Thursday, March 29, 2012

Update -Spring Quarter ILP and AP Workshops

The UCWbL Writing Groups team has finalized the Spring Quarter workshop schedule. The workshops dates and locations are below:


April 17th - Loop ILP - 5pm to 6:30pm - Lewis 1600
April 21st - Oak Forest AP - 12pm to 1:30pm - Room 5380
April 28th - Naperville AP - 12pm to 1:30pm - Room 120
May 5th - O'Hare AP - 12pm to 1:30pm - Room 307
May 8th - Loop AP - 5pm to 6:30pm - Lewis 1600

These workshops are for any SNL student working on Advanced Project or Independent Learning Pursuits. Sponsored by the UCWbL, the forums allow students to discuss their projects with other students, Writing Center tutors, SNL faculty, and a librarian. Discussion will focus on how to generate ideas for topics, begin research, and manage the project once it begins. Faculty are welcome to attend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

UCWbL hiring tutors for 2012 -2013 Academic Year

The University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL) is looking for empathetic and intellectually curious undergraduate and graduate students to work as peer writing tutors during the 2012/2013 academic year.

Applications are due 4.23.12 by 12 noon. Please encourage any past or current students you think would make excellent peer writing tutors to apply. UCWbL places a great deal of value in hiring a diverse staff from across all DePaul's programs and colleges, and they need your help to encourage SNL students to apply. Thanks for your support!

For detailed information about working at the UCWbL and for instructions on how to apply, please visit this website,

Contact UCWbL Director Lauri Dietz ( with any questions.

The poetics of praxis carries with it the discourse of pedagogical institutions.

The above sentence was created with University of Chicago's online random academic sentence generator. Check it out by visiting:

The generator may be a fun in-class exercise to encourage students to be intentional about their word choice and sentence construction.

How does it work?

You are asked to select from a list of phrases:

From the list of noun phrases, the subject of the sentence plus a preposition (poetics of) and the object plus preposition (discourse of).

From the list of modifying phrases, the phrase that modifies the subject (praxis) and the phrase that modifies the object (pedagogical institutions).

Finally, from the verbs list, a verb or verb phrase (carries with it).

Next, the program assembles the phrases in a typical sentence pattern:

Noun Phrase + Modifying Phrase + Verb + Noun Phrase + Modifying Phrase.

Simple as that!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Last Call for SNL Writing Showcase Entries

All current SNL students are invited to submit their work to the annual SNL Writing Showcase. The showcase celebrates student writers by publicly honoring the best submissions at the Spring Awards luncheon in June. Please encourage your students to apply on or before

Questions? Email

2nd Annual Peer Tutor & Mentor Summit, April 27th

Inspired by the other tutoring and mentoring services at DePaul University, the Outreach Team at the UCWbL is organizing the second annual Peer Tutor & Mentor Summit on April 27th, 2012. This event aims to convene all offices and departments offering academic and professional aid to members of the DePaul community

Goals of the Summit:
- Different offices become more knowledgeable about the various tutoring and mentoring options available in order to make referrals
- Share best practices and strategize about how best to approach challenges within our work

When:Friday, April 27, 2012, 10am-3pm
Where: LPC Student Center 120AB
*Lunch will be provided

There will be round robin break-out sessions where various offices present on topics related to tutoring and mentoring. Individuals or groups interested in leading a Round Robin session should contact Submissions to lead a Round Robin session are due no later than noon on Friday, April 6th.

Students and staff members are welcome to attend. To RSVP and for questions, contact by April 6th.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Strengthening students’ writing skills across disciplines and into the workplace

According to a recent survey of college alumni and employers, writing skills are one of the most valued and frequently evaluated workplace skills, along with quantitative and computer software skills. The most frequently written documents in the workplace are memos, letters, email, proposals, training guides, and research reports (Holtzman & Kraft, 2010). However, the AACU reported in 2008 that “In none of twelve skills and areas of knowledge tested—from writing to global knowledge to ethical judgment—do a majority of employers rate recent graduates as “very well prepared” (AACU, p.10). Employees with poor writing skills can cost an employer billions of dollars in remedial training as well as lost revenue due to miscommunication (National Commission on Writing, 2004).

While most higher education institutions in the U.S. take a holistic, liberal learning approach, students assume they will also gain exposure and acquire skills and knowledge required for success in the workplace. College students take at least one composition course early in their college career and subsequently write at least one essay or report in most college courses thereafter. If the quantity of college writing assignments across the disciplines isn’t leading to stronger writing skills, how can colleges strengthen their preparation of students for writing in the workplace?

Researchers and scholars agree that faculty across the curricula and across disciplines need to agree on criteria and expectations for “good writing skills” while being mindful of employer expectations. College programs and their faculty should make these expectations transparent to students, consistently uphold them in courses, and provide a clear, supportive path for students’ writing development throughout college and into the workplace (Sanders-Reio, 2011).

However, George Williams, a writing teacher and blogger for the Chronicle of Higher Education, suggests that “In many courses that are not focused on writing skills, instructors might not provide detailed enough instructions on their writing assignments to convey to the student what the instructors’ expectations are.” A business professor might have a very different idea of what “good writing” is compared to an art professor. Students moving on to a new course each term might also have differing opinions based on their instructors’ expectations in previous courses. Inconsistency, lack of transparency, and differing definitions and expectations for “good writing” in college may contribute to weak writing skills and adaptation to new types of writing that graduates encounter in the workplace.

The AACU has encouraged colleges and universities to revamp their curricula with learning outcomes that align with skills and knowledge needed for the workplace, writing being one of the highest priorities (2008). As a result, they have created a cross-curricula and cross-discipline rubric for writing. AACU’s Integrated Communication Rubric provides detailed criteria for “benchmark,” “milestone,” and “capstone” levels of writing with focus on context, purpose, content development, evidence, syntax, and mechanics. See Instructors can integrate these criteria in a rubric for any written assignment. Alongside the rubric, researchers and scholars suggest that instructors offer examples of “good writing” from previous students and emphasize the specific qualities in that writing that they consider “good” according to their rubric.

Depending on the assignment, instructors and programs can go one step further and add criteria for writing in a specific field or workplace, making it clear how writing skills are transferable from classroom to workplace. For example, science disciplines may value third-person, active voice, and APA citation style. Arts disciplines may value first person, a high level of descriptive detail, and MLA citation style. Business disciplines may value a pyramid structure and concision. Instructors in these disciplines can support their students by being mindful of those “real world” writing expectations, rules, and requirements and consistently and explicitly stating them in their syllabi and assignment instructions. Below are examples of rubrics used in San Francisco State’s Business Program and Health Education program:

If students are exposed to a consistent set of writing assessment criteria and a “common language” for talking about writing throughout their college career, their writing skills will undoubtedly improve. They also will learn to quickly adapt to new writing situations while becoming more familiar with those that will appear in the workplace. However, it takes the leadership and collaboration of instructors and program administrators to agree on these criteria and common language and then put them into practice.


Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2008). College learning for the new global century: Executive summary with employers’ view on learning outcomes and assessment approaches. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from

Association of American Colleges and Universities. Written Communication VALUE Rubric. Retrieved March 3, 2012 from

Breault, R. & Sauers, D. (2009). Professional Writing Standards. Eller College of Management, AZ. Retrieved March 3, 2012 from

Holtzman, Diane M. and Kraft, Ellen M. (2010). Skills Required of Business Graduates: Evidence from Undergraduate Alumni and Employers (2010). Business Education & Administration, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 49-59, 2010. Available at SSRN:

National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges. Writing: A Ticket to Work...Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. College Board, 2004.

Sanders-Reio, Joanne (08/2011). Writing The Neglected “R” in the Workplace. Encyclopedia of E-Leadership, Counseling and Training, p. 479.

San Francisco State University (2012). Rubrics. Graduate Writing Policy. Writing Across the Curriculum and in the Disciplines. Retrieved March 3, 2012 from