Developmental Writing Coordinator: Curriculum Revision

In Fall 2015, I took on the role of Developmental Writing Coordinator at EKU. Alongside the Development Reading Coordinator, I’ve worked to enhance our program, making it more supportive of student needs, increasing retention and reducing time to graduate for students enrolling at EKU whose placement exams and ACT test scores indicate that they are not quite college ready in areas of composition and/or reading. During my time as Coordinator, I’ve worked with Developmental faculty to revise several courses and develop others from scratch.

In 2015–2016, I helped redesign all of the English Reading and Writing Developmental courses to streamline the system for students. CPE, Admissions, and the Provost’s Office had found that students who spend longer taking non-credit-bearing developmental courses are less likely to persist and graduate than students who enter credit-bearing courses earlier in their college careers. When I began as Coordinator, Developmental courses included 090-level courses for both reading and writing followed by 095-level courses for reading and writing—this meant that some students would have to take as many as four non-credit courses before they even entered into First Year Composition; the earliest they could begin first-year courses was in their second year! Working with the Developmental Reading Coordinator, Dr. Lisa Bosley, I revised the courses to eliminate 090 level courses, except during the summer, and to combine the 095 Reading and Writing courses into a single ENG095R, a course supported by specially trained Course-Embedded Consultants from the Noel Studio. Based on research on Metacognition and Critical Reading, particularly drawing from the Reading Apprenticeship program, this new course integrated reading and writing at every step, helping students develop both concurrently. Research showed that teaching the two together this way increases student learning in both areas. This combined course and the relegation of 090 courses to summer meant that students entering EKU with developmental reading and writing needs would be only one semester, rather than a full year, behind their peers in terms of course progression.

Students who scored only slightly below the benchmark for entering into ENG101 (First Year Composition) could progress even more rapidly—ENG101R, previously only offered as a pilot course, became our first co-requisite offering. We designed the course as a four-credit hour course with CEC support; the course mirrored the learning outcomes of ENG101, while giving students greater one-on-one support and deeper reading and writing instruction; by completing ENG101R, students could meet both their Developmental and ENG101 needs and move on to ENG102 in the spring semester, thereby staying on track with their standard admit peers. This course revision and development process involved a great deal of interaction with faculty peers in English, College Readiness and Admissions, and the Noel Studio. In addition to actively seeking feedback from all areas, I also had to represent and explain the changes to the Department Curriculum Committee, before a full Department Meeting, and report regularly on progress to the Provost. After the courses were accepted and added to the catalogue, I have led twice-yearly professional development sessions for faculty to assist in their teaching of these accelerated, intensive courses. I have gathered sample student papers from all sections every semester, designed an assessment rubric, and lead faculty readers in anonymous assessment to ensure that the new curriculum is working to meet student learning outcomes.

More recently, in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018, I worked with Lisa Bosley and Russell Carpenter (Noel Studio) to apply for a CPE grant to support a full transition of non-credit-bearing Developmental courses to credit-bearing co-requisite courses. Building on the success of the ENG101R curriculum, we decided that by enhancing support across a full year, students entering EKU with Developmental reading and writing requirements could meet those needs at the same time as they completed their full first-year writing requirement, meaning all of them would be fully on track with their regularly admitted peers. In Fall 2017 Carpenter, Bosley, and I successfully applied for the CPE grant, for which Rusty Carpenter is the principal writer, bringing in $25,000 for the 2018–2019 academic year, primarily to fund an increased number of Course Embedded Consultants and for Professional Development. Our proposal included removing ENG090 and ENG095R from the curriculum completely; changing the admission requirements for ENG101R to include students who once would have placed into ENG095R, and adding a new second-semester course, ENG102R. The new ENG102R course would mirror the learning outcomes of ENG102 (the second semester, research-based course of the First Year Writing sequence required of all EKU students); like ENG101R, ENG102R would also meet for four credit hours of time and have Course-Embedded Consultants. In Spring 2018, Bosley and I wrote the course change and new course proposals necessary, and I shepherded the changes through Curriculum Committee and Department Meetings.

By making these changes for the 2018–2019 academic year, EKU is already in compliance with a CPE-mandated change that will be required of all Kentucky state universities in the coming year, which is the discontinuation of non-credit-bearing developmental courses. By implementing these co-requisite courses, EKU can continue to fulfill its mission as a school of opportunity by admitting students who may have developmental reading and writing needs. By integrating the courses with the First-Year Writing requirement, these students can stay on track with progress towards degree and are not burning through financial aid taking non-credit courses. Our year-end assessment in May 2019 will tell, but I believe these recent changes will have a very positive impact upon EKU’s retention and student progress towards degree.

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