UAB students now have the ability to write papers, take diagnostic tests and receive writing tips from their professors in a centralized, online location.
The University Writing Web, an Internet Web site developed with input from faculty and students, is online for the first time this fall. The initiative, which was developed by the University Writing Task Force as part of UAB’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), reflects UAB’s commitment to teaching writing at all levels and in all disciplines. The site gives students a centralized writing resource with materials provided by faculty, staff and administrators.
|Rita Treutel is building a database for the new University Writing Web and needs materials from faculty, staff and administrators in all disciplines to make the centralized writing resource site a comprehensive resource for students.
“Connecting our students to the expectations of their professors is a logical, easy way to address the weaknesses in writing the QEP pointed out,” says Rita Treutel, professor of English. “Right now it’s just a shell and we’ve got to flesh it out. Now, we need the faculty, staff and administration to give us their information on writing so we can upload it to the Writing Web and put together a great writing resource for faculty and students.”
Centralization is a key component
The University Writing Web combines two elements: an online presence to promote writing instruction at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum, and MyCompLab, an online program already in use at UAB.
The Writing Web, developed by Pearson, an educational publication company, enhances the MyCompLab program by enabling faculty to post their instructions and assignments for writing. It also fulfills the QEP requirement of building a Web presence to demonstrate writing instruction at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum, including housing it in a central location.
“It takes these two needs and resolves them in a way that is very financially appealing to the university,” Treutel says. “Pearson came in and created the portal for us at no cost to UAB. There’s no money going to Pearson from the university. The only money Pearson is making from the portal is from students purchasing a Pearson handbook, a required text in our freshmen English classes.”
The University Writing Web handbook is required for all freshmen composition students at an approximate cost of $70. Students receive a textbook and online access to the University Writing Web for four years for that one-time price. Students had to pay for MyCompLab access and a separate handbook at a cost near $100 for the 2007-08 academic year, so they are receiving a $30 break this year and extended online access.
“What Pearson did is package them together, giving students access to My CompLab for four years and their own textbook to use in English 091, 101 and 102,” Treutel says. “Plus, they can use the textbook as a reference book for their entire college career.”
Answers for students
Alison Chapman, Ph.D., chair of the University Writing Task Force, says the University Writing Web will be an invaluable resource to students throughout their undergraduate careers, especially once every undergraduate department submits its materials to the database.
Chapman says this resource will improve student writing and answer the question they so frequently ask her — Professor Chapman, what are you looking for in this paper?
“Here’s what students are up against — faculty in different disciplines are looking for different things,” Chapman says. “Students often are struggling to figure out what the given document that they’re trying to write is supposed to look like. Can you use ‘I’ in it? Is it OK to put graphs in it? Do you double space paragraphs or just indent?
“One of the things this writing Web has is the archive that covers writing in all the undergraduate disciplines,” she says. “For example, a student can click on the Social & Behavioral Sciences link, then click on Psychology and then click on Review of Research. There they would find a document, or documents that would tell them some of the conventions and the dos and don’ts. But we’re still building the database and need more disciplines to send us their information.”
“The framework is there,” Treutel adds, “but we’ve done all we can do. Now we’re depending on our faculty to help us make it something outstanding.”
Documents posted on the University Writing Web — both samples from faculty or works from students — are the property of the writer, not Pearson.
Faculty, staff and administrators can contact Treutel to obtain the URL for and password to the University Writing Web and to submit writing instructions or sample documents. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 934-4250.