As one of the authors of a widely-used textbook for English writing at Canadian universities, UBC Okanagan Communications Lecturer Cathi Shaw knows what it takes for university-level students to succeed beyond the classroom.
According to Shaw, it starts with courses like APSC 176 (Engineering Communication) and ENGL 112 (Studies in Composition): “When students are able to express themselves through research-based writing in a clear and effective manner, instructors and employers take notice.”
From styles and genres of writing to strategies and processes, Shaw and her Canadian co-author, Senior Instructor Jordan Stouck from the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, have developed a textbook and curriculum that provides first-year university students with tools they can use within their discipline whether it be Engineering or Management or English.
“We see a wide range of experience levels when it comes to students taking these courses,” says Shaw. “With that in mind, we created a curriculum that personalizes learning, engages students and most importantly, improves their writing.” Moreover, using a genre-based approach, Stouck adds, “encourages students to see themselves as part of the research community and to think carefully about what readers might expect from a proposal as opposed to, say, a rhetorical analysis or research paper.”
In the textbook’s latest edition, a number of School of Engineering and FCCS student works were included as examples.
Shaw points to those examples as evidence that writing instruction works. “Writing and communication abilities are often cited as the most important skill set new graduates can bring to the workplace. By making our students more adept at expressing themselves, ultimately they are able to communicate effectively in a variety of situations.”
Apart from the focus on writing, “Writing Today” also provides important tools to students when it comes to reading and critical thinking strategies.
The ways that students learn continue to evolve according to Stouck, and the content of the textbook has evolved as well. She explains, “This new edition comes in both online and customized formats and includes readings designed to engage students with a variety of contemporary Canadian issues.”
“Writing Today” is published by Pearson Canada.
Cathi Shaw teaches technical, professional and academic writing at the School of Engineering on the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, IEEE ProComm, and the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing. Shaw is also the author of three novels and one biography.
Jordan Stouck teaches composition in the department of Critical Studies on the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia. In addition to Writing Today, she has published a number of articles on discourse and language, as well as an edition of Sinclair Ross’ letters.