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UCD TEACHING AND LEARNING / Projects
Module Enhancement
Writing and Teaching
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Project: Writing and Teaching
Project Team: Michael Staunton
Collaborator(s):

Funding:

Strategic Innovation Fund II

Timeline:

2011-13
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background:
Writing is central to the experience of most UCD students, and effective writing is valued by examiners and employers alike. But writing is not a discrete activity: it is related to critical thinking, organisation, problem solving, innovation and creativity. At UCD, many colleagues currently use writing in their teaching in effective and imaginative ways. This project aims to develop that provision by sharing and coordinating existing practices and by introducing UCD staff to a range of approaches to the use of writing in the classroom (‘writing across the disciplines’, ‘writing to learn’, ‘writing based teaching’). The project is relevant to all subject disciplines at UCD, but has a special focus on first year.
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goals:
The project aims first to develop the links between writing and teaching which already exist at UCD so that colleagues may learn from each other about writing across the disciplines at UCD. Secondly, it aims to introduce colleagues across UCD to approaches which have been used successfully elsewhere. This involves training in specific ‘writing-based teaching’ practices, and contacts with other institutions. Thirdly, the project aims to develop pilot modules, and in particular a pilot module in first year, which include a strong writing element in their teaching and assessment.
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Methods:
There are two strands to the project: one involving colleagues across the university and one involving pilot projects in the School of History and Archives. Commitment is sought from teaching staff across UCD with the aim of sharing and coordinating practices and introducing new ones. This will be achieved through workshops, through a symposium, and through other interactions between interested parties in UCD and in other institutions. At the same time, pilot projects using ‘writing-based teaching’ will be introduced in History modules and monitored through reflection and feedback.
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Results:
In 2011/12 staff from across UCD, including representatives of every college, took part in workshops on ‘writing-based teaching’ presented by a leading international practitioner.
In 2011/12 ‘writing-based teaching’ approaches were employed in two History modules: ‘Research Skills’ for third year undergraduates, and ‘Research and Writing’ for first year postgraduates. In both cases feedback was very positive, and the view was consistently expressed that such approaches should be introduced to students at an earlier stage in their careers. A first year History module, ‘Rome to Renaissance’ has been redesigned to include a strong writing element in weekly seminars and assessment in preparation for its implementation in 2012/13.

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Next Steps:
A symposium is planned for 2012/13 designed to bring together those interested in writing and teaching at UCD and those involved in similar practices in other institutions. It is hoped that this will promote a further sharing of ideas among teaching staff about writing across the curriculum and about how this may be developed at UCD. At the same time ‘writing-based teaching’ will be included in a first year History module, ‘Rome to Renaissance’ and its progress monitored.