Establishing the WI Program
Writing Intensive (WI) as a thematic program required for graduation was mandated in 1994. Students were required to take 12 hours of WI designated courses. This change was initiated by faculty members and was based on their observations of students need for additional, formal writing experiences as part of their General Education. . The General Studies program was undergoing major revision in 1994 so the WI requirement became part of the changes implemented in General Education at UNK.
Governance of the courses was assigned to the UNK General Studies Council and the Director of General Studies in 1994. It was their task to develop criteria for courses designated as being WI as well as manage the implementation of the courses. It should be noted that the WI courses were not inherent components of the General Studies Program. Management of the WI offerings was given to the General Studies Council as a task in addition to their governance of the General Studies Program.
After the NCA visit in March 2004, members of the General Studies Council recognized that they had a tremendous task in addressing General Studies Program Assessment issues raised by visit. It was decided that it no longer made sense to have the General Studies Council manage an initiative (WI) that was not part of the General Studies Program. A proposal was submitted by the Director of General Studies to the Faculty Senate in November of 2004 to create a committee for the purpose of transferring governance of WI courses from the General Studies Council to another group. The proposal asked the Faculty Senate to create an ad hoc WI/CD Committee for the broad purposes of managing the program and developing the assessment process. The proposal was adopted with the provision that the committee would complete its work by January, 2007 and cease operations in May, 2007
The committee charges are listed below.
- Assume the governance of WI/CD courses with respect to the approval of WI and CD courses and departmental issues concerning scheduling of WI and CD courses,
- Promote writing as an important skill for all UNK students to possess, and to promote writing as a core pedagogical tool in all programs at UNK,
- Promote multiculturalism and international experience as core values for all UNK students and faculty and to encourage programmatic activities supporting these values in all programs at UNK,
- With the assistance of the Director of Assessment, review assessment data, including student outcome data, concerning WI and CD courses (Some of the assessment data will be collected by other units, such as departments and General Studies. However, it is appropriate for this committee to collect its own data.),
- Based in part on the assessment data, make specific written recommendations to the Faculty Senate concerning the structure of the WI and CD requirements and the governance of those courses by January, 2007,
- Even though the authority to review and rule on student petitions concerning WI and CD exceptions will remain with the Director of General Studies, the committee will review the current process and make recommendations if needed,
- The committee will begin operation immediately and cease operations in May, 2007.
The committee structure was approved at the same time as the creation of the committee. Membership included:
- Two faculty representatives from each College.
- One faculty representative from the library.
- A committee representative from the Administration’s Committee on Ethnic Diversity.
Members were to be appointed by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
Ex Officio members of the committee could include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Director of the Writing Center
- Director of Composition
- Director of General Studies
- Director or Coordinator of Assessment
Committee members were appointed and began meeting in February, 2005.
Committee Activities and Actions Related to WI
- The committee reviewed the charges and established priorities
- Priorities that were established and a possible chronological order for addressing them was identified
- Review the governance process and establish procedures for the committee to follow for maintaining the present program
- Begin addressing the assessment of the WI courses
- Develop recommendations for the WI courses based on survey data
- Study assessment options for WI courses
- Determine general assessment processes to adopt
- Submit recommendations to Faculty Senate
- Implement recommendations
- Develop assessment framework
- Develop governance proposal
- Submit proposal to Faculty Senate
- The committee developed surveys to gather information about student and faculty perceptions regarding WI courses
- The surveys were administered
- The committee updated WI application and approval processes and posted on the web
- The Director for the Writing Center was paid a stipend by the Office of Assessment to initiate research on effective methods for assessing writing at the program level
- A team of committee members assembled the survey data and developed analyses of the data.
- The Director of the Writing Center and the Director of Assessment reviewed existing writing assessment plans in place at UNK.
- The NSSE survey results about engagement in writing were collected and summarized.
- A retreat was scheduled for the committee to review the existing data and make decisions about the programs based on the available information.
- The retreat was held in August and several decisions were made.
- Major decisions:
- The WI program could benefit from several changes based on the survey data, examination of assessment methodology used at other campuses, and a review of assessment models already in place at UNK.
- Changes to be considered in the WI program included:
- Reduce the required hours from twelve to six.
- Require three hours to be taken within the student’s program of study, changing the program from writing across the curriculum to a greater focus on writing in their discipline.
- Writing performance would be assessed within a WI course.
- Require each program of study to develop an assessment and writing plan with appropriate learning objectives and rubrics.
- Enforce the class size requirement of 25.
- Reviewed and further developed initial program recommendations discussed at August retreat.
- Began dissemination of proposals to SVCAASL and Deans of Colleges.
- Presented proposal to Faculty Senate.
- The proposals were distributed to College Academic Policy Committees for input to the Faculty Senate.
- Faculty Senate approved proposals with changes at the February, 2006 meeting.
- The committee developed a framework for department writing and assessment plans.
- The committee disseminated the framework and set a due date of October 15, 2006 for assessment plans to be submitted to the committee for review, feedback, revision (if needed), and acceptance.
- The committee set the fall semester of 2007 for the initial data collection efforts with an expectation that all departments would have collected writing data during 2007-08 and would report on that data in October 2008.
- The committee assisted departments (as needed) with development of the WI assessment plans.
- The committee reviewed the plans in November and began providing feedback.
- Seventy-nine percent of programs submitted WI assessment plans by the due date.
- Some of the remaining programs were in the process of submitting plans and continued submitting plans in spring 2007.
- Names of programs not submitting plans were forwarded to the Faculty Senate as part of committee minutes.
- The committee placed development of a governance plan as its agenda for the remainder of the spring semester since there was a sunset provision in the original Faculty Senate charges.
- A governance proposal was presented to the committee by a member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee for discussion.
- The committee discussed the proposal but did not vote upon it.
- A revision of that proposal was presented to the Faculty Senate by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. It was approved by the Senate and forwarded to the SVCAASL for acceptance.
- The members of the WI/CD Committee reviewed the governance document passed by the Faculty Senate and submitted comments and concerns to the SVCAASL through the Faculty Assistant to the SVCAASL.
- The new governing group will consist of a standing WI/CD Committee that reports to the SVCAASL.
- The administration of the assessment component will be transferred to the Assessment Office which will provide assessment data to the committee for their review and action.
- The current committee has recommended that the standing committee be selected by May instead of the September date approved by the Faculty Senate and SVCAASL in order to facilitate continuity.
- New members of the WI/CD committee were installed at the September meeting and Tami Moore took over as Chair.
- The committee reviewed the WI mission, objectives, and assessment plan and provided feedback to the Office of Assessment on these documents.
- The committee’s main focus during Fall semester was in reviewing and providing feedback/approval to departments submitting proposals for WI courses.
- The committee also reviewed and discussed the assessment data collected by the Office of Assessment and provided input on changes to the WI program, as a result of the data.