Committee on Writing In the Disciplines / Writing Across the Curriculum (WID/WAC)
Annual Report for 2019-20
TO: Academic Senate Steering Committee
FROM: Professor John Talbird, Chair
SUBJECT: Annual Report for 2019-2020
DATE: May 22, 2020
John Talbird, English, Chairperson (2020)
Raymond Lam, Engineering Technology, Secretary (2020)
Elizabeth DiGiorgio, Art & Design (2020)
Jeff Hall, History (2021)
Chris Mooney, Business (2021)
Ian Schanning, Physics (2021)
Rommel Robertson, Social Sciences (2022)
Sanjay Koul, Biological Sciences and Geology (2022)
Chris Leary, English (2022)
Arthur Coradetti, Academic Affairs, Interim Assistant Dean of Faculty
The Committee met three times during the school year, 12/04/19, 2/26/20, and 5/15/20.
Outline of the Committee Work
- The committee has seen fewer attempts to get waivers for the WI requirement. This is probably due to wider WI offerings and better knowledge among faculty and administration about what counts as a WI pedagogy. This year we only had three requests for waivers. One was approved and the other two were denied as without merit.
- The committee solicited 85 faculty WI packets (syllabus, formal writing assignment, and rubric) last year for recertification purposes (see last year’s year-end report for details). 22 faculty ignored our request for documents. We attempted again this year, cc’ing department chairs. The results:
- 9 faculty submitted packets.
- 4 refused, voluntarily giving up their WI certification.
- The other 9, once again, ignored the request for packets.
This experience raises several questions and issues:
- What is the penalty, if any, for refusing to participate in the Senate’s sixth bylaw charge: "Insure through a certification and recertification process that all classes designated as WI meet the criteria for a WI class”?
- Some faculty are ignorant about what types of classes they are teaching and/or chairs seem not to be communicating scheduling decisions to their faculty. Two faculty members responded to the committee’s request for materials with some version of the answer, “But I never teach WI courses” even though both, according to CUNY First, were currently (spring 2020) teaching WI courses.
- Several faculty members were rude or hostile about requests for materials. These were tenured professors and leaders of the school. This year’s chair was a full professor so this behavior caused no real problems. However, it raised the issue about what this experience would be like for junior faculty, especially untenured colleagues. It was decided that future recertification would be administered in this way:
- The committee’s representative from OAA will make all requests for packets from faculty and communicate with chairs regarding the recertification process.
- Since this representative is not a voting member of the committee he/she will not do any evaluating of faculty packets. The committee members will do all this work and make these decisions including norming the process early in the spring to assure a consistent and unified evaluation.
- The OAA rep will then notify faculty and chairs of the committee’s decisions.
Because of disruptions arising from COVID-19, the second third of recertifications was not completed this year and will have to be undertaken in the spring of 2021 putting off completion of the entire survey of WI faculty until spring 2022.
- Our recertification checklist/rubric contains both required items and recommended items. Some committee members have argued that some items in the recommended column be moved to required. However, in order to enforce recommended items (i.e. “clearly identifying course as WI,” mention of Campus Writing Center and so on) these would need to be added to the Senate-approved guidelines. Not all committee members agree in the wisdom of the change and so this conversation will have to be tabled until next school year.
- In our final meeting (5/06/20), our new members joined us: Carla McIntosh (Academy Advisement), Christina Saindon (Speech Communications), and Stefan Spezio (Campus Writing Center). The committee would like to acknowledge the work of the outgoing members: John Talbird (Committee Chairperson, English), Ray Lam (Committee Secretary, Engineering Technology), and Liz DiGiorgio (Art and Design).
- Jeff Hall was elected chair and Christina Saindon elected secretary for 2020-2021.
In addition to the regular work of the committee, there are a few other issues that should be addressed in the coming year.
- See “d” above about checklist and possible revision of WID/WAC guidelines.
- Questions regarding recertification that are ongoing:
- When a faculty member’s course is approved, how long until the next time he or she is reviewed?
- When a faculty member is not recertified and, assuming they make no attempts to revise or attend supplemental retraining, what will be the consequences?
- When faculty neglect to submit their syllabi/assignments (as 9 have over the course of two years), what will be the consequences, if any? And if it is optional for faculty to submit, then why would any participate? (Note: In the 2017-2018 school year, the WID/WAC committee requested faculty to voluntarily submit WI syllabi for informal review. 0 faculty participated.)
- What parts do department chairs play in making sure that all WI faculty under their supervision are trained and up-to-date on current senate-approved WI pedagogy?