Exploring Campus Through Writing: A Course Project

Many institutions of higher education offer various types of resources to facilitate English language learners’ success at the university. However, the lack of awareness of these resources, among both faculty and the students, may significantly undermine their value. I believe that teachers are well positioned to help students become familiar with these support services, resources, and programs, so they can become more socialized into the academic community. A writing class, in particular, provides an excellent venue for integrating these resources in course projects and activities. Let me share an example of a project that could be implemented in a writing course.

Project title: Report on Resources

Overview: University campuses offer a great deal of resources to help students develop their academic, professional, and social skills, as well as staying healthy–both physically and emotionally. It is important for students to utilize these resources to get the most out of their college experience. This project will help familiarize students with the variety of resources, including clubs, organizations, programs, events, and services, that a local campus offers to students, and in some cases, to international students in particular.

Rhetorical Purpose: The rhetorical purpose of this project is to learn how to compose a report.

Project Description: Students will be working in research teams. Each team will gather information according to the research task (see the descriptions of the tasks below). When I do this project in my class, I encourage my students to start with the university website, and then decide which specific resources they would want to examine in more depth. For example, they can meet with a representative of a club, attend an event offered by a campus organization, or collect more specific information, such as flyers and calendars of events. As a team, students will help each other organize the information; however, each of them will write an individual report of their findings.

Objectives: While working on this project, students will

  • become familiar with one of the following types of campus resources: (1) academic and professional, (2) social and cultural, (3) athletic and recreational, and (4) student services
  • collect, synthesize, and summarize information
  • write a report

Research Tasks

Social and Cultural Resources

For this task, students will be required to investigate a variety of social and cultural resources offered at the local institution. Social and cultural resources help students have a rich social life on campus and in the community. These resources may include, but are not be limited to, student organizations and clubs, volunteering opportunities, services and programs offered by the international student office, and other social activities.

Academic and Professional Resources

For this task, students will be required to investigate a variety of academic and professional resources offered on campus. Academic and professional resources help students succeed academically and prepare for their future professional careers. These resources may include, but are not be limited to the libraries, writing centers, career and academic workshops, academic seminars, special lectures, etc. (students can check the university event calendar).

Athletic and Recreational Resources

For this task, students will be required to investigate a variety of athletic and recreational resources offered on campus. Athletic and recreational resources help students stay physically healthy, have outdoor opportunities, as well as experience a rich sports culture on campus. These resources include athletic games and competitions, sports and recreational facilities, and outdoor programs.

Students Services

For this task, students will be required to investigate a variety of student services offered by a local institution. Student services on campus support students by meeting their special needs and resolving their problems and concerns. These resources include, but are not limited to, psychological services, IT support, programs, and services offered by Disability Resource Center, as well as services offered for international students.

To help students become familiar with the genre conventions, you can also provide students with examples of reports.

About Elena Shvidko

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in second language studies from Purdue University and her master’s degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University. Her work appears in TESOL Journal, System, Journal on Response to Writing, TESOL interest section newsletters, and TESOL's New Ways series. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, interpersonal aspects of language teaching, and teacher professional development.
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One Response to Exploring Campus Through Writing: A Course Project

  1. Susan Dihle says:

    These are wonderful ideas! They would work not just in TESOL, but also for many students taking English, language arts, history or almost any other courses.

    Thank you very, very much!

    Susan Dihle (Colorado Springs)