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August 31, 2007

ULM's Write Place offers more student-centered assistance for freshman English composition courses

Required freshman English composition courses at the University of Louisiana at Monroe have become even more student-centered, thanks to course redesign and the Write Place, the progressive writing center now utilizing the newest and most responsive technology approach to freshman composition.

"We patterned our course redesign after NCAT (National Center for Academic Transformation)'s philosophy on course redesign: sound methodology, student-centered learning, clear assessment criteria, and effective technology," said Judy Bennett, director of the First Year Writing Program. "We've redesigned and expanded the writing center so that it is a more welcoming learning environment for the students."

The technology component of the new course curriculum is mandatory for all freshman taking English 101 and 102. Instructors will be able to track how much time and work each student has put into the tutorial. Before progressing to the next lesson, each student must attain 80 percent accuracy. The benefit of individual tutorials is more hands on writing in the classroom. Students spend less time doing grammar drills and more time writing.

The course redesign and new Write Place offer students the opportunity for flexibility in scheduling and additional tutoring. On their own time, students can go to the 50-computer lab, where they access the tutorial and receive instant feedback as they work through the problems. The Write Place is also equipped for each student¹s learning strength, be it audio, visual or direct assistance.

The online program is designed "to respond to incorrect answers by giving students another opportunity, and it frees the instructors up to concentrate on actual composition. By final drop date, the students will have three substantial graded compositions. Their grades will reflect their use of the technology and show them where they are, skill wise." The ability to work at an individual pace is a valuable component to the online technology.

This new approach to composition also brings uniformity to the required freshmen composition courses, eliminating the idea that some instructors' classes are easier to take than others. Consistent standards "create a solid base for strong composition instruction that is also pedagogically sound," Bennett said.

The Write Place, located in the Administration Building, room 3-88, is open from 8 a.m. ­ 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 8 a.m. ­ noon on Fridays. "Each instructor volunteers in the lab, so there will always be someone on hand to give assistance."

For more information, please contact Bennett at or 342-5043.

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