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You+University. Blending Basic Writing with the First -Year Experience. PROBLEMS. With basic writing courses and other developmental courses on the " chopping block," this presentation explores the idea: What can we do as a discipline to save first-year developmental writing courses? 

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You university

You+University

Blending Basic Writing with the

First-Year Experience


Problems

PROBLEMS

With basic writing courses and other developmental courses on the "chopping block," this presentation explores the idea:

What can we do as a discipline to save first-year developmental writing courses? 

Paired with the continual problem of at-risk student retention in the open-admissions university, this presentation provides a solution by asking the question:

What happens when you combine the first-year experience course with the basic writing course?


Solution

SOLUTION

The result is an exciting and refreshing theme-based course, which provides students with an introduction into academic culture and into writing in the academic culture (with a specialized strategy for retention and working with "at-risk" students).

This presentation discusses the framework, application, and theory behind a experimental project at Utah Valley University, where the administrative interests ask that basic writing courses "step-up their game" or "disappear."


Framing the issues

FRAMING THE ISSUES

Basic Writing Curriculum

Basic Reading Curriculum

Student Retention Rates

Student Familiarity with the Campus/University-College Culture

Student Engagement with the Culture Curricular-ly and Extracurricular-ly…


Theory behind framework

THEORY BEHIND FRAMEWORK

David Bartholomae once posited that student should learn to "Invent the University" by becoming more aware of its culture and the discourse of the university.

How?

Acculturation and Familiarization (Not Necessarily Assimilation) into the Culture….

How?

Creating a course which accomplishes its goals, but is heavily thematic. The Theme? The University itself.


Theory behind framework1

THEORY BEHIND FRAMEWORK

Writing Program Administrators OUTCOME statements

http://wpacouncil.org/positions/outcomes.html


Reality check hurdles

REALITY CHECK: HURDLES

THIS COURSE:

Must clear the Office of Student Success & Retention

Must not overlap with the Department of College Success Studies

Must be connected to Composition & Reading Curriculum

Must include Technological Foundation, meeting the needs of everyday sorts of techno-tasks….


Reality check stakeholders

REALITY CHECK: STAKEHOLDERS

President

Vice-President

Deans

Director of Student Success & Retention

Department Chairs

Full-Time Faculty (& Part-Time Faculty)

And,most importantly: Students


Cleared for takeoff rules

CLEARED FOR “TAKEOFF”: RULES

Must use conventional Basic Writing & Basic Reading curriculum

Must not overlap with College Success Studies courses

Must make all stakeholders happy… sheesh! Right?


Spring board ideas

SPRING BOARD: IDEAS

Make all writing assignments connect to the university

Make all reading assignments connect to the university

Develop a schedule with lessons, activities, homework, etc.

Develop resources especially for this course, which are distinct to this course…

HOW LONG TO DO ALL THIS: About 4 months….


Large assignments

LARGE ASSIGNMENTS

Foundational (and Pivotal)…. includes:

Summary (Student Newspaper or Thematic Text)

Narrative of College Goals

Description of the College (Physical, Social, etc.)

Expositive Multimodal Presentation One (Faculty Profile or Service Profile)


Large assignments cont

LARGE ASSIGNMENTS (cont.)

Analysis of Cultural Discourse (e.g., Newspaper, Syllabus, etc.)

Dialectical/Argumentative Composition (Letter to the Editor)

Argumentative Multimodal Presentation Two (Identifying Social Issues on Campus)


Small assignments

SMALL ASSIGNMENTS

“Familiarity with Technology” Assignments:

+Creating Two Slideshows (Powerpoint/Prezi)

+Creating a Graph/Chart (Excel)

+Organizational Chart (Word or Excel – Using Tables)

Daily Writing Assignments

Reading Assignments


In sync

IN-SYNC

Smaller Assignments, such as Daily Writing Assignments are in-sync with Readings, while may be in-sync with the larger lessons for the week.

We don’t discuss things as Week 1, Week 2, etc. We discuss them as Unit 1, Unit 2, which allows us to move the curriculum around each semester (allows for flexible dates).

I encourage teachers to use a plan but not a set schedule (again, flexibility).


In sync1

IN-SYNC

All lessons are “precursory” or “building blocks” to larger assignments. Thus, a student will learn about “visual design” about a week before he/she begins working on the Slideshow Presentations.

EX: Concurrent to learning about visual design, he/she does smaller projects which help to focus the student on that specific mode (e.g., creating a chart or graph in MS EXCEL, while learning about color and type).


In sync2

IN-SYNC

EX: Students learn about “Primary Research” while preparing for their Faculty Profile/Student Service Presentation (thus, they are able to understand and implement strategies for interviewing, question design, etc.)

EX: Students learn about “Secondary Research” before preparing to write a summary article from the student newspaper (thus they re able to understand quoting, paraphrasing, source documentation, etc..


Extra credit yes why not

EXTRA CREDIT? YES. WHY NOT?

EXTRA CREDIT is encouraged. I tell teachers to offer “extra credit” only for participation in campus activities (e.g., Go attend a lecturer on campus, go to an art exhibit opening, etc.). Bring back an artifact or write a summary about the activity/event.

This allows the student to expand their curricular agenda into the “extracurricular.”

Oftentimes, I have them “report” about it.

This models many other courses….


Readings

READINGS?

Design of a “Custom Reader” with readings situated in four areas:

+College Experience (Why are we here? What is the academy?)

+Learning & Intelligence (How does a person learn? Multiple Intelligences? Memory?)

+WIIFM (Is the degree worth it? Economics of College?)

+How to Write and Read in an Academic Culture? (and what are the expectations)


Other stuff in the reader

OTHER “STUFF” IN THE READER

Description of the Course

Goals/Outcomes of the Course

Department Policies

Notes on “Plagiarism”


Plans to expand the reader

PLANS TO EXPAND THE READER

To Include Pertinent Materials:

MLA/APA Citation “Stuff”

Composition Basics (e.g., Process Description, Research, etc.)

Grammar/Punctuation/Style/Usage Basics (e.g., fixing the “twenty” most common errors, etc.; achieving a collegiate voice; etc.)

Sample “A” Assignments (as “Models” or “Samples” for students)


Preliminary feedback

PRELIMINARY FEEDBACK

Students “Love It.”

Faculty “Love It.”

Only Drawback: Faculty Interviews/Student Service Interviews (part of the initial presentation) may “weigh” on the faculty/staff.

Opportunities: First-Year of the program… many more exciting developments and resources in progress.


Studying outcomes

STUDYING OUTCOMES

Pre- and Post-Testing is currently available with our course (an “open” writing diagnostic – students write on a prompt, and a “reading” diagnostic – an exam similar to the Nelson-Denny Reading test is administered)

Retention Rates will measure rates for our courses compared to our “control” courses (those working without the FYE curriculum).


Thank you

THANK YOU!


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