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  1. President’s Class Size Initiative—Composition Elizabeth Wardle Director of Writing Outreach Programs Department of writing & rhetoric University of central florida

  2. Problems Addressed First-year composition courses were • too large (27 when the NCTE recommendation is 15); • not producing desired outcomes; • taught largely by part-time instructors (half of the 80 teachers were part time), making training and consistency difficult.

  3. President’s Solutions • Lower all class sizes from 27 to 25; • Hire four (then six) full-time, permanent, non-tenure track Instructors; • Conduct a study comparing classes of 19 to classes of 25; • Pilot a new curriculum (Writing about writing—WAW) and provide ongoing professional development; • Double writing support through the University Writing Center.

  4. Cost/Benefit Analysis of Replacing PT with FT Cost comparison per year: • $312,480 (including benefits) for 60 sections taught by 6 12-month, full-time, permanent Instructors ($5,208/course) • $120,000 (no benefits possible) for 60 sections taught by 20-25 part-time, temporary adjunct instructors ($2,000/course) Benefits: • Training: 6 vs 25 teachers; stable staffing allows training to build over semesters • Investment: Permanent, benefitted teachers are invested in the students and the institution • Availability: Full-time teachers are on campus more often, and more available to students, in both short and long term (office hours now, recommendations and assistance in later semesters) • Results: Student portfolios are better on multiple measures.

  5. Initial Results of Portfolio Assessment • The WAW curriculum, in both sections of 19 and 25, showed significantly higher median scores on items related to reflection, feedback, and revision. • Findings on two items related to higher order thinking skills suggest that a teacher’s ability to help students engage more deeply in thinking about a topic is significantly aided by a smaller class size. However, the item measuring rhetorical analysis found that the new curriculum outperformed the old one, though the smaller class size performed even better. • There were no significant differences between any of the groups on formatting of works cited pages. However, there were differences between groups on both correct in-text citation and careful integration of outside sources into the students’ own text, with WAW sections of 19 outperforming both other groups.

  6. What is the take-home point? Permanent instructors participating in professional development and teaching a rigorous, research-based curriculum are worth the monetary investment. Smaller class size has an across the board impact, but especially affects higher order thinking skills. Lower class size + rigorous curriculum + permanent, trained teachers = a good investment in student writing

  7. Future at UCF Replace all composition adjuncts with permanent instructors over four years (18 hires) Continue class size study to gain better sense of cost/benefit when lowering class size (portfolios, retention, and grades) Create a writing-across-the-curriculum program to build on foundation laid in composition (one or two writing courses cannot serve as an inoculation)