Fall 2018 common assignments ready

Our second generation of common assignment pilots are ready to go! Remember, all ICaP courses must include one of these five common assignments in Fall 2018 (excepting online 106, English 106-Y, which draws from a different set particular to those courses).

We’ve made a few updates based on instructor feedback and the reading and rating sessions completed in spring and summer:

  1. We are dropping the reading annotations assignment from this semester’s pilot.
  2. The literature review has been replaced by a research-based essay.
  3. The email assignment has been adjusted to require two different emails to two entirely different recipients (and has been further adjusted for content).
  4. The information literacy pre/post test assignment has not changed.

We’ve updated the common assignments page accordingly. All the new instructor guides have been adjusted to streamline the assignments for assessing program outcomes. The instructor guides also now include the rubrics used for assessment so instructors may better see how these common assignments are being used to assess the program. Each pilot guide still includes resources and ideas for how to incorporate the assignment into your course.

We hope the changes make both assignments and instructional guides more clear for instructors. At Convocation, we’ll say a bit about the assessment data which supported these changes, and dedicate time to breakout groups so instructors working on common assignments can get assistance, share materials, and make plans for the semester. As always, if you need assistance developing your syllabus or integrating a pilot assignment into your assignment sequence, reach out—the ICaP support staff is happy to help.

I want to thank Carrie Grant, Alisha Karabinus, Daniel Ernst, and Derek Sherman for their help finalizing this second generation of pilots. I’m also grateful to everyone who helped us develop the assignments or participated in the first pilot in Spring 2018: Bianca Batti, Mac Boyle, Elizabeth Geib, Patrick Hoburg, Mitchell Jacobs, Amanda Leary, Alex Long, Eugie Ruiz, Margaret Sheble, Phuong Tran, and Sharry Vahed.

Updates to upcoming syllabus checklist for ICaP

In our continued efforts to improve the base syllabus requirements for use in English 106 and 108, and respond to student feedback about our courses, we have updated an important portion of this year’s syllabus checklist: the syllabus approach description. Rather than simply asking instructors to include a version of the official syllabus approach description, we are asking that new syllabi take that description a step further and include a statement on how the approach will be enacted for that specific course, and how assignments reflect the approach’s enactment. These simple additions offer a new level of clarity for students entering the composition classroom, and allow instructors a point of reflection on their course and assignment sequences.

Not only do these improved syllabus approach descriptions offer students a better understanding of the purpose of the syllabus approach, they are a professional development tool for our instructors. Explaining ICaP’s syllabus approach system can be difficult, especially in relation to how it impacts course design. A more robust description on the syllabus gives instructors a chance to think about those connections long before the necessity of explaining in an interview. Here’s an example (for a Digital Rhetorics syllabus):

During the course, we establish digital rhetorics as an umbrella term for the way in which we interact with information today, beginning with the professional email assignment (exploring a common digital genre) and technology literacy narrative, a prompt which requires self-exploration into connections to technology. This course does not aim to study digital rhetorics as a type of cultural studies separate from ourselves, but instead as the very grounding of our ability to find, interpret, and use information in the digital age. With more and more information being stored and created digitally, students need to develop a research literacy—skills fostered by our extended research project—that will help them not only understand these issues, but overcome and utilize them as well. This does not mean simply covering these concepts during class lectures and discussions, but rather putting these ideas into practice with the ways we write and design.

Guidelines will be available when the syllabus checklist goes out later this week, but if instructors have any questions, we will be happy to help develop this adjustment to syllabi.

Also new this semester: Linda Haynes has developed a syllabus template which integrates the checklist. This new version, based on the materials given to new instructors, offers instructors a second way to check their syllabus, and provides robust examples of policies and possibilities. Not sure how to frame something? Check the template for examples. The traditional syllabus checklist will also be available; this new template is meant to be a resource to help instructors build their own documents.

We welcome instructor feedback and continued suggestions for resources which can support teaching.

Visiting instructor positions (updated)

Visiting clinical instructors for Introductory Composition
Department of English, Purdue University

Update, July 25: We have filled all positions. Thank you for your interest.

The Department of English at Purdue University is seeking visiting clinical instructors to teach Purdue’s first-year writing courses for Introductory Composition in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019. Courses may include mainstream versions of English 106 and English 108, as well as specialized sections that involve learning communities or service learning and community engagement. Load is seven courses for the year (likely 3/4). This Visiting Instructor of English position is a one-year appointment for the 2018-2019 academic year, beginning August 2018.

Salary is $40,000 for the academic year. This is a full-time, temporary position that includes benefits.


Minimum of a Master’s degree in English, Communication, or related discipline. PhD preferred. Experience teaching Introductory Composition at the college level.

Application Process

Email a letter of application, CV or résumé, and the names of at least three professional references to:

Dr. Bradley Dilger

Director, Introductory Composition at Purdue
Department of English, Purdue University
500 Oval Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Review of complete application files will begin immediately and continue until all positions are filled.  As of July 25, all positions have been filled.

Questions to Dilger welcome. All applications will be acknowledged.

Purdue University is an EOE/AA employer. All individuals, including minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, genetic information, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, or status as a veteran.

(Download a PDF version of this announcement.)

ICaP Advisor’s Guide 2018–19 Published

We’ve published the 2018–19 edition of the Introductory Composition Advisor’s Guide. Here are the key changes from last year, as described by Assistant Director Linda Haynes:

  1. The 2018-19 manual’s reorganization and revisions are my attempt to make it easier to find the information you are looking for. I’ve consolidated some repeated material and tried to make the table of contents more clear.
  2. I’ve tried to clarify the differences between English 10600 and 10800 so that you can encourage your students to consider English 108. We no longer have an SAT/ACT score guideline for registration, which is rarely reflective of students’ writing abilities; instead we’d like to base placement on students’ sense of self-regulation and self-efficacy. Please allow students to use the Self-Placement Guidelines in Appendices A and B.
  3. Composition Requirements by College have been removed from the ICaP Advisor’s Guide. Composition requirements have become complicated enough that I would rather direct advisors to one another’s advising offices for the most updated and accurate requirements than publish outdated or incorrect information.

Our thanks to Ms. Haynes for the research and networking necessary to update the Guide. The 2017–18 Guide will remain available on our web site.

We welcome your questions about ICaP courses any time.

We’re hiring adjuncts (updated)

Limited-Term Lecturers for Introductory Composition
Department of English, Purdue University

Update 7/25: We are still taking applications, but do not expect to hire additional staff at this time.

The Department of English at Purdue University is seeking limited term lecturers (adjuncts) to teach Purdue’s first year writing courses for Introductory Composition in Fall 2018 and possibly Spring 2019. Courses include mainstream versions of English 106 and English 108, and specialized sections which involve learning communities or service-learning and community engagement. Fall orientation begins August 9, 2018. Courses begin August 20, 2018 and run to December 15, 2018.

Salary starting at $4,500 per four-credit section, but no benefits.


Minimum of a Master’s degree in English, Communication, or related discipline. Experience teaching Introductory Composition at the college level.

Application Process

Email a letter of application, CV or résumé, and at least three professional references to:

Dr. Bradley Dilger

Director, Introductory Composition at Purdue
Department of English, Purdue University
500 Oval Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Review of complete application files will begin immediately and continue until all positions are filled. As of July 25, we are still taking applications, but do not expect to hire additional staff at this time.

Questions to Dilger welcome. All applications will be acknowledged.

Purdue University is an EOE/AA employer. All individuals, including minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, genetic information, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, or status as a veteran.

Download a PDF version of this announcement.

Common assignment: assessing the rhetorical analysis

Hi there. It’s your friendly Assessment Research Coordinator, Daniel Ernst, checking in with an update on things we’ve learned so far from some of the 2018 ICaP common assignment pilots. A group of ICaP instructors recently read and rated a very popular first-year writing assignment, the rhetorical analysis. Raters not only came to consensus about their ratings, but found strong evidence of student improvement.

Assessment methods and results

For this assessment, we randomly selected 23 pairs of essays from a pool of 60 submitted by instructors. Each pair included two rhetorical analysis essays, one written as a diagnostic pre-test and one written as a post-test to conclude a four week class unit on rhetoric. In total, 46 essays (23 pre-tests and 23 post-tests) were read and rated at least twice by eight graduate student instructors and one professor. Essays were de-identified to prevent raters from knowing who wrote them, which class or instructor they were written for, and whether they were a pre or post test. Raters used a simple rubric built from ICaP outcomes one and three, which focus on rhetorical and analytical knowledge and critical thinking skills.

Comparing the ratings from the nine raters showed substantial agreement and statistically reliable results. (Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient of .73.) The highest essay scored an 11/12; the lowest scored a 3/12. Most pre-tests scored at or below 6/12; most post-tests scored at or above 7/12. Here’s what we found:

Pre (5.78) and post test means (7.63) respectively.
Mean pre-test score, 5.78; mean post-test score, 7.63 [t(22)=4.25, p < .001; Cohen’s d=1.04]
There is a highly significant (p < .001) improvement in mean scores between the pre and post test essays. We can confidently say the improvement in mean scores is not likely due to chance but instead likely due to the effect of the treatment: the class and concepts taught. Additionally, the improvement is not just significant but meaningful: the Cohen’s d value of 1.04 indicates the distribution average improved by one standard deviation from pre to post test. This means that a pre test essay scoring at the 84th percentile of all pre tests would score at just the 50th percentile of all post tests. Finally, the post test mean score (7.63 +/- .41) sits right at the midpoint (7.5) of our rating scale (3-12), indicating a distribution of student performance around the true mean of our scale.

Graph showing overlaid distributions
Pre and post test score distributions

So far, so good… both methods and results

Although the sample is limited in certain ways (size, variety, degree of randomness), we are seeing evidence of significant and meaningful growth in writing quality on rhetorical analysis assignments over the course of a single unit in ICaP courses. The evidence is bolstered by the strength of the rating instrument, which almost perfectly sorted pre and post test writing and scored the mean of post test essays at its exact midpoint, as well as the high correlation coefficient obtained by the nine raters using the ICaP Outcomes-derived scaled rubric (.73). As we begin to develop methods for assessment which will be applied program-wide, these results suggest the ICaP Outcomes and Detailed Learning Objectives can serve as source material for designing assignment rubrics, at least for the outcomes on rhetorical and analytical knowledge.

To be sure, we should expect such strong results due to the design of this specific assessment. Any writing done before learning concepts and skills and then measured again after should demonstrate significant improvement. But by building our rubric and scale directly from the ICaP Outcomes, we also show that instructors are meeting the outcomes related to rhetorical and analytical knowledge as our program currently articulates them. Content knowledge about rhetorical concepts and ability to critically analyze texts are fundamental to any writing class. We’re pleased not only with the scores, but the conversations our readers had as we rated sample essays and discussed the rubric ICaP staff and I developed.

We are currently preparing a full report on the common assignment pilots that will use results and data from the rating sessions to make evidence-based decisions on the future direction of program-wide common assignments and the culture of assessment within ICaP. The next steps going forward include revising the rhetorical analysis and other assignment instructor guides for our second generation of common assignments, as well as refining rubrics and assignment sheets. We welcome feedback and questions from any participating instructors or those interested.

Thanks again to all instructors and raters involved in this assessment, including but not limited to Parva Panahi, Mac Boyle, Deena Varner, Libby Chernouski, Julia Smith, Joe Forte, Carrie Grant, April Pickens, and Bradley Dilger.

Update on common assignment pilots

We are continuing our initiative to use assessment data to refine our curriculum and learn more about the success of our approaches to teaching English 106 and 108. Last Thursday, we held our second reading and rating session for common assignment pilots. This was the second reading and rating session led by ICaP assessment research coordinator Daniel Ernst, following a similar event working with a professional emails assignment.

We began by discussing the rubrics used to rate the rhetorical analysis assignments under consideration, and isolating potential issues for discussion. We then read and rated four assignments, discussing the results each time, helping everyone think about the rubrics similarly and also giving us ways to refine the rubrics on the long term. Readers then spent about an hour rating assignments, with each receiving at least two readings.

After considering the results of these reading and rating sessions and instructor feedback on the pilots, we’ve decided on the following process for AY2018–19:

  1. We will have a second generation of multiple pilots in Fall 2018. All ICaP instructors will participate by selecting common assignments, implementing them, submitting data for assessment, and participating in both reading/rating sessions and other measurements.
  2. We will use the same six assignments as in Spring 2018, but assignment materials themselves will be updated to reflect what we’ve learned from our pilots. Requirements for each assignment will be released by July.
  3. We will ask that instructors follow the templates as closely as possible. Assignment materials will describe permissible modifications (e.g. selecting texts or changing timing of deliverables).
  4. Assignments must be graded and assigned points. This helps ensure students do their best work. Individual instructors will determine how the common assignments are integrated into their course assignment sequences and grading structures.
  5. Rubrics will be provided for each assignment. Instructors can customize the format of the rubric to fit with the rest of their course (ie. point values, rating scales, etc.), and may add additional assessment criteria, but all common assignment rubric criteria must be represented in the customization.

The pilots have already been very successful in helping us understand how to balance the needs of syllabus approaches with the overall purpose of the common assignment: ensuring we have a data set from each semester which can be evaluated against ICaP outcomes and in comparison to other semesters. We have some more ideas about Fall processes which we’ll be sharing soon — not to mention the results from the assessments themselves.

We are grateful for the ICaP instructors who have been involved with this work since the beginning and we hope the strong participation will continue. Thank you to our readers: Parva Panahi, Allegra Smith, Amanda Leary, Ingrid Pierce, Mac Boyle, Deena Varner, Libby Chernouski, Julia Smith, and Joe Forte. Thanks as well to the many instructors who are participating in the pilots and focus groups, and to Daniel, Carrie Grant, and April Pickens for preparation, data processing, and continuing analysis.

ICaP Showcase Winners, 2017–2018

Bailey Galema’s presentation for her creative project, “The First One”

Thank you to all of the students and instructors who presented at the 2018 Writing Showcase! We’re pleased to announce our award winners:

Student awards

Best Remediation to Presentation Design
Claire Bailey, “The Impact of the Work Environment on Employees”
Irwin Weiser, Instructor

Best Multimedia Project
Sam Conkle, “Purdue Half Marathon Review”
Lauren Mallett, Instructor

Best Primary Research
Taryn Coyle, “The Benefits and Feasibility of Implementing an Open-Interaction Model at Natalie’s Second Chance Dog Shelter”
Joe Forte, Instructor

Best Visualization of Research
Felix Fernandez, “Artificial Intelligence: Humanity’s Most Powerful Tool”
Ashley Matney, Instructor

Best Creative Project
Bailey Galema, “The First One”
Daye Phillipo, Instructor

People’s Choice
Amy Santos, “Ally Politics in Eco-Feminism: Activism without Cooption”
Victoria Ruiz, Instructor

Instructor awards

Most Innovative Syllabus Approach Application
Joshua Galat, “Engaging the Community: Composing Through Service Learning”

Best Application of Pedagogical Theory
Bianca Batti & Alisha Karabinus, “Composing Through Play”

Best Assignment Scaffolding Design
Derek Sherman, “Intersectional Research: Digging Deeper”

Thank you

Thank you to the Purdue students and ICaP instructors who shared their writing and digital media with us today. We really appreciate your hard work.

Thank you to the ICaP staff, especially Carrie Grant, Joy Kane, and April Pickens, for the logistical work which made Showcase a success.

We appreciate the support from the College of Liberal Arts, and our sponsoring publishers: Pearson, VanGriner, Bedford/St. Martin’s, Fountainhead, and W. W. Norton.

And thank you to our friends in Professional Writing, who’ve announced the awards for their Showcase too.

Second CILMAR grant for Transculturation team

Congratulations to Rebekah Sims, Hadi Banat, Parva Panahi Lazarjani, and Phuong Tran (below, from left), the instructors leading the Transculturation research project in Introductory Composition. They were recently presented a second CILMAR Mini-Grant award of $2,000 to support their research in developing linked courses and curricula which support the growth of intercultural competence. Presenting the award (far left) is Dr. Dan Hirleman.

Well done!

Instructor Spotlight: Victoria Ruiz

Victoria Ruiz: Navigating identities, culture, and performing rhetoric via English 106

ICaP instructor and rhetoric & composition doctoral student Victoria Ruiz

Victoria Ruiz started her graduate school two and half years ago at Purdue and since then she has been teaching First Year Composition. She recently completed teaching her fifth batch of her English 106 class. Her sections are themed around identity as being a negotiation of time and space. In her own words, she designs her classes in such a way that students learn about identities, culture, explore, critique, and perform rhetoric in various cultural scopes across different genres.

In addition to teaching identity themed English 106, Ruiz is also the leader of the Syllabus Approach UR@. UR@ is one of the six different syllabus approaches that instructors of ICaP choose to teach their English 106 class. During their first year, instructors follow their mentor’s syllabus approach for a year. After a year of taking the Teaching Practicum Course with their mentor, instructors can choose different syllabus approaches to teach their classroom, and based on their preferences, they also introduce various assignments that meet ICaP’s six major outcomes.

According to Ruiz, she has made significant changes to her English 106 course as she now structures her course around her own research that is on identity, culture.

“I feel teaching and learning is a both-way process. As much as my students learn from me, I do learn from them as well. Additionally, the UR@ syllabus approach is flexible enough to support changes in the syllabus as per the student needs, and the students really seem to enjoy it,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz’s class is based on identity and through her assignments the students are asked to look at the way identity is constructed and performed through communication and writing for varied audiences, in various genres, and with specific purposes.

She said, “Over the past two years, I’ve curated a selection of additional reading assignments that allows students to know more about writing process, instruction & application, and identity. My students discuss about issues like race, class, ability, privilege, and so on throughout the semester. I have seen their identities change throughout the semester and it is really cool how students get well informed about the real world.”

Every English 106 course is divided into three types of class. Students meet twice a week in a traditional classroom, once in an one-on-one conference, and once in a computer classroom. These varied spaces also help instructors to implement their pedagogy by taking various pedagogical approaches. Most importantly, students and instructors work very closely to meet the goals of the class as set by ICaP.

“Over the past two years, I’ve found that it’s all the little things that we do as instructors that add up and impact our students’ lives. Each of my projects helps frame identity in different ways, and by the end of the semester the students are able to reflect on just how far they’ve come, all the work that they’ve completed, and everything they’ve learned… all of this helps them become better writers,” Ruiz shared.

Victoria’s Crucial Assignment: Personal Portfolio/Auto-Ethnography

The assignment that she is currently teaching  “is probably her students’ favorite” – it is a hybridized personal portfolio/auto-ethnography. Ruiz tries to place a lot of emphasis on the personal portfolio aspect of it so that students feel as though something is at stake and they take a vested interest in finishing out the semester with enthusiasm. This project asks students to compose materials that highlight the transferable skills that they might put to use outside the 106 classroom. In effect, when her students finish the semester – they then have something that they can continue adding to over the course of their collegiate career. This project is also one that they might offer to show potential employers during a job interview, etc. It is their chance to showcase their best work and what makes them most marketable.

Ruiz says she also really loves this assignment because it is structured in such a way that she is able to gauge what the students have learned and how they’ve grown throughout the semester. The reflection portion of the project puts the students and their work in the spotlight, so to speak.