Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement provided three college-wide workshops earlier this semester as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen and maximize student writing skills.

The workshops were organized by Dr. Melanie Pavich, college writing coordinator and associate professor of history and interdisciplinary studies, and Dr. Jared Champion, assistant professor of writing and interdisciplinary studies.

“At Mercer everyone majors in changing the world, and the ability to write well is a key component of that transformative potential,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College of Professional Advancement. “College of Professional Advancement faculty are dedicated to seeing that Mercer students graduate with the skills they need to communicate effectively in writing.”

Two workshops, January 23 and March 27, focused on utilizing the seventh (and latest) edition of the APA Publication Manual. Mercer research services librarians Florence Tang and Annierra Matthews worked with undergraduate and graduate students to update them on APA seventh edition guidelines.

A third workshop titled, “Writing Assignments and Response,” was held March 20 and led by Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the Center on Media and Society at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Dr. Gwendolynne Reid, assistant professor of English and director of writing at Emory University, Oxford College. 

Dr. Reid and Dr. Matthews worked with faculty on providing effective feedback to students on written assignments and supporting the transfer of writing skills from one course or discipline to another.

This spring’s workshop built on a 2019-2020 Writing Institute organized by Dr. Pavich and Dr. Champion. Starting with a two-day workshop in July 2019 and follow-up sessions in the spring semester of 2020, the institute provided faculty members the opportunity to workshop writing-intensive curriculum with rhetoric and composition expert Dr. Chris Anson. Dr. Anson serves as Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University.

“We have faculty that are teaching abbreviated and intense courses, yet they’re still willing to show up,” Dr. Champion said. “I think that’s really critical when they show up for students where they need it most in terms of their writing.”

The outcomes for these writing initiatives within the College of Professional Advancement have been to increase faculty confidence in writing-based instruction, disseminate best practices for writing across the curriculum in each department and degree program, and to encourage faculty from all disciplines to integrate writing into current and future courses. 

“Our faculty members really are dedicated to our students, to their development as effective writers,” Dr. Pavich said. “In terms of the commitment to our students, it’s about meeting them where they are and really helping them make a success of their coursework towards their degree at Mercer and beyond into their professional life.”


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