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Libraries Contribute to Award-Winning Curriculum Redesign

When Professor Ellen Strenski accepted the 2004 Curriculum Development Award, she acknowledged the importance of her collaboration with UCI librarians to her project’s success. The new Writing 39C curriculum, which debuted in fall 2003, is the result of early and active collaboration between the composition program in the School of Humanities and the Libraries’ Department of Education and Outreach.

Writing 39C (Argument and Research) is a key course in the English and Comparative Literature curriculum, and while serving as Course Director in 2002, Prof. Strenski realized that the curriculum needed a make-over. The fundamental goals of the course--to help students strengthen their academic writing ability and to engage responsibly and effectively in democratic debate and policymaking--remained as compelling as ever, but the instructional methods and course content had become dated. Today’s students are adept at using Google and other Internet search engines to locate information on the Internet, but they need help learning to evaluate the information they locate online, as well as an understanding of the continuing importance of seeking out scholarly materials collected by libraries that are not immediately surfaced by a search engine. In the newly revised curriculum, students select a public policy issue raised in Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2002). Writing assignments require the use of credible scholarly sources to support the students’ assertions. The essentials of information literacy espoused by librarians, such as the ability to locate scholarly information, to evaluate materials based on audience, bias, credentials of authors, and currency, and to avoid plagiarism, are stressed throughout the course.

The Curriculum Development Award is given in recognition of a school or departmental curriculum which employs innovative teaching strategies to enhance the educational experience of undergraduates. This and other awards were presented at UCI’s 11th Annual Celebration of Teaching, which was held on May 26th at the University Club.

The Libraries welcome opportunities to collaborate with faculty on curriculum design projects and to participate in course implementation.


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