“Writing-in-the-Major” Proposal

“Writing-in-the-Major” Proposal
January 19, 1999
Department: Occupational Therapy Program; Clinical Sciences Department
Major: Occupational Therapy
Date Program will take effect: Immediately
What are the forms or genres of formal writing students will be expected to learn in the major?
Students are expected to learn the processes involved in writing scholarly papers and professional works.
Assignments representative of these forms of writing will occur throughout the curriculum. Students are
expected to complete a minimum of one scholarly research report. This research report will be the
culmination of a research project that is expected to be worked upon during three semesters of their junior
and senior years.
Professional writing is most emphasized within the curriculum. Professional writing expected to be learned
by students in the major was formulated by identifying entry-level formal writing tasks expected of newly
graduated occupational therapists. The OT faculty defining entry-level writing tasks have a combined
practice experience totaling more than thirty five years. Examples of this writing form are listed below.
Evaluation reports for medical charts, families, and third party payers
Treatment plans
Progress notes
Home programs
Reassessment documents
Memos to co-workers
Presentation announcements
Persuasion letters advocating therapy for third party payment
Program development writing
 Mission statements
 Goals/ objectives
 Program descriptions and plans
What is the program’s definition of formal writing competence? Include an explanation of the
learning outcomes and standards for formal writing in the major.
Formal writing competence is defined by the OT program as the professional writing expected of the entrylevel practitioner. Formal writing processes will meet the conventions of form, style, structure, and
documentation appropriate for occupational therapy practice. Students will be expected to write at the
entry-level expectations in all areas identified in Attachment 1.
Describe how the program is structured to promote the development of formal writing
competence. Include an explanation of the sequence or set of courses in which formal writing will
be developed, and discuss how students will be taught effective, efficient writing processes. For
example, what are the ways that instructors and students will use feedback, revision, models of
good writing, and clear goals and standards for formal writing?
Important to the development of writing skill is the longitudinal development of writing as the students
progress throughout the seven semesters of the major. The OT Program would like to develop a system of
monitoring student progress in the progression of beginning, developing, and entry-level writing skills.
Beginning level skills would be those typically demonstrated by students at the beginning of the
professional program. Developing level skills would be expected of students no later than the end of
semester five (classroom preparation). Entry-level writing skill would be expected following two
semesters of clinical fieldwork and prior to graduation. The program plans to develop more focused
criteria for each of these levels as described in the draft Generic Writing Abilities Assessment in
Attachment 1. To best identify level of student skill the OT program plans to collect models of student
writing as this first class of students progress through the program.
Collectively, the OT faculty reviewed the planned curriculum to identify appropriate courses, course
learning activities, and general program activities to best foster the development of writing skill. Formal
writing processes and writing-to-learn experiences were identified as intrinsic throughout the OT
curriculum. Specific courses with writing assignments and general writing tasks expected of the student as
a part of the academic mileu were identified. Problem-Based Learning experiences are a consistent part of
the occupational therapy curriculum. These small group sessions greatly assist in the integration of
writing-to-learn activities across the program. For example, students are required to list ideas, categories
ideas and share notes from personal information gathering activities. These tasks are summarized in Table
Table 1
Formal Writing Curriculum Development
Formal Writing
Course Learning Activities
Evaluation report for medical
OT 405;OT 413; OT 464;
OT 465
Level I fieldwork throughout program—one evaluation note per
fieldwork experience
Evaluation report for
OT 405;OT 413; OT 464;
OT 465
PBL’s—one problem per semester
Level I fieldwork throughout program—one
fieldwork experience
evaluation note per
Evaluation report for third party
OT 405;OT 413; OT 464;
OT 465
PBL’s—one problem per semester
Level I fieldwork throughout program—one
fieldwork experience
evaluation note per
Progress notes
OT 405;OT 413; OT 464;
OT 465
PBL’s—one problem per semester
Level I fieldwork throughout program—increasing number of required
progress notes as students progress through sequential curriculum.
Home programs
OT 406; OT 412; OT 462; OT
463; OT 480 (repeatable for
OT 405;OT 413; OT 464;
OT 465
Reassessment report
Class assignment
Minimum one home program per Level II Fieldwork experience
Level I fieldwork throughout program—one evaluation or
reassessment note per Level I Fieldwork experience
PBL’s—one problem per semester
Memo to co-worker
Flyers and conference brochures
Presentation announcements
Persuasion letter advocating
therapy for third party payment
Program development tasks:
writing mission statement
Program development: writing a
brochure or program description
OT 471
Student developed research symposium brochure
OT 443
Class assignment
OT 443
Class assignment
OT 443
Class assignment
Students will be introduced to the Writing-in-the-Major concept through their initial orientation to the
occupational therapy program. Descriptions and definitions will be available to students in their Student
Handbook. A copy of the proposed descriptions is presented in Attachment 2.
Formal writing assignments will be clearly stated in the individual course syllabus. All formal writing
processes will have at least 20% of the assignment grade allocated to writing skill. Specific assignment
objectives will be defined and will indicate the expected audience and style conventions. As available,
models will be used to assist students in interpreting writing expectations. Models of actual entry-level
technical writing will be used whenever possible. Students will receive feedback through the use of an
expected rough draft or acceptance of a revised final copy prior to grading. Research papers or formal
writing assignments of ten or more pages will always receive rough draft feedback prior to the completion
of the paper. Technical writing assignments that will be repeated throughout the professional program will
be monitored using the generic writing skill assessment. The OT faculty hopes to further develop this
assessment tool as collaborative agreements on campus permit.
Samples of formal writing assignments are located in attachments 3 and 4.
Describe the shared criteria faculty will use to evaluate student writing in the major. Please attach
a copy of the version that students will receive.
Faculty jointly agreed upon evaluation criteria for formal writing processes and writing-to-learn
activities. Criteria is based upon sample criteria obtained during training sessions for writing emphasis
instructor approval. A copy of the criteria is in attachment 5. All faculty will use the shared criteria for
assessing the quality of student work. As stated previously, the program would like to work on the
development of a generic writing assessment (Attachment 1) to use within the professional advising
relationship to monitor curricular longitudinal writing development.
How will writing-to-learn assignments, activities, and strategies be used to improve student
learning and understanding of subject matter and intellectual skills in the major? Attach some
examples of writing-to-learn assignments and activities.
Faculty initially identified informal writing tasks that are required of an entry-level occupational therapy
practitioner. These tasks are identified as follows:
 Personal observation notes during a treatment session
 Team meeting notes
 Email to colleagues
 Listing of treatment options.
As a result of this list, it was determined that those writing-to-learn activities that enhance organization of
thought will be emphasized. Writing strategies intended to help students develop clinical thinking skills
will be incorporated into various courses and clinical fieldwork experiences through general program
activities. These are summarized in Table 3. Criteria for Writing-to-Learn activities is in Attachment 6.
Specific informal writing tasks linked to an assignment will be specified within the assignment. Students
will not be formally evaluated when engaged in writing-to-learn activities. The informal writing will help
students clarify thoughts in preparation for assignment completion. Examples of writing-to-learn activities
are located in Attachments 7 and 8. All faculty will be encouraged to utilize writing-to-learn techniques as
a part of general course instruction. To ensure faculty knowledge of writing-to learn concepts, all faculty
will attend workshops on writing emphasis as available through the University. Continuing competency in
Writing-in-the-major systems needs further development.
Table 3
Writing-to-Learn Development
Informal Writing
Course Learning Activity
Personal observation
General Program Learning
Listing during brainstorming activities
Personal observation notes during
case analyses
Personal notes during
treatment sessions
Family/ patient/
therapist written
Business letters
OT 471
Data collection during research project
OT 480
Student generated letters to clinic supervisors to
verify Level II Fieldwork placements
Student generated verification letters
for outside speakers
Thank you letters for outside speakers
Team meeting notes or
OT 405;
OT 413;
OT 464;
OT 465
PBL’s—assigned secretary for taking minutes
of meetings. Rotate secretary at each change of
problem (case)
OT Club minutes—rotating
assignment vs. elected secretary
Journaling with instructor feedback
Email advisor correspondence
Personal notes at
professional meeting
Email to colleagues
Listing tx options
Class notes
OT 405;
OT 413;
OT 464;
OT 465
PBL’s—Listing learning activities;
Categorizing learning activities
Class assignments delivered to
instructor via email attachment
Supported advising via email
OT Club minutes disseminated via
email to class
Listing during brainstorming activities
Describe how you will assess the writing-in-the-major program goals and outcomes. What is the
process faculty will use to analyze and improve the quality of the program?
Student portfolios are being used to monitor student progress throughout the occupational therapy program.
Example of formal writing processes will be individually maintained within a student’s portfolio. This
process enables longitudinal monitoring of student writing progress via the advisor/advisee relationship.
Additionally, all students are required to pass basic competencies during full-time clinical fieldwork
experienced at the end of the academic professional curriculum. Following each fieldwork experience
students are evaluated by a supervising clinician within the practice environment. Students are evaluated in
relation to performance, judgement, and attitude in completing technical written work. Specific evaluation
items relating to writing skill include:
Reports the results of the assessment and reassessment accurately
Documents and reports the treatment plan
Documents and reports treatment
Develops and documents discharge and follow-up programs
As a part of the general outcome plan for the occupational therapy program, surveys will be completed by
each student fieldwork supervisor as they exit the program. The purpose of the survey is to receive
clinician feedback regarding academic preparation of the students for the clinic environment. Questions
about student writing ability will be included in the general survey.
The program’s curriculum committee will review all writing-in-the-major activities at the committee’s
biannual meeting. This will ensure ongoing review of the use of these learning techniques.
As the new writing-in-the-major program takes effect, how will the department ensure that
students already in the major can meet the current writing emphasis requirement?
Students currently in the major will meet the writing emphasis requirement as described above. Since
faculty have worked since last summer to develop this writing emphasis plan, current courses already
include the various components of a writing-in-the-major emphasis. Course development has occurred
concurrently with development of the writing emphasis. At this time, current majors have five remaining
semesters to complete their baccalaureate degree. Faculty believe that this is sufficient time to refine the
writing-in-the-major plan and ensure completion of the writing emphasis requirement.
Attachment 1
Generic Writing Skill Assessment
B---Beginning Level
D---Developing Level
E---Entry Level
Technical Writing Skill:
Evaluation reports for varied audiences
Progress notes
Professional Writing Tasks:
Memos to co-workers
Business letter
Persuasion letter (advocacy)
Program development writing
(mission statements, objectives, descriptions, etc.)
Home programs
Attachment 2
Student Handbook Addition
The occupational therapy program is in the process of application as a writing-in-the-major program. This
means that students graduating from the occupational program would meet general education writing
emphasis criteria for graduations. As a writing-in-the-major student you will be doing a significant amount
of writing in achieving course and program objectives. Throughout the program you will be asked to do
two different types of writing--- writing-to-learn and formal writing processes. Writing-to-learn or
informal writing is used as a tool of thinking and learning, while formal writing is a tool to communicate
with others. Formal writing and writing-to-learn assignments will be identified within individual courses.
From Beck and Schrag
Informal Writing (Writing-to-Learn)
To help you learn the content of the program.
Yourself (and, possibly, others very familiar with your subject and purpose, such as your
classmates and instructor)
Journals, logs, lecture notes, field notes, to-do lists, outlines, informal messages and
letters, early drafts of formal writing.
Only what is necessary for understanding.
Informal writing is not meant to be judged as a well written display of knowledge; it is
effective if
 Everyone who needs to read it can understand it;
 It helps you explore and develop your thoughts and feelings
 It helps you recognize what you know;
 It reveals what you don’t know or are confused about;
 It stimulates further reflection and dialogue
Formal Writing
To communicate your knowledge and to display your skill in applying concepts.
Your professor and/or other readers, such as peers in the profession or general readers.
Academic and scientific papers, business letters and memos, reports, review,
informational articles, brochures, etc.
The writing must follow the conventions your audience expects and is familiar with:
conventional spelling and punctuation and grammar, proper format and style.
Formal writing is meant to be evaluated by the audience, who will usually look for such
elements as
 Clear organization,
 Adequate development of ideas
 Clear reasoning,
 Effective engagement and guidance,
 Efficient and conventional use of language,
 Informed use of disciplinary conventions (such as documentation style, tables and
figures, etc.).
Attachment 3
OT 401
Introduction to Occupational Therapy
OT 401 is the first course encountered by the professional students upon entrance into the occupational
therapy program. This paper is their first written assignment.
Occupational Performance Self-Evaluation Paper (30% class grade) (Portfolio Assignment):
Students will analyze one occupation in a performance area (self-care, productivity, leisure). Using
supporting data from self-assessments encountered during the course and a review of Uniform
Terminology, students will analyze their performance components leading to occupational performance.
Describe any environmental contexts affecting personal occupational performance. Limit the paper to 4
typed double spaced pages not including self-assessment data.
Self-Assessment Measures to complete during the course from your Rosenfeld text:
Life-Style Inventory
Purpose in Life Test
Internal vs. External Control
Interest Checklist
Activities Configuration
Your paper will be graded based on the following criteria.
Content (40 points)
______ Identifies an occupation (1 point)
______ Identifies at least three performance components in this occupation (Sensorimotor, Cognitive, and
Psychosocial) (3 points)
______ Presents supporting data in each performance component area including:
_____ Activties Configuration (3 points)
_____ Interest Checklist (3 points)
_____ Life-Style Inventory (3 points)
_____ Internal vs. External Control (3 points)
_____ Uniform Terminology; supporting data from each performance component area (6 points)
______ Identifies a minimum of two performance contexts (Temporal, Environment) (2 points)
______ Analyzes effects of two performance contexts on occupational performance (6 points)
______ Draws conclusions regarding satisfaction of occupational performance in the occupation (3 points)
______ Identifies potential methodologies for change to improve satisfaction of performance area (4
Writing Skill (10 points)
______ Consistent sense of audience and context (2 point)
______ Clear overall structure (2 point)
______ Mindful use of audience-specific tone (2 point)
______ Coherent at sentence and idea movement level (2 point)
______ Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar (2 points)
Attachment 4
Formal Writing Process Assignment
OT 405
OT Theory
System Paper
The objective of this paper is for the OT student to identify and understand the operational system
where they are completing their fieldwork. A "system" is defined as an agency, clinic or hospital where the
OT student is participating in a Level One Fieldwork experience. The justification for this paper is the
need for the OT student to understand the complexities of their future work sites and to continue to
integrate systems thinking into their OT practice.
This paper will be used as a portfolio assignment for the Fall semester. In addition, the paper will
be copied and placed in the Fieldwork Data files to provide OT students additional information regarding
Fieldwork sites. Therefore, the audience of this assignment is Occupational Therapy personnel.
The assignment will be handed out on October 23, 1998 and rough draft will be collected on
November 6, 1998. The papers will be returned to the students on November 9, 1998. The final paper will
be due November 20, 1998.
Content (80 points)
The paper will include:
name of system and what larger system it may/may not be included in (5 points)
the organizational structure of the system (10 points)
how the system is funded and laws which support/hinder this (15 points)
who the system employees (10 points)
who the system serves (10 points)
what external events affect the system (15 points).
the Occupational Therapist or supervisor's role within the system (15 points)
(If there is not an OTR in this setting, you are asked to explore what an OTR could add to the
setting. This will be facilitated by the instructor in a small group setting with other OT students in similar
Writing Skills (20 points)
Consistent sense of the audience and context ( 4 points)
Clear overall structure ( 4 points)
Appropriate and specific secondary sources; cited (4 points)
Coherent at the sentence level with appropriate transitions (4 points)
Correct spelling ( 4 points)
Attachment 5
Dev: 5-27—98/ pmm
Rev: 6.14.98/pmm
Formal Writing Processes Evaluation Criteria
Audience Appropriateness
Precise, effective diction
Mindful use of audience-specific tone
Coherent at the sentence level
Coherent at the idea movement level
Mechanics/ Format
Quality of main points
Adequate support for each main point
Quality of reasoning
Appropriate & specific secondary sources
Clear overall structure
Clearly identified audience-appropriate main points
Idea Development
Consistent sense of audience and context
Clearly defined, appropriate purpose
Clear audience guidance
Appropriate overall design
Purpose(s) accomplished
Correct spelling
Correct punctuation
Correct grammar
Citation of sources appropriate for audience
Process & Effort
Collection of material/evidence/information
Depth of analysis
Revision and development
Getting feedback
Proof reading
Adapted from Beck Transactional Writing Evaluation Sheet
Attachment 6
Writing-to-Learn Criteria
Demonstrates exploration of thought
Assists in creative thought, brainstorming options
Helps recognition of what one knows
Helps reveal what one doesn’t know
Attachment 7
Writing-to-Learn Activity
Problem-Based Learning
Students participate in a small group problem-based learning experience throughout four semesters of the
professional curriculum. Primary objectives of this experience are to learn the clinical thinking
mechanisms utilized in occupational therapy practice. Specific processes to be utilized are procedural,
interactive, narrative, and conditional reasoning (Neistadt, 1996). Procedural reasoning has been defined as
the type of reasoning utilized by an occupational therapist when identifying problems and implementing
treatment strategies via systematic gathering and interpreting of client data. Interactive reasoning is utilized
by the occupational therapist when dealing with how the disability or disease affects the client as a person.
Narrative reasoning is employed when the therapist focuses on the process of change needed to reach a
future within a client’s story. Conditional reasoning is the method utilized when refining treatment to
match context’s surrounding a client. For example, conditional reasoning is utilized when considering
payment options and health care system guiding the occupational therapy intervention (Neistadt, 1996).
Through the use of ill-structured problems, students are guided in the development of these different types
of reasoning utilized in occupational therapy practice.
Learning is student-driven within the context of small-group learning. Each group of eight students is
assigned an occupational therapy faculty member as a facilitator. Problems are presented as realistic cases
encountered in practice. Students identify their own learning issues and the processes required for the
group to reach a sense of resolution of the problem.
Writing-to-Learn Processes
Students assign a group secretary to take group notes during each session. This role is rotated to a
different student each session. Notes are later copied and disseminated to other group members
for use in future sessions. In this way, discussion notes are reviewed by both the facilitator and
peer student group members.
Students also assign a recorder at the blackboard to document pertinent pieces of the group
discussion. This role is also rotated each session. Students guide each other in listing options
when brainstorming and later categorizing ideas for later identification of learning issues.
Students are thus guided in the use of informal writing to organize thinking.
Attachment 8
Writing-to-Learn Activity
OT 441
Applied Communication in the Allied Health Professions
The intent of this course is to provide students a series of learning experiences related to interpersonal and
communication skills. The course is offered during the second of five academic semesters in the
professional program.
Students will be asked to periodically write what they see and hear in an interaction between varied people.
The following communication transactions will be documented:
 Body language
 Listening behaviors
 Use of “assertive/aggressive” behavior
 Use of “I” messages
Listing observed behaviors will assist students in organizing and categorizing their observations.
Observation notes may be handwritten. These will be handed in weekly to the instructor for comment.
The following expectations will be held of the observation notes:
 The student documents all identified transactions
 Writing is understandable
 Writing demonstrates exploration of thought