Posted in CBW 2012, CCCC 2012, What's New in Basic Writing

Live Discussion about Basic Writing, T-2 hours and 22 minutes

Reminder: today’s live presentation event! Conference in from wherever you are!

The event begins at 12:30 CDT.

Have you been enjoying the discussion, be sure to continue hanging out with us LIVE at CCCCs. The roundtable “There’s Nothing Basic about Basic Writing” will be TODAY!

Saturday, March 24, 2012, from 12:30-1:45pm (CDT). If you are at CCCCs, please join us in the Renaissance Hotel, Landmark Ballroom, Salon 2, Lobby Level. If you are not making it to CCCCs this year, join us online here:

We will be using Adobe Connect. Test your computer to make sure you can join us by going here:

Posted in CBW 2012, CBW Exec Board, CCCC, CCCC 2012, Sense of the House Motion

CBW Sense of the House Resolution, 2012

If you were at this year’s CCCC, or if you followed along virtually, you know that the role of basic writing was greatly increased in the program. This trend continues with the 2013 Call for Papers. The CBW Executive Board wanted to publicly thank Chris Anson and Howard Tinberg, so we introduced this sense of the house resolution this morning. It passed unanimously.

Sense of the House Resolution Thanking Chris Anson and Howard Tinberg

WHEREAS Chris Anson raised the visibility of Basic Writing through a featured session and prominent references in the program and documents of CCCC 2012; and

WHEREAS Chris Anson has supported Basic Writing as a field, Basic Writing faculty as vital practitioners, and Basic Writers as students deserving of our strongest scholarly and teaching support; and

WHEREAS Howard Tinberg is continuing this vital work of recognizing Basic Writing’s place in the field of Composition with the 2013 CCCC conference theme and call for papers; and

WHEREAS Howard Tinberg has restored Basic Writing as a conference strand; and

WHEREAS this support of Basic Writing has furthered the pursuit of social justice, inclusive education, and educational excellence vital to the highest principles of Composition;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the CCCC, the Council on Basic Writing, and the entire Basic Writing community recognize and laud Chris Anson’s and Howard Tinberg’s vision, leadership, and pursuit of social justice in higher education.


The Executive Board of the Council on Basic Writing (CBW): Hannah Ashley, J. Elizabeth Clark, William B. Lalicker, Marisa A. Klages, Steven Joseph Lamos, Deborah Mutnick, Gregory Glau, Peter Adams, Sarah Kirk, Rebecca Mlynarczyk, Alan Meyers, Shannon Carter, Susan Naomi Bernstein

Posted in CBW 2012, Professional Developmwnt

Professional Development: How Do You Know You Are a Good Teacher?

We started off this morning with a great presentation by Robin Ozz, Jason Evans, and Rosemary Arca. They presented on their participation in a two year long professional development program focused on basic writing pedagogy. Full disclosure: they were presenting on a project I which I was also a participant and it was one of the best things I’ve done since graduate school (just wanted to fully reveal my bias).

They explained the Global Skills for College Completion project. It’s an on-line project that brings basic skills faculty from around the country together to examine pedagogical practices with the aim of teaching better.

So, here’s the elephant in the room: what do you spend most of your professional day doing? If, like me, you teach basic skills at a two-year or four-year college, you probably spend most of your time on teaching or teaching-related activities. Now, how much training did you receive in graduate school to do that? I don’t mean here being thrust into teaching as a TA–although an apprenticeship model is certainly important and instructive–but really studying pedagogy and effective teaching. Few graduate programs have an emphasis on producing effective college-level teachers. As Jason Evans said, we all have our home grown pedagogues that we’ve developed based on trial and error. What the project allowed us to do was develop a shared, common vocabulary about our best practices.

Enter GSCC. The project took faculty from around the country and brought them together to think about their teaching. What resulted was a two-year, intensive experience of examining our teaching in many different ways.

Rosemary Arca began by explaining the project and the tools we used. This project was primarily on-line. She provided an overview of the on-line forums, the ePortfolios, the reflective practices, and the large and small group work and explained how the group was able to work virtually.

A participant in the audience raised the issue of the on-going nature of the project of how doing professional development more than once (a one time event) allows people to raise questions, interact, and really learn (just as we ask students to do in our own classes).

Jason Evans provided a thoughtful overview of coaching and it’s role in the project, Through on-line forums, analysis of videos, and weekly entries in ePortfolios, project participants provided feedback and coaching to one another to help improve teaching in targeted areas. Part of the project revolved around the development of themes in teaching like the role of affective issues in teaching or group activities or organization in instruction. Participants then examined one another’s work for effectiveness in addressing these themes. Rather than receiving a list of “best practices,” these themes developed from the group over time as a practice of inquiry and critique.

Evans, Ozz, and Arca discussed how they analyzed their practices using the themes and regular data reports provided by a group of outside researchers (participants in the project were studied by the Stanford Research Institute–SRI). They showed the audience examples of analyses that were conducted on their teaching by SRI. They discussed the importance of developing greater awareness in their teaching and developing a sense of who they were in the classroom.

The group also discussed the importance of investing in faculty development for all faculty, both full-time and contingent faculty.

Robin Ozz rounded out the presentation by showing her ePortfolio and explaining how we documented our teaching in the project. Each week, faculty documented a lesson by providing a narrative description of the lesson, objectives for the lesson, examples of student work from the lesson, and an analysis of the student work and what it demonstrates about the lesson objectives.

ePortfolios also included mid- and end-of-term reflections and videos 3 times a semester. All of these artifacts were digitally available to the community through ePortfolios.

You can read more about the project here: GSCC
GSCC is also recruiting a second cohort of faculty for the project. You can apply on-line at GSCC.


Posted in CBW 2012

Mike Rose

Hannah Ashley began our session with Mike Rose with a very personal introduction about the influence Mike Rose had on her choices as a graduate student and her decision to focus on basic writing, developmental education, and issues of social justice. In graduate school, Hannah published an article citing Mike’s work. He e-mailed her about the article and it gave her the courage to pursue what has become her life’s work. I’m sure that Hannah’s wonderful story encapsulates how many of us feel about Mike Rose and his work. That Mike Rose took the time to write back to her about it is further testament to just how cool Mike Rose is. For how many of us has Lives on the Boundary or Mind at Work or some other Mike Rose book been a guide for those of us committed to basic writing and developmental education? I am certainly one of those former graduate students for whom Mike Rose’s writing served as a guide to the kind of work I wanted to do. I imagine most of us in the room could testify to the critical importance of Mike Rose’s work not just in our field but on our personal, professional decisions. Did I mention that he’s receiving the 2011 CCCC Exemplar Award? (During questions and answers, Bill Lalicker said that Mike signed his copy of Lives on the Boundary in a cowboy bar in Laramie, Wyoming).

So, it won’t surprise you that you want to be first in line at your local bookstore to purchase His new book. At our session today, Mike Rose shared the introduction his forthcoming book Back To School: Second Chances at Higher Ed due out in fall 2012. The new book focuses on the role of education in society as a second, third, or more chance at education. The book is a series of essays on higher education addressing issues like the critical importance of adult education. It raises critical questions about the debate between occupational training and college-for-all. Another essay addresses why so many adults hunger for education; students return for education certainly for work but also so they can read to their children and help them with homework and because they enjoy reading. Today, there are many opportunities, but they are also under attack. How do we work to protect these programs and the public institutions that offer a wider education than just occupational education? But how do we also think about the importance of providing vocational training students need while also providing intellectual breadth?

In the last 30 years, have you heard anything about education that wasn’t about economics? Even informed citizenry gets only a small nod. The really rich motives for education need to be addressed more. Rose began this question in Why School and continues it in this new book.

In the rich question and answer period, people raised questions and comments such as these:

So much education today is hopeful, trying to suggest that when we have high expectations for students, they do inspiring things, even when there’s a lot working against them.

The notion of “The People’s College” (the final chapter) is a challenge to fight to change perceptions of community colleges as places of failure instead of places for success & possibility.

The group also discussed Pima Community College and the trend to get rid of developmental education (trends in California and Connecticut). What happens when the cure contributes to the malady? Decisions are made on a legitimate concern, but have unintended consequences. Policy cures are far from the day-to-day realities of the classroom, the tutoring center, and other spaces for education.

The book and the conversation ended with a discussion of the learning society (the conclusion to Mike Rose’s new book) and the ways in which education can help students to “make things right.” These journey metaphors encapsulate the the ways students are focused on not just getting a job but living a better life, a life defined by a more complicated understanding of learning and education.

Rose shared “Mikey’s little theory” of cognitive momentum. For the students who make it and are successful, there comes a point when they are building this knowledge base and they can do things they couldn’t do before. There’s a body of knowledge and you can use it; all of a sudden you are able to solve problems with that new knowledge and a change starts to happen that affects student identity.

We ended with a fabulous student story from a student literacy narrative. We need to help share all of these powerful student stories to the national conversation about education.

Mike asked that we all visit his website and share your ideas and comments!

Mike Rose at CBW 2012


Hannah Ashley and Mike Rose

Question and Answer session with Mike Rose


Thanks All Around & A Standing Ovation

Posted in Basic Writing Projects & Initiatives, CBW 2012, CCCC 2012, Fun!, Scholarship of Basic Writing, What's New in Basic Writing, Who is Basic Writing?

W7 The Accelerated Learning Program as an Evidence-Based Success Model

Peter Adams, Community College of Baltimore County; Heidi Johnsen, LaGuardia Community College; Michelle Zollars, Patrick Henry Community College; Jan Allen, Community College of Baltimore County

Jan Allen discussed some context for Developmental Education, including disappointing outcomes for students enrolled in developmental courses. There is significant pressure for students to earn degrees, and the overall financial crisis of our time. This is leading to threats to providing developmental education classes, reductions in the numbers of seats available.

Why do so many students drop out of developmental courses or fail to progress? Survey data at CCBC shows that the problem is NOT learning, but rather that “life happens” – legal, financial, transportation, health issues – and that students lose confidence because of these life issues.

At CCBC, the ALP gives students a choice at placement. Either they can take developmental writing separately, or they can take an “ALP section” in which they take developmental and 101 at the same time. They are in a 101 section of 20 students – 8 are  developmental, the rest are not. The 8 students take the developmental course with the same instructor in the period immediately following. In the second period, they have a workshop that supports the 101 class – answering questions, reviewing drafts, scaffolding the assignments. In addition, affective issues are addressed – how to succeed as a college student, solve problems that interfere with their progress. Because of the combination of classes, there is more time to address these additional issues and more ability to address individual needs.

Students have a much better attitude about being in ALP than in the regular developmental course. They are in a supportive community, they are getting credit for their 101 course and are engaging with students at the next higher level, their “pipeline” is shorter, and they are more likely to try the same model in their math classes if they succeed in the writing course.

Peter Adams mentioned that ALP is a combination of several other approaches including “stretch,” the studio model, and learning communities. Adams presented data showing that ALP has doubled pass rates in English 101, from 27% to over 60%. In English 102, pass rates increased even more. In credits earned after two years, twice as many ALP students had accumulated 30 credits. Adams commented that he does not think ALP creates better writers, but keeps them in college.

There has been a deliberate effort to scale up the size of ALP. It has grown dramatically at CCBC and also been instigated at 46 other campuses.

Michelle Zollars represents one of those other campuses. At Patrick Henry College in Virginia, she had to “tweak” ALP to get the program to fit the campus culture and gain acceptance from administrators, including alterations in class size and room arrangements, as well as credit hours. Several faculty attended the ALP Institute in order to allow ALP to scale up. Data show significant improvements in pass rates and retention. It’s cost-effective for the college even offering the small ALP section since students don’t drop out.

Zollars also described how ALP will be the model across the state of Virginia in the redesign of developmental English, in which reading and writing will be combined statewide.

Heidi Johnsen described implementation at LaGuardia, a large urban campus, where ALP students are also showing impressive gains in a context driven by placement and exit testing on CATW.

Peter Adams listed what seems to really make the difference with ALP – no matter what type of campus:

  1. Students are mainstreamed into comp – rather than being held back and demoralized by the stigma of developmental placement.
  2. Pipeline is shortened by one semester.
  3. Exposure to stronger students.
  4. Cohort spends more hours per week together.
  5. Meaningful context for the developmental course, since it’s concurrent.
  6. Small class size – should not be more than half of the 101 class.
  7. Attention to affective and life issues.
  8. Same instructor teaches ALP and comp.

Adams also commented on pedagogy for an accelerated classroom, advocating a “backward design” for curriculum development. In other words, what is the target course, and what happens there? This is what should happen in developmental writing. If developmental writing course looks like the fourth grade, it’s demoralizing. He also advocated for active learning and thinking skills in the developmental classroom. Adams commented about the integration of reading and writing as another significant goal he hopes to see taking more shape in ALP.

Faculty development is key to the success of ALP. Elements include workshops each semester, a 20-hour institute for new faculty, and ALPIN, the ALP Inquiry Network. ALPIN is an online community that supports conversations among faculty (using Drupal), structured around weekly posts by instructors, with comments following.

(Note: I put this presentation in the Fun! category, along with all the usual ones, because it was fun to hear these enthusiastic presenters talking about these magnificent successes. Plus, Michelle was hilarious.)

Posted in CBW 2012, What's New in Basic Writing

Accelerated Learning Project (W7)

Today, we were excited to hear more about the Accelerated Learning Project, originated at the Community College of Baltimore County by Peter Adams. ALP is an alternative model for teaching basic writing by placing basic writers in an introductory composition course (not a basic or developmental writing course) with composition students. The basic writing cohort, embedded in the composition course also meets separately in a small group with the instructor. In that smaller group, students are able to work on additional papers, drafts, and projects related to the composition course.

Today, more than 46 colleges and universities are experimenting with ALP. Today, we had a chance to hear from the Community College of Baltimore County, LaGuardia Community College, and Patrick Henry Community College so that we could see the local differences in the model as it was adapted at a rural and an urban community college.

Michelle Zollars of Patrick Henry Community College reported on local innovations at their campus as PHCC adapted the model for their campus. Developmental Education in the state of Virginia is moving towards adapting ALP.

Heidi Johnsen talked about the challenges of administering ALP at a large, urban community college with standardized placement and exit exams.

In both case studies, ALP courses had a significantly higher pass rate than stand alone basic writing courses.

You can learn more about ALP here: ALP
And here: ALP Professional Development




Posted in Basic Writing Projects & Initiatives, CBW 2012, CCCC 2012

W7 Poster Session: Challenging the Standard

K. Hyoejin Yoon, Devon Kehler, Ilknur Sancak-­‐Marusa, West Chester University

College as a “gated community” – BW students need alternate points of entry.

West Chester has writing placement through SAT scores. Students may elect to take a “challenge” exam, which has a 50% pass rate. The students who passed the challenge exam fared just fine in passing their regular fycomp class.

Summer bridge program – residential program with academic and social components. Very diverse students, have a lot of baggage, focus on validating the knowledge they bring, writing in academic style. Outcomes for these students are strong; they retain/succeed at higher rates than the general student population.

Tutors are a key element of the summer bridge program. Tutor works in a dual role, as peer and partner to students, but also connecting back to instructor.