Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recommended WAC Resource: Engaging Ideas

Last month the second edition of what some people refer to as the "WAC Bible" was published. Engaging Ideas now has a new edition.

If someone were to ask me what I think is the single best WAC resource out there, my recommendation would be Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom by John C. Bean. It's an outstanding resource.

Since the book's first edition in 1996, colleges worldwide have used this text as the basis for professional development workshops because it offers different ideas, approaches, and methods for using writing as a tool for critical thinking and reflective engagement in diverse disciplines.

Bean is a Consulting Professor of Writing and Assessment at Seattle University, and he's the author and co-author of a number of writing textbooks. As part of the second edition's "About the Author" section relates, Bean "has done extensive consulting across the United States and Canada on writing across the curriculum, critical thinking, and university outcomes assessment," and "In 2010 his article "Messy Problems and Lay Audiences: Teaching Critical Thinking within the Finance Curriculum" (coauthored with colleagues from finance and economics) won the 2008 McGraw Hill-Magna Publications Award for the year's best scholarly work on teaching and learning" (xxi).

Like the first version of Engaging Ideas, the second edition provides a progression from why to how. The book has four parts with sixteen chapters. Below are the chapter titles to show what the text covers:
  1. Using Writing to Promote Thinking: A Busy Professor's Guide to the Whole Book
  2. How Writing is Related to Critical Thinking
  3. Helping Writers Think Rhetorically
  4. Using a Range of Genres to Extend Critical Thinking and Deepen Learning
  5. Dealing with Issues of Grammar and Correctness
  6. Formal Writing Assignments
  7. Informal, Exploratory Writing Activities
  8. Designing Tasks to Promote Active Thinking and Learning
  9. Helping Students Read Difficult Texts
  10. Using Small Groups to Coach Thinking and Teach Disciplinary Argument
  11. Bringing More Critical Thinking into Lectures and Discussions
  12. Enhancing Learning and Critical Thinking in Essay Exams
  13. Designing and Sequencing Assignments to Teach Undergraduate Research
  14. Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria
  15. Coaching the Writing Process and Handling the Paper Load
  16. Writing Comments on Students' Papers
While the book is geared more toward those of us who teach at the college level, the text would also benefit Education majors who could implement a writing across the curriculum/writing in the disciplines approach in their classrooms.

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