Through this program, we are building a community within which students talk about, talk through, and reflect on the lived experience of Composition at Wayne State University.
To support students’ enculturation and engagement in general education composition courses.
- Cultivate Collaboration: learn to talk cogently and precisely about their writing and give generative feedback on the writing of others
- Emphasize Connections: understand the possibilities the composing process presents
- Build Culture: engage with a diverse body of students in a general education course
- Create solidarity: become enculturated to the academic and social environments of an urban research institution through their research, writing, collaboration, presentation and conversation
The Composition Learning Community program activities include an orientation, multiple in-class and online interactions throughout the semester, the production of a Student Writing Showcase at the end of each semester, and in-depth training, reflection, and collaboration between teachers and peer mentors during the midterm check-in event.
Discussions and general interactions between mentors and students involve strategies and support for success in writing, reading, and research – three core competencies reflected in the learning objectives for composition courses at WSU. Throughout the course of the semester, peer mentors support students by sharing their experiences in Composition courses, how they struggled and eventually learned to be successful in their written communication, as well as how work from Composition courses helped them in other courses and contexts across the university.
In addition to these in-class and online interactions, the Student Writing Showcase at the end of each semester involves students in CLC sections displaying, exploring and discussing their written work from the semester with members of the university community. This is a large event to plan between teachers, mentors, and students which requires a high level of teamwork and addresses integrative learning for both students and mentors as they think through how their work in composition spans across their experience at WSU.
The CLC works to help students understand how writers work, think, and feel as well as the potential of learning to research and write through guest presentations by professional writers (creative writers, technical writers, writers in the sciences, etc.) in class, online, or in extracurricular settings.
Finally, students in the CLC are encouraged to attend university programs and campus events, particularly those which support their learning about writing and research and their enculturation in campus life and their majors.
How we work: High Impact Practices
- Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time.
A significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time occurs in two key ways in the learning community. First, in addition to researching, drafting, and revising several projects in the course, all students in Composition Learning Community sections participate in the Student Writing Showcase, for which they plan and revise projects for presentation over the course of the semester. Second, students serving as peer mentors continue working with the course in subsequent semesters, sharing their writing knowledge and experiences with current students and helping develop and revise the activities of the learning community.
- Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters.
Students in learning communities interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters, including exploring the writing process and their projects beyond the purview of the course, discussing elements of rhetoric and composition scholarship and research, and working to understand what it means to be a research writer at our institution. Peer mentors help students interact with faculty by helping them think through the kinds of questions they want to ask faculty and helping them think about how they want to talk about their writing, as well as by modeling this work and sharing their experiences engaging with faculty.
- Experiences with diversity, wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which students are familiar.
Participating in the learning community provides students with experiences with diversity by supporting interaction between students of varying backgrounds and experiences. These courses are often where students at WSU have their first engagement with students of backgrounds and experiences different from their own. The kind of engagement that happens between students in writing courses–discussion about texts, collaboration on research and writing, feedback on content and development of ideas, peer support on revision–helps students learn to work with each other, learn from each other, and to truly value the different backgrounds and perspectives their fellow community members bring to our work.
- Frequent, timely, and constructive feedback.
Students in the learning community (both current ENG 1010, 1020, and 3010 students in LC sections and peer mentors serving those sections) participate in giving and receiving timely, constructive feedback on writing, research, the writing process, campus community experience, and the learning community in a number of ways, both inside of and outside of the classroom.
- Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning.
Reflection and practice are integrated throughout the Composition Learning Community experience. First, as a key concept in all program composition courses, reflection is scaffolded throughout the curriculum in order for students to develop and articulate their knowledge about writing and writing-related concepts. Second, reflection is used in peer mentor training to help peer mentors articulate their experiences with mentoring and to inform learning community coordinators about these experiences.
- Public demonstration of competence.
Students in the Composition Learning Community demonstrate their competence as writers in the Student Writing Showcase, when they present to and discuss their work with current and future composition students, instructors outside of the LC, administrators, peer mentors, and other members of the university community who may choose to attend.
The CLC and General Education @ WSU
Additionally, the CLC directly supports the knowledge, skills, and processes of the courses it serves. As a result, students enrolling in CLC sections of ENG1010 and ENG1020 receive additional support from their CLC peers in developing dispositions and habits that facilitate student success in WSU’s General Education Composition Sequence.
The Composition Learning Community includes sections of ENG 1010, ENG 1020, and ENG 3010 which are required courses for students’ general education credits. The mission, goals, and objectives of the learning community aim to extend students’ classroom experiences by learning about writing through collaborative practice with each other and with peer mentors, helping students see learning to research and write as part of the greater experience of being a student at Wayne State University.
Thus, while the learning community is centered on further development of already established learning outcomes in composition courses, key and explicit connections between the work of the learning community and the learning outcomes of composition courses lie especially in (1) understanding the writing process as flexible, (2) strengthening reading strategies, (3) practicing foundational genres of academic writing, (4) identifying, analyzing, and integrating sources through research, (5) generating ideas from research, (6) making connections between course texts and other texts through discussion, (7) understanding discourse community practices and expectations, and (8) reflecting on the learning process.