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.

3 comments:

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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