Ph.D. student’s new assignment is with the Writing Across the Curriculum program

by Jack Kelly


Whether you are a student, a teaching assistant or a faculty member, you are welcome at UW–Madison’s Writing Center. With numerous locations across campus, individuals from all academic backgrounds can review ideas, organization and clarity of their writing alongside the center’s tutors, like Ph.D. student Mike Haen.

Haen, who attended Marquette University as an undergraduate student and UW–Milwaukee for his master’s, was drawn to UW–Madison’s Composition and Rhetoric program for its scholarly and pedagogical training, especially in writing center work. He cited the collaborative style of the center, as well as its work with departments across campus, as reasons for working there.

“What really attracted me to [the Writing Center] is the collaborative learning that happens in the sessions, as well as the collaborative relationships the center forms with different disciplines across campus,” Haen said. “The entire staff understands that writing is a process and that writers can improve from receiving feedback from a knowledgeable reader.”

The Janesville, Wisconsin native went on to explain that both of his parents are retired teachers, and that this is one of the many things that motivated him to work in education—a desire that has translated into his work as a Ph.D. student.

Haen’s work focuses on writing and composition; or, as he explains it, understanding how people learn to read and write, especially through talk about their writing with a tutor or teacher. He first got interested in Composition and Rhetoric, while working as a writing tutor at Marquette, and has developed a more scholarly identity during his time as a graduate student.

Outside of the Writing Center, Haen has also expanded his teaching skills while at UW–Madison. He has taught English 100 and English 201, and believes that this experience has taught him a lot about the most effective ways of teaching.

I have really started to see how teaching might be best done in a one-on-one approach. Sitting down with someone, going over the writing that they've done, and thinking through the problems that they encountered with that writing, can help writers’ growth.

—Mike Haen

And in fall 2017, Haen will begin work as the assistant director of UW–Madison’s Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program. In this new role, he will be working with faculty members and graduate-level teaching assistants who are teaching writing-intensive courses for the first time.

Upon completion of his Ph.D., Haen would like to continue to work as a writing center director in a university setting. But would also welcome an opportunity to work with a community literacy or writing center.

“I would like to be on the administrative side of a university writing program, while teaching and doing research if possible,” Haen said. “Beyond that, I know there are community literacy or writing centers that are appealing to me. I do know that I want to continue helping writers build their confidence and improve their process and products.”

This June, the Ph.D. student will be leading a workshop for newly admitted students who are interested in applying to the Wisconsin School of Business, and hopes that this time will help him prepare for his new role with WAC.


About the Author

Jack Kelly


Journalism Student, UW–Madison
Author, Graduate School Profiles

Jack Kelly is a sophomore majoring in journalism. He has had a number of roles with The Daily Cardinal, UW-Madison’s independent newspaper, and works as a reporter with Madison Commons. Jack also does freelance writing on a variety of subjects, and hosts a bi-weekly sports podcast.

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