What is the Grad WAC Fellows program?
The WAC Fellows program seeks to explore ways to increase the quantity and quality of teaching writing in classes conducted by graduate teaching assistants in a variety of disciplines across campus. They explore the effectiveness of various pedagogical methods and tools for developing writing practices and assessments that occur in undergraduate classrooms taught by graduate students. Two main pedagogical methods under investigation in this study include Writing Across the Curriculum and Writing In the Disciplines.
Grad WAC Fellows who have completed two semesters in the program are eligible to apply for the Pearce Center’s Professional Practicum in WAC and WID. Fellows in this practicum will expand on the skills learned in Grad WAC Fellows and will put WAC and WID strategies into practice through a variety of writing-focused activities, including making presentations on strategies for writing, revising and communicating in the disciplines.
If you are a graduate student looking for resources on written or visual communication, check out our Resources page for more information.
WAC Fellows is a professional development program for graduate teaching assistants, from ALL disciplines, designed to assist GTAs in increasing the amount and improving the quality of writing that occurs in their undergraduate classrooms. WAC Fellows join a cohort that meets for one or two semesters to discuss writing practices and implement writing assignments. WAC Fellows must apply, interview and, if selected, earn a professional development stipend!
To apply to become a WAC Fellow, please click on the following link and complete the Google form.
The WAC Fellows program helps Clemson University to reestablish practices that support Writing Across the Curriculum and Writing In the Disciplines, using writing as a primary tool in
1. the process of learning,
2. communicating what has been learned,
3. improving critical thinking and
4. building confidence in writing and communicating abilities for various academic, business and public audiences.
Research in the WAC Fellows program will focus on helping graduate students improve teaching and assessing writing in their undergraduate classrooms. They will learn how to implement low-stakes writing, rubric design and assessment strategies within existing syllabi, whether engineering, science, social science, humanities or other discipline.
Spring 2024 Grad WAC Fellows
Navid Aftabi – Industrial Engineering
Mina Bahador – Industrial Engineering
Gisoo Daviran – Civil Engineering
Tolulope Famaye – Learning Sciences
Ezinne Sylvia Melikam – Applied Health Research and Evaluation
Amin Nabati – Civil Engineering
Monireh Noori – Chemistry
Sunwoo Park – PRTM
Soumya Ranjan Pathy – Industrial Engineering
Siddhartha Regmi – Forest Resources
Narges Sadat Shambadi – Bioengineering
Seyed Mahmoudreza Yadollahi – Civil Engineering
Seyed Ali Asli – Mechanical Engineering
Kavi Raj Awasthi – Forest Resources
Abass Babatunde – Applied Health Research and Evaluation
Ashish Bastola – Computer Science
Kalvry Cooper – Human Factors Psychology
Sanjeev Ghimire – Medical Biophysics
Sajad Goudarzi – Computer Science
Sayedpedram Haeri Boroujeni – Computer Science
Fatemeh Lotfi – Electrical Engineering
Fatemeh Mahroo – Industrial engineering
Mahmood Mazare Sheikhhossein – Electrical Engineering
Shamrat Kumar Paul – Medical Biophysics
Professional Practicum in WAC and WID Fellows
Mina Shokrollahi Ardekani – Planning, Design and the Built Environment
Ehsan Bouteh – Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences
Graduate WAC Fellow Reflections
Kunal Bhardwaj (2022-2023)
The essence of “good writing” is to effectively communicate, convince and inspire action in the reader’s mind. This skill has become increasingly important in today’s fast-paced world. As an instructor, I noticed that my students could answer technical questions correctly but struggled when asked to discuss results or provide reasoning in their lab reports. However, after joining Grad WAC Fellows, I discovered methods and tools that could be incorporated into my teaching to make student learning more efficient and engaging.
Grad WAC Fellows provided me with strategies for critical reading, designing effective assignments and developing evaluation metrics. It has been one of the most enriching experiences for developing my own pedagogical skills and writing techniques. Weekly guided discussions with instructors and peers from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds gave me a unique perspective on addressing student learning challenges. One of the key highlights for me was seeing my students’ improved discussions when encouraged to visualize the application of taught phenomena to real-world situations and to summarize before starting the lab report. Notwithstanding technical proficiency, effective writing is a crucial skill that is often overlooked in the professional development of both undergraduate and graduate students. Apart from teaching skills, Grad WAC also made me aware of my own weaknesses in addressing elements such as audience focus and rhetoric in my writing. This is why I highly recommend this program to all budding instructors and future professionals at Clemson University.
Gugu Selela (2022-2023)
The Grad WAC Fellows program has played a vital role in my academic
life. As part of the program, I learned so much about mindful reading and
incorporated it into my studies and teaching. As an international student with teaching duties, the WAC program provided me with different techniques to use when communicating with the students in an American setting, especially since I come from a different cultural background. I learned a lot about providing constructive feedback that takes into consideration the multiculturalism and diversity of students. Teaching gender studies requires one to be able to write and be conscious of the language one uses, and the program has provided techniques that have made my teaching successful. We discussed many themes that should be part of our writing, and the one that I resonated with was inclusive writing due to the courses I teach and my research. The cohort I was part of was diverse in their academic background and experiences; I acquired some of their knowledge and implemented it in my classroom and research. The Pearce Center is an essential part of a student’s journey because it teaches them that writing is a learning mode and can be used to help them learn complex material and clarify thinking. The instructors in the program were helpful to my academic development; they provided consultation hours where they offered me skills and guidance in grant writing, which has helped boost my confidence in applying for grants — I am now writing a grant proposal using the skills learned from this class. I hope this program continues in the future and that more students can take advantage of it to widen their academic skills.
I try to take the practice of writing seriously, so one of the most important parts of the WAC program for me is being part of a fellowship of writers on campus. The weekly practice of talking and thinking about writing is like therapy for me, an important part of my emotional life even outside of academia. Writing is an interior process, but it helps to talk about writing with others. As a part of the WAC program, the Pearce Center staff is an important part of that fellowship.
Even though I’ve written for most of my adult life, I’ve never had to think about teaching writing to others before. The WAC program is helping me articulate the craft of writing to my students and giving me useful tools to teach that craft in my classroom. One of the most enjoyable parts of the program is the diversity of academic and cultural backgrounds among the fellows. Listening to the writing challenges and successes of people from other academic disciplines, many of whom are teaching and writing in a language that isn’t their native tongue, gives me a helpful perspective on my own teaching and writing efforts in the field of PRTM.
I discovered the Grad WAC Fellows program through a GRAD 360° event. I was interested in becoming a WAC Fellow because I love to write in my personal time, and I was intrigued to learn more about writing applications in the classroom. I began teaching as a graduate teacher of record for a Creative Inquiry course in the Fall of 2021, the same semester I enrolled into the WAC Fellows program. My CI course consisted of transfer students who were not familiar with research principles and skills. I was able to create writing assignments with the skills I developed from the WAC Fellows program that helped my students to not just gain surface knowledge of research principles but also to better understand the applications of them in a classroom setting. My role as a WAC Fellow has helped me redefine my instructional goals as a second-semester graduate teacher of record. My biggest takeaway from the WAC Fellows program is that every instructor should take part in the program if they can. Through being a part of the program, I am able to think outside of the box in application to my CI class and as a Ph.D. student.
As a bioengineering major, I see the Pearce Center as a beneficial resource for both undergraduate and graduate students. Not only did it help me as an instructor, but it also helped my personal and professional writing. I find myself approaching my writing with a different mindset. For example, instead of simply focusing on getting my point across, I now focus on writing based on my audience, my goal, my knowledge, my knowledge gaps, the audience’s knowledge, the audience’s knowledge gaps and the genre in which I am applying my writing. I came into the WAC program somewhat insecure about my professional writing skills; however with the tools I received as a fellow, I feel better equipped. I believe other students, whether confident or not in their writing, will benefit as well. Overall, I believe it will mature students as professional engineers in industry or academia. Next year, I will be teaching at a community college through the ACE Fellows program, and I am excited to apply what I’ve learned as a WAC Fellow in my CI course at Clemson and in introductory engineering courses beyond Clemson.
Graduate WAC Practicum Fellow Reflections
I gained awesome opportunities from the practicum experience that I can add to my curriculum vitae, such as presenting with GRAD 360°. These professional experiences have allowed me to network within the Clemson community as well as develop possible future opportunities. One of the biggest things I have realized is the importance of having good mentors in your corner. I am grateful for the time and energy Jennifer Hagen Forsberg gave to help me improve my presentation skills and visual aids. Forsberg’s feedback helped me think more critically and introspectively about the audience and purpose, which I will carry with me as an early career teacher and researcher. In the field of PRTM, we focus on teaching our students how to be strong communicators. This practicum gave me hands-on experience in critiquing how my and my future students’ writing skills are communicated. I am truly thankful for the practicum experience.
As I look back on my time as a WAC Fellow, the first feeling that comes to my mind is gratitude: the gratitude of knowing amazing mentors, delivering challenging yet meaningful lessons and learning so much in the process. As a professional practicum participant, it was a new experience assuming an instructor’s role. When I took classes as a student, I often did not think about the background efforts to put a lesson together to optimize learning. But designing workshops, where my mentor was ready with the best resources, was an exercise that led me to think about why someone needs to know something in my discipline. In retrospect, this practicum taught me to put myself in the audiences’ shoes and prepare any lesson.
Professional writing, especially in academia, is something very rigorous and, in my opinion, often overlooked in higher education. Teaching students the specific requirements and things to look out for when writing in their disciplines is almost as important as coming up with the technical information. It was a pleasure to be involved in training next-generation writing coaches and leaders in discipline-specific writing.