Dr. Keith Herndon, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership, completed the 2020-21 Writing Fellowship with the University of Georgia’s Center for Teaching and Learning.
Herndon joined with nine faculty colleagues from across the university to discuss and promote best practices in the teaching of writing in a variety of disciplines. The Fellows met regularly throughout the year over Zoom “to discuss the most effective ways to teach and to respond to student writing, studying research that substantiates the best practices for helping students develop as writers,” as described on the CTL website.
“Although I approach writing and teaching writing through the lens of a journalism professor, this Fellowship helped me to better understand common issues that exist with teaching writing along with creative approaches to help students conquer obstacles they may face,” Herndon said.
The Writing Fellows program was established in 2007 by the Office of the Vice President of Instruction. A full list of this year’s Writing Fellows can be found here: https://ctl.uga.edu/faculty/faculty-fellows-programs/writing-fellows/. Dr. Elizabeth Davis from the Department of English coordinates the program along with the university’s writing certificate program. Davis said her roles allow her “to do a lot of things to facilitate a ‘culture of writing’ on campus,” and described the CTL Writing Fellows program as one of her favorites.
“Working with faculty from across campus who are so committed to helping their students develop as writers is inspiring,” she said. “The interdisciplinary conversations the program fosters are so productive for thinking about how to teach writing skills that transfer across the curriculum and how we can all work together to ensure that our students leave UGA with the writing skills they need to succeed.”
Herndon said the program helped him develop new approaches for peer edit sessions, article draft reviews and methods for providing encouraging feedback to emerging writers.
“The faculty in this program are committed to helping their students become better writers in fields as diverse as anthropology, biology, engineering and law,” Herndon said. “It was an honor to participate in this important university effort to improve writing quality among all of our majors.”
Each Writing Fellow receives a $1,000 stipend to subsidize projects aimed at constructing courses, resources, or initiatives that will support student writing at UGA. Herndon said his stipend was used to offset expenses of the Journalism Writing Lab, which is a program within the Cox Institute.
With in-person writing coaching curtailed during the pandemic, the Writing Lab sought alternative ways to deliver writing instruction. This included producing a 5-part podcast featuring writing coach Nick Chiles, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and best-selling author. The episodes were hosted by graduate assistant Charlotte Norsworthy, who interviewed Chiles about his writing techniques.
“This is one example of how we had to create new ways to reach students during the pandemic,” Herndon said. “The CTL Fellowship funds were important in helping us to produce the podcast, which became a teaching resource in many of our journalism writing courses.”