Data science learning community

English instructors Michelle McMullin, Amanda Smith, & Ane Costa are instructors in the “Engineeering in the World of Data” learning community. Their classes recently met Purdue basketball coach Matt Painter and learned about the data analytics used by the coaching and recruiting staff.

Purdue Head Men’s Basketball Coach Matt Painter poses with the instructors and students in the “Engineering of the World of Data” learning community in Mackey Arena. Photo courtesy of Teresa Walker, Purdue School of Engineering Education.

The learning community is a partnership between First Year Engineering, Purdue Libraries, and Introductory Composition. Read more on the Purdue Libraries weblog.

Spring 2019 syllabus prep materials ready

Everything instructors need for spring syllabus preparation is now ready. We’ve made no changes to common assignment instructor guides, and we’ll be using the same syllabus review checklist from the fall. Remember, all ICaP courses must include one of these five common assignments in Spring 2019. (For those teaching online 106, English 106-Y, we’ve already shared materials by email.)

Please use the checklist in the construction of your syllabus to ensure you’ve included all the necessary details. If you get stuck, check Linda Haynes’ syllabus template, developed last fall. (Again—no changes.) This template, based on materials given to new instructors, offers everyone a second way to check their syllabi and provides robust examples of policies and possibilities. Not sure how to frame something? Check the template for examples.

There are two changes instructors should keep in mind, however:

First, instead of emailing syllabi to Dilger, we’ll ask you to fill out this Qualtrics form, which allows you to submit multiple syllabi at once (if necessary). We think this will make processing syllabi easier for us.

The second change is a required addition for your calendars. In Spring 2019, we will be asking all ICAP instructors to participate in two program-wide assessment norming, reading, and rating sessions. We will have sessions both before and after Spring Break, with multiple time slots to minimize schedule conflicts.

  • Mon Feb 25, 12:30p to 3:00p
  • Thu Feb 28, 9:00a to 11:30a
  • Fri Mar 01, 10:30a to 2:00p
  • Tue Apr 02, 9:00a to 11:30a
  • Wed Apr 03, 2:30p to 5:00p

Please plan to attend at least two of these five sessions. If necessary, you may cancel classes to facilitate the time needed to participate. We will share the locations and specifics at Convocation (including some incentives for participation). For now, please make the appropriate plans in your course calendars.

Need something else? Let us know. We welcome instructor feedback and continued suggestions for resources which can support teaching.

ICaP showcase to merge with Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference

Photo credit: Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference

Big news: we are merging the ICaP showcase with the Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference. This not only gives our students opportunities to present their work to larger crowds, but opens up new possibilities for accolades, awards, and recognition.

We’ll also now have two opportunities to participate if we want, as there is a fall exposition as well as the major conference in the spring. This year, our focus will be  the spring event, scheduled for April 9. Some of the participation process will stay the same—students will complete applications to participate, then present a research poster—but there are a few key changes you should be aware of:

  1. Instructors are no longer required to nominate students. Students must apply to enter.  Instructors can (and should!) encourage participation.
  2. All research posters must be formal, printed posters. No more science-fair style trifolds!
  3. Students must write a (brief) abstract to enter. These abstracts are included in a book encapsulating all submitted projects.
  4. Categories for entry have changed slightly. Students can now enter in multiple categories.

We are confident  this new partnership will benefit our students. They will be exposed to student research projects on a much broader scale, and have the chance to participate in something much larger as well.

So what does that mean for you and your students? If you are already teaching a research poster, encourage fall semester students with strong projects to apply for presentation at the spring conference. You and your students can get more information on our Undergraduate Research Showcase site, including resources for writing the abstract, and revising and printing posters. Get them registered! If you need help with any part of this process, ICaP staff is prepared to assist. We’d love to see a huge turnout. 

If you are not teaching a research poster, don’t despair! Any student project can be presented on a poster. Please see our resources for help in transforming a project.

Questions? Contact the ICaP staff.

Common Assignments: A Year in Review

We have completed the pilots of the ICaP common assignments. In the Fall of 2017, ICaP administrators in conjunction with the grad student-run Pedagogical Initiatives Committee (PIC) began developing six different common assignments to trial run in English 106 and 106-I courses during the Spring 2018 semester. This was a decision made largely in response to the Council of Writing Program Administrator’s (CWPA) external review of our program a year prior, which suggested a common assignment could be a good way to introduce more consistency to our diverse syllabus approach system while at the same time preserving instructor freedom.

Since then, a team led by and consisting entirely of graduate students across the English department has collectively developed and taught, as well as rated and analyzed samples of, six different common assignments piloted by 39 instructors and completed by more than 780 Purdue composition students. From the outset, this project strived to be a grassroots, bottom-up effort so that those with the most skin in the game had a seat at the table. At every stage of this project, we tried to engage with grad students and lecturers in order to cultivate a localized assessment initiative attuned to the actual experiences of ICaP instructors.

We learned a great deal from these pilots, and we have taken that knowledge into account to make evidence-based decisions about changes to the common assignment options going forward. Given that participation was voluntary for these pilots, our findings should be interpreted with a certain amount of caution. More specifically, there are issues with sample size and randomization, which impact generalizability. Nonetheless, the data we did gather and analyzed helped to start assembling the larger picture, and we used appropriate caution when making final decisions. As the common assignment component of ICaP becomes mandatory this semester, the assignments have been updated to address the most pressing issues we encountered during these pilots.

The assessment report, linked below, contains a full write up of the conditions leading to the advent of the common assignments, the process undertaken developing them, the findings of initial assessment efforts, and the changes we made and recommend making moving forward. We share this report to maintain the grassroots spirit and transparency of a truly bottom-up assessment project we set out with. Any questions, comments, or concerns should be directed to Daniel Ernst at ernst9@purdue.edu. Thanks.

Assessment Report 2017-18

Common Assignment Assessment Questions

The information below answers most of the questions from the assessment Group-Think-Share session. We transcribed these questions from the whiteboards and added questions received via email. On Tuesday, September 4, we will share a handout that outlines the protocol for turning in your completed common assignments.

We have included some general guidelines for you and students as you begin the common assignments in the General Questions section. If you have further questions, please let Derek Sherman know via sherma11@purdue.edu.

General Questions that apply to all four common assignments:

  1. How do we structure assignment sheets and rubrics? What actually needs to be on the assignment sheets vs. rubrics?
    • To be transparent with students about the common assignment, we ask that you align your assignment sheet AND rubric to the outcomes listed in your common assignment’s instructor’s guide found here. Please use the common assignment outcomes-based rubric as a starting point in the creation of your assignment sheet and rubric. As long as your assignment sheet and rubric show students the outcomes that determine their grade, your assignment and rubric are aligned with ICaP assessment.
  2. How should students submit assignments? In what format?
    • It’s easiest for everyone if students submit assignments via Blackboard in a .doc or .docx format. Even if you don’t use Blackboard extensively, please ask students to submit their assignments there so that you can easily download and share completed work with us.  Electronic submissions on Blackboard and in a .doc or .docx format make anonymizing for assessment purposes easier.
  3. Do we need to share our rubric and assignment sheet as part of assessment?
    • We would like you to share your rubric and assignment sheet with us so that we can understand how various instructors approached these common assignments. However, we will use the outcomes-basic rubric for assessment purposes.
  4. Would students recognize a logical progression of assignments?
    • This depends on how each instructor frames their course. Since we do not want to force a standardized curriculum on English 106/108 instructors, instructors must be transparent with their students on how this assignment is scaffolded into the curriculum. If students are made aware of this progression in the syllabus and classroom instruction, students would most certainly recognize a logical progression of skills and assignments.

Research-based Essay:

  1. Can the research essay be argumentative?
    • Yes, the research-based essay can be argumentative. However, it is not required to be argumentative.
  2. What is the relevance of the research-based essay beyond 106?
    • ICaP outcomes address research writing in several ways, so this essay is meant to accompany our diverse teaching approaches. ICaP has a strong foundation of teaching research-based skills that programs on campus search for in their students, whereas other “writing” programs lack in teaching research-based skills. This assignment, therefore, was built to appeal to faculty and programs who want students with research-based skills. This assignment introduces students to academic research to better prepare them for future research-based assignments. Since Purdue is also striving for more undergraduate research, focusing on research helps students join that movement, not to mention ICaP as a whole. this also helps ICaP promote itself as an establisher of research-based skills.
  3. Should instructors use solely secondary or primary sources — or will a mix of both source types be acceptable?
    • Instructors may choose to include all primary or secondary sources, or they may choose to have a mix of both. No matter what, students should be expected to summarize, analyze, and synthesize at least five sources in total, according to the research-based essay instructor guide, in whatever format you, the instructor, expects.
  4. How students will find, use, and integrate CREDIBLE sources?
    • Credibility varies depending on the student/class’s topic and what type of research the instructor chooses/values. For secondary research, students become acquainted with Purdue Libraries’ databases to search for peer-reviewed articles, thus engrossing students in academic-based research. Primary research, however, varies depending on the research method and participant(s) chosen; therefore, guidance from the instructor should be given to determine what equates to credible research. Often, only interviews or surveys are feasible given the limited time for 106/108.
  5. How are analysis, synthesis, and summary evaluated differently?
    • These are the three skills that often accompany academic-based work; therefore, for ICaP’s assessment purposes we are looking at these skill holistically (see ICaP outcome three: “Critically think about writing and rhetoric through reading, analysis, and reflection”). By holistically, we want to see if students are able to summarize, analyze, and synthesize academic sources cohesively into one academic paper. We are not seeking to isolate these skills or assess them individually.

Rhetorical Analysis:

  1. Is there still a pretest and posttest for the rhetorical analysis essay?
    • Yes, please have students complete a pretest without any instruction. After teaching the rhetorical analysis unit, students should complete a second rhetorical analysis. Each essay should be approximately three pages in length.
  2. How do we frame “rhetorical?” Is it important to focus on terms and strategies?
    • The big issue here is that we want to make sure students go beyond analyzing solely the text and the author’s use of rhetorical/literary devices (e.g., ethos, pathos, logos, simile, metaphor, etc.). In this sense, students should focus on  analyzing how the text and the author(s) use of rhetorical/literary devices affect the context and audience. The text, consequently, should be not viewed in isolation but as working against and amongst the author, audience, and larger context.

Portfolio

  1. What are the preferable methods for draft collection?
    • Since our assessment includes evaluating students’ rough drafts and whether or not they have addressed instructors’ comments and have shown growth per ICaP Outcome Four (i.e., “Provide constructive feedback to others and incorporate feedback into their writing”), it is important that students save a copy of their rough drafts. Please ask students to save a draft in a word document (e.g., ResearchEssay_Draft) and then create a new document for their final essay (e.g., ResearchEssay_Final).
  2. What should be the portfolio’s medium?
    • We are looking into Purdue’s new portfolio tool and other options and will have an update as soon as we can. We’re hoping to offer several methods. We welcome your suggestions.

Professional Email:

  1. What is ICaP’s most important outcome for the professional email?
    • Rhetorical awareness of the situation is the most important outcome with other outcomes such as purpose and persuasion built in.
  2. How flexible in terms of when during the semester can it be assigned? The time?
    • Per our discussion at Convocation, the timing is up to the instructor. If you can fit the assignment into an already existing assignment, please go ahead and include it whenever you teach that assignment. As Alisha Karabinus noted, this assignment was originally a kickstarter for rhetorical awareness, but you may include it wherever you see fit.
  3. What are the two audiences?
    • According to the instructor guide, it states the following considering audiences:  “In this assignment, you [students] write two distinct emails for two distinct situations:
      1. In the first email, you will write to an instructor about a missed assignment or exam you would like to attempt to make up. You will create your own reasons for the make-up.
      2. In the second email, you will write to a fellow student with whom you’re working on a group project that isn’t going so well. This email is meant to help establish better deadlines, clarity, communication, teamwork, or any of the above—you can invent a situation for this email or consider a problematic group project you’ve worked on in the past to create your reasons for this email.”
  4. 200 words is a lot for an email?
    • You are welcome to suggest a lower maximum as long as the focus remains on achieving the outcomes on the rubric (i.e., addressing the audiences effectively, etc).
  5. We would like to see student samples?
    • Currently, we don’t have any samples that fit our two new audiences. Because this assignment was updated this summer, our previous samples no longer coincide with this update. The professional emails that students produce in Fall 2018 may serve as samples for the future.
  6. What are the results from the previous semester’s assessment?
  7. How is the APE exercise relevant to the professional email assignment?
    • Linda Haynes’s APE exercise is designed to be a fun, low-stakes activity which teaches  editing and efficiency. While it certainly isn’t an essential activity, many instructors have had success working it in during this unit as a way to make the editing process visible and accessible.
  8. How is ICaP quantifying positive improvement for the professional email?
    • In terms of student improvement, growth cannot be quantified because the two audiences are different scenarios and we cannot have a measurement of growth without a pretest. Because raters from the professional email’s prior assessment varied in their definition of an effective email, we are hoping that this more focused audience approach will help us establish a more consistent definition of an “effective email.” If a more consistent definition is established, we may be able to move forward in quantifying growth with a pretest and posttest in the future. However, our goal right now is to measure achievement of the outcomes and not individual student growth.
  9. How do we make a short assignment feel more substantial?
    • The email is a shorter assignment, but it is also effective in teaching rhetorical situations and catering one’s message to one’s audience. Instructors, therefore, may choose to teach this as an introduction to rhetorical awareness at the beginning of the semester or they may embed it within a current unit. Ultimately, scaffolding this assignment in with others is the best way to make this assignment feel more substantial.
  10. Is it pretest and posttest?
    • No, this is two separate emails to two separate audiences.
  11. What are the number of drafts required?
    • This is up to the instructor. Instructors may guide students through sample emails first and then accept only one draft. Or, instructors may conduct peer review sessions on multiple drafts. The choice is up to the instructor.
  12. How many class session should be dedicated to the professional email?
    • This, too, is up to the instructor. This assignment is not meant to take up a considerable amount of time; therefore, scaffolding it into a current unit may help help in establishing how many class sessions you want to dedicate to this common assignment.

Again, if you have any other questions, please let Derek Sherman know at sherma11@purdue.edu.

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.

Qualifications

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
dilger@purdue.edu
309-259-0328

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.

Qualifications

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
dilger@purdue.edu
309-259-0328

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.