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Geography

Jessica Wilczak (2013 - present)

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography & Program in Planning. My doctoral research examines the impact of state-led reconstruction projects on rural residents in Chengdu, China, after the Sichuan Earthquake of 2008. Studying Chinese and working in China have given me a great deal of empathy for English language learners. But writing across different disciplines can be as challenging as mastering a new language, and my nomadic academic pedigree (in Economics, Chinese Language & Literature, Urban Planning, and Geography) also informs my work as a university writing instructor.

I joined the WIT program as an LWTA in May 2013, and have been teaching writing workshops in Ryerson University’s Faculty of Community Services for the past two years. I have also taught Geography courses at the University of Toronto, including GGR343: Changing Geography of China and GGR438: Environment and Development. As an instructor, I encourage students to view writing as a way of thinking with their pens (keyboards). I often assign low-stakes writing exercises intended to help students develop regular “writing-to-learn” habits.

As the LWTA for the Department of Geography & Program in Planning, I have worked with TAs and instructors to experiment with low-stakes writing in tutorials and classes. I have also collaborated with instructors to redesign writing assignments. This has included clarifying the audiences and standards for scientific writing in Geography, and “scaffolding” assignments in multiple stages to give students an opportunity to incorporate feedback on their writing.