Professional Development Expectations for the ISU Writing Program

Professional Development is a key part of our Writing Program, for two key reasons:

  1.     Our Writing Program is extremely innovative.  We are on the leading edge of pedagogical theory in writing studies. We regularly complete small scale and program-wide assessments, as well as research studies that investigate student learning.  New instructors learn about these studies, concepts and pedagogies as part of their week-long  orientation training and through ENG 402.  But more advanced instructors in the program can quickly lose track of the most recent program developments.
  2.     Because of different levels of experience and teaching load, different instructors need to approach professional development in different ways, and our expectations need to be responsive to multiple methods for gaining this additional knowledge.  Essentially, we need to be able to expect consistent professional development, but we need to offer opportunities for development in creative, accessible ways.

This document outlines the specific professional development expectations for our different instructors. Because the Writing Program instructor community includes faculty as well as M.A. and Ph.d. graduate assistants, we’ve tailored each section of this document to specific groups.

Professional Development Expectations for Faculty (TT, NTT and Post-Doc Faculty)

A NOTE on Faculty Professional Development: These instructors are always very experienced, many with more than a decade (or two) of writing instruction experience.  So our professional development expectations for this group are specifically oriented towards teaching strategies and knowledge that are “new” (in terms of Writing Program research and innovations).

+View/Hide Expectations

  1. Alignment with New Learning Outcomes: Faculty teaching one or more Writing Program courses will be expected to complete a survey (online) at the beginning of that semester. This form will ask them to provide both a first-day syllabus, descriptions of their major projects and an explanation of their assessment plan.  The survey will also ask them to connect their course plan to the new  program learning outcomes (new in spring 2015).  Each instructor will also identify 1-2 of the new  learning outcomes they would like to work on and commit to this work during the semester. Instructors will also fill out an end-of-semester (very short) narrative that outlines the work they’ve done on that learning outcome. This work will continue until all 8 of the new learning outcomes have been covered.
  2. Professional Development in Writing Studies Theories, Concepts and Research:  Instructors will be expected to participate in ongoing learning in the field each semester that they teach 1 or more Writing Program courses.  The Writing Program provides multiple ways to engage in this work, and we expect faculty to participate in at least one activity during each semester.  Activities could be chosen from among the many items on our Professional Development Activities list (see below).
  3. The Writing Program Semi-Annual Summit on Writing Instruction:  Faculty teaching in the Writing Program are not required to attend the Summit (which happens on the Friday before classes start each semester)  but they are strongly encouraged to do so.
  4. Classroom Visits: During their first two semesters working with the Writing Program, faculty may be visited by Writing Program staff, who will observe classes and then meet with faculty to discuss their ethnographic (not evaluative) observations. In addition, faculty can request a faculty observation at any time.       Finally, experienced faculty are expected to allow occasional visits from new instructors who can gain experience and knowledge about our program through these observations.

Professional Development Expectations for M.A. Graduate Assistants

M.A. students receive 2 years of funding as part of their departmental assistantship.  Their first year involves specific training activities as they prepare to teach, while the 2nd year requirements involve work to develop teaching skills and stay current with Writing Program practices and pedagogies.

+View/Hide Expectations

  1. ENG 402:  In their first semester, all new M.A.-level instructors take ENG 402.
  2. Detailed Course Plan:  As part of ENG 402, all new M.A. students create a detailed course plan.
  3. Classroom Visits:  As part of their first-semester cohort work and 402 work, new M.A. instructors visit classrooms and complete detailed ethnographic observations.
  4. Cohort Meetings:  In both fall and spring of their first year, new M.A. students participate in weekly cohort meetings.
  5. Writing Program Summits:  M.A. instructors are required to attend Writing Program Summits at the beginning of each semester. This is an important professional development activity for our graduate instructors, so it’s important to reserve the Friday before classes start for both fall and spring semesters.  If for some reason an instructor has to miss a Summit, they can select two activities from among our available professional development opportunities as a substitute (see list below).
  6. Alignment with New Learning Outcomes: M.A.-level Instructors are trained to understand and implement the new Writing Program Learning Outcomes as part of their ENG 402 and cohort work.  Additionally, during each semester in which they teach one or more WP courses, M.A.-level instructors will be expected to complete a survey (online) at the beginning of that semester. This form will ask them to provide both a first-day syllabus, descriptions of their major projects and an explanation of their assessment plan.  The survey will also ask them to connect their course plan to the program learning outcomes (new in spring 2015).
  7. Professional Development in Writing Studies Theories, Concepts and Research: Although M.A.-Level Instructors are not required to participate in additional professional development activities (see list below), they are encouraged to do so.  We regularly award funding for conference travel, program appreciate awards, etc. to instructors who volunteer to participate in these kinds of events.

Professional Development Expectations for New Ph.D. Graduate Assistants

First Two Years

Ph.D.-level graduate assistants can receive up to 5 years of funding for their studies. In the first 2 years, instructors are usually teaching Writing Program courses.  As a result, their first year involves specific training activities as they prepare to teach.  The 2nd year requirements involve work to stay current with Writing Program practices and pedagogies.

+View/Hide Expectations

  1. ENG 402:  In their first semester, all new Ph.D.-level instructors take ENG 402.
  2. Detailed Course Plan:  As part of ENG 402, all new Ph.D. students create a detailed course plan.
  3. Classroom Visits:  As part of their first-semester cohort work and ENG 402 work, new Ph.D. instructors visit classrooms and complete detailed ethnographic observations.
  4. Cohort Meetings:  In the fall and of their first year, new Ph.D. students participate in weekly cohort meetings.
  5. Writing Program Summits:  Ph.D. instructors are required to attend Writing Program Summits at the beginning of each semester for any semester in which they are teaching a Writing Program course. This is an important professional development activity for our graduate instructors, so it’s important to reserve the Friday before classes start for both fall and spring semesters. If for some reason an instructor has to miss a Summit, they can select from one of the available professional development opportunities as a substitute (see list below).
  6. Alignment with New Learning Outcomes: Ph.D.-level Instructors are trained to understand and implement the new Writing Program Learning Outcomes as part of their ENG 402 and cohort work.  Additionally, during each semester in which they teach one or more WP courses, Ph.D.-level instructors will be expected to complete a survey (online) at the beginning of that semester. This form will ask them to provide both a first-day syllabus, descriptions of their major projects and an explanation of their assessment plan.  The survey will also ask them to connect their course plan to the program learning outcomes.
  7. Professional Development in Writing Studies Theories, Concepts and Research: Although Ph.D.-Level Instructors are not required to participate in additional professional development activities (see list below), they are encouraged to do so.  We regularly award funding for conference travel, program appreciate awards, etc. to instructors who volunteer to participate in these kinds of events.

Professional Development Expectations for Advanced Ph.D. Graduate Assistants

Three or More Years

Ph.D.-level graduate assistants can receive up to 5 years of funding for their studies. After the first two years, Ph.D.-level instructors can sometimes be assigned courses outside of the Writing Program for some or all of their Assistantship.  As a result, we have slightly different expectations for these more advanced instructors.

+View/Hide Expectations

  1. Cohort Meetings:  Advanced Ph.D. students are not required to attend teaching cohort meetings for new instructors, but they are invited to do so.
  2. Writing Program Summits:  Ph.D. instructors are required to attend Writing Program Summits at the beginning of each semester for any semester in which they are teaching a Writing Program course. This is an important professional development activity for our graduate instructors, so it’s important to reserve the Friday before classes start for both fall and spring semesters.  If for some reason an instructor has to miss a Summit, they can select two from among the available professional development opportunities as a substitute (see list below).
  3. Alignment with New Learning Outcomes: Ph.D.-level Instructors are trained to understand and implement the new Writing Program Learning Outcomes as part of their ENG 402 and cohort work.  Additionally, during each semester in which they teach one or more WP courses, Ph.D.-level instructors will be expected to complete a survey (online) at the beginning of that semester. This form will ask them to provide both a first-day syllabus, descriptions of their major projects and an explanation of their assessment plan.  The survey will also ask them to connect their course plan to the program learning outcomes.
  4. Professional Development in Writing Studies Theories, Concepts and Research: Ph.D.-level instructors who have been absent from the Writing Program for a semester or more are expected to participate one or more of our available professional development events (see list below), during each semester in which they teach one or more writing program courses.

Professional Development Expectations for Part-Time Faculty

Part-time Faculty make up only a small percentage of instructors in the Writing Program.  We fully recognize that instructors teaching only 1 or 2 courses for the writing program may have a wide range of other part-time or full-time employment.  As a result, we want to be very careful about our expectations for professional development for these instructors.  However, because our program is very different from most other writing programs, a certain level of additional professional development may be necessary for part-time faculty to be effective instructors in our program.

+View/Hide Expectations

  1. Introduction to the Program: The Writing Program has materials that can help new faculty members (full or part time) to get a handle on our program.  If an instructor is teaching with us for the first time, we’ll provide them with these resources, which we expect the instructor to review before teaching (since many of our part-time faculty are graduates of our program, this review may not be necessary for some part-time instructors).
  2. Orientation:  For new part-time instructors, some attendance at our new instructor orientation may be very helpful.  While we don’t require this, we do enthusiastically invite new part-time instructors or full-time instructors to attend the sessions of our orientation that deal specifically with our program policies and our learning outcomes.
  3. Alignment with New Learning Outcomes: Part-time Instructors teaching Writing Program courses will be expected to complete a survey (online) at the beginning of the semester. This form will ask them to provide both a first-day syllabus, descriptions of their major projects and an explanation of their assessment plan.  The survey will also ask them to connect their course plan to the new program learning outcomes (new in spring 2015).  Each part-time instructor who teaches for more than one semester with us will also be asked to identify 1-2 of the new  learning outcomes they would like to work on and commit to this work during the semester. Instructors will also fill out an end-of-semester (very short) narrative that outlines the work they’ve done on that learning outcome. This work will continue until all 8 of the new learning outcomes have been covered.
  4. Professional Development in Writing Studies Theories, Concepts and Research:  If part-time instructors are asked to teach in more than two successive semesters, they’ll be expected to participate in ongoing learning in the field. The Writing Program provides multiple ways to engage in this work, and we expect part-time faculty to participate in at least one activity during each year that their assignment is ongoing.  Activities could be chosen from among the many items on our Professional Development Activities list (see below).
  5. The Writing Program Semi-Annual Summit on Writing Instruction:  Part-time faculty teaching in the Writing Program are not required to attend the Summit, but they are invited to do so.