Quality Initiative: Writing to Learn

Quality Initiative

Current research indicates that external stakeholders, particularly employers, identify written and oral communication as critical skills necessary for success in professional settings. Results from a 2004 survey of 120 major American corporations that employ nearly 8 million people overwhelmingly indicate that writing is a “threshold skill” for hiring and promotion among salaried employees (United States: The National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges. Writing: A Ticket to Work… Or A Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. College Board, 2004). Effective Communication is one piece of NMSU’s Vision for the Baccalaureate Experience.

NMSU has identified a multi-year Quality Initiative (QI) project that focuses on writing within the discipline, and that NMSU Provost Dan Howard describes as being “designed to help students learn, to help students communicate effectively, and to produce students who have essential skills valued by employers, graduate schools and professional schools.” NMSU will complete this project as part of our institutional accreditation under the Open Pathway of the Higher Learning Commission.

A major focus of our QI is Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), Writing in the Disciplines (WID) and Writing-to-Learn. The research is clear that writing aids critical thinking skills, and that writing is a unique mode for learning. A statement posted on the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research website about the use of writing as an effective method to teach content reads, “To learn we must place new knowledge into a cognitive framework. Writing provides the process needed to relate new knowledge to prior experience (synthesis). It also provides a means by which knowledge is symbolically transformed via language into icons. Finally, the written material, the product of this process, is concrete and visible and permits review, manipulation, and modification of knowledge as it is “learned” and put into a framework.” (http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/archive/cl1/cl/doingcl/writing.htm).