Wilson Awards English Department with Grant for Micro-Courses

Byline: Laura B. Hans

Posted: November 21, 2010

This October, twelve faculty members submitted proposals for Strategic Innovation Grants (SIG). President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson explains these grants were proposed for "academic program improvement, new academic program development, or new academic program formats that had a high potential for increasing enrollment and were in keeping with the Strategic Plan."

Assoc. Prof. of English Larry Shillock received approval and funding to develop two online micro-courses: "College Expectations/Writing" and "College Expectations/Reading." The intention of these micro-courses is to prepare incoming students and to properly develop their reading and writing skills. Shillock says, "My micro-course proposal has a specific audience: students who have been accepted to Wilson and have some concerns about being equal to the demands of college… the courses, once developed, will focus on introducing those students to college-level expectations in writing and reading."

The Goal? Students Better Prepared for College

Wilson is committed to increasing enrollment as well maintaining a high graduation rate, but not all students arrive equally prepared. The purpose of the micro-course is to help students get a more realistic idea of their abilities and Wilson's expectations. Shillock says, "It's hard to exaggerate how deeply some students are disappointed by their lack of success. My sense is that enrollment can increase when students start college and do better than they might not do without a straightforward investment in them. Taking a micro-course would thus be their investment and Wilson's."

What is a Micro-Course?

The micro-courses will be available online and run for roughly four weeks. A micro-course will likely be non-credit and free for students. They will potentially include information about the college, suggestions for making the transition to Wilson, short, recorded lectures and brief assignments. The courses would be designed using Moodle and Panopto. Panopto is a program that combines audio, video and Microsoft PowerPoint into one lecture presentation.

Strengthening Both Reading and Writing Skills

Currently, Wilson College has writing foundations courses and a writing-intensive curriculum, but does not single out reading. Shillock says, "It's fairly common…to see reading well to be the biggest challenge for a first year or first-time students. I'm responding to reading first because it is difficult to write well if a student can't read well." He continues, "I get jazzed when students succeed… when they come to Wilson and make more of themselves than they ever expected. That's what our faculty is committed to."

Last Updated: September 21, 2011

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