First-Year Writing: A Student-Centered Paradigm

By Glenda Pritchett.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The First-Year Writing Program at Quinnipiac University is six years into the development of an approach to writing based on the premise that college freshmen must be given assignments that they cannot at first accomplish, meaning that the assignments go beyond tasks mastered in high school English classes. This program consists of three components: (1)Directed Self-Placement situates the responsibility for placement into an English class with the student rather than a faculty member or placement vehicle, such as Accuplacer; (2)whether a regular or “intensive” writing class, the same challenging reading and writing expectations and assignments prevail; and (3)a non-graded portfolio system and formative commenting practice by faculty mean that both weak and strong students receive the same degree of writing instruction and that the motivation to revise arises from the student’s drive to make knowledge rather than to improve a grade on a particular essay. Additionally, extensive peer commenting and discussion of multiple drafts result in peer writing being cited as authorities in final essays. Program review has revealed statistically significant improvement in student writing over a two-year period (2005-2007). The program is now considered the gateway into the broader Writing Across the Curriculum initiative across the university.

Keywords: English Composition, Directed Self-placement, Freshman, Portfolio Assessment, Formative Commenting

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 8, pp.65-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 609.490KB).

Dr. Glenda Pritchett

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT, USA

Glenda Pritchett received an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago in Medieval English Language and Literature. Having taught composition at several universities at the freshman level, she developed an interest in composition studies and is now Coordinator of First-Year Writing and Assistant Professor of English at Quinnipiac University.


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