The Scholarly Reading eWriting Intensive was developed by an English language program in a large public university as a rapid response to the move online in the spring of 2020. Amidst the early days of the pandemic, there was concern about students’ need for “live” Zoom-style contact with other students and instructors. However, the author theorized that online writing activities would be more successful when students in various time zones, with differing schedules and access to the Internet could receive instruction asynchronously but with intensive involvement of their instructors, and through technologically simple media. A decision was made to deliver the Scholarly Reading eWriting Intensive through email. In the five-day program, students are emailed a series of reading strategies handouts which scaffold their encounter with a daily peer-reviewed disciplinary article. Topics are chosen to appeal to a class from across 20 departments. Five short assignments give practice in reading different sections of a journal article—introductions, methods, results, and discussion/conclusions. Students simultaneously practice writing in genres that build in complexity: reflection on previewing/skimming; summarizing; active reading; close reading, and distinguishing/critiquing authors’ uses of information and argument. Each writing receives intensive 1:1 commenting from an instructor by email, to which students often reply. This approach resulted in high student engagement and enthusiastic feedback from participants. These results support research showing that instructor-to-student presence is the most important factor in student engagement with online learning (Ladyshewsky, 2013).
Leora Freedman, University of Toronto, Canada