Reflections on Writing Programs, Pandemic Support, and Resilience (Working Title)
If you worked in writing program administration, either as a faculty member or graduate assistant, during the sudden shift to online instruction in March 2020, I would like to invite you to participate in my dissertation study.
Currently titled “Reflections on Writing Programs, Pandemic Support, and Resilience,” this exploratory and reflective study will examine decisions made by WPAs during the sudden switch to remote learning experienced by many in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, I hope to illuminate some of the underlying assumptions made in decisions to support writing instructors, and ask how those interact with ideas of empathy, online writing instruction best practices, labor issues, and larger ideas of WPA’s roles.
The part of this research that I am most excited about is the goal to create a “Crisis Toolkit:” a collection of reflections, advice, and materials that WPAs and writing programs can use when they face their next big challenge. My hope is that we can create this together, as a collaboration with faculty and graduate students who got to see one of the most difficult moments of WPA work in recent history.
Potential Research Questions:
Main question: What support did writing programs offer to instructors in March 2020 when a global health crisis suddenly forced us to change our methods of teaching and learning?
- How was “support” defined? What areas of instruction (technology, delivery, synchronous engagement, other support to instructors) did it focus on?
- Was that support catered at all to the specific often-tenuous situations (contingent faculty/graduate TAs) of instructors in these types of programs?
- What barriers existed to delivering that support?
- What can we learn about how WPA work intersects with Online Writing Instruction (OWI) faculty development?
- Generally speaking, what went well in terms of the support offered?
- Where could there have been more or different kinds of support offered?
When writing programs face their next big challenge, it will be important to remember how support was determined in our latest crisis; further, as online writing instruction has become more and more part of composition instruction writ large, we need to understand what this contributes to the growing body of online writing instructional practices from a WPA standpoint.
The first phase of this study is a simple survey that should take, at most, about 10 minutes of your time.
There will be a second phase involving two interviews. If you are interested in participating in that as well, or want to know more about it, there is an option to mark your interest at the end of the survey.
Specifically, I am looking for faculty, graduate students, and staff who, as of March 2020:
- were employed by a higher education institution, either as a faculty member or a graduate assistant, AND
- held a leadership position in a writing program (specifically, writing programs that include a version of First Year Composition) as part of their appointment, OR
- worked with those in writing program leadership to offer resources and support to instructors in the program.
Interviews will be conducted and recorded over Zoom videoconferencing software, and Zoom’s auto-transcription service will be utilized. After interviews, transcripts will be corrected by hand with assistance from recordings. Recordings will be deleted from Zoom Cloud Storage after transcription; video files will be downloaded and stored on secure servers. This is a separate secure server storage location from consent forms. Interview data will be de-identified for presentation and publication of findings.
Phase Two will also see the collection of institutional writing program texts such as communications and resources from March 2020. These texts will be analyzed in conversation with the interview participants who created them, and some may be adapted for the “Crisis Toolkit” in collaboration with those participants. Those adapted will be generalized for wider use. Some of these texts may have already been published for use on the internet, but those which have not will be de-identified (in collaboration with their writers) before circulation in the “Crisis Toolkit.”
If you choose to withdraw, you can notify the researchers at any time and your data will no longer be included in the study. All recordings and transcripts of your interviews will be destroyed.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns to either myself, Marisa Yerace (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to Dr. Bradley Dilger (email@example.com).
This study has been approved by Purdue University’s Institutional Review Board: IRB-2021-779. To report anonymously via Purdue’s Hotline, see www.purdue.edu/hotline. If you have questions about your rights while taking part in the study or have concerns about the treatment of research participants, please call the Human Research Protection Program at 765-494-5942, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or write to
Human Research Protection Program – Purdue University
Ernest C. Young Hall, Room 1032
155 S. Grant St.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114