Alligning with the University’s interest in expanding online learning initiatives, the project is designed to develop several modules in Schoolhouse Online, a web-based tool designed to address several widespread problems in college-level writing instruction.
In active development since 2010, the Schoolhouse site helps writing instructors at U.Va. and beyond address two central problems common to undergraduate programs:
- With limited classroom time at their disposal, instructors struggle to cover the curriculum while structuring lessons that encourage retention.
- Because of the labor costs involved, most colleges and universities staff their large, service-oriented writing courses with non-specialists. With steady turnover, training these instructors is a perennial challenge.
The Schoolhouse Online helps ease the labor demands of many writing classes by providing web-based instructional modules that introduce students to rhetorical and persuasive elements that are generally in-play across many disciplines and textual genres.
Each module offers a number of nodes: an illustration that makes the rhetorical feature easier to remember, a nutshell principle, annotated models that let the student see the principle in writing, and “try-it-out” sections that provide feedback to the student’s efforts to use the principle. At the same time, the modules provide in-service or pre-service training to new writing instructors.
The grant will support the development of several new modules on sentence syntax, information flow, and persuasive warrants.