How can writing skills be emphasized consistently through the Core Curriculum when disciplines differ so much?

Indeed, some writing assignments may differ in the ways they gather information or conduct research, in their styles of documentation, or in the specialization of language according to their disciplines. However, WAC embraces the notion that most writing assignments, regardless of discipline, require the student to consider purpose and audience; to use the writing process to plan, shape, draft, revise, edit, and proofread; to develop a thesis, arrange and organize ideas; to use supporting evidence; to develop paragraphs; to read and think critically; to reason correctly and logically; to argue effectively and to write effective sentences; to choose words well, use correct grammar, spell correctly; and to use correct punctuation and mechanics. (Adapted from Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers.)

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What faculty resources does the Writing Center offer to enrich writing across the curriculum?

Faculty members are encouraged to send students to the Writing Center for individual writing consultations, specific writing problems on the Grammar Bugaboo Check Sheet, and Bugaboo Bee Points List. The Writing Center Library offers many pedagogy tools to enrich writing in the classroom. We offer the writing newsletter, Rhema: The Living Word. In addition, the Writing Center offers a downloadable set of Power Point slideshows professors are welcome to use in their classes.

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Writing-Enriched Courses across the Curriculum

The Writing Center supports writing-enriched courses (cumulative writing requirement of 10 to 20 pages or more, revision, and Writing Center involvement) across the curriculum, including Core classes, upper-division classes in the majors, graduate-level classes, and SPS courses. We also offer on-line teaching resources, a newsletter, surveys, and Writing Center Library reference tools on writing pedagogy to encourage across-the-curriculum dialogue. Take a look at sample writing-enriched course materials created by Vanguard faculty.

Dr. Barbara Allen, Graduate Education: Portfolio Reflection Questions
Professor Silvie Grote, Kinesiology: KINE 183, KINE 231, KINE 323 Physiology of Exercise, KINE 325 Article Reviews & Critiques, KINE 325 Motor Learning & Human Performance
Professor Lia Hansen, Theatre: Theatre History I & II
Dr. David Marley, History/Political Science: U.S. Survey, American Religious History, Research Methods in History & Political Science
Dr. John Wilson, History/Political Science: Core 100 (Cornerstone), HIST 156C (U.S. History), HIST 203C (World Civ I)

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What are the guidelines for ENGL 120C Persuasive Writing, ENGL 220C Researched Writing, and ENGL 300C Literary Perspectives?

Persuasive Writing, Researched Writing, and Literary Perspectives are the English Department’s three Core Curriculum Courses.

Guidelines for ENGL 120C Persuasive Writing

First-Year Level College Composition

ENGLISH 120C: Persuasive Writing (3 units)

Catalog Description: Exposition and argument at the college level. The course emphasizes writing, revising and editing, reading, research skills, and mechanics. Course must be passed with a “C” (not “C-“) or better to enroll in ENGL 220C. Students with a 570 Verbal SAT score of 570 or higher or an ACT score of 28 or higher may place out of this course into ENGL 220C.

Students will be able to . . .

  • Write for a college-level audience.
  • Use proper tone & diction for focused subject & audience.
  • Use persuasive analysis, including argumentation.
  • Use citation style appropriate to discipline.
  • Avoid plagiarism, with specific examples studied & discussed.
  • Write 20+ cumulative pages.
  • Use one or more of the following collaborative revision processes: Portfolios, individual conferencing, peer-editing, workshopping, and/or Writing Center.
  • Use a writing handbook and/or on-line writing guides.

Guidelines for ENGL 220C Researched Writing
Sophomore-Level College Composition
ENGLISH 220C: Researched Writing (3 units)

Catalog Description: Prerequisites: ENGL 120C and, when required, a passing grade in ENGL 111 or Core 102C. Interpretive and analytic writing, including several problem-solving research-based papers investigating topics related to class themes. The course emphasizes writing, revising and editing, reading, analytical skills, and computer technology (word processing, Internet research) and reinforces those skills learned in ENGL 120C. Taught in the computer lab. Must be passed with a “C” (not “C-”) or better to fulfill the core curriculum requirement.

Students will be able to . . .

  • Write for a college-level audience.
  • Use proper tone & diction for focused subject & audience.
  • Evaluate, integrate, & cite relevant information from credible sources.
  • Use information technology for research (web & journal databases).
  • Use argumentation.
  • Compose a bibliography.
  • Avoid plagiarism, with specific examples studied & discussed.
  • Use citation style appropriate to discipline.
  • Write 25+ cumulative pages researched writing (revisions included).
  • Use one or more of the following collaborative revision processes: Portfolios, individual conferencing, peer-editing, workshopping, and/or Writing Center.
  • Use a writing handbook and/or on-line writing guides.

Guidelines for ENGL 300C Literary Perspectives
Junior-Level Introduction to Literature with Diversity Focus

ENGLISH 300C: Literary Perspectives (3 units),

Catalog Description: Introduces the student to a variety of literary genres as well as diverse authors,
cultures, and experiences. Students engage in classroom discussion, write papers, and take a variety of quizzes and exams.

Students will be able to . . .

  • Understand and interpret literary expressions in the form of short fiction, creative essays, poetry, drama and/or film
  • Consider literature as a venue of conversation for issues central to human experience
  • Apply college-level critical reading and analytical writing abilities to projects
  • Engage the world of ideas through a perspective of Christian faith
  • Understand terms and methods central to the study of literature as an academic discipline

Student Learning Outcomes for all Core Curriculum (General Education) Courses

 Core Curriculum Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

  Student Learning Outcome How this course fulfills SLO
(examples)
1 Understand, develop and practice a Christian world view Integration Essay
2 Expand one’s awareness of and respect for one’s own culture and other cultures Reflection Essays
3 Continuously develop the ability to communicate effectively Class Discussions, written essays, Multimedia Presentation
4 Locate relevant information, evaluate its quality, and think critically about its context and content. Research Assignments (Annotated Bibliography, Digital Storytelling)
5 Develop a holistic view of human health and living Reflection Essays
6 Continuously develop skills in technology and data proficiency Digital Storytelling, Moodle
7 Become an effective local, national, and global citizen Reflection Essays, Integration Essay, Digital Storytelling

Handbook Recommendations & On-Line Writing Resources for English Composition
Composition instructors use a combination of one or more of the following print & on-line writing guides.

  • Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers by Lynn Quitman Troyka
  • Penguin Handbook by Lester Faigley
  • MLA Handbook by Joseph Gibaldi
  • Purdue’s OWL: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

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How do I propose an ENGL 220C Researched Writing substitution?

Students may receive credit for English 220C Researched Writing by taking research and writing courses offered by departments other than English that meet standards set by the Core Curriculum Committee and approved by the committee. Faculty should complete and submit the ENGL 220C Researched Writing Substitution Form to the Core Curriculum Committee Chair and the Writing Center Director.

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How can I incorporate the Writing Center into my course syllabi?

Very easily! Professors are encouraged to cut and paste the following “blurb” into their syllabi:”Located on the second floor of Heath Academic Center inside the English Department, the Writing Center provides trained peer readers who foster a Christ-centered environment of cooperative discovery to improve writing skills: Writing Consultants work one-on-one with Vanguard students at any stage in the writing process, using collaborative revision to develop critical thinking. Make an appointment as far in advance as possible (a week or more beforehand), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you need a Writing Center Stamp as proof of your visit, let the Writing Consultant know so she or he can stamp your paper at the end of the session. Please note that pre-made appointments are always served; walk-ins, however, are served according to availability. To make an appointment, please drop by Heath 214.

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What are some examples of writing assignments for each discipline?

  • Writing in the Natural and Technological Sciences: Science reports or “laboratory reports,” writing research proposals and abstracts, or writing a science review or a paper about published information on a scientific topic.
  • Business Writing: Writing and formatting a business letter, a job application letter, a c.v., or a memo.
  • Writing in the Social Sciences: Writing a case study, writing an abstract, reporting the results of primary research, keeping a journal, writing an analysis of a historical document or policy, writing an ethnography, writing interviews and questionnaires, writing a letter to the editor.
  • Writing about literature and other humanities: Reaction papers, interpretations, comparisons, critiques, book reviews, film reviews, journaling, freewriting.

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What are some ways I can give helpful feedback about writing?

You can use a writing checklist (below) to help you target common errors of organization. You can even require the students to use the writing checklist in proofreading or peer-editing their papers. For a large class, you might consider giving in-depth writing comments on only one paragraph of each essay without telling students ahead of time which paragraph it will be. You will help students recognize patterns by noting errors that crop up most frequently instead of giving cluttered feedback by marking every single error.

See also “Recommendations for Writing Comments on Student Papers” by Dr. Robert A. Harris.

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Writing Assessment Rubric

Use this rubric for giving feedback on student writing. This rubric may be tailored to discipline-specific requirements. Comments for each subcategory range from positive to problematic traits. You might also want to assign point values. To create a customized rubric, use the Interactive Rubric Generator created by MCAS Mentor.

Global Traits

  • Audience: appropriateness for intended audience, purpose unclear for audience
  • Response to Assignment: addresses the topic, slightly off-topic, irrelevant
  • Main Idea: clear, concise, complex, needs more precision, lacks focus, lacks unity
  • Introduction: relevant, sets up the main idea, engages attention, vague, wordy, unclear
  • Development: logical progression, complexity, needs more examples & points, superficial, too simple
  • Continuity of Thought: logical connections, needs transitions, digresses, broken
  • Conclusion: relevant, does more than summarize, insufficient, repetitious, wordy, unclear
  • Adherence to Style Guide (& Bibliography, if required): precise & accurate, some errors, frequent errors

Paragraphs

  • Paragraph Main Idea: clearly stated, needs more development
  • Paragraph Unity: coherent, logical progression, wanders off topic, choppy structure
  • Paragraph Length: appropriate, well-developed, insufficient, too short or long, inconsistent
  • Paragraph Development: smooth & logical, needs more examples or details, disjointed
  • Transitions: smooth & logical, strengthen logic between sentences, missing
  • Quotations: well-integrated, not set up properly, irrelevant, not properly cited, dropped

Sentences

  • Sentence Variety: varied structure, well-balanced variety, repetitive, short & choppy
  • Sentence Density: appropriate density, too loose, too dense, use more subordination, use less passive voice, combine choppy sentences
  • Sentence Grammar: correct & varied structure, incorrect & repetitious structure, fragments, run-ons: comma splice (I crossed the street, the light was green.) or fused sentence (I crossed the street the light was green.)

Words

  • Word choices: precise, appropriate tone & diction, college-level vocabulary, too vague, wordy, repetitious, slang, casual (conversational, I/you/we), cliché
  • Grammar & Mechanics: correct usage; incorrect usage, such as the following:
    • Pronoun reference: unclear, no antecedent
    • Pronoun agreement: number, case, point-of-view shift
    • Possessives: its vs. it’s, their vs. there vs. they’re, hers, his
    • Contractions (don’t, won’t, isn’t)
    • Subject-Verb agreement: incorrect verb forms or verb agreement
    • Punctuation: misuse of apostrophe, semicolon, hyphens needed, periods, commas, quotation marks
    • Spelling

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What are Bugaboo Bee Points and how do they help faculty with evaluating essays?

Bugaboo Bee Points are thirty different writing errors that pop up frequently in students’ writing.

Professors are welcome to download the list of Bugaboo Bee Points and use the numbered rubric to deliver response assessments for student writing. The numbered rubric is meant to increase the efficiency of assessments (especially for faculty members teaching courses with heavy writing loads) and help students become stronger writers. For example, “#2″ may be written in the margin of a student’s paper instead of the phrase, “needs an apostrophe to indicate possession.” When students receive their graded papers, they may refer to the Bugaboo Bee Key to assist them in correcting the numbered mechanical errors. As part of the Writing Center’s ministry of friendly accountability and heuristic encouragement — to help students become active stewards of their own learning — a Writing Consultant will award one Writing Center Stamp per accurately revised paper. Students should handwrite their corrections on the papers to verify authorship. Professors also have the option of assigning reward points (extra credit) for each correctly revised paper, worth one Writing Center Stamp.

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What is a Writing Portfolio?

Writing Portfolios help students keep their writing projects together to perceive continuity in their learning. Students’ progress with writing skills are periodically evaluated in the Portfolios. Faculty colleagues use the Portfolio Referral Form to refer students. You may require Portfolio students to receive stamps for their written projects, homework, and completion of Grammar Bugaboo activities. Consultants write up Portfolio Session Reports about students’ individual appointments. The Writing Center Director assesses the Portfolios during the semester using the Portfolio Evaluation Form. Writing Portfolios ultimately engage students in process-oriented, independent learning.

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What are the differences between revising, editing, and proofreading?

“Revising involves adding, cutting, replacing, and moving around material. Editing includes correcting surface features for technical correctness in the final draft. Proofreading means repairing typed or handwritten errors in the final draft” (Troyka 83).

What are common grammatical errors that crop up in the student writing?

As you edit, you’ll notice the errors listed below. You may choose to use the symbols in the left-hand column, if you wish, but helping the student to recognize wrong grammatical patterns is more important than teaching them to recognize the editing symbols. The ones highlighted in bold are likely to be ones you’ll find most frequently.

Symbol Grammar Errors

 

Symbol Grammar Errors
c/c A comma is necessary with a conjunction between two independent clauses.
W/w Wrong word was used here.
W/wp Wrong preposition was used here.
w/c Meaning is evident, but the wrong word was chosen for it.
frag. Incomplete sentence (sentence fragment lacks a subject and verb). Example: On the green table in the corner of my aunt’s living room. Revision : A Bible rested on the table in the corner of my aunt’s living room.
c/s Comma splice. Two independent clauses were joined improperly with a comma only. Example: A Bible rested on the table, I saw it lying open. Revision: A Bible rested on the table. I saw it lying open. Or: A Bible rested on the table; I saw it lying open. Even Better: I saw an opened Bible resting on the table.
f/s Fused sentence. Two independent clauses were joined improperly without a comma. Example: A Bible rested on the table I saw it lying there. Revision: See above revisions.
c/ss Comma in the sentence was used improperly or omitted improperly.
/ / Sentence needs parallel structure. Example: In my walk with Christ, I have learned the importance of praying, spending time in the Word, and to rest in our Father. Revision: In my walk with Christ, I have learned the importance of praying, spending time in the Word, and resting in our Father.
awk. Sentence meaning is obscured by awkward working or sentence structure.
M/m Misplaced modifier. Phrase or clause modifying another element in the sentence is misplaced. Example: The patient returned to the hospital where she needed treatment in a taxi sent by her church. Revision: Riding in a taxi sent by her church, the patient returned to the hospital where she needed treatment.
d/m Dangling modifier. The phrase or clause modifying another element in the sentence is missing the element to which it is referring. Example: Walking into the pastor’s office, a large Bible caught my eye. Revision: A large Bible caught my eye as I walked into the pastor’s office.
p/s Person shift. The paper’s audience address has shifted from first person (I) or third person (he, she, they) to second person (you).
prep/s Preposition at the end of the sentence. A preposition must come before its object in a sentence unless it is in a question.
s/v Subject-verb agreement. The subject and the verb do not agree in number or person. Example: High levels of spiritual warfare causes damage to the church body. Revision: High levels of spiritual warfare cause damage to the church body.
pro/agr Pronoun agreement. The pronoun does not agree with its antecedent in number or person. Example: A student must study hard if they want to succeed. Revision: A student must study hard if he or she wants to succeed.
pro/ref Pronoun reference. The antecedent to which the pronoun refers is unclear. Example: When the customer set the cake down on the glass counter, it collapsed. Revision: The cake collapsed when the customer set it down on the glass counter.
w/m A word or phrase is missing.
w/f Word form. The word is correct, but the form is incorrect.
v/f Verb form. The verb is correct, but the verb is incorrect.
v/t Verb tense. The verb is correct, but the tense is incorrect.
sp Spelling error.
slang Slang usage. A slang phrase or term was used when a more formal or academic term should have been.
punct. punctuation error
cliche Trite expression. Needs writer’s own original meaning or phrase offered instead.

You’ll probably also find that a lot of students are misplacing apostrophes.

What about parts of speech?

The basic parts of speech are nouns (name of a person, place, thing, or idea), pronouns (word used in place of a noun), verbs (express action or being), adjectives (modifies or describes a noun or pronoun), adverbs (modifies or qualifies a verb), prepositions (a word placed before a noun or pronoun to form a modifying phrase), conjunctions (join words, phrases, or clauses), and interjections (a word used to express surprise or emotion).

What about basic sentence patterns?

The basic sentence patterns include different arrangements of subjects, verbs, objects, and complements; questions and commands; sentences with delayed subjects; passive and active constructions (I hit the ball vs. the ball was hit to me); subordinate word groups such as prepositional phrases, subordinate or dependent clauses, adjectival and adverbial clauses, verbal phrases, and appositive phrases.

What about basic sentence types?

The basic sentence types include simple (one independent clause with no subordinate clauses: The church prayed.), compound (composed of two or more independent clauses: The church prayed and the church fasted.), and complex (one independent clause with one or more subordinate clauses: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy).

How do the writing and editing checklists help students learn basic parts of speech, grammar, and basic sentence structure?

By devoting classroom time to explaining the terms on each list and requiring the students to edit each others’ papers for the errors before submitting them to you, they not only learn to recognize grammatical patterns but also practice revising them.

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What are some fun ways to teach revision?

You can allot in-class time for students to peer-edit their papers. Use a Peer-Editing Sheet.

What is peer-editing?

Students pair up and switch essays, editing them according to the above rubric (or your own preferred peer-editing sheet). Students are usually grateful for an opportunity to polish up their work before submitting the final version.

Sample peer-editing questions

  • What is the main point of this writing project?
  • Is it clearly stated?
  • What suggestions can you make concerning continuity of thought?
  • Do transitions aid logical flow?
  • What parts need more development, explanation, support with examples?
  • Are there parts where the essay digresses? Where?
  • What did you learn by reading this writing assignment?
  • What recurring errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation do you find? How else might you improve this essay?

You can bring in a “fake” student essay (one you made up ahead of time) for collaborative in-class revision, then discuss what strategies were used in revising it. You can allow the students to work on revising the essay in small groups.

At the beginning of class, distribute little slips of paper with the same ungrammatical sentence on each and ask the students to recognize the error and revise them. This is not only a way to target common errors, but also a fun way to take attendance: Collect the slips at the end of class for your records. In addition, next class, you can put the original sentence on the board along with several effective revisions the students created. The class can discuss why the revisions were effective. Students often look forward to seeing whether their sentences will appear on the board!

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The Writing Center Start-Up Kit -
How do you start a Writing Center?

To start your own Writing Center, you’ll need a cheerful space with good lighting, comfortable furniture, and computers with word processing, e-mail, and internet access. You’ll need a mission or philosophy statement conveying the Writing Center’s purpose and vision within the academic structure of the university. The Writing Center should be located in an accessible, academic setting for students like the library, or in our case, the English Department. You’ll need to hire a staff of Writing Consultants, determine qualifications for hiring, design an application, and acquire a budget to pay your staff, unless they are volunteers. You’ll need a budget for office supplies, computer equipment, reference books, writing handbooks, and research style guides. You’ll create writing handouts to supplement student learning. You’ll need a website. You’ll create Student Surveys and Faculty Surveys to help determine what skills need attention. If your staff is large enough, you may run writing workshops. For the Writing Consultants, you’ll prepare training materials on writing pedagogy, conferencing etiquette, and your Writing Center’s policies. You may order a Writing Center ink stamp to mark your reference materials, handouts, and students’ papers to confirm visits for those professors requiring them. You’ll advertise through brochures, posters, and bookmarks. You’ll create an at-a-glance Consultant Availability Chart so you can see who’s working when. You’ll purchase a colorful binder for the Appointment Schedule where students sign up for their appointments. You’ll gather data to report educational effectiveness, usage, and institutional impact. You’ll need a telephone.

Last but not least, with God’s grace, you already have prayer, a heart for seed-planting, and hearts ready to receive. If there are no computers, no budget, and not even a quiet room, take heart! Here, for instance, is an outdoor Writing Center garden, sunshine without walls in Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. For more on starting a writing center and understanding the concept of a writing center, on-line resources are available from the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA).

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Other Helpful Links

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