In a thought-provoking social media post that quickly caught fire, a professor sheds light on a concerning trend – college students’ writing skills seem to be in crisis.
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- Many college students are struggling with basic English writing skills
- College students’ lack of reading for pleasure may contribute to these struggles
- Some educators are finding innovative ways to encourage reading and writing skills
- There is a need for increased attention and strategies to address writing skills in college-level education
Is Writing Skill in Crisis? A Professor’s Perspective
College students today seem to be facing a significant challenge in their writing skills. This observation is voiced by a professor who recently shared a perplexing post on social media about the deteriorating writing skills of her students. The post consisted of excerpts from a midterm exam that showcased a startling lack of understanding of basic English writing conventions. The professor wondered whether these examples represent “actual illiteracy” or “super laziness.”
Notably, she pondered, “WIBTA if I had them read their own work out? Or just ask them what they mean? When I mark it wrong should I simply leave the feedback ‘I can’t understand this sentence.'”
Lack of Reading Could be the Cause
A key concern raised in the professor’s post is whether students’ writing difficulties stem from a lack of reading. As one participant in the discussion noted,
“They can’t write because they don’t read. I’m not sure how much we can do about it once they’re in college.”
Another person echoed this sentiment, who lamented, “That is so true. NONE of my students read for pleasure, and it is evidenced by their lack of any polysyllabic word.”
Potential Remedies to the Problem
Despite the grim outlook, some educators are devising innovative methods to stimulate reading and writing skills among their students. A highlight from the discussion came from an educator who revealed that they had started “book clubs” in their second-year composition class. The students were required to select and discuss three books during the semester, thereby encouraging reading and writing simultaneously.
The educator shared, “I’ve found that even some of the male students who are hugely resistant end up kind of enjoying the pleasure reading because they just never do it anymore – even reading “trashy romance novels” is fun.”
This approach can be scaled or adapted to different learning needs. Here are some practical ways to develop students’ writing skills with the help of reading:
- Write a sequel/prequel
- Continue the story
- Answer open-ended questions/prompts about the text
- Teach them how to annotate text
- Ask and answer questions as they read
- Write a news article about an event (real or imaginary)
- Write a letter or journal entry as a character
The Importance of Clear Communication
The thread also emphasized the significance of clear communication, particularly in a professional setting. The professor stressed that students must understand that their lack of writing skills could hinder their professional advancement.
One contributor concisely said, “They must learn to write clearly and correctly because people in their professional life will use bad writing as an excuse to ignore their ideas and keep them from promotions.“
This discussion among educators highlights the need for a more rigorous focus on reading and writing skills at the college level. As the job market becomes more competitive, it is critical for students to understand the importance of effective written communication. Furthermore, the innovative methods educators employ to inspire reading and writing amongst their students hint at the potential for evolving pedagogical strategies in the future.
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