Thursday, May 5, 2011

Student Writing

Arethusa's post reminded FLG that he wanted to comment on this post from Anti-Climacus:
As someone who has taught multiple writing-intensive courses, I am sympathetic to the idea that the average college student at an elite university has little skill in English composition.

As a below average student from an elite university, FLG takes umbrage at this statement. FLG likes to think he possesses a reasonable degree of competency in English composition. Although, FLG will readily admit his complete inability to sustain coherent analysis and argument for, oh, more than two minutes or two paragraphs.


Withywindle said...

Strangely, almost everyone thinks their level of competence is sufficient. Down 2 the tweeters@DropOutU.

Warren said...

I think I'd use however rather than although in that final sentence.

Hilarius Bookbinder said...

I don't believe the real problem is grammar, spelling and punctuation, but something more along the lines of how to put together a convincing argument. The average student hasn't learned anything more complex than a five-paragraph essay. The ability to identify and employ the appropriate variations on that form is important for introductory-level work. Most freshmen are not up to the task (there was a kid in my own freshman English composition class who produced a seven-page paper of five paragraphs. reasonably smart guy, but clearly didn't 'get it').

Advanced work requires the sort of things I mentioned in the post--having read the work and thought about it and being able to say something that demonstrates a beyond-surface grasp of the material. That constitutes a reasonable standard for an 'A' paper, but you would be shocked by how many students cannot sustain that effort over five or ten pages. I'm not sure I would have believed it myself until I started grading.

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