Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Basic College Writing Enhances Business Course Outcomes

Business relies heavily on communication skills used in varying fields of study. Students often lack fundamental writing skills that can transfer into credibility, effectiveness and opportunity in the future. According to a 2013 paper by Dr. Carolyn Sturgeon colleges can do a better job at teaching students higher levels of written communication skills that can translate into productive projects. 

Students often resist courses in writing and English composition because they view these skills as secondary to their goals. Similar to the difficulty of getting your teenage children to throw out the trash these students are not excited about the tedious tasks of grammar, spelling, formatting, sentence structure, and citations. There is no denying that such classes are often boring and uninspiring and on the surface appear to be unnecessary.

Some students may need to complete 5-6 composition courses before effectively moving into their respective fields of study. There are other students that may not have mastered basic writing in high school and will need further remedial courses to perform at a college level. High school graduates who start at a lower rung will naturally need additional time, money and resources to improve their skills. Poor high school preparation equates directly to higher college costs. 

From the authors experience she has seen 90% of students avoid thesis writing and move more toward projects.  There is a natural avoidance of written work in classrooms as students lean more heavily on other skills. She suggests that students should be required to learn writing skills before entering their majors as this will make them more effective in their programs. 

The paper doesn’t move into this concept but it is possible to see an integration of more writing into traditional courses. For example, instead of 5-6 composition courses it may be possible to have 3 compensation courses and integrate graded writing into the colleges classes. This would require professors to understand the use of language and provide appropriate direction to students once their English composition requirements have been fulfilled to ensure they are developing their grammar, spelling, tense, clarity, formatting, and depth skills. 

Furthermore, online education is more heavily reliant on writing as part of the curriculum. It makes one wonder if graduating students are stronger at writing from an online institution than those coming from other types of universities.  Students are more likely to be judged on their individual writing skills than relying on an elite writer of a group assignment or a few assignments.

Sturgeon, C. (2013). Service courses: forays to bridge the gulf and invite new “citizens”.  CEA Forum, v42 n1 p208-245.

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