Connecting Writing Studies with Online Programs: UTEP's Graduate Technical and Professional Writing Certificate Program

Connecting Writing Studies with Online Programs: UTEP's Graduate Technical and Professional Writing Certificate Program

Teresa Quezada (University of Texas at El Paso, USA), Beth Brunk-Chavez (The University of Texas at El Paso, USA) and Evelyn Posey (University of Texas at El Paso, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1718-4.ch008
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This chapter addresses how The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Technical and Professional Writing Certificate Program (TWP) was developed, navigated the transition from an independent writing certificate program to one within a suite of online offerings, evaluated and assessed the program. The authors discuss how the program's focus on the Principles and Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction strengthens the TPW program by providing a unified approach to stakeholders; preparing faculty to deliver consistent, engaging courses that meet program goals; enhancing recruitment efforts and broadening the pool of prospective students, streamlining administrative functions, and ultimately improving the students' online writing experience.
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Each year, the Babson Survey Research Group reports, more students enrolled in online courses than in the previous year, and more college and university administrators believed online learning to be a part of the institution's strategic plan. In 2013, they reported that MOOCs “have generated a considerable [amount] of press coverage” but that only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions delivered courses in MOOCs and 9.4 percent reported having a MOOC in the planning stages (p. 8). While over half the institutions surveyed stated they were undecided about MOOCs, and just under a third said they have no plans to neither develop nor deliver them, many institutions are continuing to develop and offer online options to their face-to-face population. Other institutions offer fully online programs for which students may never have to attend courses on campus and others may offer a combination of both. While MOOCs may not be replacing traditional university courses, online courses and programs are becoming a larger component of universities’ offerings.

The graduate online writing certificate program at the University of Texas at El Paso was developed as an online offering that can be completed as either a stand-alone certificate for working professionals or as a complement to other graduate programs—online or face-to-face—across the university. In this chapter, the authors discuss how the program’s design and transition practiced effective online program development and ultimately aligns with the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Committee for Effective Practices in Online Writing Instruction (OWI) Guiding Principles. The authors conclude by presenting initiatives the program may consider as it grows, questions program faculty must continue to explore, and assessments the program must conduct to both adhere to and inform OWI.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Enrollment Counselors (EC): Staff members who contacts and assists prospective students from the first time they inquire about an online program. They help potential students determine if online learning is right for them as well as which program is the best fit given the student’s goals and aspirations. ECs also assist students through the application process (completing the application, acquiring transcripts, writing statements of purpose, applying for financial aid, and so on).

Prospective Student: Someone who has expressed interest in participating in an academic program, particularly through a website inquiry form, a phone call, an email, or a recruitment event.

UTEP CONNECT: A suite of 100% online programs at the University of Texas at El Paso. UTEP Connect provides administrative support as well a student support to the academic programs that offer online degrees.

Learning Management System (LMS): A platform, such as Blackboard, Moodle, or Canvas, used to support and deliver technology-enhanced, hybrid, or online courses.

Student Success Advisors (SSA): Staff members who work with students after they have been admitted to the university. SSAs provide resources to distance students at a general and an individual level to assist them in navigating their online classes and the university from a distance. Some SSAs may academically advise students, particularly at the undergraduate level.

Online Writing Courses (OWC): Courses that are taught 100% online so that students and faculty do not have to attend a physical classroom to complete the course goals and objectives.

Stop-Out Students: Students who have left the university prior to completing their degree but with the intention to return in a later semester.

Customer Relation Management (CRM) System: Strategies and processes used to track and analyze interactions with the university throughout the student lifecycle. A CRM system assists with recruitment, advising, and retention, among other things.

Certificate Program: Usually 12-18 hours of coursework at the undergraduate or graduate level. Certificate programs enable students to gain knowledge and expertise in an area without completing an entire degree plan.

Writing Program Administrator (WPA): A faculty or staff member who directs a writing program at the undergraduate or graduate level. Often this person schedules courses, appoints faculty, runs assessments, and addresses student matters.

Online Writing Instruction (OWI): Writing instruction that takes place in an online environment, often mediated through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Course Carousel: A schedule of courses that repeats itself so that students can move through an academic program efficiently.

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