On the first Friday of each month during the academic year, the Writing Proficiency Program, with the support of the Susan L. Weidenbach Fund, hosts a professional development lunch for faculty and readers. Sometimes these lunches include assessement reporting from the program director, an article reading and discussion, or a presentation by SMC faculty about their current work and pedagogical innovations. Approximately once per semester, we bring in an outside scholar to present on an issue or approach. This helps the program stay up-to-date on current trends, research, and maintain connection to the wider Writing Across the Curriculum community. 

Upcoming Lunches

Friday, March 3 from noon-1 ONLINE (link forthcoming in email) 

Title: Helping Students Move Beyond Groundhog Day: A Shared Language, Writing Transfer, and Learning-Oriented Assessment

Suggested readings in preparation:

Yancey et al.'s Introduction to Writing Across Contexts and Williams and Bazotti, "Threading Competencies in Writing Courses for More Effective Transfer," both available in the meeting drive.


Dr. Kathleen Blake Yancey, Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor, Florida State University

Dr. Yancey’s work centers on students’ learning transfer, particularly in terms of writing knowledge and practice, everyday writing, writing assessment (especially via portfolios), and the intersections of culture, literacy and technologies. She co-founded the journal Assessing Writing, was editor of College Composition and Communication, and has been an active publisher and service leader in the field of composition studies throughout her career. She served as president of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA), is on the Executive board for the Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL).

Of her many books, those most relevant to her presentation at Saint Mary’s College are her edited collections: Composition, Rhetoric, and Disciplinarity (2018), A Rhetoric of Reflection (2016), and Writing Across Contexts: Transfer, Composition and Sites of Writing (2014). We are reading the introduction from this last text in preparation for her visit.

Description of Workshop         

It’s not uncommon for students to believe that what they learn in one class about how to write has no bearing or relevance in another. In that sense, they are a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, always learning and re-learning but all-too-often without reflecting: without considering what they have learned; how they have written; and how they might usefully adapt writing these experiences as they take up new writing tasks. To be fair, some of that Groundhog effect develops, unintentionally, from the very writing language we use in our classes. It can be confusing to discover that a thesis in one class is called a claim in another, while a third class or lab discourages or even prohibits a claim or thesis. Classes across contexts that share a language of writing, however, give students a conceptual pathway from one writing situation to the next. As important, that language can provide something of a departure point for a program assessment helping both programs and students.

In this interactive presentation, then, we will begin by briefly reviewing the research on writing transfer, identifying the practical strategies it suggests for use in the classroom, including the ways a shared language for writing can be designed and implemented. We will also think together about the implications of this research for an assessment enhancing both students’ writing performances and the programs that support them.  


Past Lunches

Friday, February 3 from noon-1 in the Mother Pauline Room (Library, 3rd floor)

Title: "Please don't go...not, not the song by KC and the Sunshine Band! How to Identify Students Who Might Be At Risk of Leaving" 

Suggested Reading in Preparation:

Willett, "4 Simple Ways to Help Your Most Disconnected Students." Additional resources availble in the lunch drive


Mona Bowe, Executive Director of Retention Strategies; Gloria Jenkins, Dean of Students; and Jennifer Juszkiewicz, Director of the Writing Proficiency Program and Writing & Tutoring Center

Description of Workshop: 

Conversations between faculty during and since COVID began have often included concerns about how to support students who are ghosting courses: a student comes to class, but they don't complete assignments; a student completes assignments, but they don't come to class; or a student disappears from class entirely. In this W Lunch, we will discuss the trends here at Saint Mary's, how they fit within a wider framework of higher ed, and how faculty can contribute to student connectedness and retention. 

Friday, November 7 from noon-1 in the Mother Pauline Room (Library, 3rd floor)

Title: Student Writing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: How Do We Adapt?


Heidi A. McKee, PhD, and James E. Porter, PhD, are Professors of Rhetoric and Professional Communication at Miami University, where they teach in the Departments of English and Emerging Technology in Business & Design. Their most recent collaborative research focuses on the rhetoric and ethics of AI-based writing systems, an inquiry that began with their co-authored 2017 book, Professional Communication and Network Interaction: A Rhetorical and Ethical Approach (Routledge).


Students are using a variety of AI-based writing tools to help with their writing. Some of these tools—like Grammarly and Google Compose—“help” by providing grammatical correction and stylistic advice on the students’ own writing. But other tools—like Summarizer, Paraphraser, and Jasper—“help” by producing a complete and original draft that is not the student’s own writing.

In this workshop, Dr. McKee and Dr. Porter will provide examples of some of these AI writing systems, overviewing their strengths and weaknesses, and considering some practical and ethical problems these systems raise, and suggest ways that faculty and writing consultants can respond to students’ use of these tools. The workshop will engage participants in activities and discussion of some key questions involving these technologies: How are concepts of writing and authorship changing with the use of AI technologies? What ethical and pedagogical concerns arise with the use of AI by students? What is an appropriate level of AI use and when does such usage go too far (and how does that change depending on course and disciplinary context)? Can we “AI-proof” writing assignments? How should we revise our policies on plagiarism and academic integrity to account for these systems? And how do our roles as readers of student writing change with the addition of AI writing tools?