Looking to the Past to Help Better (Re)Design the Future of MWL in an English Department

This session will be a “mistakes made, lessons learned” style of presentation as the presenter will share experiences about the implementation process of MWL into developmental English. Participants will be invited to ask questions and to share their own “lessons learned” in an effort to help one another create the best future opportunities for implementing MWL. While implementation of MWL into individual courses will be discussed, this session will primarily focus on the implementation process department-wide.

Jennifer begins by giving background on the developmental English program at Ozarks Technical College. 24 adjuncts and 9 full-time instructors teach two levels of developmental English: ENG 040 & 050. It is decentralized with supplemental resources such as a tutoring center and dedicated advising. The program is in the process of aligning its course objectives with the objectives of both the Missouri Developmental Education Consortium and the Missouri Department of Higher Education. ENG 040 employs Arlov’s Wordsmith while ENG 050 uses Gaetz and Phadke’s A Writer’s World.

Recent redesigns to the curriculum includes a “Bridge to Success” program that provides developmental students with a dedicated advisor, a “Keys to College Success” course, and an early alert system for struggling students; more full-time faculty; and increased developmental education professional development opportunities for faculty. Assessment practices are also In the process of changing form a final exam model to a model that includes course work and writing proficiency in addition to a final exam. Finally, MWL has been integrated into developmental classes as a mandatory requirement.

Jennifer next shares seven lessons her department has learned from these redesigns, especially the MWL requirement. The first is that instructor buy-in to the program is integral. To do this, she recommends sharing how the institution has arrived at the decision, provide examples of classroom use, hold Q&A sessions about MWL, give opportunities for full-time and adjuncts to engage in trials and pilots of the program, invite instructors to assist the redesign.

The second lesson is to provide ample mandatory hands-on technology training, and the third is to provide ample pedagogical training. Experienced instructors should help with this training. Departments should develop a set of MWL best practices for new instructors. It is also important to offer incentives for instructors (especially adjuncts) to attend training sessions.

The next lesson is to give instructors guidelines for using MWL as a supplement to, not a replacement for, classroom instruction. Questions to consider include how much in-class time should be devoted to MWL, how much of the course grade should include MWL work, what the minimum requirements for using MWL in class. Related to this is the fifth lesson: Set specific goals and outcome for using MWL. These outcomes need to be clear and assessable, which means also deciding how to assess the outcomes.

The next lesson is to encourage experimentation with the program. This is especially important for adjunct instructors. Additionally, faculty should be encouraged to share the results of their experimentation, especially with faculty who are hesitant to use it in different ways. The final lesson is also closely related to the previous: Develop a plan for new (especially inexperienced) instructors to use MWL in their courses. Have a “ready-to-go” list of suggested assignments for instructors to fall back on until they are comfortable enough with MWL to experiment. Also share the training load with everyone by pairing an inexperienced instructor with a veteran instructor familiar with MWL. Finally, provide faculty with a specific name of a tech person who can help with any trouble.

Jennifer ends her presentation by asking for her listeners’ input and questions.

Presenter Bio:

Jennifer Dunkel is the lead instructor for developmental English at Ozarks Technical Community College. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Truman State University and a Master of Arts in Writing (with a composition and rhetoric emphasis) from Missouri State University. She has been teaching and researching developmental writing for the past seven years. Jennifer has incorporated MyWritingLab into her developmental writing classes for the past four years. Jennifer is actively involved in the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE), the Midwest Regional Association for Developmental Education (MRADE), and the Missouri Developmental Education Consortium (MoDEC), ll professional organizations that provide strong support for teachers of developmental education.