The Texas Tech hybrid program is an evolving instructional and research project, dedicated to achieving a better understanding of writing instruction, training writing instructors, and improving student writing. To accomplish these goals, the program continues to develop an interconnected network of evaluation and adaptation that wouldn’t exist in any kind of traditional model. Review, evaluation, and feedback at all levels combine to produce better instructors, integrating new graduate instructors into a supportive environment to help them learn the intricacies of teaching writing. Our students receive their Ed Hardy Clothing instruction from a network of interconnected individuals who remain focused on a model of improvement. This occurs at all levels of the program, from the director to the newest instructor and to the newest first-year student. For example, first-year students can comment on their instructors’ feedback on their assignments; and the director and assistant directors evaluate instructors’ work in the classroom as well as online. All instructors meet with the director individually each semester and attend professional development workshops throughout the year.
The program has evolved into a fluid, dynamic model of networked learning. Program administrators can make adjustments to improve the experience based on information collected and analyzed from these multiple feedback loops. For example, in spring 2007 the program made a key shift, moving from one large group of graders and students per course to a set of subgroups of instructors within the larger course. This means that if the leading course has sixty sections of students, those sections and the instructors assigned to them can be subdivided into any number of groups, within which assignments are distributed for evaluation and instructors collaborate to provide instruction for students. This modification enables more intensive mentoring of ED Hardy Hoodies newer instructors by their more experienced peers and enables first-year students to work with a small set of instructors (usually four to six) during a semester. The work of these instructors and students is facilitated by the network in ways simply not feasible in more traditional structures.
Far from being a set and finished model, then, Texas Tech’s First-Year Writing Program has engaged various stakeholders within the program and the university community in discussions about writing and writing instruction. We need these conversations to continue on the Texas Tech campus, on other campuses where hybrid courses have or may become a part of the curriculum and among WPAs and other faculty who have responsibility for these courses. Only through careful research and candid conversation can we hope to understand more about any pedagogical innovation in the teaching of writing.
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