I am interested in working with stakeholders to reveal how systems function and to improve them. As I note below, this has meant reaching out to decision makers in order to ensure that projects can maintain a steady trajectory toward completion. While the projects below highlight the amount of collaborative work that is necessary to implement such work, there is also an important level of independent follow-through that is necessary to carry out administrative undertakings. The final products that arise from these projects each result from the combination of the collaborative engagement of many individuals and institutional entities as well as my own motivation to leave behind better structures that communicate information and teach our students.
Developing Professional Writing
My work at the University of St. Thomas has consisted of helping to build a professional writing (PW) presence on campus. Within the department of English, my role as chair of the Professional Writing committee has allowed me to develop syllabi and new course proposals for a new PW track in the English Major– as well as introduce the department to the different standards, practices and recommended learning goals in the field of PW. Outside of the department, my administrative agenda has led me to collaborate with colleagues across multiple fields. For example, I have developed a WAC course for the MBA program, served on the Health Professional Advisory Committee, and worked with the department of Geography and Environmental Science on incorporating issues of sustainability in my professional writing courses. In these collaborations, I strive to build bridges between departments and offices around the university to cement the importance of professional and technical writing.
Animal Sciences/WAC Assessment
In many ways the collaborative bridge building across the University of St. Thomas that I have undertaken is a continuation of the administrative work that I began at Purdue University, while earning my doctorate–particularly in regards to my assessment work with the Animal Sciences department on campus. For a decade, the Animal Sciences department had embedded a WAC component into its Genetic Breeding course in which students apply course material into the production of workplace and academic genres such as memos, letters, and reports. Over the various years of this collaboration, WAC coordinators (mostly students in the rhetoric and composition program) had changed the WAC curricula while maintaining the same rigor and objectives of this partnership. Given these changes, I undertook an assessment project to answer research questions about the WAC assignments and lectures such as
- do the genres that we teach to Animal Sciences students match up with the genres that they will be asked to compose in their future positions and
- what writing skills are most helpful for Animal Sciences students to learn before they graduate? In this way, we would be better able move beyond guesswork in modifying the curriculum.
To obtain data on these questions, an IRB-approved research study was implemented. Recent Animal Sciences graduates who had taken the Animal Genetics/ WAC course and employers of Animal Sciences graduates were contacted and asked to fill out a survey on workplace genres and writing proficiency. These results were presented to the Genetic Breeding instructor and current WAC coordinators to help guide their curricular changes to the partnership.
My initial report to the Animal Sciences department can be found here.
Purdue OWL Webmaster
Saint Mary’s Writing Center Webmaster
As the steward for the Writing Center’s website at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, I worked with various departments and decision-makers in order to retool our digital space. This involved meeting with the IT department on campus to discuss issues of propriety (whether to become part of the larger Saint Mary’s CMS or function as a standalone site) and implementation. I was also responsible for explaining issues of design and teaching writing center stakeholders about how programming languages functioned. Additionally, with the director of the writing center, I conducted user-testing protocols and interviews with students to test iterative versions of the site. Although features have been added to the site since my departure, the original basic design continues to be utilized by the writing center.
Click here to see a before/after comparison, highlighting the design changes made. Note that the archived site from archive.org will open in this window and the current live site will open in a new tab.