Reviewed by Kathleen Mollick, Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chair: Jessica Slentz, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Speakers: Rebecca Fremo, Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, MN, “Business as (Un)usual: A Grassroots Approach to Supporting Multilingual Students”
Rochelle Gregory, North Central Texas College, Gainesville, TX, “’Project Xtreme’: Transforming At-Risk Students’ Academic Behaviors and Creating Contextual Learning Environments Composition I”
Zarah Moeggenberg, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, “Transgendering the Developmental Writing Classroom”
This lively session had three enthusiastic presenters and the presence of two ASL interpreters.
Rebecca Fremo’s presentation began with a brief overview of her institution: with 2,400 students, Gustavus Adolphus College has no composition program. Instead, there is a first-year seminar class that students may volunteer to take called “Why Multi Matters,” which focuses on critical thinking, writing, and core college values. At the behest of an international student who wanted more help with his writing, and was unwavering in his determination that Fremo be the person to teach him, she instituted a course in which she taught international students and then assessed their writing at the end of the course. She collected two argumentative essays, collecting the first complete rough draft and then the final draft, comparing improvements between the two. She is looking forward to investigating this topic further.
Rochelle Gregory’s presentation looked at the implementation of a QEP (Quality Enhancement Program) at her institution, which targeted English 1031, History 1301 and Math 1314. Gregory noted that her institution had five branch campuses and 10,000 students. In order to improve student retention, North Central Texas College created an advising center (which it did not have previously), a face-to-face university writing center (in addition to its existing online writing center), freshman orientations, as well as new student and transfer student orientations. The QEP was called the “Xtreme,” and an extreme version of English 1031 was implemented. As part of the course, students were required to spend five hours in the University Writing Center, complete assignments on time management, and take the LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory) at the start of the semester and at the end of the semester. What she discovered at the end of the semester was that although the campus-wide student GPAs had gone up nine percent, the pass rate of her Xtreme English 1301 sections did not meet the pass rates of other sections. Gregory initially found this to be troubling, but she also noted that the papers she evaluated of those students who consistently attended class, as well as their required writing center sessions, were of better quality than those students who had low attendance rates and did not attend their writing center sessions.
Zarah Moeggenberg’s presentation looked at her efforts in queering the composition classroom. She started with spoken word poetry, using queer texts, and having her students talk about queer issues. What she found from her class discussions is that one in ten of her students identified as queer, while one in eight knew someone who identified as queer. In her research on creating a classroom environment that embraced queerness, Heidi McKee (2004) said that online discussion about queer issues didn’t translate to the classroom as well, and that’s what Moeggenberg found in her own research. Although the initial discussion in her classes focused on identity, she said they moved into asking about how they needed to be composing their papers for class. They used the documentary Transgeneration as the text in her EN 109 course, Intensive Composition, which is similar to a basic writing class.
McKee, Heidi A. (2004). “Always a shadow of hope”: Heteronormative binaries in an online discussion of sexuality and sexual orientation. Computers and Composition, 21, 315–340.