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Georgia Rhoades named director of Appalachian’s Writing Across the Curriculum program

Georgia Rhoades.jpgBOONE—Dr. Georgia Rhoades, a professor in the Department of English at Appalachian State University, has been named the university’s first director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program, beginning with the current semester.

Writing Across the Curriculum, or “WAC,” began in England and was adopted by the process movement in rhetoric and composition in the early 1970s. It encourages writing programs to look beyond traditional composition courses and create cultures of writing throughout universities.

At Appalachian, the “W” or writing designators were initiated in the current Core Curriculum as a way to extend the writing lessons of first-year composition courses.

During the past four years, Rhoades has worked with the Hubbard Center for Faculty Development to offer support to faculty teaching “W” courses.

Working in University College and in close cooperation with the new General Education program, scheduled for implementation in fall 2009, the WAC program will support faculty using writing in their classrooms through a vertical writing model consisting of two courses taught in the composition program in the Department of English: English 1000 and a proposed new course to be taught in the second year that will introduce students to WAC.

The new General Education program will also feature a junior-level writing course in the student’s major and a senior capstone course that will in most cases involve a substantial writing component. WAC will support faculty in the development and maintenance of these courses, beginning in fall 2008. The WAC program will also collaborate with the University Writing Center in supporting writing pedagogy across campus.

This semester, Rhoades is also working with Dr. Lynn Moss Sanders, director of the Heltzer Honors Program, in a pilot electronic portfolio program, which will allow students to create resources for further education and career placement as well as assessment of writing in the university. Electronic portfolios are already used in some departments at Appalachian, but they have not yet been used for the assessment of writing in a broader university context.

Rhoades is assisted this semester by the first WAC consultant, Dr. Sherry Hart, who also teaches in the Department of English, as well as teaching assistant Erin Zimmerman, doctoral student Gail York, and adjuncts Suzanne Ingram and Sarah Vanover.

The WAC office will be located in the Old Library Classroom Building, across from the General Education offices.

Rhoades has taught rhetoric and composition and women’s studies at Appalachian since 1991. She has directed the composition program in English since 1998. In this program she focused on faculty development, offering workshops for faculty by leading theorists in rhetoric and composition. She was a member of the General Education Task Force and in 2006 was awarded one of the campus-based Board of Governors Teaching Excellence Awards.

She earned her doctorate from the University of Louisville in Rhetoric and Composition and was assistant director of composition there for five years before coming to Appalachian.

With Dennis Bohr and Mary Anne Maier, she is a founding member of Black Sheep Theatre, which offers original political theater in North Carolina and at The Playhouse in Derry, Northern Ireland, where they have worked in teaching and artistic residencies since 1996. Her scholarship includes pedagogy and writing program administration, the rhetoric of life writing, performance, and Irish studies.

“Dr. Rhoades has excellent credentials for this position, including both her expertise in composition studies and her extensive experience doing faculty development for the teaching of writing, both in the English Department and University-wide from her base in the Hubbard Center,” said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Dave Haney.

“Her office is already working closely with the new General Education program, and it will also provide resources for other areas of writing pedagogy on our campus,” he said. “The creation of this office is an important sign of Appalachians’ awareness that writing skills and a reflective awareness of the writing process are an essential part of a liberal education. It is also important that we continue to explore other ‘across the curriculum’ initiatives, including oral communication, quantitative literacy, information and communication technology literacy, and cultures and languages.”

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