Historical Writing Project

Eastern Washington University: History Department Language on Strategic Planning Grant for Developing Writing -- Funded for 2007-2008

Strategic Planning Council
Department of History
Proposal for funding through Strategic Planning grants
18 May 2008

I. Action Plan (as revised and re-posted to portal, May 2007)

Unit Goal: Department programs will foster a rigorous learning environment: students will read, write, and research intensively and extensively.
First Outcome: History curricula at Bachelors and Masters levels will instruct students toward writing proficiency and observation of disciplinary writing standards. History student participation in sponsored research fora will increase.
Activity:
• A department committee, composed of faculty and students, will meet regularly to develop an exemplary writing program for the department. They will:
• Assemble a document consisting of existing writing assignments and practices in the department (based on collecting relevant handouts from each department member), and provide a summary of different approaches to common writing challenges, such as designing beginning essay assignments and suggesting good footnoting practices.
• Research practices recorded on the internet and in published works on developing graduate and undergraduate writing skills – develop these insights into a report to accompany the document mentioned above.
• Provide regular updates on the project in department meetings.
• “Publish” these the departmental resources in hard copy and create a web site, using the internet bookmarking wiki Del.icio.us consisting of links to key internet sites on writing, especially in history. (Department members are already using Del.icio.us and familiar with its behaviors.)
• Provide sample handouts on generic historical writing topics, such as a basic grammar for historians, for the use of department members. These resources will be made available to graduate Teaching Assistants as well as to faculty members.
• Write a proposal, for department consideration, a sequence of increasingly challenging writing assignments from introductory- to graduate-level classes.
• Using information on other action plans across the university, we will also explore ways to partner with other departments working on the “writing challenge.”
Responsible Person and Title:
• The department chair for 2007-08 (Bill Youngs) and immediate past chair (Ann Le Bar) will lead a committee consisting of student and faculty volunteers. The chairs of the Undergraduate and Graduate Curriculum Committees will be members.
Expected Date of Completion: 5/31/2008
Assessment Success Target: Complete two resource guides to historical writing, one based on departmental work in progress and the other based on an assessment of best practices at other institutions. Develop within the department a model for a sequence of “increasingly challenging writing assignments.” Discuss these activities with historians nation-wide involved in similar work. Begin revamping End-of-Program assessment for the History BA, to incorporate a portfolio system.
Measurement: (1) First draft of Resource guide to current historical writing practices in history will be distributed to each department member by December 15, 2007. Final draft will be completed by April 30, 2008. (2) Guide to best practices at other schools will be posted as a del.icio.us wiki with at least 10 entries by April 30, 2008.
With additional funding: (3) 2-day historical writing colloquium with invited expert will take place during Winter Quarter, 2008 OR two EWU faculty members will attend a writing conference during Winter/Spring 2008. (4) Research portfolio-based end-of-program

II. Resource Plan (as revised and re-posted to portal, May 2007)
Existing Budget: The initial research and development will be done using conventional department resources in the way of personnel, copying costs, and internet resources.
Internal/External Funds: We will seek work-study help in researching “best practices” at other schools – through internet study. We will also seek funds for bringing a teaching-historical-writing specialist to campus and / or visiting a campus or convention where such expertise can be accessed.
Further resources: To fully develop a sequence of writing assignments, incorporated into an undergraduate research portfolio program, and implemented as the Departmental End-of-Program Assessment tool, the department will require additional funding to hire a research assistant. With faculty guidance, this researcher would identify History program assessments nation-wide as models for study, and would assist in compiling the hard-copy and on-line versions of the departmental resource guide to historical writing.