Study assesses retreats to hone faculty writing competency

writing-retreatsPULLMAN, Wash. – The College of Education conducts one of the first intensive writing retreats offered by a public university for newer faculty. One of the first studies to systematically assess results is included in a 2014 special issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Faculty Development.

The study gives insight into faculty experiences and includes recommendations for other institutions to design effective, affordable retreats and assess results to adapt retreats to faculty needs.

Girardeau-L-2013-80“Although institutions value publications and grants in the tenure process, newer professors receive little guidance in writing for these endeavors,” said Laura Girardeau, co-author and faculty research development coordinator for the college at Washington State University.

“Faculty writing retreats help apprentice professors in the craft of writing,” she said. “However, little research has explored how public institutions on limited budgets can hold effective retreats.”

Mike Trevisan, College of Education dean, and professor A.G. Rud co-authored the article, “Jumpstarting junior faculty motivation and performance with focused writing retreats,” in the special issue, “Raising the Bar: Promoting Faculty Members’ Scholarly Motivation and Performance.”

Rud-A.G.-2010-80“Faculty members are infinitely more successful when they know how to write well,” Rud said. “For a college that seeks to be known for its research, this skill is paramount.”

However, the value of the retreats goes beyond learning to write for research articles and grant proposals.

Trevisan-M-2013-80“When faculty have the chance to come together, away from the normal everyday expectations, they tend to do a marvellous job discussing how they collaborate on research and grant projects,” Trevisan said. “These projects often become innovative and exciting because of the collaboration.”

The article explains how intensive writing retreats can reduce the isolation often felt by newer faculty members. Retreats also increase sense of community and provide skills to manage time more effectively and create lasting good habits.

“These retreats can also motivate faculty to pursue their dreams regarding their research interests,” said Girardeau, “and give them the time and space away from daily life to produce good writing.”

Read an earlier article about the retreats at WSU News at