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by Mary Stevenson, Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum

Van Jordan, a faculty member, read from his recently published collection of poetry, Rise at a reception in his honor, April 4, 2002. If you missed the event (and you missed a great reading), stop by the bookstore. Vanís book is featured in the window. Another reminder: if you havenít gotten a copy of the novel, The Book of Fred, by faculty member Abby Bardi, the bookstore has copies of that book too.

Over the years, the college has granted prizes for writing done for classes across the curriculum (Tracy Walker was a former student whose family contributed money in her memory to award student writers). The contest is back with only a few changes. Starting this semester, student entries in both hard copy and disk will be submitted to the English Department Office, Marlboro 3072. Entry forms and rules will be available in the English Office and eventually from the college Web site. A $500 prize will be granted to the best entry for work done in spring 2002 and fall 2002, to be given out at the Honorís Convocation in spring 2003. Entries for this semester will be due the final Friday of classes in May. For more detailed information contact Mary Stevenson, coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum.

We all know that including writing assignments adds to time required to grade papers, and we all face the difficulties of trying to squeeze the bare essentials into the few weeks we have the students. Is taking time to give writing assignments worth the effort?

Research suggests the answer is a clear "yes." In Langer and Applebeeís How Writing Shapes Thinking: A Study of Teaching and Learning, NCTE, 1987, the authors found "clear evidence that activities involving writing (any of the many sorts of writing we studied) lead to better learning than activities involving reading and studying only" (135).

Longman Press has a good series on writing in different disciplines, a series I have in my office and would be happy to lend to interested faculty members. Written for students, the volume for biology, for example, covers issues such as advice on reading, note taking, analysis, documentation, revising, laboratory reports, research proposals, poster presentations, oral presentations, and current computer software. Books include A Short Guide to Writing About Art, About Biology, About Chemistry, About History, About Literature, About Social Science, and About Science.

Students also can get help with writing from the Writing Center, extension 0748, where writers in any discipline can get tutoring from faculty members (online as well as in person). Faculty who would like help in designing assignments or help in incorporating writing assignments that require less time to grade might talk to Abby Bardi of the Writing Center or with Mary Stevenson. Bill Peirce, coordinator of Reasoning Across the Curriculum, and Marlene Cohen, coordinator of Communication Across the Curriculum, are valuable resource people too as you plan assignments. Those who would like some guidance on evaluating writing might find useful the "C Standard Paper" available through the English Department


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 17, No. 4

Spring 2002