Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Development of a Faculty Writing Group at UMKC’s School of Education

Dr. Juan Carlos González and Dr. Jennifer Friend are assistant professors in their fourth year in the Urban Leadership and Policy Studies in Education Division in the School of Education. One of the School of Education’s faculty induction and retention practices is to assign mentors to all tenure-track faculty. The importance of publication is communicated by mentors as a cornerstone of the evaluation and promotion process, however there is no formal structure for providing regular feedback for mentees’ writing. The idea to form a faculty writing group came about during an informal conversation between Drs. González and Friend at the beginning of their first semester at UMKC. As young scholars and first-year professors, the formation of a writing group led to the creation of a monthly program to advance faculty writing through collaborative critique.

The framework for the monthly faculty writing group meetings involved any interested faculty member attending with five copies of five pages of writing. The writing was reviewed in small groups during a constructive feedback conversation, and the author received the copies back with commentary. As the faculty writing group evolved, Drs. González and Friend decided to write about the experience. They presented a paper at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference that was well-received. Shortly afterward, they contacted Academe about the possibility of publishing the paper. The editors were excited and said this was exactly the type of article that was popular among their readers. The revised paper was shared with the Faculty Writing Group during a collaborative critique session, and feedback informed the revision process prior to publication in Academe.

Time spent together during faculty writing group sessions has fostered greater collegiality and the formation of friendships among the regular participants. Throughout this process, senior faculty members have collaborated alongside junior faculty members. Faculty Writing Group participants engaged in multiple writing, learning, and critique activities that have been instrumental in the growth of junior faculty into scholars, and in the contributions of senior faculty to the writing process and understanding the politics of publication.

The co-facilitators look forward to continued growth of the Faculty Writing Group. Last year some meetings were held at the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching (FaCET) at Miller Nichols Library, and included a group of faculty from multiple disciplines across campus. The Faculty Writing Group currently holds monthly meetings at the School of Education, and any interested faculty member is invited to attend. Contact Dr. Friend for more information: 816.235.2550

The article by Drs. Friend and González is available in the January-February 2009 issue of Academe (read it here).

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