The University Writing Committee (UWC) is committed to ensuring that the University Writing Programs (UWP) operate as effectively as possible. Toward that end, the UWC views program assessment as one of its chief responsibilities. Assessments are intended not only to understand the efficacy of current initiatives, but also to determine in what other ways the UWP might be able to foster a culture of writing at UNH.
The UWC and UWP are charged to evaluate the program regularly (every second or third year on a rotating basis) using a variety of measures, such as analysis of syllabi, interviewing of faculty and students, surveys, review of portfolios, etc. In our assessment efforts we hope to create opportunities to understand student writing, to support the integration of writing across the UNH curriculum, and to make recommendations regarding the current Writing Requirement. Ongoing projects include annual writing center assessments, faculty focus groups, exit interviews with student writers, and surveys.
Chairs Survey [PDF], administered in the spring of 2005. The Chairs Survey sought to gauge department chairs' perceptions of the UWR, of Writing Intensive courses, and of writing in general at the department/program level. It also sought to define challenges unique to WI course instruction and to determine what departments and programs need in order to improve implementation of the UWR. Results of this survey have been presented at a variety of meetings, including the Chairs Annual Workshop in August of 2005.
In 2003, a dedicated but limited student survey [PDF] in a small number of WI courses had inconclusive results. Therefore, the Committee decided to survey both faculty and students in all WI courses during AY 2005-2006.
This was followed by a more comprehensive WI Course Survey [PDF] in 2005, published in 2007, that polled 137 faculty and 6,857 students in WI courses at UNH. The point was to help determine the efficacy of the current Writing Requirement. This survey was administered to students in conjunction with the end-of-course TEV survey. Students answered seven objective questions. Institutional Research provided assistance with survey administration and results. A matched but more substantial survey of 10 questions was administered to faculty electronically via the Writing Program’s Blackboard site. A sub report was prepared for each college and department, and deans and faculty were offered a chance to see the results of the surveys and an opportunity to attend follow up discussion sessions conducted by the Director of the Writing Program in each college on the survey.
Writing Intensive Syllabus Review. In 2010-11, in cooperation with the associate deans and academic departments, the UWP completed a major update of Writing Intensive records and conducted a comprehensive study of WI sylllabi on behalf of the Writing Committee. In the collection and update effort, the UWP received and studied 463 WI sylllabi, representing roughly 65% of the university's 707 WI courses on the books, exclusive of EN401 (First Year Writing) and other explicit writing courses (ie, Tech Writing, etc). Most of the updated syllabi collected were for courses being offered over the collection period, by extension representing a majority of the currently active WI courses. The major questions driving the study were: 1) What do WI syllabi communicate about writing and the writing requirement? 2) To what extent do WI syllabi correspond to or reflect the UNH WI guidelines? The study took a quantitative approach. For each syllabus, a 12 question rubric was applied to highlight the presence of language related to the writing and writing intensive tenets. The results have been shared with the Colleges (Associate Deans), Academic Departments, the Vice Provost for Academic Affaris, and the Faculty Senate. For a copy, please contact the Director of the Writing Program.
Student Exit Interviews [2011, 2012]. Beginning in May of 2011, the Writing Committee began conducting recurring exit interviews with a panel of graduating seniors on their writing histories at UNH. These interviews consisted of brief student presentations followed by Q&A with committee members. It is the Writing Committee's hope to expand the audience for this event in the future. All faculty are encouraged to participate.
Review of WI courses. Since implementation, there has been a routine review process in place for WI course approval. Existing evidence indicates that UNH offers an adequate distribution of WI courses for students to fulfill the Writing Requirement in all programs. In addition, ongoing assistance has been available for both faculty and students who voluntarily seek help, not only for work in WI courses, but also for any work with writing. However, given that the practice is managed at the department level, we currently have only anecdotal information on what is happening in WI courses. These other instruments help to give us more insight into the WI course structure.
These assessment efforts and the ongoing, routine work with writing at UNH indicate that the "culture of writing" at UNH will continue to thrive and evolve for the benefit of our students. We believe that the strength of writing instruction at UNH lies in the breadth, depth, and diversity of student and faculty involvement.