english

From fall 2007 to spring 2009, the UH Writing Mentors Program has reached approximately 1,300 students across 70 sections of English 100. Writing Mentors, who are graduate students in English, attend class and hold individual writing conferences with all students outside of class. For many first-year students, these mentors are the only university representative who learns their name, background, interests, academic goals, challenges in transitioning to college, and strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The initiative has received rankings of “satisfied” or “very satisfied” from 89% of students, 94% of mentors, and 98% of instructors; furthermore 85% of first-year students surveyed claimed that their mentor helped them in their transition to college. Program administrators have engaged in multiple forms of assessment including the following: a large-scale scoring of first-year student writing that demonstrated mentored students out-performing their non-mentored counterparts in statistically significantly ways in the categories of content, organization, language & style, and meta-cognition/ reflective ability; standardized logs tracking every mentor-student conference; analysis of longitudinal data on how mentored versus non-mentored students perform as writers and students post-English 100; interviews with focus groups of mentors, students, and instructors; and written end-of-semester evaluations from all participants. Our poster will summarize key results of these assessment activities and highlight the ways in which they have led to a) programmatic improvements each semester; b) peer-reviewed publications in the fields of Composition Studies and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), each of which underscore the role of mentoring in student retention; c) arguments for continued funding.

Increasing First-Year Students’ (Writing) Success: An Assessment of the UH Writing Mentors Program

From fall 2007 to spring 2009, the UH Writing Mentors Program has reached approximately 1,300 students across 70 …

In Spring 2008, the English Department began assessment of student writing for the University’s Foundations Requirement in Written Communication, which must be fulfilled by all UHM undergraduates. Assessment of FW was to be based on four SLOs devised by the UHM Foundations Board, and approved by the UHM General Education Committee in Fall 2007. As presently articulated, the four SLOs are the following: 1: Compose a text to achieve a specific purpose and respond adeptly to an identifiable audience. 2: Provide evidence of effective strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading a text in order to produce finished prose. 3: Compose a text that makes use of source material that is relevant and reliable and that is integrated in accordance with an appropriate style guide. 4: Compose writing that expresses the writer's viewpoint and is supplemented by outside sources. In Spring 2008, relevant student writing (208 essays) was gathered from the four courses that satisfy the FW requirement: English 100 (Composition I—which makes up about 90 % of FW sections), English 100A (Composition I for Honors students), English 190 (Composition I for transfer students), and ELI 100 (Expository Writing: A Guided Approach—for students whose first language is not English) for assessment of SLO #1, and a report on levels of student success was generated for a Spring 2008 English Department Colloquium and discussion. In Spring 2009, 80 essays were randomly selected from papers submitted by FW instructors that were to be assessed for level of achievement in meeting SLO#3 (Information Literacy): “Students will be able to compose a text that makes use of source material that is relevant and credible and that is integrated in accordance with an appropriate style guide.” A team of six faculty scorers read the papers, with two raters scoring them independently along a 4-point scale according to the following traits: (1) making use of source material, (2) relevancy of sources, (3) credibility of sources, (4) style integration. Overall, student preparation for future writing tasks involving outside sources was measured as follows: “well-prepared” (6%), “prepared” (48%), “partially prepared” (26%), “not prepared” (21%). About 84% of students were at least partially prepared to make use of relevant and credible sources, but only about 65% were at least partially prepared to meet information literacy expectations in their future writing (“adherence to citation rules”). A full report on the results of this SLO Assessment, which has been drafted by the Review Team, will be disseminated to English and E.L.I. faculty and will be discussed at an English Department meeting on December 3.Meanwhile, assessment of SLO#4 and SLO#2 is anticipated in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, respectively. A rubric for assessing SLO#4 will be discussed at the December 3 meeting and further discussion of student achievement of this Student Learning Outcome, as well as SLO#3, will follow at a January 21 meeting. Additionally, all Spring 2010 English 100, 100A, and 190 instructors have been directed to include all four SLOs on their Spring 2009 syllabi, with the expectation that classroom activities and paper assignments will engage students in achieving these four Student Learning Outcomes.

Written Communication Assessment Projects

In Spring 2008, the English Department began assessment of student writing for the University’s Foundations Requirement in Written …

Several studies have revealed that successful mentoring affects college student retention. Also, research on attrition shows that the first year is a critical stage in students' decisions to persist or leave college. Nora & Crisp have recently identified four essential elements to mentoring: psychological/emotional support; support for setting goals and choosing a career path; academic subject knowledge support aimed at advancing a student's knowledge relevant to their chosen field; and specification of a role model. In the 2007-2008 Academic Year, over 400 first-year students in English 100 at UHM were mentored by MA or PhD students in English, and analysis of their standardized end-of-term evaluations revealed that students identified each of the elements above in varying degrees, with “academic subject support knowledge” identified 79% of the time and with at least one of these elements identified 85% of the time. These results suggest that mentoring when delivered as part of a course holds great potential for boosting student retention at UHM.

Assessing Mentoring in First Year Composition: A Tool to Boost Retention?

Several studies have revealed that successful mentoring affects college student retention. Also, research on attrition shows that the …

In the Spring of 2008, all students in Foundations in Writing (FW) courses were asked to select and submit the piece of writing that best exemplified the following Student Learning Outcome: “Students will be able to compose a text that seeks to achieve a specific purpose and responds adeptly to an identifiable audience.” Students were also asked to compose a 30-minute in-class reflection on their essay’s purpose and audience as a means of assessing students’ meta-cognitive understandings of their essay’s rhetorical situation. Employing a stratified-random sampling design, 208 (or 50%) of the essays submitted by first-year students were selected for scoring across the five FW course types: English 100 Mentored, English 100 Non-Mentored, English 101 Lab, English 100A, and English Language Institute 100. Given the wide variety of essay prompts, scorers assumed the intended audience to be a critically-informed reader. Essays were scored independently by two raters along a 4-point scale according to the following primary analytic traits: 1) content, 2) organization, 3) language and style, and 4) mechanics. In a separate session, in-class reflective essays were scored holistically on a 4-point scale. Overall, students scored at the “prepared” or “well prepared” levels at the following rates: content (72%), organization (57%), language and style (74%), mechanics (68%), and reflective pieces (48%). Students in mentored sections out-performed their non-mentored counterparts in all categories, scoring significantly higher on content, organization, and reflective pieces. Results point to potential areas for programmatic improvement and also indicate that the Writing Mentors Program is improving the quality of writing for first-year students.

How Well are First-Year Students Composing? Assessing the Foundations in Written Communication Program

In the Spring of 2008, all students in Foundations in Writing (FW) courses were asked to select and …

This poster presents an in-process plan for assessing student learning outcomes (SLOs) in ELI 83, the English Language Institute’s (ELI’s) advanced writing course for graduate students who have English as a second language. This plan is an initial effort to develop and assess SLOs for a single course, which will then lead to similar evaluation processes in other ELI courses. Guiding principles in this effort include (1) involving local assessment users (ELI teachers, administrators, and staff) and incorporating their input throughout the process, (2) providing multiple kinds of useful information to these same users to guide discussion and decisions related to evolution of the course, and (3) maximizing the validity of the assessment through use of a step-by-step piloting process. The poster shows how these guiding principles were built into SLO assessment, describes our progress up to this point, and shares practical insights from our experiences so far.

Outcomes Assessment of, by, and for the People: SLOs in the English Language Institute

This poster presents an in-process plan for assessing student learning outcomes (SLOs) in ELI 83, the English Language …