Dr. Fulford of NCCU’s First Year Writing Program (FYWP) has dedicated a great amount of time towards her faculty’s professional development in a way she describes as “unconventional” but indeed necessary. In a program where faculty development programs, workshops, or other events that provide on-site talk among faculty of first year writing are rare, Dr. Fulford surmises that they are organized once or twice a year, the resources available for faculty who are interested in developing their pedagogy or merely adhering to program requirements can find access to the program’s resource site, Collective Wisdom.
This report will briefly review the professional development opportunities available to NCCU FYWP faculty. By first outlining the challenges that NCCU’s WPA, Dr. Fulford, experiences when arranging professional development and attracting faculty involvement in these events. Second, this report will outline the specific strategy Dr. Fulford has taken up to support her faculty with their current workloads as well as how she has maintained this support with her limited resources.
When asked about faculty development programs or workshops, Dr. Fulford explained that the availability of her program faculty to attend such workshops is strained by the teaching load, as well as their lack of interest. While such events are typically made available at least once a year, maybe twice, “creating the kind of on-site talk about our work is rare” according to Dr. Fulford. And while the events are poorly attended, Dr. Fulford believes this is in part due to a strain on resources as well as workloads, as her tenured faculty have a 4-4 teaching load. However, while this lack of formal opportunities to develop and grow in their pedagogy might barr faculty from formal on-site talk, their willingness to engage with one another and Dr. Fulford doesn’t reflect a lack of interest or participation. In fact, the opposite appears true.
While in the halls Dr. Fulford has found that faculty will approach her with questions and concerns. In one-on-one discursive moments with faculty, characterized by convenience and often triggered by seeing Dr. Fulford in person, faculty will address their concerns, questions, and interest freely. When asked more about this phenomenon, Dr. Fulford says, “I found I was answering the same questions over and over” and not just in the halls but via email as well. It is for this reason that Dr. Fulford launched the site, Collective Wisdom: resources for NCCU writing faculty.
Launched in February of 2011, Dr. Fulford developed the site in hopes of it serving her faculty in areas of resource building, assessment, and policy. While she thought it would be more co-developed, or collaborative, she’s found little active participation from her faculty. So, for now, the resource site is largely maintained by Dr. Fulford alone. However, the future of this online resource includes a call for collaboration in the form of generosity. That is, Dr. Fulford is currently asking her faculty for more sample syllabi to supply new faculty with guides or templates.
Over the years this professional development resource, however unconventional, has received a modest renovation as Dr. Fulford’s experience with WordPress has developed. When asked about the development of this site and how she would like to see it used or accessed in the future, Dr. Fulford has spoken to her own skill building as a digital writer. To that extent, she hopes for stronger usability. For now, Collective Wisdom is an internal resource. It will not show up on a general Google search.
Other areas for professional development include conferences such as the Carolinas Writing Program Administrators Conference, “Meeting in the Middle”, which was recently held in Charlotte, NC mid-February of this year. While Dr. Fulford has traveled with one or two of colleagues to past conferences, this year she and her entire FYW program committee attending this years “Meeting in the Middle” to hear and learn about new practices, research, and issues related to their program work.
Carpenter, W. J. (2002). Professional Development for Writing Program Staff. The Allyn and Bacon Sourcebook for Writing Program Administrators. New York: Longman.
Willard-Traub, M. K. (2008). Writing Program Administration and Faculty Professional Development: Which Faculty? What Development? Pedagogy 8.3, 433-445.