Writing Program Faculty Selected for Initial FlexLearning Fellows Cohort
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Associate Director, Dr. Elkie Burnside, and Senior Lecturer, Dr. Aaron Tilman, were selected as participants in the first FlexLearning Fellows cohort as a part of the university wide initiative to meet growing requests for flexibility in instructional delivery. Beginning with investigations into ways to expand University Without Walls offerings in 2018, these efforts have now developed into programs and departments offering courses specifically labelled as UMass Flex and delivered in at least two instructional modes.
This project connects with the goals of the Writing Program (WP) in that it seeks to provide the best educational experience possible for undergraduate students enrolled in our courses. This can be accomplished understanding evolving needs and the changing delivery methods required as students navigate full time work, personal/family needs, and even other individual accessibility issues that a fully face-to-face writing curriculum may not offer support for. By exploring how writing courses at UMass Amherst might be offered with more flexible instructional methods in mind, this project is working to address the needs of the student body and support the instructors teaching these courses at the same time.
During the first phase of this internal grant project, Burnside and Tilman created a proposal to pilot flexible learning strategies in writing intensive courses, such as the ENGLWRIT112: College Writing course offered by the Writing Program (WP). Their project focused on creating options for 112 course delivery (including two curriculum models from the courses delivered during Spring 2022) and training to encourage 111 and Junior Year Writing course instructors to also consider how to incorporate more flexible instructional methods into their courses. The WP Flex Fellows met in bi-weekly workshop sessions (with other FlexLearning Fellows from departments across campus) collaboratively led by representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Instructional Design, Engagement, & Support (IDEAS) staff.
Now in the second phase of this project, Burnside is selecting other WP instructors to pilot training for using a flipped/hybrid instructional approach for 112 courses. Using technology purchased through grant funds, pilot participants will also receive a small stipend for meeting bi-weekly in the fall and monthly in the spring to explore the process of transforming existing face-to-face focused curriculum into a more flexible approach.
The Writing Program community can be involved by engaging with the flexible learning training when offered and work to pilot the strategies across more sections of all courses supported by the Writing Program, helping to refine and develop strategies that work for students in a variety of ways.