2017- Writing and Revising

When preparing a manuscript for publication, we are faced with at least two kinds of revision: inward and outward. In other words, some of our revision is spurred by our reading closely and making our own changes. Other kinds of revision are spurred by reader feedback. Both are tough reflective activities but are central to scholarly productivity.

Both Michael Rifenburg and Diana Edelman presented at the Creating Writing Groups workshop.

April 26, 2017- Creating Writing Groups

Dr. Diana Edelman, Associate Professor of English, talked about the faculty writing group she founded. WriteIn members met weekly to write, share drafts, drink coffee, and experience the joys and frustrations of being a scholarly writer.

Research-Based Teaching Series 2016-2017

The Research-Based Teaching Series (RBTS) had its final workshop for the 2016-2017 academic year. Co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL), RBTS seeks to support the work of faculty from all disciplines, colleges, and campuses by offering faculty presentations and workshops on best practices in teaching and learning. These workshops not only provide information and resources for faculty seeking to enhance their own pedagogical practices, but also give faculty an opportunity to present their work to peers.

Because the University of North Georgia (UNG) is a partnering institution for the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AAC&U) Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), we encouraged submissions that support the principles of this initiative. These included, but were not limited to, the following:

The 2016-2017 RBTS programming included five workshops offered to all campuses.

The 2017-2018 Call for Proposals is now available. Applicants can submit their proposal here.

Past RBTS Events 2016-2017:

September 7, 2016 – Literature is an Ally:  Reading War in the Classroom and Community

Kristin Kelly, Associate Professor of English, discussed “Talking Service,” a national reading and discussion program for servicemen and servicewomen coming back to civilian life from the war zone.

October 5, 2016 – Statistics: It’s Not Just for STEM Anymore! Conduct Research in ANY Discipline Using Statistical Analysis

Gina Reed, Professor of Math, led this workshop designed to support the research of all faculty and provided important methods and tools for conducting quantitative research in the classroom. This research can, potentially, develop into publishable scholarship in the areas of teaching and learning.

January 18, 2017 – Everyone Can Teach Writing: Three Constructs to Engage Students in Deep Learning

Jim Shimkus, Assistant Professor of English and Director of Faculty Fellows, and Anita Turlington, Associate Professor of English, explained the relevance of the three constructs (and associated practices/activities) that engage students in learning beyond a simple quantity of writing (i.e. number of pages written) as high-impact teaching practices that help to enhance student learning and development. Their presentation used results from a recent research project, “The Contributions of Writing to Learning and Development: Results from a Large-Scale Multi-institutional Study” which identified the three constructs as Interactive Writing Processes, Meaning-Making Writing Tasks, and Clear Writing Expectations. These practices are helpful not only for those college teachers who are focused on teaching writing, but teachers in any discipline who are interested in strategies to enhance student learning.

Molly Daniel, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition, presenting at the Effectively Responding to Student Writing workshop.

February 1, 2017 – Effectively Responding to Student Writing

Matthew Boedy and Molly Daniel, Assistant Professors of English, shared principles for giving effective feedback. These principles are grounded in composition theory but also includes particular strategies, practices, and “marks” by instructors. Many in the English Department teach First Year Composition on a regular basis, but faculty in other departments also teach writing-intensive courses. Much research in composition theory has been devoted to developing best practices for giving feedback to students in these types of courses.

March 27, 2017 – Is Blended Learning a Viable Option?

Jennifer Schneider, Assistant Professor of Accounting, addressed how to use an interactive approach to reach students. Educators and students are interested in positive learning experiences. Making the change to a blended learning structure might achieve the goal for both groups. “Flipping the Classroom” is a blended learning method that is being used to disrupt the passive learning pedagogy.

The Benefits of Faculty Writing Groups

Grab your “to do” list. Whether it’s mental, handwritten, or online, the list probably includes grading papers, preparing lessons for the week, and attending committee meetings (among other things). Have you scheduled any time this week for your own research and writing? Most of us don’t, but can we afford not to? As teachers, we spend a lot of time explaining to students the importance of planning their time, particularly in regards to research and writing. We encourage them to understand their role in the academic community, as thinkers, writers, and readers. Some of us even model this process through in-class peer review workshops where students read and comment on each other’s work.

The question is: do we take our own advice? Are we the kind of professors who would be forced to admit that we prefer that students “do as we say, not as we do”? If you are in academia, writing is an essential part of your job—whether you are writing a textbook on quantum physics or a blog about gender dynamics in the media. Before you send that work to a publisher or post it online, do you workshop it with your peers? Do you get their feedback? Do you do multiple revisions, or are you scrambling to pull it together at the last minute because you have so many other duties (not the least of which is teaching)? Quite often, I find that even the best of us do exactly what we tell our students NOT to do—wait until the last minute and/or hover over our desks in the dark of night (as if writing were a solitary process!).

The point is—writing groups are a win-win. Besides modeling the academic community for our students, peer writing groups can help us develop ideas, fine-tune our prose, and keep us on task. We know how easy it is to get “sucked in” to our other duties—teaching, administration, service. Our writing often goes on the back burner, but it needs to become a priority. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen, and before you know it, that article you’ve been working on will gather more dust than you can handle. The most effective way to ensure that you gain momentum (and keep it) is through peer writing groups.

The Benefits of Peer Writing Groups

  • It’s an opportunity to discuss ideas at all stages of development. You know that article is going to get a review from experts in the field before it’s accepted for publication. If you begin that process in a writing group, even with people in different disciplines, they can help you get it ready for a more “official” peer review.
  • Your peers offer a fresh perspective. We have all gotten to the point with a piece of writing where we can no longer “see” it clearly. We need distance and a fresh pair of eyes.
  • You learn about what others are working on. Your colleagues provide inspiration and knowledge (which is the whole idea behind conferences, right?). Chances are your peers will know of a resource that is just what you need at just the right time.
  • These groups facilitate time management because this scheduled time allows you to say no to other things because you are already committed.
  • Your peers provide emotional support and encouragement. Let’s face it. Writing can be exhausting, and we need moral support.

Okay, so, the benefits are clear, but you might be thinking that the logistics are murky. How do we start one of these groups? How often should we meet? Is this going to be yet another meeting to attend? The most important thing to do is to find people who are interested in participating and go from there. Establish your own rules and guidelines based on the needs of the group. There is no reason this should become another chore; it should be fun and mutually beneficial.

The Logistics of Peer Writing Groups

Since groups like this can be created and maintained in many different ways, I will share some basic principles/tips that worked for the group I am currently participating in.

  • Find colleagues who are interested in dedicating regular time to research and writing and want/need accountability. Send an email to your department, bring it up around the proverbial water cooler, or discuss it with others at a conference. These colleagues need not have the same specialty you do or be in the same discipline. They don’t even have to be in the same geographical location. I am in a group with peers on my campus, but I am also in a virtual one with colleagues in other states. They just need to be ready to participate.
  • After you identify some people, schedule a time to meet informally and discuss each person’s goals and what they hope to achieve from the group. From there, determine the following: when, where, and how often to meet; how to track individual and group progress; and what responsibilities members should have. For the group I am in, we determined that we would like to have a quiet time and place to meet simply to be in the same room working on our projects (I call these “moral support” sessions), but at other times, we wanted to share our writing and get feedback. Thus, we determined that we would alternate between writing sessions and discussion/peer review sessions.
  • Once you schedule a regular meeting time, create a calendar and a place to share materials, due dates, and goals. We use Google calendar to allow participants to sign up for discussion/peer review sessions. Once individuals sign up, they can email their work to the group (or use Google Drive or a similar mechanism). We use Google Drive. Participants post their material the night before a meeting (or sometime that week), and whoever has time can make comments. At other times, individuals have brought hard copies to sessions, and participants read and commented on the work verbally or on the hard copy.
  • Although commenting on others’ writing might seem like extra work, it really isn’t. Our group decided that we would not require individuals to comment every time someone signs up for a peer review session. Our guideline is that you comment at least as many times as you share. Thus, group members can participate as much or as little as they need to.
  • Depending on the level of activity of each member, six to ten is probably the ideal size. You want to have enough people to participate, but not so many that the sessions are mostly peer review. You need those “moral support” sessions too. If you have six to ten members, there will usually be at least two or three who can comment and provide sufficient feedback even if others can’t that week. In other words, those sharing get the feedback they need, and nobody feels pressure if they can’t participate that week.
  • I also recommend that the group keep a log of goals and accomplishments (this can be weekly, biweekly, monthly, whatever works). Goal setting and reporting are vital. They allow you to quantify your progress (“hey, I worked three hours on that article this week” or “I wrote five pages!”) as well as see other people’s progress, which is always encouraging. Our group keeps a document in Google Drive where each member writes out their goals for the week (which can be anything from “write 5 pages” to “work for 2 hours on Project X” to “read three articles on Project Y”). At the end of the week, we fill in a report, which tells what we accomplished that week. This is done electronically and at the convenience of members who can be as detailed as they want (or not post at all). Again, members do what is going to help them. Sometimes we will meet our goals, and sometimes not, but the trajectory is always forward. Setting smaller, obtainable goals is the key to completing any long project, and this kind of documentation facilitates that.
  • Make sure that you keep this time and space SACRED. Avoid grading, meeting with students, or scheduling other non-research-related activities during this time. By carving out a specific time and place for research and writing, you are free to say “no” when you need to. Your calendar says “unavailable,” and you have made writing a regular part of the week. This is sacred time. For me, a defined schedule helps me to be able to say to students (and not feel guilty), “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t meet on Friday afternoons. I’m in meetings.” This keeps me from “caving in” to every demand and ensures that I reserve at least that much time each week. Our group schedules a four-hour session every Friday afternoon, but people don’t have to come for that entire time. Even if someone comes for only 30 minutes, that’s 30 minutes more than they would have done otherwise.
  • And, finally, take time to celebrate accomplishments. Schedule a lunch session, or bring in coffee and doughnuts one day. It’s great to hear what our colleagues are doing and to pat ourselves on the back for accomplishing our goals.

Regardless of the discipline—from mathematics to art history, from biology to political science—scholarship is the reason you do what you do. It allows you to engage with the material that led you to teaching.

If you’d like some more information about how to start a faculty writing group here at UNG (including grant opportunities), see the following:

http://ung.edu/center-teaching-learning-leadership/communities-of-practice/faculty-writing-group.php

This CTLL link also includes a list of electronic and print resources such as Robert Boice’s Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing and Kerry Ann Rockquemore’s article “Shut Up and Write” from Inside Higher Ed.

Other Resources:

The Academic Writing Club

Designed for graduate students, post-docs, and professors, this web site provides online accountability tools, peer support from academics around the country, and other resources to ensure that you meet your research and writing goals.

http://academicwritingclub.com/

The Writing Center @ University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Writing Center provides some excellent advice for starting a group, creating a schedule and establishing workshop guidelines. This site includes a “Writing Group Starter Kit” and other resources for students and scholars.

http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/writing-groups/

UCLA’s Graduate Writing Center

Although geared towards graduate students, UCLA’s page, “Running an Effective Writing Group,” provides resources and guidelines that are applicable to anyone who needs to maintain a rigorous writing schedule.

http://gsrc.ucla.edu/gwc/resources/running-an-effective-writing-group.html