Home Forums Get-to-Know Get to Know: Alice Wellum at UCM

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  • Avatar photoRoberta Haar
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    Let me introduce UCANN members to Alice Wellum, who coordinates the introduction to academic skills track at UCM, a semester long competency training that all freshman take in their first year. Additionally, Alice coordinates the second-year elective Writing in an Academic Context: Improving Argumentation plus she is the Coordinator of the UCM Writing Center (https://www.facebook.com/ucmwritingcentre/). Check out their Facebook webpage—it is full of pithy observations, fun videos and hilarious ways of pointing out that how you express yourself matters. “Let’s eat, Grandma!” has a much better outcome than “Let’s eat Grandma!”

    As a dedicated skills teacher in an open curriculum Alice knows that she is adding value through exposing students to the different methods and writing styles of the various disciplines that all students encounter in a Liberal Arts College. She is providing a common denominator in this sea of jargon and specialty. She believes her role is to provide the writing tools that empower students with the essence of what they need to know to succeed in an academic environment and beyond. Paramount is the ability to write well, to argue well and to find and evaluate sources.

    Alice is also working on her PhD, which is about sexual assault prevention in higher education. In fact, Alice was a consultant for Amnesty International’s research on sexual violence in higher education, which was recently published as a report: https://www.ioresearch.nl/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/amnesty_io_rapport-verkrachting-studenten-def.pdf. This report made the news, with every major platform in the Netherlands commenting (e.g. an NOS article: https://nos.nl/artikel/2384251-een-op-negen-studentes-verkracht-tijdens-studententijd). This report also prompted Maastricht University’s Executive Board to release a statement, with the Reactor, Rianne Letschert, enunciating UM’s response to sexual violence in the regional paper, The Limburger.

    When Alice is finished with her PhD, she hopes to design a course on the topic of sexual assault prevention in higher education, which she sees as a very interdisciplinary topic that can be investigated from different perspectives, such as legal, psychological and social. Alice also feels that her teaching helps in her own research: “Because I am teaching research skills, I am quite methodical in my own research.” Getting her own writing critiqued has also given Alice more sympathy for students making themselves vulnerable for draft revisions in the writing center. “You might have to have 10 versions,” she tells students, but the key is being open for feedback.

    Alice also created course materials such as a writing handbook for freshmen students and an abridged referencing style guide for all UCM students. Since former students still contact the Writing Center to ask for these resources, she feels validated that these materials are appreciated. The Academic Took Kit, which is specifically catered to UCM students, also addresses the different writing philosophies linked to languages and cultures.

    Alice finds teaching in a Dutch University College is a rewarding experience because “LAS students are quite inquisitive” and they “become good at examining issues from different angles, which adds to the richness of understanding.” Of course, this means her job is sometime challenging: “The same thing that makes my job rewarding also makes it challenging. If my students were all psychology students, for example, it would be tempting to help them embrace writing styles found in psychology journals. LAS students need to be made aware of their disciplinary writing styles but also encouraged to look beyond their own discipline. My goal is to make them effective writers that can engage and appeal to a broad audience, in academia and beyond.”

    So far, you are doing a great job of figuring that out, Alice!

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