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Faculty Writing Groups

Getting grants, papers and other scholarly writing done can be a challenge. Often this kind of work gets stretched out and pushed aside while more urgent, task-oriented work gets priority. To curb this challenge, the CTL invites you to be task-oriented about your writing and schedule time to get writing done. typing

Research shows that faculty who use a system to keep themselves accountable are more successful at getting writing done. This page is designed to help faculty set up a faculty writing group and identify colleagues to join.

Start or Join a Faculty Writing Group:

Several times a year (at the start of each semester and before we break for summer), the CTL sends out an invite for faculty to join a faculty writing group.

Here are the instructions and relevant dates for Summer 2016 Faculty Writing Groups.

Indicate your interest in being part of a group by Tuesday, May 17 at 5pm.  CTL staff will contact each group convener (see instructions below) to give you the information necessary to get your group started.

To self-assemble a group, go to the google sheet linked here.

  • Each section in the google sheet represents a faculty writing group. You can join an existing one or start a new one.
  • If there are openings in an existing group (one that already has a group convener) that work for you, add your name as one of the Participants.
  • If you would like to start a new group, fill in your desired meeting day and time and identify yourself as the convener.
  • Use the Notes column to identify initial thoughts for the group, such as: the structure of the group (see below), your intentions for the group, and what you desire to accomplish.
  • After the sign-up deadline, conveners will be prompted to get in touch with all members to get started.
  • At your first meeting, members should discuss the different ways writing groups can be structured and come to an agreement about how to move forward.

Three easy ways to structure a Faculty Writing Group:

There is a lot of information on web about how to conduct effective writing groups.  Some links can be found at the end of this page.  Below, however, are three simple ways to get started.Writing

  1. BUDDY SYSTEM:  This kind of group functions to get writing done on the “buddy system”.  It can involve as many faculty as want to work together in this way.  The group must agree about time(s) each week you will physically gather in one space, or connect via google chat (or skype).  Start the session by each quickly sharing what you are working on and what you plan to get done that day.  Agree about when you’ll check in.  End your time by each describing what you accomplished and what your next steps are.
  1. QUICK FEEDBACK FACULTY WRITING CIRCLE: This kind of group serves to keep each member writing something each week and provides little bits of feedback along the way.  In this group of 3-4 people, each member brings 1-2 pages of writing every week.  Each person is allocated about 15 minutes of attention.  During the first 5 minutes, everyone reads that week’s writing from Author A.  Readers look particularly for key sentences in each paragraph.  In other words, can you find a single sentence that captures the full idea of the paragraph?  (Sometimes, one can find more than one.. sometimes, it is hard to find one).  During the second 5 minutes, the readers go through each paragraph and share what they found.  During the last 5 minutes, Author A and the readers engage in a dialogue about what would improve the writing.  Then the whole process rotates to Author B’s work, etc.  Note that it is especially important to remember to establish norms for this kind of work.  It can be difficult to hear critiques of our work.  A good rule of thumb is when your work is being read, you don’t spend any time explaining or justifying.  You just say “thank you” for the input and ask clarifying questions from your readers.
  1. WHOLISTIC FEEDBACK FACULTY WRITING CIRCLE: Treat your group as a wholistic feedback circle.  In this kind of faculty writing circle, one person brings writing to the group each week.  Usually, this will be at least several pages of work.  Often, this group assigns itself to read the writing in advance of the meeting and then the together-time is spent giving the author feedback.  What parts of the writing were effective?  Where did readers get lost?  What suggestions would improve the document?  Norming (as described in #2, above) is recommended.

Writing Group Resources and Selected References:

Running an Effective Writing Group
Writing Circle Feedback
Faculty Writing Circle experiences
Shut Up and Write

Brandon,C., Jamadar, D., Girish, G., Dong, Q, Morag, Y., Mullan, P (2015). Peer support of a faculty “writers’ circle” increases confidence and productivity in generating scholarship. Acad Radiol., 22(4), 534-8.

Fassinger, P. A., Gilliland, N., & Johnson, L. L.. (1992). Benefits of a Faculty Writing Circle: Better Teaching. College Teaching, 40(2), 53–56. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27558520