The Effect of Mode of Instruction on Composition I Students at Des Moines Area Community College
Hutchison, Alan J.
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The focus of this project was to relate reading and writing in a way that addresses the needs of open enrollment community college students. The paradigm shifts in both reading and writing theory point to the social nature of language and indicate the need for linking these activities in useful ways. This project is a way of determining if a socially situated writing pedagogy is a fuller way of representing language than a process pedagogy in a Composition One class. The experimental class was adapted from the seminar outlined in Bartholomae and Petrosky's Facts, Artifacts and Countefacts. The course was modified to fit the realities of community college instruction without violating the integrity, philosophy and goals of the course. It was, for example, cut from a six semester hour course to a three semester hour course. Similarly, the number of readings and writings were reduced and only one instructor taught the course instead of the team teaching documented in Facts. The control class used an approach George Hillocks called "natural process" in Research on Written Composition. The dominant features include: writing for an audience of peers, generally positive feedback from peers, opportunities for revising and reworking writing, and discrete writing assignments. Seven hypotheses were tested concerning writing quality, writing fluency, revision quality, class absences, class attrition, and writing apprehension. Additionally, a Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test (3rd Edition) for reading comprehension and reading speed was administered to the students in the study and seventeen other DMACC Comp I classes, for a total of 500 students. The project sample consisted of 100 experimental students and 50 control students. The results of the study were mixed. There was no statistical difference between the means of the holistic scores representing each group. However, five of the remaining six measures favored the experimental group. Only attrition favored the control group. While the impact of the holistic scores made any definitive answer impossible, the study appeared to favor the experimental group and the Facts based course.
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