The implementation of the new General Education curriculum will not only affect the number of courses students have to take, it may also affect the content of those courses – particularly the First Year Writing Program. Beginning in fall 2008, incoming freshmen will be required to take a four-credit course that focuses on analytical reading and writing.
Currently, the First Year Writing Program
courses are known as College Composition
40 and 50. Dr. Eli Goldblatt, director of the First Year Writing Program, said freshman English courses are essential for students who want to progress in college.
“It’s one of those things that’s sort of a rite of passage,” said Goldblatt, who was named director of the First Year Writing Program last summer following the retirement of English professor Dennis Lebofsky.
Although there are similarities between the Gen-Ed curriculum and the Core curriculum, the new analytical reading and writing courses will require the students to do more library research then they do now, Goldblatt said.
“If there is one element of college writing that is important for everybody, [it’s] how to do research, how to look for material, how to learn more about stuff,” he said.
Specific changes within the First Year English Writing Program are still being discussed by program directors and the English department. The current structure of college composition courses focuses on teaching students how to read and write critically, allowing them to learn how to formulate arguments. But the English department is actively working to re-format the course, said Goldblatt.
“We’ve always done assessment and research
about the course. What are they learning,
what are our strengths, our weaknesses, how can we make the training for teachers better?” Goldblatt asked.
While some faculty members in the department do not see the need for drastic changes in the curriculum, others, like Dr. Rachael Groner, said it might be time for a change.
“I think that the process of transformation
is a good one for us and other programs and departments to go through,” she said.
According to Groner, the department’s goal for the Gen-Ed curriculum is to strengthen
students’ critical reading, writing and thinking abilities.
“These courses will emphasize the process
of writing and revising academic papers. Students can also expect to perform research and evaluate sources that they will incorporate into their assignments,” Groner said.
But Kellen Graham, a composition teacher and graduate student, said the current English program has done an excellent job of teaching students the discourses of academic writing, reading and thinking.
Under the Gen-Ed curriculum, Goldblatt
said the new course will move students “toward a more dialogic theory of writing that privileges things like ‘problem-posing,’ academic argumentation and knowledge construction.”
Liron Milbar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.