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WAC’s First Write On! Workshop Results

During our first year of the Write On! Workshop (WOW!), we worked with over 200 undergraduate students who came to receive writing guidance on a project they were working on at the time. We had a team of 15-20 writing tutors on hand to work with each student individually for as long as necessary. We also asked these students to participate in roundtable discussions or focus groups in order to assess their particular needs in a writing classroom. Approximately 65 students participated in the focus groups, nearly 35% of the undergraduates who attended WOW! Here are the questions followed by a brief summary of results for each question and/or followed by the statistics and graphs that accompany these results.

1. Upon entering the university, what were your expectations of English 100, 101, or 102?

Of the 49 responses, 9 students (or 19%) said that they expected a more difficult level of writing; 8 (or17%) said that they expected the classes to be easier and more of a review of high school level writing; and 7 (or 14%) said they expected to be doing more academic or professional writing. 5 (or 10%) of the students expected to be using more literary focused texts.

2. How have you applied what you learned in 100/101/102 to other courses (in other disciplines specifically)?

Of the 55 responses, 21 students (or about 31%) stated that they learned quite a bit which would apply to their other classes across disciplines (including specifically: Public Speaking, Communication & Journalism, Sciences, Sociology, History, Honors classes, SW studies, Spanish, Psychology, Anthropology, Linguistics, and Religion). 6 (or 10%) indicated that they did not learn anything new nor apply what they learned in other classes. Of the most useful skills acquired, students indicated the following: organization/structure, grammar, outlines/brainstorming, exam essay questions, MLA, confidence, use of appeals, invention process, reading and understanding other texts.

3. What kind of writing do you most, on a day-to-day basis? Is it text messaging? Emailing? Academic paper writing? Creative writing? Other?

Text messaging and email seem to be almost equivalent in the quantity written by students amounting about 34% of the 92 responses. Academic writing comprises about 12%, journaling about 10% and the dominant remainder consisting of notes for class (9%) and poetry (7%).

4. On the subject of text messaging, how many messages do you send each day? How long are your messages? For what tasks do you use text messaging?

The majority of students wrote either 5- 10 short/to the point text messages a day in order to make plans or see what’s going on with friends or none at all. Another large majority of students wrote more than 15 text messages a day.

5. On the subject of email, how many emails do you send each day? How long are your emails? For what tasks do you use email?

The majority of students wrote 1- 10 equally short and long email messages a day as necessary for school and/or work and to also keep in touch with family and friends.

Notes:

  • Email tends to be more formal and professional whereas text messaging is more personal and informal.
  • Some students use myspace to email/contact friends rather than regular email because it is more convenient, faster, and shorter writing.
  • Students tend to email family and friends who live far away more so than local friends or family.

6. What was the most helpful skill you learned in English 100/101/102? What important skill do you feel you didn’t learn that you feel is necessary for your other classes?

Of the 65 responses, 14 (or 22%) indicated that writing thesis statements was most helpful while 12 (or 18%) said that organization/structure was the most helpful. Other leading responses included simply writing better (7 or 11%) and using transitions (5 or 8%). Of the same amount of students responding to the second part of the question, 4 (or 20%) wanted to learn more creative writing, 3 (or 15%) wanted more grammar assistance while the remainder indicated more specific skills as indicated below.

Most needed/other comments:
  • More creative writing (4)
  • More grammar (3)
  • MLA (2)
  • Thesis, tone/voice, analysis, notetaking, handwriting skills (1)
  • Everybody should take 100 before 101
  • Short sentences ??
  • Class was more complicated than expected
  • Need more applicable readings for personal life/discipline
  • Explanation of class expectations need to be clearer
  • Need field trips
  • Write to the point/science writing