QU English Dept. starts pilot program

Carole Ann Kinnaw

The freshman English 102 program at Quinnipiac is comprised of many pilot prgrams in which professors teach what they want, how they want, in an attempt to elicit a positive response in their students’ reading, writing, and thinking skills.

Ever since 2002, EN 102 has been going through a developmental phase in which professors revolve the material they teach around their own interests and ideas for the course. According to Christine Ross, an associate professor of English and director of freshman composition says EN 102 is the perfect place to do this since it is essentially a research studies course.

“There is one main question that every EN 102 course is trying to answer,” Ross said. “And that is what is the best way to teach material?

Professors are concerned about the paradox about the idea that students and professors can be engaged in the material presented to them and still their writing does not get better. It is about how much the students are learning and whether or not they are learning.”

Each professor that is participating in this pilot program is able to pick the litereature that they will teach in the course.

They also often choose a question to follow throughout the course. For example some professors follow the questions of race, gender, and how we know what we know. Professors also use a wide variety of literature to encourage student learning such as poetry, plays, novels, and academic writings.

For most of these pilot courses, separate grades are not given to students intermittingly throughout the semester. Instead students write journals, a few larger writing assignments, and two self evaluation papers, one at midterm time and one at final time. The self evaluation papers allow the students to offer their opinions on the course and analyze whether they have learned and if so what throughout the course.

According to Ross, the English 102 program is still very much in the experimental stage, but she hopes that over the next couple of years the English department will come to a clear understanding of the best possible ways to engage students in an academic journey in which they grow and learn.