Today: Mar 01, 2024

New English composition in LEP program

Part V of our LEP Special Section


At the forefront of blending English across the Liberal Education Program curriculum is a change in thinking by the University, according to Polly Beals, director of the LEP.
“We call it ‘writing across the curriculum,’” she said. “The thinking is when you’re engaged in something that you’re interested in, you can learn to write more effectively.”
Likewise, Academic Director of the First Year Experience program and professor of English Nicole Henderson said students will ultimately benefit from the newly structured writing curriculum because the quality of student writing will improve if they are actively writing in all or most of their classes.
“We don’t have real writing across the curriculum until each of the departments are teaching it. It cannot belong to the English Department alone,” she said.
Under the old system, ill-prepared students were required to take English 110, English 111 and English 112. Better-prepared students would take English 111 and English 112. The LEP has done away with English 111, Chair of the English Department Mike Shea said. In doing so, 110 has become a more rigorous course.
Shea said the removal of English 111 does not mean students will write less—the work that would have been in 111 has simply been redistributed.
“The new LEP has writing and critical thinking in all 48 credits of the LEP,” said Shea. “Under the old AUR, once [students] got done with 112 they might go on and take courses that required a lot of, say, bubble tests or something.”
Shea said he is confident this change will not negatively impact the writing education that students receive.
“I think students, when they’re done with their general education program, will be better writers overall than students were under the old program, even though we, quote: ‘had to sacrifice, in a sense, a course,’” said Shea.
To ensure this, the English Department is running a pilot program for a new kind of 112 class that will “find whether a four credit freshman comp course is better than a three credit freshman comp course,” according to Shea.
Ilene Crawford, co-coordinator of the composition program and professor of English, said the university is going into this pilot as an “open-ended research question” to see if there will be a “measureable difference.”
“We can fine-tune the four credit ENG 112,” she said. “We want to run rigorous, honest experiments. Faculty want to take ownership of the writing. It’s a way to take the temperature of the students.”
As a professor of English, Nicole Henderson said she is hopeful for the restructuring and its impact on the university’s incoming students.
“They’re getting a little bit less time with the English department but hopefully the quality of their other courses like INQ will be higher,” she said.
Henderson said the English Department taught about 50 English composition courses a semester. Before becoming Academic Director of FYE, she said she personally taught four composition classes each semester.
“You start to see that you can focus on two classes better than you can focus on three or four classes,” Henderson said. “I don’t think we were doing three classes well.”
Because the majority of new LEP students will not take any English composition their first semester, they can practice their writing in INQ and in critical thinking courses.
“This structure will be better for our students in the long run,” she said.

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