The inaugural Knights Write Showcase on Wednesday, Dec. 1, will feature exemplary work that first-year students have produced with support from UCF’s new Department of Writing and Rhetoric.
The showcase, which is open to the public, will be from noon to 5 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union.
Launched in July, the Department of Writing and Rhetoric provides writing-related assistance, training and research opportunities to students and faculty members from all disciplines. That assistance has been offered through a new writing-across-the-curriculum program called Knights Write, as well as through the University Writing Center and First-Year Composition Program.
The event will include a panel of faculty members from across the university who will discuss their personal experiences with writing. Other panels will allow students to present their research on thought-provoking literacy and language issues.
UCF President John Hitt and Provost Tony Waldrop also will present the Hitt Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing to the best article published this year in the department’s peer-reviewed journal, Stylus.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate writing and research that far too often isn’t given the opportunity to go beyond the boundaries of an individual classroom,” said showcase organizer Matthew Bryan, an instructor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, which is housed in the College of Arts and Humanities.
“We’re excited to recognize the achievements of young writers and hopefully inspire future student writers, as well,” he added.
Organizers hope that in addition to highlighting student accomplishments, the showcase emphasizes the department’s important work.
“You don’t become good at writing by writing one time or in only one situation,” said Elizabeth Wardle, an associate professor and director of writing outreach programs in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric. “We’re trying to encourage a culture at UCF where students write often and in different contexts.”
The department is helping students by providing a strong writing foundation beginning in first-year composition courses, where they learn to understand how texts are constructed and to utilize the most effective writing practices. The department’s staff members, through Knights Write, are beginning efforts to collaborate with other UCF faculty members who integrate writing into their courses.
The goal of Knights Write is twofold: Help students gain rhetorical dexterity and knowledge of how writing works in the first year, and help professors across the university consider how to incorporate writing into their classes to support learning and provide formative feedback to drafts.
The Department of Writing and Rhetoric has its biggest supporter in President Hitt, whose efforts to help first-year students succeed include reducing the size of freshman writing classes.
The President’s Class Size Initiative has reduced the number of students in first-year composition classes from 27 to 25, and is funding a three-year study comparing student writing in classes of 25 to classes of 19. This initiative also has increased funding for the University Writing Center.
Remote writing center consultation stations have been established in the UCF Library and at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management campus, in addition to regional campuses in Cocoa and Daytona Beach. Improvements to technology also allow for consultations to be conducted online using video chats.
The Department of Writing and Rhetoric plans to offer an M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition. In the meantime, faculty members teach courses in the English Department’s M.A. Rhetoric and Composition track. Some of the faculty members are also active members of the Texts and Technology Ph.D. program.