Doctoral candidate presents at two national conferences focused on academic writing at the community college level
Abstract: Faculty Perspectives on Placement Reform.
Recently passed legislation in California has rapidly and drastically expanded the scope of reform throughout the state’s 114 community colleges. Assembly Bill 705 mandates a shift in the methods for placement of students into courses, eliminating the use of standardized tests with a move toward the use of high school records. Such changes are being implemented with the goal of placing nearly all students directly into one of two versions of the transfer level composition course—one that includes a concurrent support course and one that does not. The implementation of directed self-placement has allowed students to determine the appropriate course for themselves. Faculty who teach the first-year composition course have been substantially impacted by these changes. This session will help to provide insight to faculty, administrators, and researchers about how faculty who teach freshman composition are experiencing major reform in the placement of students into composition courses at their institution. The presenter will share data from interviews conducted in the spring of 2019 with five tenured faculty members in the English department at a California community college. Interview questions address faculty sentiments regarding changes to the placement process, the differences they have experienced in the classroom as a result of such changes and whether they believe students are better served by the reform efforts.
Abstract: Placement Ideologies and Enacted Reform: When Commonplaces are not so Common
Writing is a critical skill that can impact students’ academic and economic trajectories, particularly for community college students, most of whom are considered underprepared and do not persist to transfer-level work (Bailey and Jaggars, 2016). Widespread reform is currently underway across the country with initiatives in several states to improve the persistence and completion rates of community college students. Reform efforts include the shortening or elimination of lengthy pre-collegiate course sequences and elimination of high-stakes placement tests with the aim of placing students directly into transfer-level composition courses. However, these changes “will not magically make such students prepared for college work” (Hassel and Giordano, 2015) and questions persist about the type of instruction and support students need to succeed (Nazzal, Olson and Chung, 2019). Before the implementation of reform at a California community college, an analytical text-based writing assessment was administered to college students across four course levels. Two types of analyses were performed that examined the following: 1) the frequency of specific writing features, comparing them across course levels and 2) elements of high-scoring papers. Key findings include: 1) statistically significant differences in the presence of certain writing features between college-level and precollegiate students and 2) the identification of four writing features that are characteristic of high scoring papers. As the range of student preparedness in transfer level composition courses widens and faculty are met with the challenge of addressing a broader spectrum of student needs, results presented in this study can be used to inform the development of targeted curriculum for supporting student success.
About the Two-Year College English Association: TYCA strives to advance public understanding of the critical role two-year college English programs and faculty play in promoting academic, workforce, and civic success. TYCA provides a forum for professional development, supports scholarly research in multiple literacies and classroom practices, and recognizes outstanding programs and faculty.
About the Conference on College Composition and Communication: The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) is committed to supporting the agency, power, and potential of diverse communicators inside and outside of postsecondary classrooms. CCCC advocates for broad and evolving definitions of literacy, communication, rhetoric, and writing (including multimodal discourse, digital communication, and diverse language practices) that emphasize the value of these activities to empower individuals and communities.
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