Many students required to take Developmental Writing classes get discouraged by the time requirements, with no credits rewarded for that time spent. They lose motivation and drop out.
With funds awarded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, professors redesigned their exit-level Writing Skills II class. They created a learning community of Writing Skills II paired with English Composition. This class gives high-level Writing Skills II students an opportunity to exit from the developmental writing program and earn credit in college-level English Composition I at the same time. A website was developed with self-paced learning activities for Writing Skills II (DEVW 1413) and English Composition I (Engl 1301) classes. Three components were identified for design and development: Patterns and Purposes website: basic writing curriculum and self-assessment exercises; Library Research Tutorial: information and interactive exercises to help learn how to document sources in MLA style; and practice essays to serve as annotated models for student review prior to taking the English department essay.Outcomes:
Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, and Spring 2009: 98 students attempted Comp 4.0, a paired course comprised of DEVW 1411 and ENGL 1301.
Out of 95 students, 97%, successfully completed DEVW 1411. Of those 95 students, 82 students, 86%, completed ENGL 1301.
In summary, of the 98 students who attempted Comp 4.0, 82 students (84%) successfully completed both DEVW 1411 and ENGL 1301. Successful completion is an A, B or C in each of the two courses; 32 of those students (39%) have taken ENGL 1302 prior to Fall 2009; 53% of the students who attempted ENGL 1302 after successfully completing Comp 4.0 successfully completed ENGL 1302 in their first attempt.
At the end of the pilot, students were asked to comment on the Purposes and Patterns site; they were asked to make suggestions for improvement and were asked if it helped them understand the material. Here is what they said: The visuals are helpful. They liked that they had access to the site 24/7. They liked that the sample essays were written by students. The practice exercises forced them to interact with the content. “Please add more exercises.” They used the site at the beginning of the semester to learn about the purposes and patterns, and they used it at the end of the semester to review for the C-Test. They want additional sample essays posted. They wanted to know if there is a similar site to help them with the content for Composition II. Several students commented on the quality of the site: “It looks very professional.”
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