Previously, we considered reasons most college students struggle to write an academic essay: Time management and a deficiency in physical and emotional energy. This week we will turn to yet another likely reason first-year composition courses are often begrudged by college students. An often overlooked factor is that many students enter college unprepared. http://www.facultyfocus.com/tag/unprepared-students/. This may partially be an unintended consequence of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
NCLB policies (http://www.ed.gov/esea) ushered in an era of standardize “high-stake” testing for all public school students. It is no secret that teaching to a test reduces the likelihood that creative expression and thinking outside the box is encouraged in the typical classroom setting. Although the Act has been somewhat streamlined under Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s watch (http://www2.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/duncan.html), generally speaking some first- year students continue to have underdeveloped abilities to think creatively and critically which negatively affects their first-year college experience which often times includes composition courses or writing classes. These outcomes are heighten by students’ low meta-cognitive skills or their inability to recognize their own shortcomings. In some instances, students have the desire to move forward but may lack the ability to perform. This may translate into student frustration with assignments or coursework as a student may not be aware of what he or she does not know. What does this all mean for a student sitting in a first-year composition class? College level writing requires students to use
- critical thinking skills, and
- to synthesize and to analyze
a robust amount of information to produce a quality of writing that is representative of higher-order thinking. It has been my experience that with each successive semester, student attempts to demonstrate mastery of these skills is often stymied for the abovementioned reasons.
As a writing instructor, it has been my observation that this disconnect between a student’s ability and an instructor’s expectations can be reversed if a student is ready to dig in their heels and to commit to additional readings. However, I recognize for today’s students, a one-size fits all approach is not practical.
I am open to hear how other educators feel regarding this concern. How do we prepare students today for first-year college writing courses and for tomorrow’s citizenry?
- ACT Scores Show Most Students Aren’t Ready for College (education.com)