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Keuka College News

Developing Skills for Success

These days, ENG 100: Fundamentals of College Reading and Writing looks a lot like ENG 110: College English I.

ENG 100 is the non-credit bearing, developmental course designed to prepare students for ENG 110. Placement in ENG 100 is based upon entrance reading and writing exams, which are evaluated by Chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts Anne Weed.

Just three years ago, grammar exercises were the routine in ENG 100, according to Carole Lillis, director of Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) and assistant professor of English. Lillis serves as the coordinator of the course and teaches two sections of it; Pam Jennings, instructor of English and academic skills counselor for ASK, teaches the other two sections.

“Unfortunately, the course deteriorated into one that was viewed by students and faculty alike as a glorified high school exercise, and not worth the effort of hard work or study,” said Lillis. “It became increasingly obvious that revitalizing this course would be a positive step toward retaining members of this student population, and giving them the opportunity to not only survive their first-year experience, but establish serious groundwork for their ultimate success as students.”

Now, ENG 100 “stresses the writing strategies that the students are expected to master in the writing sequence of the College,” said Lillis. “Course content, structure, and expectations were drastically revamped. Grammar is still emphasized, but through writing.

“There are longer and more detailed readings in ENG 110, and then ENG 112: College English II builds on English I,” added Lillis. “A lot of terror is abated when students are connected to the whole sequence.”

The same textbook used in ENG 110 is used in ENG 100. Time management, note taking, and textbook reading tips are included as part of the curriculum for ENG 100. Weekly, one-on-one writing conferences held in the ASK office are also required for students in ENG 100.

“I did a lot of research regarding retention, and the research emphasized the importance of one-on-one instruction, connecting students to the institution and to his or her profession—all of which we do,” said Lillis, who advises students keep their future careers in mind when choosing a topic for their research papers.

The re-vamp of the course will be the topic of a presentation that Lillis, Assistant Director of ASK Jenn Robinson, and Jennings are slated to deliver during the Twentieth Annual Teaching Academic Survival Skills Conference March 8-11, 2009 at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“Jenn will handle the study skills portion, Pam will discuss the one-on-one conferences, and I will discuss the research, statistics, and how to get started,” said Lillis.

Lillis and Robinson presented two years ago at the New York Colleges Learning Skills Association (NYCLSA) and have attended the national conference in the past.

The title of their presentation is “Developmental Writing to Mainstream Writing: Creating a Positive Learning Experience for At-Risk Students.”

“This is the best thing we can do for kids who are weak in writing,” said Lillis. “We are getting them to realize that they have a weakness—and that everybody has a weakness. We’re also saying, ‘We want you to succeed and we want to help you succeed.’”

And the results speak for themselves.

Said Lillis: “Evaluation of course statistics indicates that the students are being retained at a greater rate than in previous years and are successful in subsequent writing courses that they pursue.”

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