ENGL 6370: Writing Center Theory & Practice (Spring 2020)


Writing Center Theory & Practice

The Pearce Graduate Writing Teaching Assistants

Clemson University, Spring 2020

CLASS TIME: Wednesdays from 4:30 pm-5:20 pm

LOCATION: Class of ‘41 Studio, Daniel Hall




  • Katalin Beck: kbeck [at] clemson.edu, Strode 507, Office hours by appointment
  • Jennifer Forsberg: jforsbe [at] clemson.edu, Strode 502, Office hours by appointment



This workshop is designed to give you experience in developing your skills as a teacher, mentor, and writer across disciplines. Through weekly texts and class discussions, you will build an understanding of the fundamental processes of brainstorming, drafting, and revising writing across a variety of genres, audiences, and teaching expectations.


1) Explain, explore, and demonstrate the concept of ‘Writing to Learn’:

  1. a) Writing across the Curriculum (as Writing to Learn is also known) suggests that writing is a valuable process within learning. Writing asks us to explain things: what we think, what we observe, what we read, and what we do through modes of critical inquiry.
  2. b) Writing provides the opportunity to analyze thoughts, perceptions, and actions. The process of writing, particularly informal writing, becomes a way to generate ideas and to expand our thinking, which leads to critical analysis, the application of material, and the synthesis of concepts.

2)  Explain, explore, and demonstrate the concept of ‘Writing to Demonstrate Learning’:

  1. a) Writing in the Disciplines (as Writing to Demonstrate Learning is also known) demonstrates to others what we have learned in the process of working with others, reading, doing experiments, making observations, and thinking deeply about specific fields of study
  2. b) Writing, particularly, formal writing, requires us to think critically about both form and content; it takes note of audience, situation for which we write, the conditions in which we write, and the product on the “page,” including grammar, diction, syntax, organization, style, and revision.


Attendance: Attendance at every class session is expected. Absences must be arranged and accounted for in advance of class. One absence is excused. Any class time missed beyond the 1 excused absence may result in a partial loss of the stipend students receive as part of this program.


Clemson Accessibility

Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the professor know, and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing studentaccess@lists.clemson.edu, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged – drop-ins will be seen if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who receive Academic Access Letters are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and present these to their professors as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here: http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/sds/.


Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

The following is Clemson’s official statement on “Academic Integrity”: “As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a ‘high seminary of learning.’ Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.”


A simple definition of plagiarism—one that we will expand upon this semester—is when someone presents another person’s words, visuals, or ideas as his/her own. The instructor will deal with plagiarism on a case-by-case basis. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copies text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university. 

See the Clemson site below for information about Academic Integrity and procedures regarding the violation of Clemson policies on scholastic dishonesty: http://www.clemson.edu/academics/academic-integrity/


Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/access/title-ix/. Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorrf Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).




Participation 30
Teaching Observation 10
Workshops (Disc.Board) 25
  • Discourse analysis
  • 5
  • Assignment. analysis
  • 10
  • Rubric analysis
  • 5
  • Feedback analysis
  • 5
Ideal assignment 25
Teaching Philosophy  10



Weekly Participation

The key expectation of this course is your engaged participation. This involves completing all class readings for the week, contributing deeply to class discussions that reflect on your experiences with teaching and writing, and offering questions, strategies, and resources. Finishing the semester without going over the quota for absences and maintaining habitual, high energy, full workshop participation will reward you full points in this score. You will also be expected to keep and update a Journal of Writing Practice (JWP) in which you record thoughts and reflections of everyday teaching and writing experience. Try to include a few sentences for each class meeting. The JWP is your resource for the teaching philosophy assignment. It could also be useful for remembering an idea for an assignment or for adding teaching/training/writing specifics to a job application letter.

30 points (30% of final grade)


Teaching Observation or Consultation

Before midterm you should schedule a time a classroom observation (a 15-minute short writing lesson), or a 25-minute teaching consultation where you meet with an instructor to strategize how to integrate writing into your classroom. While second-semester students are encouraged to schedule observations, both options are open and available to all students. While no documentation needs to be submitted for this assignment, we suggest that you write about this experience in your Journal of Writing Practice.

10 points (10% of final grade)


In-Class Workshops and Discussion Threads 


  •       Discourse Analysis Workshop: This assignment asks you to evaluate the formal conventions of writing in your discipline. What does writing look like in your field? What seems to be of the highest priority? Bring to class two samples typical of your discipline (one published article, and one student paper), and be prepared to discuss your observations. After the workshop,  contribute at least one post (3%) and one reply (2%) to the discussion board. 5 points (5% of final grade)


  •          Assignment Analysis Workshop: This task requires you to bring the instructions, directions, or introduction for any assignment from your class for an in-class workshop that examines the language and intention of description(s). In a screen capture video of 2-3 minutes, your analysis should evaluate and troubleshoot what the assignment asks for, analyze the explicitness of the direction, and identify potential elements that could improve future use. For this e-Learning requirement you should post your video to the discussion thread (7%) and comment on at least one peer video (3%). 10 points (10% of final grade)


  •       Evaluation/Rubric Analysis Workshop: Bring a rubric or description of the evaluation that has been assigned to your class and/or that you might use for assessment. Be prepared to draft your observations of what the rubric communicates, and analyze the individual elements. For example: You may have a “Conclusion” section in your rubric worth 10% of a student’s total grade on this assignment. But what does the rubric ask for, or assess, exactly? What is that section supposed to accomplish? What discrepancies are there between what the rubric says and what you envision being assessed? After the workshop,  contribute at least one post (3%) and one reply (2%) to the discussion board. 5 points (5% of final grade)


  •       Writing Samples and Feedback Assessment: Collect and assess 3 student samples of the same assignment from a class you are teaching. These samples should reflect student work that excels, meets the baseline, and that falls below the baseline to show a distribution. After the workshop,  contribute at least one post (3%) and one reply (2%) to the discussion board. 5 points (5% of final grade)


Ideal Assignment Video and Peer Review:

Draw on the foundations established by our workshops and your teaching observation/consultation to design an ideal assignment that can be both practical and productive in the classroom.

  • Construct or design an assignment in a format that you would provide students. This assignment can be modified from an assignment already scheduled in the syllabus (lab report, essay, project) or be wholly of your own creation. Make sure in incorporates writing.
  • Develop an assessment rubric that adheres to your particular disciplinary conventions, while acknowledging the broader goals of improving undergraduate student writing per class discussions.
  • First-semester students: explain and reflect on the aspects of writing you have focused on, and how you expect your students to achieve mastery within the context of your rubric. Your reflection will be presented in a 4-5 minute video with a screen capture of the assignment document.

Second-semester students: provide a 4-5 minute video that introduces the assignment as it would be instructed for students, rather than explain it to peers.

  • After the peer-review process you’ll have a chance to revise the written part of the assignment (PDF).

10 points video, 10 points peer review, and 5 points revision for 25 points total (25% of final grade)


Final Project: Teaching Philosophy

Using your Journal of Writing Practice, compose a one-page teaching philosophy that discusses your approach to the classroom (or to company training sessions), your method of teaching (training), and give an example of a favorite instructional activity. After the peer-review process you’ll have a chance to revise. 3 points draft, 3 points peer review, and 4 points revision for a total of 10 points (10% of final grade). 



Weekly readings can be accessed via the Canvas site and in John Bean’s Engaging Ideas.

              Spring 2020 Readings and Assignments
Jan. 15
Katalin, Jennifer and Cameron

Discuss about the results of the survey:
– Where does writing fit into the class you are a TA in?
– What areas of writing do you feel confident in?
– Where do you want to improve? Etc.
Discuss workshop expectations and process

Draft answers to the emailed questions to start your Journal of Writing PracticeREMINDER: Bring two samples of writing typical to your field: 1) typical published writing 2) typical student writing
Jan. 22 


Form and Content

What does ‘writing’ mean in your field? How can critical reading skills (reading for form, not content) and the method of discourse analysis inform our teaching?

Bean: Pedagogical Strategies for Promoting Critical Thinking (pp. 29-32)- from Chapter 2:  How is Writing Related to Critical Thinking

Bean: Chapter 1:  Helping Writers Think Rhetorically (pp. 39-51)

WORKSHOP: Discourse Analysis – Post and reply to this workshop’s discussion board before our next meeting

Jan. 29
The Writing Process 

How do you manage issues of audience, purpose, organization, and style as you generate content for a draft? What strategies or approaches might help to prioritize different purposes or message types?


Bean, “What Causes These Organizational Problems?” (pp. 24-31)

WAC Casebook: “Making Learning Visible” (pp. 69-71) (Canvas)

REMINDER: Schedule an observation time by the end of week

Feb. 5
Conventional Moves & Genre Templates 
How do we present arguments effectively using templates and conventional moves of academic and science writing rhetoric? What are the roles of summaries and lit reviews? How (and where) do we start and end?
They Say, I Say (handouts)

Booth Structure Handout
Reference Guide to WAC: “The Particularity of Disciplinary Discourses” (pp. 90-97) (Canvas)

Feb. 12


Informal Writing and Modeling

What is informal or low-stakes writing? What is informal or low-stakes writing? How does it pertain to writing in your discipline? What does it look like, and what can it accomplish?

Reference Guide to WAC, “Mathematics” (pp. 131-134) (Canvas)
Bean, “Informal, Exploratory Writing Activities” (pp. 98-100; 104-115)WAC Clearinghouse Article: Writing-to-Learn Activities (Canvas)REMINDER: E-Learning Next Week. No class meeting.
Feb. 19
JenniferE-Learning Day, No In-class Instruction
Assignment Analysis and 

Document Design 
How can we design effective assignments? What role does design have in the writing process? How can a visual literacy contribute toward disciplinary mastery?

E-Learning Day Link on Canvas Pages

WAC Clearinghouse:
What Should I Know about Genre and Design?
Connecting Visuals to Text and Text to Visuals in Science

Chronicle of Higher Ed:
Teaching Document Design not Formatting Requirements

WORKSHOP: Assignment Analysis. Post a screen capture video with your assignment analysis and reply to a peer’s video  before our next meeting

Feb. 26


Will Cunningham

Grant Writing

REMINDER: Bring Assignment/Task WITH RUBRIC for Workshop Next Time
Mar. 4
Rubrics, Assessment and


What is a rubric? How can we use rubrics to improve writing? How can student learning objectives assist you in assessment?

Bean, “Developing and Applying Grading Criteria” (pp. 255-266)
WORKSHOP: Rubric/Evaluation – Post and reply to this workshop’s discussion board before our next meeting

REMINDER: Bring student samples with your assessment/feedback. 
Mar. 11

How do you provide frequent and effective feedback without sacrificing all of your time and energy? How can you encourage students to receive that feedback? How can technology assist you?

Bean, “Coaching and Handling Paper Load” (pp. 237-238)
Introduce the “Ideal Assignment”  Assignment
WORKSHOP: Writing Sample/Feedback – Post and reply to this workshop’s discussion board before our next meeting
Mar 18: No Class, Spring Break
Mar. 25
Digital Teaching Tools, LMSs, and Use of Multimedia 

What does research look like today? How might alternate assignments and assessments impact your student. How might you assess these alternatives? How can integrating an LMS impact your classroom?

Apr. 1


Kelsey Sheaffer

Learning Technologies Ideal Assignment Video Due to Canvas by Saturday, Apr. 4 @ 11:59PM
Apr. 8
Jennifer & Katalin
Ideal Assignment

Peer Review 

Watch assigned peer videos to prepare for in-class peer review session
Apr. 15
+ Jennifer Brondell
Teacher Identity

How can writing teachers’ ESL background benefit students and students’ ESL background benefit the classroom?

WAC Casebook: You Have No Right” (pp. 130-132)

Fitch and Morgan “Not a Lick of English
Teaching Philosophy Draft Due to Canvas By Saturday, Apr. 18 @ 11:59PM

Apr. 22

Jennifer & Katalin

Teaching Philosophy Peer Review  Read assigned teaching philosophies to prepare for in-class peer review session
Revised Ideal Assignment and Revised Teaching Philosophy due Wed,  4/29 @ 4:30PM (Finals Week)