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The Graduate School of Management & Technology Advising Through Tutoring: How an Online Writing Coach Program Fosters Graduate Student Success Cynthia.

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Presentation on theme: "The Graduate School of Management & Technology Advising Through Tutoring: How an Online Writing Coach Program Fosters Graduate Student Success Cynthia."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Graduate School of Management & Technology Advising Through Tutoring: How an Online Writing Coach Program Fosters Graduate Student Success Cynthia Greene - Academic Specialist Management, Accounting, and Finance Programs University of Maryland University College

2 Presentation Outline Overview UMUC and its Students Identification of and Need for Writing Coaching for Graduate Students The Coaching Program – Description, Mission, Approach, and Need The Writing Coaches and Their Work Feedback/Perceived Effectiveness Zoomerang Surveys Faculty Feedback Best Practices Room for Growth and Next Steps

3 About UMUC Mission The mission of University of Maryland University College is to offer top- quality educational opportunities to adult students in Maryland, the nation, and the world, setting the global standard of excellence in adult education. By offering academic programs that are respected, accessible, and affordable, UMUC broadens the range of career opportunities available to students, improves their lives, and maximizes their economic and intellectual contributions to Maryland and the nation.

4 About UMUC History Founded in 1947, UMUC is one of 11 accredited, degree-granting institutions in the University System of Maryland (USM). Offering a broad range of cutting-edge classes, UMUC has earned a global reputation for excellence. Headquartered in Adelphi, Maryland, UMUC has classroom locations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, Europe and Asia, and provides award-winning online classes to students worldwide.

5 About UMUC Admissions At least a bachelors degree from a regionally accredited degree-granting university or college Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores are not required for admission to regular masters degree and certificate programs. For the MS in Management, no minimum GPA or prerequisite coursework required

6 About UMUC Student Population and Program Facts Enrolls over 86,000 students worldwide More than 2,400 faculty worldwide 18 graduate degree programs (15 masters degrees, EMBA, 2 doctoral programs), 15 masters degree programs available completely online In fall 2008, 32% of UMUC's stateside students were African-Americans; minority students comprised 43% of the total enrollmentUMUC enrolls more African American students than any of the four individual Maryland HBCUs. In FY 2009, 31% of master's degrees were awarded to African-American students; 28% of all degrees and certificates were awarded to African-American students. As of spring 2009, 85% graduate students enrolled in UMUC's stateside programs were working full time. 48% of UMUC stateside students are working parents. In fall 2009, the median age for students enrolled in UMUC's stateside graduate programs was 34 years old.

7 Why Writing Coaching? Why Adult Graduate Students? Research shows that effective written communication: is fundamental to professional success across disciplines helps increase comprehension. UMUCs students are working adults who need to write successfully both professionally and academically Kalteissen and Robinson (2009) found that adult and non- traditional students are often reluctant to seek writing help, yet their instructors indicate that they often need help in basic and analytical writing and research skills. Kalteissen and Robinson also found that an asynchronous approach increased use by non-traditional students.

8 Why Writing Coaching? Why Graduate Students? According to results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, 2009), student success and increases in student learning are directly and intrinsically linked to writing. The NSSE is focused on undergraduate students, but, has implications for UMUCs graduate student population given UMUCs population, some graduate students begin programs with a range of writing skills and abilities

9 Why Writing Coaching? Why Graduate Students? NSSE results also show that students believe that their learning is enhanced through assignments that faculty have clearly explained and that allow feedback throughout the process and build in opportunities for feedback and provide opportunities for peer reviews. Harris (1995) found that students view the primary work of tutors as translating assignments into a language they speak, that they can more readily understand an assignment's purpose or where their writing help is needed when provided tutoring help from a tutor. UMUCs program was developed after consideration of this research and its relationship to our student population.

10 The Coaching Program Program Mission The mission of the MSM Introductory Course Writing Coach Program (the writing coach program) is to provide students - many of whom are working adults and are returning to school after long absences - strong fundamentals in effective academic writing practices. Through quality tutoring support, the programs primary goal is to improve students academic performance in general and writing skills specifically.

11 The Coaching Program Program Objectives Provide assistance for students requiring writing help. Establish writing standards and expectations that students can carry into subsequent graduate program courses and professional experiences. Through highly detailed feedback, assist students in thinking critically about their writing and its appropriateness for a given audience (e.g. an academic essay vs. a personal to a friend). Provide a strong foundation in good writing skills. Refer students to appropriate resources so that they have toolboxes from which to draw for writing in future assignments and courses. Work toward improving academic performance of all class members and MSM students.

12 The Coaching Program Need for the program Because of the accessible nature of UMUCs admissions polices, students come to the graduate school with a wide range of skills, experiences, and backgrounds. Many of our students have been out of school for a period of time and are out of practice in academic and other formal writing. This variance in backgrounds is one of the many strengths that students bring to their classroom experiences at UMUC. But this variance also means that some students struggle with the writing expectations and requirements, particularly in their first semesters.

13 The Coaching Program Background The Management, Accounting, and Finance Department, which represents a third of the Graduate School, began the program in spring 2009 as a pilot in five sections with four writing coaches. The program has since has grown to being offered in all sections the foundation courses in the MS in Management - MGMT 610 and 630. Currently, the program has 23 writing coaches. All tutors have at least a Bachelors degree and some professional experience in writing and/or teaching, tutoring, or editing writing.

14 The Coaching Program Format and approach The approach employed by the writing coach program is based on an active- minimalist approach (Kalteissen & Robinson, 2009, p. 00), whose goal is to help students develop strong writing practices rather than to fix individual pieces of writing The writing coach program is based on four major principles (Reigstad & McAndrew, 1984): Establish and maintain rapport through engaging, asynchronous conferences Allow the writer to the work – the tutor is not an editor or a rewriter but rather a monitor and guide (p. 9) Focus on Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) before Lower Order Concerns (LOCs) – focus on parts of a piece that will garner the most improvement The Coaches primary job is to help students improve a work of writing – not necessarily perfect it.

15 The Coaching Program Format and approach Definitions of HOCs and LOCs (McAndrew & Reigstad, 2001, pp ) HOCs are defined as the features of a piece of writing that exist beyond the sentence level; they include clarity of thesis or focus, adequate development and information, effective structure or organization, and appropriate voice or tone. LOCs are the features within a sentence, at the level of individual words and punctuation; they include sentence structure and variety, punctuation, grammar and usage, and spelling

16 The Coaching Program Tutors/Coaches Tutors in the MSM Introductory Course Writing Coach Program have a minimum of a bachelors degree and are skilled editors, English teachers, and writing. The coach training involves a retraining to help coaches understand the model employed in this program. We recruit from UMUC Undergraduate and Graduate alumni, staff and faculty, local Universities, local editing and journalism services Hiring process involves a review of a writing sample, an interview, and 2-week online training

17 The Coaching Program The program is focused on foundation courses to provide a firm foundation early in program The program is centered on MGMT 610 Organizational Theory and MGMT 630 Organizational Theory and Behavior, the foundation courses for the MS in Management (MSM) program Students must take either MGMT 610 or MGMT 630 within the first 6 credits of their 36-credit MSM programs, so all MSM students are exposed to the writing coach service and have the opportunity to take advantage of it MGMT 630 is a 6 credit course that combines the content of two courses: MGMT 610 Organizational Theory and MGMT 615 Intercultural Communication and Leadership (Org Behavior), the second course in the program

18 The Coaching Program Courses on which the program is focused MGMT 610 and 630 were redeveloped to create a comprehensive approach to student success in writing, research, and plagiarism awareness: The writing coach program addresses writing issues The UMUC Center for Intellectual Property created Virtual Academic Integrity Lab (VAIL) tutorial and the requirement to use These guide students through avoidance of plagiarism and other academic integrity issues The library module created specifically for these courses by UMUCs Information and Library Services helps students learn how to use appropriate resources for research.

19 The Coaching Program Courses on which the program is focused MGMT 610 Organizational Theory An overview of the fundamental concepts of organizational theory and design in the context of a postindustrial and increasingly global society. The study of organizations encompasses several key knowledge areas essential to todays manager: the impact of technological and workforce changes on society, organizational ethics and social responsibility, global issues, history of management thought and its relevance for managers today, and systems thinking and the challenges of managing in todays complex and rapidly changing environment. Discussion addresses essential concepts in organizational theory and design, including measuring effectiveness, organizational life cycles, options for organizational structure and becoming the learning organization.

20 The Coaching Program Courses on which the program is focused MGMT 630 Organizational Theory and Behavior An overview of the fundamental concepts of organizational theory and organizational behavior in the context of a postindustrial and increasingly global society. Topics include the impact of technological and workforce changes on society, organizational ethics and social responsibility, organizational communication, leadership and decision-making skills in intercultural environments, the history of management thought and its relevance for managers today and systems thinking and the challenges of managing in todays complex and rapidly changing environment.

21 The Coaching Program WebTycho platform UMUCs proprietary online course delivery platform Provides features that are similar to a traditional classroom, lending itself well to online tutoring Allows students to organize a portfolio of class work and notes Provides a central location in which all of the tutoring work can take place Navigate class discussions with tabbed browsing Send private messages to professors and classmates

22 The Coaching Program WebTycho platform

23 The Coaching Program Online coachring process The WCs work involves review of assignment drafts that students submit, typically 4 to 5 days before an actual assignment is due. WCs must also create and manage a conference, in which weekly tips are posted to ensure that all students in the class can benefit from having a WC assigned. Writing reviews are done using the track changes feature of MS Word and are meant to provide highly detailed feedback on the specific overall, paragraph-, and sentence- level issues students are presenting - grammar, organization, mechanics, paragraph skills, transitions, punctuation and spelling, APA format, etc. – as well as references to resources students can use to improve on these areas. The emphasis here is on coaching and advising – not editing a students paper beyond recognition of its original form Coaches are imbedded within the classroom so that the faculty member is privy to the advice the coach is giving and so that students can return to the coach and seek clarification

24 Student and Faculty Perceptions and Feedback Zoomerang Survey Results (student feedback) Surveys were first done in summer 09 in one section. Pilot was successful and feedback was positive Zoomerang surveys are now in all sections and assess student perceptions of the writing coach, the virtual academic integral lab (VAIL tutorial, and use of Students like having the coach in class but often lament that the four day turnaround time is too long – theyd like to see a day-of due date for 89% of students surveyed (880 surveyed in fall 2009 and spring 2010) agreed with the statement that the service should be available in all graduate courses.

25 Student and Faculty Perceptions and Feedback Zoomerang Survey Results (student feedback) Sample of student comments

26 Student and Faculty Perceptions and Feedback Faculty Perceptions Some initial resistance from faculty who believed their ability to manage own courses was being taken away After initial pilot and subsequent rollout to all sections, faculty see the value in being able to focus on the content of student papers and provide feedback on that aspect of the work. Faculty take different approaches to the coaching process – some require students to submit drafts, some require drafts of only certain assignments, some don't allow drafts of midterms given the nature of such assignments – but all 85 faculty are on board with and support the program One faculty member suggested that the program name be changed to writing coach to remove any stigma that might be attached to the word tutor, especially for graduate students

27 Best Practices for Adult Learners in a Virtual Environment Provide ways for all students to benefit from the service Provide in class writing, research, APA, assignment -specific tips for students who dont submit drafts Timely responses to post in class so that others can benefit Imbedding the coaches in class ensures that the coaches are very familiar with the assignment expectations and can provide detailed and specific feedback relative to the assignment requirements Have an on campus service or center (virtual or live) that provides an additional resource to which tutors can refer students and provides additional source of help for students who need it after the class ends

28 Best Practices Hire tutors who are above-average writers who relate well to people (Reigstad & McAndrew, ), are willing to work online and asynchronously, and understand the adult population Ensure that coaches are well-trained and aware of and follow the expectations set forth – providing timely feedback to students, showing presence in classroom, providing students a central location to ask questions and view tips and resources and receive reviews. Faculty role in encouraging use of coaching services Students are more likely to strive to submit a draft when faulty remind students about the service and encourage use! Invite tutors to faculty meetings so that they can communicate with the faculty members with whom theyll be working

29 Best Practices Provide a writing coach center to provide a community of practice for the coaches – a place for them to connect share ideas, network, share tips and resources, receive feedback form colleagues (created MGMT 999T) Dohrer (1991) found that students are frustrated by and cannot easily process papers with huge numbers of comments: They get frustrated and either give up or concentrate on surface corrections, which do not encourage rethinking or clarifying information. Coaches should be conscious of the number of comments they are making on compositions. Coaches should also be conscious of the type of comments being provided – this is coaching, not editing, and comments that dont provide students enough information (awkward, rewrite, reword) or that give false or generalized praise (McAndrew & Reigstad, 2001) require students to spend lots of time trying to decipher meaning (Dohrer, 1991).

30 Room for Growth and Next Steps This program has been implemented in several other Graduate School foundation courses, including those in the MS in health care administration and the master of distance education. Current discussions on implementing in the MBA Continue to enhance the training for coaches and create opportunities for updating skills Multimedia to complement text-based information Provide a way to reach the largest group of students possible Enhance the community of practice for the coaches by bringing in guest speakers

31 Room for Growth and Next Steps Receiving feedback about a draft before submitting a final assignment has been shown an effective means of improving grades on final assignment – in our program, 85% of students who submit a draft get a final grade of 88 or higher. Encourage student use of the program with this statistic Provide more opportunities for synchronous help – live chats, conference calls, etc. – for students who express a need Create a longitudinal study to track use of the program and effects on subsequent courses

32 References National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) - Dohrer, G (1991, January). Do teachers' comments on students' papers help? College Teaching, 39(2), 48. Harris, M. (1995, January). Talking in the middle: Why writers need writing tutors. College English,57(1), Kalteissen, K. & Robinson, H. (2009, April 1). Building an online writing center: Student tutors look to the past to construct a future. Writing Lab Newsletter, 33(8), Reigstad, T. J. & McAndrew, D. A. (1984). Training tutors for writing conferences. Urbana, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills and the National Council of Teachers of English. McAndrew, D. A. & Reigstad, T. J. (2001). Teaching writing: A practical guide for conferences. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

33 Resources Cordaro, D. (2009). (E)merging identities: Graduate students in the writing center. Writing Center Journal, 29(2), Retrieved from Education Research Complete database. Ryan, L. & Zimmerelli, L. (2009). Bedford guide for writing tutors. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins. Virtual Academic Integrity Laboratory (VAIL) - American Psychological Association Blog - WebTycho – UMUCs Effective Writing Center -

34 Questions?

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