Modular and Student-Driven Learning of Writing (MASLOW): An Online Platform for Facilitating International Graduate Students' Academic Transition and Success

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Sharma, Ghanashyam
Davidson, Cynthia A.
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SUNY , State University of New York , IITG , Innovative Instructional Technology Grants , Transition and Success
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Modular and Student-Driven Learning of Writing (MASLOW) is an online platform designed to help international graduate students interactively learn foundational writing skills needed for academic transition, leading to more advanced genre- and discipline-specific skills for degree completion and professional growth. Considering the dire need for graduate writing support at Stony Brook University (SBU), MASLOW is designed to let these students audit some modules and take more for credit, as they need. The half-credit modules include quiz-integrated videos about US higher education and graduate-level writing, strategic reading and literature review exercises, practice sets for effective citation, reflective essays based on interviewing mentors and advanced students, demonstrations for TAs to help their students with writing, instructor feedback on their writing for publication, and resources and discussions for learning writing skills for the job market. Using affordances of gamified learning, the modules are designed to offer formative assessment and guidance, allow non-linear and flexible completion, and let students independently explore topics beyond the tasks required for credit. After adding resources to the complementary Blackboard and Edublog platforms during the pilot phase (grant period), our department will continue to let instructors offer new modules. We plan to invite graduate and professional students at other SUNY institutions to audit modules for badges or take them for credit, eventually offering modules for international and other graduate students beyond SBU. Ultimately, MASLOW is a pedagogical lab for exploring access and scale, interactivity and engagement, competency-based and student-driven writing education at the graduate level. We will share MASLOW’s robust pedagogical principles and design with SUNY institutions through conference presentations, webinar training, publications (including blogging), and access to the resources we create.
We have developed the course platform and among the two developers of the grant and project, I am teaching the first course being delivered on the MASLOW platform. My project partner Cynthia Davidson and I couldn't be more excited about the progress/achievements of our project so far: 1) SUPPORT: Our university's President, Provost, Associate Provost for Global Affairs, and a few graduate students contributed to a video project for promoting the project. 2) IMPLEMENTATION: Our department adopted the new course delivery system for the graduate writing course. 3) INTEREST: Our online education office, which endorsed our application for this grant, is interested in expanding the application of modularized and student-centered learning of writing skills online into the undergraduate domain (we want to see the results of this piloting first). 4) CONFERENCES: We have applied for and been accepted to present a panel at the Computers and Writing, a prestigious conference in our field. In addition to this, as well as the CIT conference, we are planning to present at the summer institute of the Consortium on Graduate Communication. 5) SCHOLARSHIP: We are keeping track of our conversation and student learning and plan to publish at least a journal article out of this project. 6) OTHER PROGRESS: I am in discussion with the community of scholars at the Consortium for Graduate Communication, an international organization for which I am a board member, toward developing an NSF grant for the "innovations in graduate education" track.
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