Elon University is currently launching the Writing Excellence Initiative, a project aimed to make writing a key component of every student’s Elon education.
The Elon community started developing the project in 2010 to build on the school’s mission of “integrating learning across the disciplines, putting knowledge into practice, and preparing students to be global citizens and informed leaders motivated by concern for the common good.”
The Writing Excellence Initiative is a part of Elon’s overarching Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), as a required part of Elon’s reaccreditation process.
The goal of the initiative is to prepare every Elon student to be an outstanding writer, regardless of his or her major.
In creating “engaged minds, inspiring leaders, and global citizens,” the initiative is focusing on developing students’ abilities to write in three ways: writing to learn, writing in a discipline, and writing as a citizen.
Writing to learn will focus on analyzing and problem solving, while writing in a discipline will be geared toward a student's individual major. Writing as a citizen will prepare every graduate to communicate effectively with others.
The university will jump-start the initiative in every aspect of Elon’s community.
Academic departments will “enhance the writing instruction and support they provide for their majors,” according to the Writing Excellence Initiative. Courses will be refined to build student abilities and outcomes. This may mean that courses offer an essay exam instead of a multiple-choice test.
The General Studies Program at Elon University (GST courses) is redesigned to focus heavily on writing, as well. The Global Experience, a first-year required course, will have smaller class sizes over the next five years to provide more writing instruction individually.
The Division of Student Life is now providing guidance and feedback to student employees who are writing as part of their on-campus jobs.
The Center for Writing Excellence will be created to manage success of the initiative and integrate the student Writing Center and the Writing Across the University Program to serve as the focal point for the initiative.
The new center will focus on support of graduate programs, job applications, and even blog posts to enhance student writing.
This initiative is unfolding progressively over the next five years, with each department or course adapting one step at a time. Each idea will be implemented by a small group for testing before full implementation into a department.
Paula Patch, English lecturer and college writing program coordinator, previously told The Pendulum that having strong writing skills will also be important for students in their endeavors after graduation.
First-year communications student Sydney Plovsky said writing is already a heavy component of her Elon education.
“Class assignments are constantly focused on strong writing skills,” Plovsky said. “Whether it’s a communications or science course, I am always writing at least a few papers for each class.”
As students began to consistently use writing skills in classes and beyond, Patch expects quick results.
“We hope that students will use writing to somehow make an impact on the world,” Patch said. “Because a student is able to write well, their statements will have a widespread impact.”