Summer seminar for teaching writing at RIC

The first annual Summer Seminar for the Teaching of Writing at RIC will be held Monday through Friday, June 27 to July 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The seminar will be open to all full-time RIC faculty, who should apply by Friday, April 29, to be considered.

Joseph Zornado
The summer seminar, presented by the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL), was created by Joseph Zornado, professor of English at RIC and director of the FCTL, and Michael Michaud, assistant professor of English.

It is dedicated to improving student writing by educating RIC faculty across all areas of study to become better teachers of writing.

During the seminar, faculty members will discuss why writing is important in all areas of study by examining connections between learning and writing.

While working closely with their colleagues, participating faculty will learn to use writing as a tool for learning, rather than just a method for student evaluation.

Zornado and Michaud hope the seminar will help faculty campus-wide to realize the importance of writing: how it is a part of every discipline, and is becoming more important in an era where technological advancements in writing are affecting everyone.

“Even though writing is something that all of us do and assign, we rarely have the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue about the teaching of writing,” said Zornado. “RIC's summer seminar provides us with just that kind of opportunity.”

“Writing is the glue that brings it all together,” said Zornado. “I see [writing] as truly cross disciplinary. It's underneath everything that we do and that we think about.”

In fall 2011, members of the seminar will begin to turn their theories into practice. Faculty members will incorporate what they have learned from the summer into at least one of their fall courses.

Michael Michaud
In October, seminar participants will meet with FCTL faculty one-on-one to share their course revisions. Meetings will be held throughout the semester to monitor and discuss the effectiveness of these new writing changes.

In January 2012, members from the seminar will meet again to discuss their progress thus far.

During the spring semester, faculty will write their own reports on the writing changes they've experimented with, what was observed during the process, a discussion of the seminar in general and how it has impacted their own educational development.

Faculty will have the opportunity to submit their reports to Issues in Teaching and Learning, an online journal published at Rhode Island College, which seeks to promote pedagogical dialogue and improve both the teaching and learning process.

Zornado and Paul Khalil Saucier, assistant professor of sociology, are editors of the e-journal.

Michaud and Zornado agree that the summer seminar was created at just the right time, because the General Education Task Force at Rhode Island College is proposing a number of ideas that could lead to the incorporation of writing courses across disciplines, said Zornado.

“It will require departments across campus to have at least one, if not more, courses that they can designate as writing intensive,” said Zornado.

One objective of the RIC strategic plan, “RIC Vision 2015,” hopes to “enhance interdisciplinary learning in order to facilitate faculty collaboration, increase student exposure to varied teaching methodologies, and provide cross-disciplinary learning opportunities.”

“When students are writing across disciplines, their outcomes are greater,” said Zornado. “They learn more, they digest more, they're able to succeed.”

Zornado and Michaud believe that two exciting aspects of the seminar include administrative support, and the sense of community the seminar will create.

“It's a great thing for us to feel like the administration is supporting our teaching and learning at RIC,” said Michaud.

The faculty that will come together during the seminar will be “collaborating across disciplines, and forming a learning and teaching community at RIC, where colleagues can help each other grow and develop professionally,” said Zornado.

“That's the exact same mission as the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning,” he added.

Funding for the Summer Seminar for the Teaching of Writing at RIC will allow for 10-15 full-time, tenure-track faculty per year. Faculty who apply for the seminar will be informed in late May about their participation in the program. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Faculty must submit an application to be considered. Participants must be available for the entire seminar. Faculty will receive a $700 professional development allowance for participating in the seminar.

Visit to fill out an application. For more information, contact Joseph Zornado at the FCTL at (401) 456-8656, or email .