The Promise and Peril of (Virtually) Teaching Developmental Writing

Donna Brazas will discuss the possibilities for teaching developmental courses at Chicago State University with the First Class conferencing program. The student makeup of this class is unique in that it is composed of students who already have college credit in composition from other institutions of higher learning. These students, however, did not pass the entrance exam at CSU. Therefore, in this course, students are grappling with basic organization, structure, and grammar issues. For this class, there is also a mandatory computer tutoring lab attached to the course to assist students in passing the end-of-semester exit exam. In addition, typically one-fourth to one-third of the students come into the class with minimal computer skills at best.

While dealing with individual skill levels in both the classroom and the computer lab environments, it was apparent that many issues concerning student access needed to be dealt with. As a result of these concerns, students did not begin to utilize the First Class program until the middle of the semester, when their computer skill levels were at more uniform levels. Students were then required to use as many functions of First Class as possible, integrating classroom assignments wherever it was determined applicable by the instructor.

A secondary concern for Brazas centered on overall campus use of First Class. Chicago State University has a Writing Across the Curriculum program that requires all disciplines to have a certain number of writing intensive courses students must take. Brazas looked at the experience in her courses as a potential model for overall campus adoption of First Class. The use of the First Class program could potentially make students' educational experinces with writing more inter-disciplinary, and ulitmately enhance the Writing Across the Curriculum program goals.

Presenter: Donna Brazas


Target Audience: Intermediate

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