Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing Skills Are Important

writingLast week I attended a faculty meeting at the university where I teach. We spent the entire afternoon talking about the First Year Seminar and First Year Writing courses that freshman must take. Part of the discussion was whether students were really improving their writing skills and was the curriculum really effective. Another concern from one professor was that his course requirements were different than other courses and students felt that this was unfair. I think everyone agreed that their needed to be some consistent educational outcomes agreed upon.

A few discussions I had with others included concerns that students of today did not have good writing skills. Many felt they were not being taught these skills in high school and resented having to teach it on the university level. Others felt that we had no choice but to teach these skills. When I attended college (yes, many years ago), we were required to take a course in English composition but that no longer exists. Now it seems that writing is spread out across all of the disciplines.

To me, writing seems very basic. I think as soon a student learns to write, we need to encourage a lot of it and for them to do it often. The more they write the better they will be.

It seems like today’s student doesn’t write as much as I remember doing when I was growing up. In elementary school, we wrote stories using our spelling words. Even in junior high, I wrote papers in classes outside of English. By the time I reached high school, I had to write up homework papers daily.

I don’t think it is one set grade level or class’s responsibility to teach “writing” but it is every teacher’s job on every level to encourage this. I think an English class is a great place to learn basic tools such as citing references and grammar but the overall writing skills of writing sentences, paragraphs, correct spelling, and punctuation should be expected by all teachers.

I believe that by the time they reach college, college bound students should have a firm understanding of writing complete sentences, several paragraphs about a central topic, use subject - verb agreement, and know how to write an introduction and conclusion as well as use appropriate punctuation.

But what do we do about the students who reach the college level that don’t have these skills? Where do I begin? I’m thinking of making a writing checklist for them to use for proofreading their work before they submit it. What do you think? Please share your ideas?

Image: 'Be seeing you'
Found on


Sioux said...

Pat--I think the writing checklist might be helpful but they may simply look at it and check off the little squares, saying to themselves, "Yeah, I did that. Yeah, I did that too," when in reality...they did NOT.

Too bad you can't snag any retired teachers/grad students/doctoral candidates and have them lead some little "critique groups" for some of your students' writing projects. Going through that process might help...

Good luck. We see "holes" in our
3rd graders' academic skills...and we know it just "floods up" (instead of trickling down).

louisgarcia said...

Your writing checklist is very useful for students.I really liked your post.Keep posting interesting articles

rachel said...

Excellent work.. I figure out some very best writing skills from your article