In spring 2010, Julie Sanford (Associate Director) and I began a systematic review of the Composition Program at Roosevelt University. We had three interrelated goals for this work:
- We wanted to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the program, particularly with respect to students success and retention across all levels of our curriculum.
- We wanted to initiate a process that would result in substantive changes to the way writing was thought about, talked about, and taught in our program.
- We wanted to embed portfolio-based assessment within our curricular redesign efforts in ways that would seem organic and sustainable within the culture of the program, department and college.
Project Description and Timeline
As there were several goals for this program review, our work on this project occurred across phases.
First, we conducted a six-month study of student success across our entire sequence. Working closely with our office of institutional research, as well as the associate provost for academic affairs, we sought to identify among other things any “pressure points” in our curriculum: places where students seemed most likely to struggle, and that seemed to have the greatest impact on overall retention. These research efforts were driven by list of 23 questions about student performance across our sequence.
In the fall of 2010, we also conducted a series of meetings with all full-time instructors to discuss different ideas and beliefs about writing and writing instruction. Based on these discussions, we drafted a document that eventually came to be known simply as “The Statement of Core Principles” for the program. We also voted to officially adopt the Council of Writing Program Administrators’ statement of “Student Learning Outcomes” as the basis for our own first-year writing sequence.
While not exhaustive in themselves, these documents established a framework for most of our other redesign efforts moving forward. We also began sketching out some broad ideas for how the curriculum might be reshaped, and asked all interested adjunct and full-time faculty to join one of five “work-groups” charged with studying each course in our curriculum in light of the institutional data on student success we were compiling.
These groups met repeatedly throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2011, and based on their recommendations, we implemented a number of curricular and programmatic changes beginning in spring of 2012.