Writing to Learn Strategies in Online Classrooms: A Closer Look at Our Opportunities to Cultivate Strong Writers

Concurrent Session 10
Leadership

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

As an educator, I believe students (current/future professionals) must write well, no matter their discipline. This session will explore the immense opportunities we have online to connect students with impactful writing skills and outcomes through the use of Assignment Builders, sound pedagogy, and other course development tool implementation.

Presenters

Dr. Patty Ann Bogue is a faculty member in the Management and Information Systems department in the College of Business at Mississippi State University. She currently teaches online, blended, and face-to-face courses such as Organizational Communication, Cross Cultural Management, and other various leadership development courses. During her doctoral work at Texas A&M University, she served as the Assistant Course Director for COMM 203: Public Speaking. While there, she completed the Graduate Teaching Academy through the Center for Teaching Excellence. She has taught numerous small and large-lecture courses at Mississippi State and Texas A&M, including Public Speaking, Group Communication, Interviewing, Persuasion, Careers in Communication, and various Hollingsworth Leadership Development Program seminars through the Corps of Cadets. Patty Ann is also committed to the promotion and implementation of civic engagement and service-learning initiatives. She spent considerable time with the University’s Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program at Texas A&M as a Program Assistant. As one peer expressed, "I have been continually impressed with Patty Ann's sincere passion for inspiring others to serve on our campus and in our local community. She is a walking definition of a selfless servant and her warm and welcoming attitude easily spills into the lives of those she touches. As an active member and leader within the Junior League of Jackson (MS) and the Junior Auxiliary of Meridian (MS), Patty Ann seeks to link her love of service, civic engagement, and early childhood education by promoting the importance of active and engaged citizenship with local school children and families. She also serves on the Mississippi Children's Museum-Meridian Partners board. Patty Ann is a recipient of the 2019 Top Twenty Under 40 Award by The Meridian Star, 2018 Delta Zeta Sorority's 35 Under 35 Award, the 2014 Murray and Celeste Fasken Graduate Student Teaching Award, and the 2014 Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching Award given by the Texas A&M Association of Former Students.

Extended Abstract

In conjunction with the Maroon Institute for Writing Excellence (MIWE) at Mississippi State University, students in my online MGT 3213: Organizational Communication course are engaging in effective strategies to promote and cultivate strong writing skills. Through the use of weekly Assignment Builders, we will explore the pedagogy and course development tools needed to incorporate powerful writing techniques in a variety of online course subjects. Furthermore, attendees will be urged to incorporate a final writing assignment used to assess skill development and personal reflection. I will use a variety of interactive tools to provoke thought and encourage participation throughout this interactive Educate and Reflect Session. 

Students across a variety of disciplines are in urgent need of writing skills development. By incorporating the use of weekly Assignment Builders, students are given a fixed amount of time to connect their current knowledge with exploratory questions. I will also suggest the use of a final reflection paper assignment. Key considerations and time for writing prompts and reflective paper requirements will be included in this interactive session. Below, I outline my inspiration and approach to my online course.

The 2018 Maroon Institute for Writing Excellence faculty institute, completed in May 2018, was a wonderful professional and teaching development opportunity for me. I gained many new insights into the powerful use of writing as a tool for learning. In my own teaching, I seek to promote the importance of writing to learn. I believe students discover unique facets of themselves by reflection and guided thinking and writing assignments. While some students are more developed writers, the MIWE strategies we learned promote writing development no matter the skill level. I seek to meet students where they are with challenging yet supportive writing opportunities. I want students to see writing as an outlet for their own self-expression and growth. By becoming comfortable and eager with their own patterns of writing, I believe students will develop a strong confidence, which will translate to success in many of their scholastic endeavors.

Since my MIWE session in May 2018, I have been more mindful of the importance of modeling my own writing to my students. By making the writing process natural and enjoyable, I hope to instill and sustain a sense of importance and pride regarding their own skill development. Because there is a strong connection between the course objectives and their professional identity and future job placement, I am hopeful this idea will resonate deeply with students.

I strive to incorporate writing as a way to shift the energy during a lecture, invite feedback regarding a course topic or assignment, and gain perspective regarding where a student is in regard to mastering the course content. I am mindful of the logistics required of me with online and/or large classes of students, yet I highly value the writing process needed to transform them to be successful writers. I seek to equip them with resources for their own reference. By using a variety of the writing assignments learned in MIWE, I hope to surprise students with ways to be productive, confident, and savvy writers.

Proposed Structure and Use of Time

In this proposed Educate and Reflect Session, I plan to use the first 30 minutes for an explanation of writing to learn strategies, a general summary of my MIWE experience, content ideas for writing prompts and the reflective essay assignment, and ways to effectively convey the information in an online format. I foresee using the 5 minute individual reflection time as space to brainstorm and sketch potential topics and connections to the participants’ unique course objectives. For clarity and guidance, I will share a template for Assignment Builder writing. The final 10 minutes will be used to create closure and invite questions and concerns with the approach. Specifically, as requested in the Call for Proposals, I will ask participants for questions and allow conversation to unfold naturally. I will also prepare questions to consider in case few questions are raised. Finally, I hope to share key take-aways and resources for attendees to use after our time together has ended.

I intend to capture the audience’s attention with vivid detail, clarity, and applicability. I aim to create a session that is worthwhile, challenging, and stimulating for educators to adapt for their unique online course offerings. I will strive to maintain an enjoyable atmosphere that is thought-provoking and unique to the importance and application of online undergraduate writing skill development.