The National Census of Writing

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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Our Bedford/St.Martin's composition team has been eagerly awaiting the release of data from the first-ever National Census of Writing.  This ambitious effort surveyed writing centers and writing programs at two and four-year colleges and universities across the country in order to provide open-access information about the way writing is taught.  While the Inside Higher Ed article discusses some of the findings, there's a lot of interesting and surprising data to be gleaned from reading the results (surprising to me, at least).  Here are a couple of data points that stood out to me:

  • 9% of four-year institutions who responded report an independent department is the home of their  first-year writing program, while a further 13% report that the writing program is independent.  Although most two-year institutions report that the writing program is still housed in the English department (96%), the numbers are striking and confirm the growth of independent writing programs that I've been hearing about.
  • I found it shocking (and depressing) that 306 respondents from four -year institutions reported receiving no additional compensation or release time for "directing a site of writing."  435 reported that they do receive compensation or release time.  The numbers are even worse among reporting two-year institutions: 111 reported no additional compensation or release time, while 75 reported receiving such benefits.  Only 8 of those 75 individuals received both.

I've barely started sifting through the data, but I'm looking forward to spending more time with it.  I"m also looking forward to the follow-up studies this baseline data will surely inspire.  Kudos to the writing studies community and the lead researchers for taking on this important work!