Writing Program Changes Will be Implemented for Fall

By Liz Lyon '12, Design Editor Adjustments are coming to the Writing 50 program, with more projected changes in the planning stages. Director of the Scripps Writing Program Professor Kimberly Drake is implementing changes to the Writing Requirement to make it even more effective. Drake and the faculty Writing Advisory Committee are charged with piloting, assessing and implementing changes to the Writing Requirement. These changes were originally approved by the full faculty in Spring 2010. In an email to The Scripps Voice Drake she wrote, “One of these changes would be to allow some students to defer taking Writing 50 to the spring semester.” Offering Writing 50 fall and spring would provides flexibility in student schedules and gives part-time writing professors (who are typically only at Scripps during the Fall) more of a consistent presence on campus. Student evaluations of Writing 50 typically indicate that students are highly satisfied by Writing 50, and quantifiable assessments show marked improvement in students’ writing by the end of the course. But Drake, speaking on behalf of the Writing Program, believes that writing—and how writing is taught—can always improve. In fact, writing experts from schools across the country have been on campus this spring giving writing pedagogy workshops to faculty for this purpose.

More changes to the College’s writing program are in the brainstorming and planning stages. As last Fall’s reaccreditation review of the college noted, a single writing course between a student’s first year and senior thesis is insufficient. To find a satisfactory solution, the Writing Advisory Committee is looking into developing writing- intensive courses in the disciplines. Drake is not yet sure what format these writing courses will take, but the reasoning behind such a move is clear. Students who already have ideas of what they would like to major in can pursue writing-intensive courses in their desired areas. Ideally, the course would also fulfill a major requirement. Such discipline-specific courses would train students in writing as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills. If a student decides to change majors, analytical skills gained in one area are transferrable.

“We’re interested in argumentation no matter what field the student is in, and the ability to identify complex problems and work through them.” Said Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Glenn Simshaw. “If students think about it, they should be able to transfer those skills to other classes.”

With the College’s senior thesis requirement, writing is clearly an important component of the Scripps experience. Because of this, it seems likely that Scripps students will soon have the opportunity to take more Writing classes. Optimally, changes to the Writing Program will facilitate the development of an official writing minor and writing major, but that is a long-term goal. The more immediate changes will happen on the level of Writing 50 classes.

“As the growing number of self-designed Scripps Writing majors and minors can testify, a Writing major would satisfy students’ needs,” wrote Drake. “There are undergraduate Writing majors at other colleges across the country, but few in our region; I believe that the college would benefit from such a relatively unique program.”

For now, though, the effectiveness of these changes in Writing 50 will be determined at the end of next year.