Faculty Writing Support
Faculty members are held to high expectations when it comes to writing and research for all series. It is assumed that all faculty members have been taught how to write academically and need little support or accountability for this type of work. However, faculty members have hectic schedules in balancing work and external responsibilities, and face stressors Academic Writing is central to faculty work, and yet few faculty are trained in creating sustainable and joyous writing habits. There are also norms and expectations for publishing, earning promotion or tenure, and obtaining grants that can be opaque. Writing Support at DU is a collaborative effort that brings together Faculty Affairs, the Writing Program, and the Writing Center, and is ever evolving to meet faculty needs.
These offerings include regular programming like Writing Accountability Groups, which meet for a quarter, drop in support like “Writing in Place” sessions, and regular opportunities for strategic planning, understanding academic genres and procedures, and writing retreats to jumpstart joy and productivity in equal measure. Learn about this programming and, if applicable, sign up!
Writing Accountability Group Coordinator: Libby Catchings
The Office of the Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs wants to celebrate Libby Catchings’ hard work as the coordinator for the Writing Accountability program. For the past year, Libby has been working to support faculty members with writing events and opportunities in a much-needed time with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Libby Catchings is a teaching assistant professor in the University Writing Program and affiliate faculty with the DU Prison Arts Initiative, where she promotes writing as mode of inquiry and recursive, reflective practice. As coordinator for the Writing Accountability program, she serves as liaison between the Writing Center and the VPFA, facilitating WAG programming and providing material support to faculty seeking better work-life balance and alignment between their research and pedagogical goals.
Learn more about and sign up for Writing Accountability Groups (WAGs)
Writing Accountability Groups (WAGs) are small, facilitated groups to support faculty research and work-life balance throughout the quarter. Drawing on NCFDD and DU professional development resources, participants meet weekly to identify and support advancement of individual scholarly, writing, and creative projects. Rather than exchanging manuscripts or reviewing content, however, group conversations are focused on the process of writing and on mutual encouragement.
The Aim of WAGS
To create sustainable writing practices and accountability structures that support faculty’s work on a quarterly basis. Drawing on National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) resources obtained via partnership between OTL, ODEI, UAP, and the Office of Research, groups were designed to create space where faculty might share their challenges, successes, and goals, while also holding space for faculty to plan and write.
How do WAGs work
Groups meet for 10 weeks during fall, winter, and spring quarter, and produce one artifact by quarter’s end (to include manuscripts, strategic plans, grant proposals, promotion materials, etc.).
Each participant commits to:
- Attending 90 minute weekly sessions, including time to develop individual projects.
- Writing 30 minutes daily (to include planning and reflection).
- Producing one written artifact.
Sign Up for next quarter’s WAG
Impacts of WAGs
In 2020-2021, WAGS provided: 180 hours of Writing Accountability Group community support to around 40 faculty participants, who created:
57 artifacts developed, including
- 19 peer-reviewed, short-form manuscripts
- 6 books
- 6 dossiers
- 5 conference papers
- 5 teaching documents (e.g., syllabi)
- 3 grants
- 3 public-facing digital texts
- Among those who participated in Fall (N=13), 5 responded to the Post-WAG survey. Of those, 100 percent either maintained or increased their productivity (n=5; Q6).
- 80 percent of respondents (n=4, N=5) described their WAG journey in positive terms, emphasizing both community and connection (n=4), and 20 percent expressing value in consistency/structure (n=1) (Q8, Q9).
- An additional 3 participants that did not take the survey (n=3) indicated a positive WAG journey via email testimonial, bringing the number of positive WAG experiences to 88 percent (n=7, N=8).
- There was a 26 percent increase in feeling supported by DU colleagues from Pre-WAG to Post-WAG surveys (Q13).
- Nearly all (n=9, N=10) respondents reported positive feelings of connection and community, as well as the structure and consistency (n=9) (Q26, Q27).
- Most respondents (N=13, n=10) felt their writing was adequately supported by colleagues. 100 percent of that 77 percent were continuing WAG participants from W2021 (Q13).
- Most respondents described themselves as being “extremely satisfied” with their Spring WAG/WNiP experience (n=5; Q5), with 100% of WAG respondents (N=7) saying they would recommend WAG to a colleague, and 75 percent (N=8, n=6) of respondents saying they would recommend or highly recommend WNiP to a colleague (Q37).
- Even as only one participant (n=1, N=7) reported being satisfied with their productivity (Q19), 100 percent of respondents described their journey and WNiP/WAG support in positive terms (n=7), with 46 percent (n=6, N=13) emphasizing the value of community and human connection, and 77 percent (n=10) emphasizing the structure and consistency that the WNiP/WAG programming provided (Q27, Q35).
- More than half (n=7, N=13) sad WAG programming changed how they think about the writing they have students do, providing specific examples of how they planned to engage (Q31).
Quotes from WAG members:
“I reluctantly and at the last minute signed up for a [WAG)], but I will say it is by far one of the best things I have done for myself since being at DU for almost 10 years now. It has significantly changed my academic life and I am amazed at how quickly I have developed new, healthy writing habits! And I truly look forward to checking in weekly with my WAG. During these times of Covid, it’s been like therapy–it keeps me going and I feel truly supported.”
– Longtime DU TT Faculty member
“[T]he WAG program was singlehandedly the best thing that I have done for my academic career in terms of professional development. I learned A LOT from the NCFDD videos and the discussions with my group, especially about topics like revisions, taking tough feedback, moving past obstacles, and always persisting. My position was eliminated for next year because of budget cuts, but the WAG program will be the thing that I most appreciated about my year at DU.”
– VTAP/Teaching Faculty
Writing in Place Quarterly Description & Schedule
Faculty of all series can join Writing in Place (WIPS) drop-in sessions throughout the academic year. Writing in Place offers the chance to commit to making space for writing for a short amount of time with other faculty members. These groups are organized by DU faculty and often have guest hosts to help encourage and support the practice of academic writing. Faculty are welcome to join Writing in Place as it fits their schedule, although we recommend a weekly commitment.
Write in Place Schedule – SPRING 2022
- MONDAYS, 9:00-12:00, in-person (Community Commons 2nd floor, Faculty Lounge) and on Zoom (https://udenver.zoom.us/j/81680833617)
- FRIDAYS, 9:00-12:00, in person (Community Commons Faculty Loungs) and on Zoom (https://udenver.zoom.us/j/83639929387)
These Write-in-Place sessions will be held at those times every Monday and Friday this quarter through June.
Writing Center Consultations & Research Support
The challenges of writing and teaching others to write persist for faculty across series—even faculty who are accomplished writers and instructors. It can be helpful to talk with a fellow faculty member. This fall, Writing Center faculty consultants are available to offer this assistance. Any faculty member can make an appointment for an in-person or online consultation with a Writing Program faculty member.
Writing Pedagogy Consultations
Teaching Professor and faculty consultant Geoff Stacks says, “writing an assignment is like any other kind of writing—I always seek feedback. I’ve been teaching for 20 years, but I still find it helpful to get a fresh set of eyes on my assignments.” Faculty consultants can share expertise in writing pedagogy, including creating and scaffolding assignments, integrating writing-to-learn activities, developing rich commenting practices, and finding small ways to teach writing when writing is not the subject of the class.
Faculty consultants ask questions, read through parts of your project with you, share perspectives, and serve as sounding boards. They can help you identify relevant resources and provide check-ins to keep you on track. They don’t pre-read or edit; rather, they work with you to make progress on your project. As Teaching Professor and faculty consultant Kara Taczak notes, “sometimes, it just takes talking with someone else who understands that writing is difficult to help figure out a way forward.”
Read more about Writing Center Faculty consultants and email Writing Center Director Dr. Juli Parrish (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.