EWP Instructor Policies

Instructors in the Expository Writing Program (EWP) are expected to uphold the highest possible ethical and pedagogical practices. While many of these policies may seem self explanatory, they are explicitly stated for clarity and are designed with instructors and students in mind. Failure to uphold them may result in an Instructor's TAship being revoked.

          I. Policies for Instruction
          II. Policies for Training and Mentoring
          III. University Policies

In the event that you, as an Instructor in the Expository Writing Program, find yourself unable to comply with any of these policies, you must notify the Director or Assistant Directors of the EWP. We are here to help you.

When a problem arises, the Director will outline a set of strategies designed to help you fulfill departmental requirements. If the above-mentioned strategies are not met by the end of the next teaching quarter, it is the department policy for the Instructor to receive a letter from the EWP Director detailing requirements that must be met for the Instructor to continue the TAship.

I. Policies for Instruction

1. MATERIALS TO BE PROVIDED TO THE DEPARTMENT

You are responsible for providing the following materials to the EWP Office (Padelford A-11) or the English Department (Padelford A-101) at the following times:

  • Before each quarter, you must provide your office hours to the department. (Forms are distributed to department mailboxes and should be returned to the main department office, Padelford A-101.)
  • At the beginning of each quarter, you must provide a current electronic version of your course syllabus and calendar (described in detail below) to the EWP office in Padelford A-11.
  • At the end of each quarter, you must provide copies of your grades and a grade distribution sheet to the EWP Office.
  • After each quarter, you must provide copies of your course evaluations to the EWP office in Padelford A-11.

2. COURSE SYLLABUS

It is required of all instructors in the Expository Writing Program to, early in the first week of class, provide all students in the course with a course syllabus. The syllabus should include:

  • your name
  • how to contact you
  • office location
  • office hours
  • readings in the course
  • a description of the course
  • a description of the assignments
  • a description of student responsibilities
  • a description of how grades will be figured
  • the complaints clause (below)

You can view the Syllabus Basics for more information and pre-written blurbs to satisfy these requirements.

Your specific course policies may overlap with or be in addition to those outlined for all students in EWP courses and posted here. It is suggested that you direct students to the Expository Writing Program website.

Along with the syllabus, you must provide all students with a copy of the General Policies that deals with Department and College policies (such as Drops and Incompletes).

Complaints Clause for All EWP Syllabi:

If you have any concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following Expository Writing staff in Padelford A-11:

If, after speaking with the Director of Expository Writing or one of the Assistant Directors, you are still not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact Brian Reed, English Department Chair, in Padelford Room A101, at 543-2690

3. COURSE CALENDAR

Instructors must provide their students with a course calendar indicating due dates. Such a calendar may change over the course of the quarter, resulting in updated calendars being distributed. This policy is meant to keep instructors and students informed and up-to-date about expectations and developments in the class. Pre-formatted course calendars can be found in the Syllabus Guide.

4. OFFICE HOURS

As part of your TAship, all instructors are required to post and hold a minimum of two office-hours per week, one of which must be in your campus office. If an office hour is not being held in your campus office, you are required to post a note on your office door indicating where you can be found. These hours must be updated quarterly with the English Department staff in Padelford A-101.

5. REGULAR CLASS MEETINGS

You are required to hold class during all scheduled meeting times. If for some reason you will be unable to hold class, you are required to contact one of the Assistant Directors of Expository Writing or the Program Director so that a substitute teacher can be found or the students in the class can be notified of a class cancellation.

If you find your own substitute, you must still notify the Director or ADs. Contacting a staff member by phone--(206) 543-2190--is recommended.

6. WRITING CONFERENCES

As an instructor in Expository Writing Courses (109/110, 111, 121, 131, 281), you are expected to hold at least two writing conferences with every student each quarter. The conferences should be twenty minutes in duration; you may cancel a class period (or part of a class period) to accommodate for writing conferences in your and your students' schedules. This policy is in place to enhance individualized instruction and encourage students to reflect on their work.

7. ASSIGNMENTS

A. Assignment Sequences
Instructors are required to assign and provide time for the completion of two major assignment sequences of student work. The assignment sequences should include tasks and activities that allow students to fulfill the learning outcomes for the class.

B. Assignment Pacing
Instructors are required to pace assignment sequences so as to allow students ample time to complete each one and revise for the final portfolio of student work.

C. The Assignments Themselves
Major assignments will be distributed in writing and described orally to students. Assignments must contribute toward an assignment sequence involving such tasks as reading, multiple writing tasks leading toward a final paper, peer review, and revision. This requirement is meant to help instructors structure their classes, to provide continuity between sections, and to provide students with multiple writing and revision opportunities. You can find sample materials on the web page that corresponds to the class you are teaching (see the left side bar for links).

8. RETURNING STUDENT WORK

It is expected of instructors that student work will be returned in class in a timely manner. As a general rule, student work should be returned with comments within at most a week of being submitted by students.

At the end of the quarter, if you are teaching a course with a portfolio assessment system (English 131 for instance), you are required to hand back all student work with comments by the last day of scheduled classes. This policy is in place to make sure students have enough time to revise for their portfolios.

9. OBTAINING STUDENT PERMISSION TO USE THEIR WRITING IN FUTURE COURSES

Because EWP courses are workshop-based, students will often be asked to share their writing with classmates, and their writing may be used during the course for purposes of discussion and instruction. However, papers students write for the course are their property, and students have legal control over whether they wish their work to be used for teaching purposes beyond the course in which they are currently enrolled. If instructors want to use student work for future instruction, they need to obtain permission using this release form.

10. PORTFOLIO OF STUDENT WORK

Instructors are required to respond to student work throughout the term, but grades are only to be assigned to a complete portfolio of student work. The portfolio should include all writing from the class (inclusion of in-class writing assignments is left to the discretion of each instructor); prior drafts of major paper assignments, indicating revision; and a critical reflection in the form of either a web essay (for ePortfolios) or a cover letter (for paper-based portfolios). The portfolio should be described in the course syllabus and required to be turned in no later than the designated final time for the class.

The portfolio must account for 70% of final grade.

11. GRADES

To ensure that grades are not arbitrary or capricious, they must be in line with

  • the description of assignments, students responsibilities, and grades and grading in your course syllabus, and
  • the statement of EWP learning outcomes

All instructors in the Expository Writing Program must grade students based on performance in the course. Upon completion of grading, grades must be submitted on-line by the Quarterly due date. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 protects the privacy of student education records, and prohibits the release of a student's grades to a third party without written consent of the student. FERPA also prevents you from discussing grades with a student via email (even with their permission) due to the unsecure nature of email. To discuss grades, please meet with students in person, use snail mail, or write to students via a secure means, such as through Canvas messaging. 

12. PLAGIARISM

It is the policy of the Expository Writing Program to report all instances of documented plagiarism to the Office of Student Affairs for review, unless a student elects to waive due process and agrees to an alternative outcome. If you have an instance of suspected plagiarism in your course, you must speak with one of the Assistant Directors of Expository Writing or Program Director about how best to proceed. More information about plagiarism, including its definition, various applications, and consequences, can be found here: https://depts.washington.edu/grading/pdf/AcademicResponsibility.pdf

Please note: Although UW's Canvas now includes an option for instructors to filter student papers through Turnitin's "originality checker," the Expository Writing Program prohibits the use of Turnitin. The "originality" score that Turnitin generates has little to no pedagogical value, requires a great deal of interpretation to assess and make meaningful, problematically conflates originality (or lack thereof) with plagiarism, creates anxiety among students and an adversarial classroom climate, coerces students to contribute their papers to its database as a condition of assignment submission, and risks violating their intellectual property rights. The Conference on College Composition and Communication Intellectual Property Caucus has recommended against the use of such software: http://culturecat.net/files/CCCC-IPpositionstatementDraft.pdf

13. COURSE EVALUATIONS

It is required of all instructors in the Expository Writing Program to order and successfully administer course evaluations for each course that is taught. While it is clear that course evaluations are not the ultimate evaluation of an instructor's teaching, it is expected that the course evaluations will average a 2.5 or higher.

Upon receiving completed course evaluations in your campus mailbox, each instructor is required to make copies of the evaluations (both hand-written and the data sheets) and provide the originals to the EWP office. Find out more here.

14. INCOMPLETES AND ADD/DROP

TAs are required to get approval of all "I" and "X" grades in Expository Writing Classes. The policy on Incompletes is detailed for students here. As a rule, "I" grades, for incomplete, and "X" grades, for no credit, are discouraged.

Class size in EWP courses is capped at 23 students (with EOP writing classes being even smaller). Entry codes are not available for EWP instructors.

15. USE OF BLOGS AND OTHER FORMS OF PUBLIC WRITING IN TEACHING

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) mandates that all identifying student information remain confidential unless otherwise (and expressly) permitted by the student. UW Catalyst or Canvas tools have a number of options for instructors who want students to discuss and post work on the web, including Epost, Peer Review, ESubmit, and Share Spaces. All of these tools are restricted to students registered in the course, but the instructor may opt to open Epost and Share Spaces to anybody with a UW NetID and/or invited outsiders. A few EWP TAs have used other freeware blogging and communication software in their EWP courses that are completely open to the public. Asking students to post their writing using such unrestricted, public software violates FERPA, and requires that instructors obtain student consent.

EWP recommends instructors use UW software unless a compelling argument is made for an alternative. Such a case needs to be presented to the EWP director. If an instructor finds that UW resources are limiting, the use of password protected, secure sites (such as WordPress) seem reasonable. If an instructor makes a persuasive case to the EWP director for making blogs or other projects public, then she or he must have students sign consent forms and allow for exceptions if students are uncomfortable posting their work in public either pseudonymously or attributed (for safety or other reasons). Instructors should include in their course description that they will be asking students to blog publicly so students have a chance to opt out.

Instructors should not conduct teaching-related communication with students via social networking sites such as Facebook, etc.

The following section applies to the use of public writing in courses where students work in partnership with community based organizations. This includes English 121 but has relevance to other EWP courses in which students are asked to write with or for community organizations:

An additional public writing policy for EWP is based on English 121's work in asset-based partnership with the Carlson Center and community-based organizations. Nearly all public writing assigned in English 121 is done either with or for community partners (flyers, testimonials, newsletter articles, fundraisers, research on areas of interest to the organizations, etc.), so this public writing is already cleared by those agencies for use beyond the classroom. However, in cases where public writing is not done in consultation or collaboration with agencies, but refers to agencies or is based on students' work at those agencies, the English 121 TA is responsible for ensuring that writing is cleared by the agencies named or by the Carlson Center before it becomes public. Examples of public writing referring to organizations, but not necessarily done with or for organizations, might include policy proposals, wikipedia articles, editorials, letters to the editor, public blogs, myspace pages, etc. Where TAs have not been directly involved in clearing documents with organizations or with the Carlson Center for public use, students should submit a signed release from the organization or the Carlson Center to the TA before the writing becomes public.The Family Educational Right and Privacy Act (FERPA) mandates that all identifying student information remain confidential unless otherwise (and expressly) permitted by the student. UW Catalyst has a number of options for instructors who want students to discuss and post work on the web, including GoPost and Dropbox. All of these tools are restricted to students registered in the course, but the instructor may opt to open these tools to anyone with a UW NetID and/or invited outsiders. A few EWP TAs have used other freeware blogging and communication software in their courses that are completely open to the public. Asking students to post their writing using such unrestricted, public software violates FERPA, and requires that instructors obtain student consent.

 16. MISSED CLASS AND SICK LEAVE POLICY FOR TEACHING ASSISTANTS

Teaching Assistants are required to hold class during all scheduled meeting times. If you need to miss your class for any reason other than student conferencing (including illness, bereavement, childcare, or academic conferences), the procedures outlined in the Guidelines for Cancelling EWP Classes must be followed.

According to the bargaining agreement between the University of Washington and UAW Local 4121, you are entitled to limited paid leave each academic year. Please note that absences in excess of your leave as outlined in the union contract may result in unpaid leave. You may read more here:
https://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/laborrel/contracts/uaw/contract/a16.html

II. Policies for Training and Mentoring

New TAs are required to attend the Autumn orientation prior to the beginning of classes.

2. ENGLISH 567

It is required of all instructors in the Expository Writing Program to successfully complete the practicum course, English 567. This requirement is meant to provide all instructors with a background in composition pedagogy and teaching reading-in-the-service-of-writing.

3. PORTFOLIO NORMING SESSION

During finals week of the first Autumn Quarter you teach 131, you will be required to attend a group norming session. You will be asked to bring student papers from your class and to grade a number of other papers. The group norming session is essential in learning how to grade effectively and accurately. Norming of this kind works to make grading practices consistent and equitable across sections.

4. ONGOING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

In the first year of your TAship (at least once in Winter Quarter and once in Spring Quarter), it is recommended that you attend professional development sessions hosted by the Assistant Directors and targeting specific teaching issues.

5. OBSERVATIONS OF TEACHING

Per University requirements, your class will be observed by the Director or one of the Assistant Directors twice during your first year of teaching--once during Autumn Quarter and once during Winter Quarter. After the observation, you are required to meet with the observer to talk about the class session. Your class will also be observed once during your first quarter of teaching English 109/110, 111, 121.

6. MEETING WITH THE DIRECTOR

Upon completion of the first quarter of instruction, each instructor is required to meet with the Director of Expository Writing during the Winter Quarter. This meeting will involve a general discussion and a review of syllabi, student course evaluations, and final grades.

III. University Policies

As a Teaching Assistant at the University of Washington, you are required to abide by University Policies regarding privacy, sexual harassment, and copyright law. These policies are explained in the UW Policy Directory and at several UW websites.

Areas of particular interest include (but are by no means limited to)...