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1 AN EXPLORATION OF THE EXPERIENCES OF HIGH SCHOOL DUAL ENROLLMENT STUDENTS ENROLLED IN COLLEGE COMPOSITION By ANGELA ELIZABETH B ROWNING A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 201 1
2 201 1 Angela Elizabeth Browning
3 To Miriam K. Browning and in memory of J. P. Browning, Sr.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The completion of my dissertation was not a project that I was able to complete in a short period of time. As a result, many people had an opportunity to provide me with support and encouragement. I would like to first thank my family. M y parents, Robert W. Browning, Sr. and Pamela H. Browning, and Virginia A. Wood and Dr. Wayne W. Wood, were always available to listen to the progress I had made or the challenges I faced. My brothers, Robert W. Browning, Jr., David C. Browning, and James A. Browning, continually offered me encouragement, even though my progress was quite slow at times. I want to thank Jeri A. Roche, whose patience and support I greatly appreciated. Also, I would like to acknowledge my fellow members of the Selva Lakes Tr ack Club, who allowed me to use our training runs as an opportunity to discuss my project. I found Allan Nail to be particularly helpful as he was always available, returning my calls or email and offering advice or words of encouragement. Jane S. Townsen d, the chair of my dissertation committee, was extremely helpful. Not only did she provide great instruction and help promote my growth as an instructor while I was enrolled in her classes, but she patiently read draft after draft of my writing and worked diligently to help me move toward creating my final product. I also want to thank the other members of my committee, Dr. Lawrence Tyree, Dr. Danling Fu, and Dr. Barbara Pace. I have learned a great deal about pedagogy through my course work and collabor ation with these educators. They have each contributed in a different way to making me a better scholar
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 9 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 13 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 14 Scope and Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ .................... 14 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 15 2 LITERATURE R EVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 17 Language and Learning ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 17 Language as Tool ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 18 Knowledge Not Directly Observable ................................ ................................ .............. 19 Importance of Social Interaction ................................ ................................ ..................... 20 Language Development ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 21 Language Use and the Definition of Utterance ................................ ............................... 22 Communicative Competence ................................ ................................ .......................... 23 Creative Construction ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 24 The Act of Writing ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 25 Writing as Social Act ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 27 Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding ................................ ........................... 29 Feedback and Evaluation of Writing ................................ ................................ .............. 30 Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 32 Issues Affecting the Classroom Context ................................ ................................ ......... 35 Secondary Postsecondary Learning Options ................................ ................................ ........ 40 Singleton Programs ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 41 Dual Enrollment Programs ................................ ................................ ............................. 41 Advanced Placement Programs ................................ ................................ ...................... 42 Middle College High Schools Programs ................................ ................................ ......... 42 Early College High Schools Programs ................................ ................................ ........... 43 Comprehensive Programs ................................ ................................ ............................... 43 High School Dual Enrollment Trends ................................ ................................ ............. 44 Community College Dual Enrollment Program Design Trends ................................ ..... 45 Course Participation Trends for Dual Enrollment Students ................................ ................. 46 Case Study Research of HSDE Programs ................................ ................................ ............. 48 Qualitative Methods and Case Studies ................................ ................................ ................. 53
6 Study Design and Rationale ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 54 3 METH ODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 56 Selection of Site ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 56 Setting for Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 57 Pilot Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 59 Pilot Study Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 59 Professo r Sands ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 59 Student participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 60 Pilot Study Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 61 Selection of Student Participants for Dissertation Study ................................ ...................... 66 Instructor Participants for Dissertation Study ................................ ................................ ....... 67 Data Collection Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 69 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 69 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 69 Interviews with Student Participants ................................ ................................ .............. 70 Professor Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 71 Written Artifacts ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 72 Data Analysis Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 72 Analysis of Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 73 Analysis of Graded Essays ................................ ................................ .............................. 74 Researcher Bias ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 75 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 77 Dissertation Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 77 ................................ ................... 77 Research Question 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 82 Academic Counseling ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 82 Opportunity to Take Both High School and College Level Classes ............................. 87 Freedom from the High School Context ................................ ................................ ......... 90 Summary of Results for Research Question 1 ................................ ................................ 96 Research Question 2 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 98 Assignments Given to Students to Develop and Demonstrate Their Writing Abilities ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 98 Complicated assignments ................................ ................................ .......................... 99 Constraining and uninteresting topics ................................ ................................ ..... 103 Assessment and Feedback Given to Students From Their Instructors ......................... 105 In text evaluation of writing ................................ ................................ ................... 105 Sources ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 105 Evaluation of essays given at end of paper / assigned grades ................................ 117 Connecting comments at end of essay to writing performance .............................. 117 Connecting comments to grade ................................ ................................ ............... 121 Assessment of grammar assignments ................................ ................................ ..... 127 ................................ 132 Student focus on grammar ................................ ................................ ...................... 132
7 Inability to be explicit about their learning ................................ ............................. 134 Lack of understanding basis for grades ................................ ................................ .. 136 Research Question 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 142 Professor Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 142 Increased workload ................................ ................................ ................................ 143 HSDE students and immature behavior ................................ ................................ .. 145 Expectations for students based on age ................................ ................................ .. 149 ....... 151 The impact of the professor ................................ ................................ .................... 151 Reported overall impact of the community college context ................................ ... 158 Students would change nothing about their class experience ................................ 158 Negative emotional response to writing ................................ ................................ 160 Gaining confidence in academic abilities ................................ ............................... 161 Summary of Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 163 Academic Counseling ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 163 Opportunity to Take Both High School and College Level Course Work on a Colle ge Campus ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 164 Freedom From the High School Context ................................ ................................ ...... 164 Assignments Given to Students to Develop and Demonstrate Their Writing Abilities ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 164 text Comments ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 164 Evaluation of essays given at end of essays and on rubrics ................................ .... 165 Grammar assessment ................................ ................................ .............................. 165 ................................ ....... 165 ................................ ................................ ................................ 165 ....... 166 The impact their professor had on their experience ................................ ................ 166 Overall impact of the community college context on students ............................... 166 5 CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 1 67 Summary of the Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 167 Limitations of the Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 170 Discussion of Results ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 172 HSDE as a Bridge to College Course Work ................................ ................................ ....... 173 Writing Instruction ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 176 Formative Evaluation ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 179 The Role of the Professor ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 181 Implic ations for Future Research ................................ ................................ ........................ 186 APPENDIX A SAMPLE CONSTRAINING ASSIGNMENT ................................ ................................ ... 190 B TRANSCRIPT ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ............................... 193
8 C SAMPLE OF PROCESS ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ............... 194 D SAMPLE GRADING ANALYSIS 1 ................................ ................................ .................. 209 E SAMPLE GRADING ANALYSIS 2 ................................ ................................ .................. 212 F SAMPLE GRADING RUBRIC ................................ ................................ ......................... 213 G INSTRUCTOR CONSENT ................................ ................................ ................................ 214 H INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (IRB) APPROVAL LETTER .............................. 216 I STUDENT CONSENT LETTER ................................ ................................ ....................... 217 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 218 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 224
9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Student participants of study ................................ ................................ .............................. 67 3 2 Sample instructor comments and their corresponding categories ................................ ...... 75 4 1 Student participants in study ................................ ................................ .............................. 77 4 2 and ranks ............................... 98 4 3 Data collected from student written artifacts ................................ ................................ ... 106 4 4 ................................ 108 4 5 ................................ .................... 117 4 6 ................................ ........................ 118 4 7 Analysis of grading for Bob (out of class es say #1) ................................ ....................... 119 4 8 ................................ ......................... 123 4 9 ................................ ..................... 126
10 LIS T OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 Analysis of in ................................ .. 107 4 2 Analysis of in ............................... 111 4 3 Analysis of in ................................ .............................. 111 4 4 Analysis of in text comments on all ................................ ..................... 112
11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy AN EXPLORATION OF THE EXPERIENCES OF HIGH SCHOOL DUAL ENROLLMENT STUDENTS ENROLLED IN COLLEGE COMPOSITION By Angela Elizabeth Browning May 2011 Chair: Jane S. Townsend Major: Curriculum and Instructi on The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of high school dual enrollment (HSDE) students who were taking a college composition course on a college campus. The following questions guided this study: 1. What are the contextual features of a high school dual enrollment program that influence 2. What opportunities and feedback are high school students provided to develop their writing abilities in a college composition course? 3. What is the nature of the intersection/interaction of selected high school students and college instructors in a college composition course? For the study, the researcher conducted semi structured interviews with student and professor participants, collected written artifacts, and kept a detailed research journal. The researcher used the data collected to address the questions of the study, and the results explore the themes that emerged after the researcher analyzed the data. The student participants in this study represent a ra nge of cultural and linguistic diversity, engagement with school, and past academic success. In spite of the varied backgrounds of the student participants, an across case analysis revealed common themes that shed some light on the contextual features of HSDE
12 programs that may promote student success, on the experiences these students have in a composition classroom, and on the opportunities they are given to improve their writing abilities. This study revealed that all but one of the student participants who previously were not being served by advanced course work at their home high schools were able to be academically successful in their college composition course. Several features of the HSDE program studied seemed to impact positively their academic ex perience. However, the students did not seem to have experiences that developed their writing abilities, as one might expect a college classroom to provide. Results of these student participants successfully completing a college composition course on a c ollege campus include their improved confidence in their academic ability, but they conversely reported a negative emotional response to writing.
13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTIO N spring semester, I had one new student enroll in my junior English class. It was obvious from the content of her writing that she was a talented writer, but she informed me that she was taking interest was piqued, and I asked her if she ha d any of her graded assignments from her composition course. I thought that reading samples of her writing might give me some insight to why such a bright, talented writer failed freshman composition. She offered to give me all of her graded papers, and perusing these made me wonder why this capable student failed, but students no more talented than her successfully completed the freshman writing course. To explore this question and pursue a pilot study for my dissertation, I decided to interview two stud ents in depth one currently taking ENC 1101 and the student previously mentioned, who failed her first ENC 1101 attempt about their perceptions of the usefulness of the feedback given to them on their written assignments, their understanding of the tasks t hey completed, and what they believed they learned in the class. Both students had the same college instructor. I then interviewed the instructor about her perceptions of the two students, their writing abilities, and her evaluations of their written wor k. My question became one of looking at the different experiences that these two students had in their college composition course and the sense that they made of the feedback from their instructor. Although both students had similar scores on the College Placement Test (CPT), the instrument used by the community college to place incoming students in courses, their course outcomes and experiences were markedly different.
14 Statement of the Problem Research about high school dual enrollment students is sparse ly represented in the field of English Education. However, high school dual enrollment programs are becoming prevalent research topics because they are seen as one method of accomplishing systematic high school reform. Almost all available research about secondary postsecondary learning options (SPLOs) focuses on the various programs offered and their characteristics. In contrast, I found that explorations of student experiences were virtually nonexistent. While there is no shortage of SPLOs or research about their contextual features, there is a dearth of information about how these programs impact students and their learning. Because of this lack of research, many questions must be addressed. Do the current secondary postsecondary learning options ser ve the needs of all secondary students, or are there students capable of being enrolled in advanced course work not being served? What are the academic experiences of students enrolled in these SPLOs, and how do these programs impact their emotional lives ? How do these high school students feel about completing college level course work, and how does this course work affect their abilities as writers? My study allowed me to explore not only the characteristics of the dual enrollment program that impacted students taking college composition in a college classroom and their developing communicative competencies. Scope and Significance of the Study The scope of this study was limited t o students who volunteered for the study, but these students provided a range of past academic success, engagement with school, and developing abilities, as well as a sampling of cultural and linguistic diversity.
15 The specific program I chose to study offe red a unique opportunity to study students taking a combination of high school and college course work on a college campus. This opportunity is open to all high school juniors and seniors in this local school district who have passed the sive assessment test. Unlike other dual enrollment programs that allow enrollment only for students labeled gifted or advanced who can be immediately placed in college level courses, this dual enrollment program includes students who did not score into co llege level course work when they first enrolled in the program. Thus, when I examined the experiences of students in this program during the spring semester, it provided an opportunity to study students who had not originally qualified for college level course work upon entering the program and who were not eligible for traditional advanced course work, like Advanced Placement or the International Baccalaureate program offered at their home high schools. The purpose of my work was to add to the field of E nglish Education a study that gives insight into the experiences of high school dual enrollment students. My study may inform English instructors who teach college composition and work with HSDE students about best practices of teaching writing to a diver se community of learners. Additionally, my work may help community college educators who have HSDE students enrolled in their courses. It also may help identify factors connected to the success or failure of high school students taking college level cour se work, thus helping those who counsel HSDE students and register them for and other community college efforts to cooperate with high schools in their geo graphic region. Research Questions The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of high school dual enrollment students taking their first college English course, ENC 1101, on a college campus. The research questions used to guide this study a re:
16 1. What are the contextual features of a high school dual enrollment program that influence 2. What opportunities and feedback are high school students provided to develop their writing abilities in a college composition course ? 3. What is the nature of the intersection/interaction of selected high school students and college instructors in a college composition course?
17 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW This study explores the experiences of high school students enrolled in freshman composition on a community college campus. In this chapter, I will begin by reviewing literature related to social constructionism to explain the theoretical framework for my study. Next, I review literature related to language and learning. Be cause my study examine d experiences of h igh s chool d ual e nrollment (HSDE) students studying English composition on a college campus, I will review literature related to writing instruction and instructor response to student writing. Because this study wa s one of HSDE students and their experiences in a college classroom, I review literature pertaining to the community college and various models linking secondary and postsecondary education, s econdary p ost s econdary l earning o ptions (SPLOs), SPLO trends affe cting community colleges, and case study research about students involved in SPLOs. Finally, I review case study methods and their appropriateness for my study. Language and Learning For my study, I used the theory known as social constructionism. Social constructionism and out of interaction between human beings and their world, and developed and transmitted separated from his / her culture, however, because when an individual encounters objects in his/her world, he/she is doing so through the lens of his/her culture. Culture, as defined by social constructionists, equ als more than the products of human endeavors such as agriculture, industry, thoughts and behaviors (Crotty, 1998).
18 Social constructionism employs several important characteristics for consideration when studying language learning in a social setting. The important characteristics of this theory that guide my study are (a) language is an important tool for teaching and learning, (b) social interaction is im portant in meaning making, and (c) not all knowledge or understanding is directly observable. Language as T ool understanding of that world (Bruner, 1986; Holquist, 1990; Vygo tsky, 1978). Our lexicon represents a meaning or a socially shared understanding, but because language only has meaning when it is in use, the individual brings his or her own experiences and personal feelings to this socially shared understanding, creati ng the semantic bundle that the sign or word represents (Bruner, 1986; Lindfors, 1991; Vygotsky, 1986). While the word itself denotes a socially agreed upon meaning, the individual has his or her own sense of what the wor d represents (Vygotsky, 1978). For example, if a child w as asked what the meaning of a word like grandmother is, he/ she might repl y that a grandmother bakes yummy cookies. This is the sense of the word for the c hild, and it is based on his/ her recollection of personal experience. As th e child develops cognitively, his / her understanding of the word will change i understanding of words is a negotiation between his / her experiences and the meaning agreed on anding of the sense and the meaning of the word grandmother. little meaning in the denotativ e sense. /her world continues, so does his /her development of language and construction of knowledge.
19 Bruner (1986) notes that language is a tool one can use to create reality. theory o f how learning occurs illustrates how language can be used to accomplish this goal. According to Smith, the individual builds a theory of what his/her world is like, and when the individual encounters a new experience, he/she either fits that experience i nto his/her current understanding or he/she must change his or her understanding to reconcile the new experience Because most thought is not possible without langua ge and comes through the response to a sign meaning. Knowledge Not Directly Observable The positivist approach to research is that meaningful reality is objective, and it can be clearly identified or proven to exist through quantitative research methods (Crotty, 1998). For the positivist, knowledge exists when it is verified with certainty. These general statements at knowledge is grounded in direct experience or scientific observation. Essentially, knowledge exists objectively and can be seen or discovered by researchers. This approach is in direct contrast with that of the social constructionist. For the social c onstructionist, knowledge is not necessarily observable. As noted with understanding. And, as Holquist (1990) explains, to make meaning is impossible without the u se of signs, and words allow one to create meaning in both individual and shared social experiences. Language is a tool that supports the development of thought (Vygotsky, 1986), so in an effort to gain some insight to meaning making that is not directly observable, my study views language as a manifestation of thought.
20 Language, as external speech or as internal dialogue, is a primary tool that an individual can use to construct and reconstruct his or her own worldview and build meaning; as a result, we c in understanding and experiences. Thus, to study the experiences of high school dual enrollment (HSDE) students as writers in a college composition course, a central to ol that I used to observe their sense making is language. The language of the HSDE students and the professor participants feedback given to students was the primary sou rce for my study. These artifacts or manifestations of language use can provide insight in building of knowledge in a dual enrollment context that is an act of creative construction by individuals in a sociocultural world that Smith (1975) and Bruner (1986) describe. Importance of S ocial I nteraction Another reason that I used the theory of social constructionism to guide my study was that it emphasizes the importance of culture and social interaction. We are all born into a wor ld of meaning, a world that imbeds us in culture (Crotty, 1998). As a result, our building of meaning is always social because we are constantly interacting with a world that is socially created one that is given meaning, in part, by other individuals (Ge e, 1999). This social interaction does not necessarily involve two individuals. The social aspect of meaning making involves individuals interacting with ideas in their world ideas that have been endowed with meaning by their culture (Crotty, 1998). This paradigm is important for this study for several reasons. First, it is important as it ividual cannot be separated from the social world, and it is his or her active participation in this world an
21 interaction with the social world, the natural world, and/or himself/herself that allows him/her to make sense of that world. Again, a primary to ol for this sense making is language. This study was one that tried to gain insight in to the experiences of the participants by either viewing directly or indirectly products of that interaction the interaction with language and self that occurs with writ ing, the interaction between student and instructor that occurred in the evaluation of writing, and the interaction between the student and his/her learning community. Language Development ment (Smith, 1975). Because language development is an essential part of cognitive growth, it is important to understand how it occurs. Language development occurs when the individual is an active participant in a social world where language is being use d for a particular purpose. Theorists like Vygotksy (1978), Bruner (1986), and Bakhtin (1986) emphasize the importance of social ng. As Lindfors (1991) states, Virtually every child, without special training, when exposed to the surface structure of language in a variety of contexts, builds for himself in a relatively short period of time and at an early stage of cognitive development a complex and arbitrary system g overning language use. (p. 90) The language development of the child wa s not the specific focus of this study, but the way individuals acquire language has important implications for all academic classes focused on language learning. Through experiencing language used in context an d using language in a specific context for a specific purpose, the child builds or constructs meaning (Bruner 1986 ; Donaldson 1978 ; Lindfors 1991 ; Vygotsky, 1986 ). And, as noted above, meaning is constructed from exposure to surface structure without sp ecific instruction about deep structure and its underlying meaning.
22 Language develops as the individual builds or constructs meaning through exposure to purposeful communication and through engaging in purposeful communication. Language U se and the D efini tion of U tterance Language transmits culture and is governed by social conventions of language. These structures and functions are regulated by the rules and conventions of the society in which they are used (Bruner, 1986 ; Holquist, 1990; Lindfors, 1991 ). To study and note this intertwining of utterance and is exp ected to produce a response. These utterances can be spoken or written, but each utterance is individual and created by participants who are engaging in a specific human activity (Bakhtin, 1986). Language use is both original and individual it is created by the speaker or writer, yet affected by previous speech acts, the context of the act, and the desired goal of the speaker or writer. The utterance is purposeful, and it is greatly affected by participants and the particular context or situation in whic h it is used. In other words, the 20). Language use is social, and language helps a child build meaning and become a member of a culture (Bakhtin 1986 ; Bruner, 1986; Vygotsky, 1986). Bakhtin (1986) notes that the individual language user is always weaving his or her thoughts into a web of discourse that is situated in a community or context. The utterance, which is preceded by a conversational turn and then followed by the active response of a listener, is shaped by the experiences of language the speaker has previously lived. The utte rance, as defined by Bakhtin, has three qualities: boundaries, finalization, and expressive aspects. The boundary is determined by the change of speakers in a conversation; the finalization of the
23 utterance has occurred when another person can respond to it, and the expressive part of the utterance refers to its lack of neutrality. Thus, one can see that an act of writing can be viewed as an utterance. Much like an utterance created by a speaker in an effort to meet his / her communication goal and to affe ct the listener, a written text is created by the writer for a particular purpose and audience. The writer, just like the speaker, can use different genres when communicating and may do so based on his / her communication goal and audience. Communicative Co mpetence Because of the social nature of language use, in order for one to be competent using language and to understand how to use language for a variety of purposes in a variety of contexts, he or she must do more than understand the linguistic structure of the language used. (1991) states that having communicative competence with one another appropriately in various 318). For the purpose of this study, I see developing communicative competence as developing the ability to construct utt erances appropriate to particular con texts for particular purposes. situations, and styles. Language can be used for a variety of purposes t o ques tion, to greet another person to summarize a point. These communication events can be formal or informal, and they require a person to understand the form and function required for a specific context. When individuals work to communicate in public settings t hose contexts that are a way from their home environment s t hey need to use the language acceptable for that particular environment (Kutz, 1997). The students in this study have been exposed to the language of an educational context in the course of their academic careers, but the shift in context to the
24 community college English classroom requires a shift in language use appropriate for this new context. Academic writing is a specific type or kind of writing that is created for a specific purpose in a particular context. One way the artifacts created by students course. Creative Construction An individual builds meaning through exposure to purposeful commu nication and engaging in purposeful communication. Being engaged and using whatever means available to communicate meaning and understand the ideas of others suggest that the individual is interested in the business of the communication t here is a desired end result (Kutz, 1997). It is this desire language appropriat ely for the particular context and desired outcome is part of communicating or working toward achieving a desired outcome. Language is used for thought, speech, and writing. By watching others use language and participating in language use in a variety o f situations, an individual works to make sense of language and add to his or her linguistic and communicative repertoire (Lindfors, 1991). Thus, language development is social and involves The act of b uilding meaning for each individual has similarities to the language development of other individuals because everyone works to build meaning through active participation in speech acts, but because each individual will have unique experiences, his / her lan not imposed on him / her, it is creative
25 requirement of an active learner who learns by doing or interacting w ith his / her world (Lindfors, 1991). This notion of creative construction m eaning constructed by the individual in the context of a particular culture is important to this study for several reasons. The students we re engaged in language acts when composing papers for their composition course. In this study, I tried to understand their impetus for writing, their desired outcome of the writing or language act, and their interest in the assignment. Secondly, because students build an understanding of languag e when they are exposed to a variety of situations and styles, I studied the opportunities for writing and exploring ideas that their writing assignments provided. And, in an effort to see if and how their creative use of language was fostered, I studied to them by their instructors when evaluating that writing. The Act of Writing When taking a freshman composition course, one of the primary activities in which students are engaged is writing. To study that wri ting, it is first important to recognize complexities and how writing differs from spoken language. Writing, according to Vygotsky, is Goswami, & Butler, 1983). For Vygotsky (1986), writin g is a process that reflects our mental process m oving from draft, t o final copy. In effect, when one writes he / she is forced to engage in a process of shaping his / her ideas into written language for a particular purpose and for a particular audience. Like other language use, writing is a result of the individual creating or building meaning, but unlike speech and thought, writing involves the individual producing an original product or something tha t has only existed before as thought and the graphic recording of that meaning (Emig et al. 1983). In fact, the act of writing can help
26 the individual build meaning (Flower & Hayes 1980 ; John Steiner, 1997; Langer & Applebee 1987). Cleary (1991) studie d the writing processes of forty 11 th grade students. While each student had his/her unique writing p rocess, she did find patterns in their approaches. The similar aspects of idea generation, organization, drafting, and revision/editing were part of each ower and Hayes (1981 Theory of Writing described the composing process as falling into three stages: the planni ng stage, the translating stage where thoughts move to words on a page, and the reviewing stage. While the names given to these parts of the writing process differ, what is important about these studies is that they identify the common practices of good w riters and the recursive nature of the act of composing. c (Cla g gett, 2005). Unfortunately, this complicated process of moving from thought to written language has often been oversimplified by writing teachers and taught as a linear process of outlining, drafting, and editing ( Emig et al., 1983; Hairston 1982). This step by step notion of writing too often emphasizes the product created by the student rather th an the process of discovery and meaning making inherent in writing (Britton, Burgess, Martin, McLeod, & Rosen, 1975; Yagelski, 2009). erly view of a creative act, a view that defines the successful writer as one who can systematically produce a 500 word theme of five paragraphs, each with a topic senten While many teachers of writing believe writing is a pro cess, the traditional paradigm of teaching writing as an orderly act, not a creative
27 process of discovering meaning is still alive and well in many composition classrooms. ry of writing paragraph essay, and the writing assignment itself is the test to see if the student can reproduce the specific techniques prescribed in the co mposition cl ass. Writing as Social Act Individuals, when writing, us e comes about in both the individual psyche and in shared social experience through the medium 1990 p. 48 ) Gee (1999) notes that individuals gain a primary discourse from the language spoken in their home s and gain other varieties or add to their communicative competence when they interact with new speech communities and contexts. Communicative competence and the shared variety of the language is likely to demonstrate shared cultural understandings of those who use it. The process of acquiring this new understanding of langu age and culture is best achieved by having the opportunity to use language for a variety of purposes with others who speak or write it (Kutz, 1997). As one experiences a variety of social experiences, he or she is invariably exposed to a diversity of lang uage use (Lindfors, 1991). It is this exposure to and participation in a community of practice, like the college composition classroom, that can make students aware of the cultural assumptions and practices that are e mbedded in the discourse community (Ma recognized to speak is a cultural practice with which some community college students from diverse backgrounds may be unfamiliar. Just as one needs to understand the social constrain ts of speaking, one needs to understand the social constraints of writing. As previously noted, language use, whether spoken or written,
28 is social, and to be able to write or speak effec tively one must know and use the social customs governing that langua ge use (Lindfors, 1991). Writing a personal letter differs from writing an editorial essay. The author needs to make a series of decisions and be able to recognize areas of potential problems and promise when going through the writing process to compose either product. The writer, as part of the creative process of building meaning, needs to attend to and make decisions about idea generation, word choice, organization, spelling, punctuation, syntax, clarity, voice, audience, and purpose. Writing for aca demic purposes or in response to an assignment given by a writing instructor can further complicate an already complicated process by forcing the writer to fit these decisions and content into a prescribed format like the five paragraph essay. While one might expect a composition classroom to offer students many opportunities to write for real purposes in a variety of situations, writing instruction in classrooms often includes prescriptive assignments designating a particular format and topic (Britton e t al. 1975; Lindeman n, 2001) Many researchers and theorists believe that the language classroom should be a community of learners all using language for real purposes and audiences. In this setting, the teacher writes with his or her students and is par t of a community of language users, all working together to improve their writing and discover their voice s (Elbow, 1973; Murray, 1991). This view emphasizes the teacher in a collaborative rather than evaluative role and as a member of the learning commun ity (Langer & Applebee 1987). Smith (1986) views the effective language classroom as a literacy club. This idea emphasizes the social nature of learning and the necessity for students to be welcomed into a learning community and desire to be affiliated with that learning community. Whether or not a student uses language in congruence with the rules of the
29 study of Trackton and Ro adville students illustrated. While not using the exact terminol ogy of Smith, John Steiner (1997 ), when studying individuals who were extremely successful in their professions, noted that these individuals often reported an important collaborative learning experience whereby they were eithe r apprentices to a more skilled practitioner in their field or part of a group of individuals pursuing a common interest. Practitioners often suggest that it is important for the teacher in the classroom to model effective writing and behaviors or skills of an experienced writer ( Claggett, 2005; Elbow 1973 ; Murray 1991). This role emphasizes both the social nature of learning and the impor tant role that other learners and Z one of P roximal D evelopment and Scaffolding Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). This is the distance between the actual development level of the learner and the potential development level that c an be achieved with the guidance of an adult or with the assistance of an other or others. Bruner (1990) sees the ZPD as a place for scaffolding, and for the learner to reach his / her potential, the more knowledgeable other must recognize the / she moves f orward. The views of Bruner and Vygotsky illustrate how an individual learner develops understanding with the help of others. In the college composition classroom, the instructor has the role of the more knowledgeable other, and the student is presumably working to improve his /her writing instruction given to the individual students. Much instruction given by the professor in the
30 classroom community is dir ected to all classroom participants. However, the individual feedback given to students on their written composition provides an opportunity to study the specific feedback given to the individual t writ ing abilities. Feedback and E valuation of W riting The instruction given by teachers to writers as comment s on the written text c onstitutes a large part of the teaching o f writing in secondary and post secondary classrooms (Wall & Hull 1989). Wri ting teachers produce written remarks to students in the form of marginalia or at the end of a submitted text in an effort to help students improve their writing (Dyson & Freedman, 2003). Because these comments are often the primary, if not the only, lang uage exchange between the student and the teacher, they we re a focus of my study. writers ( Cleary, 1991; Rose 1989, Shaugnessy 1979). Some state that the comments made by the instructor should function to dramatize the presence of a reader and raise questions that the & Brannon, 1981). This type of feedback can be writing abilit ies develop from text to text. Researchers have found that teachers may teach writing as a process but their approach to feedback on student writing on e that overemphasized the format of the text over the content of the paper d id not match their pedagogical approach to writing instruction (Cleary, 1991). This grade and writing comments to justify that grade (Horvath, 2000). A distinction between summative evaluation and formative evaluation is the focus on the text as a finished product and
31 a judgment or ranking of that product by the instructor instead of seeing the writing as a draft to be revised where the comments are suggestions, questions, or reminders to the author (Sommers, 1982). Cleary (1991) found that students valued corrections and suggestions from instruct ors when they viewed the feedback as part of a collaborative effort to improve a text from a teacher who respected them. Grading, or summative evaluation, had a greater effect on writing confidence than it did on the development of writing ability. In in stances where the grading was it was perceived as praise, it could make students more willing to complete writing assignments. With in school writing, the s et al., 1975, p. 64). When the instructor evaluates a paper based on the mistakes made by the student, he / she foc uses on what that person cannot do and rather than helping the student improve his / her writing, it may actually cause more student errors ( Delpit, 1988; Rose, 1989; Shaughnessy 1979). Many researchers have studied the evaluative comments made by instruct ors who teach writing. There is plenty of evidence that writing instructors often make comments about mistakes in grammar and mechanics (Harris, 1977; Searle & Dillon, 1980). Searle and Dillon (1980) either evaluative comments of a general nature almost all of the teachers in their study tried to correct all mechanical errors. Fifty nine percent of the comments in the papers they collected were correcting mechanical errors (p. 64). They suggested that teachers focus on correcting grammatical mistakes because they are the most apparent errors, and they adhere to a previously established standard (p. 64).
32 Other researchers, like Connors and Lunsford (1993) have discovered that there is a great range of grades or evaluative markings or symbols used by writing instructors. Their analysis of 3,000 college essays revealed how difficult it can be to de cipher the grade actually given to a student and how the instructor arrived at that grade (p. 143). They also reported that they were surprised at how many writing samples contained no comments other than the grade for the paper. Overall, they stated tha t the papers and comments found in their samples revealed a world of teaching writing very different from the theoretical world of compositi on studies (p. 148). and as part of the development of their writing abilities, the written feedback instructors gave the dual enrollment students wa s a major part of this study. Exploring these comments and making an effort to decipher whether they we re formative or summative e valuation provided insight to the theoretical perspective of the teachers and could have impact ed how the students view ed themselves as writers and their writing abilities. Thus, in addition to studying the comments themselves, I also asked the students q uestions about the feedback they received from their instructor s and their transcribed answers to these questions served as another important part of my study. Context The context of the individual learner is of particular importance to learning because i t can learning by using the Confederate flag as an example. He note s that one South Carolinian viewed the flag as representing honor and courage while another resident of the same state saw the flag as representative of oppression and segregation. A person who lives outside of the United States may not see the Confederate flag as representing any particular meaning. Using
33 different meanings, and these meanings are not interpreted in a vacuum; they are interpreted inside a particular context. Meaning is constructed by the individual within a sociocultural setting, an d the context in which this sense in profound ways (Bruner, 1986). high school students to take both high school and college course work on a college campus, one of the dis tinguishing features of this HSDE program Therefore a closer look at the meaning and influence of context is warranted. The complexities of context come not only from the one speaking or writing the utterance and his or her intentions, but the sense mad e by the audience of that utterance. And any communication act, whether one is speaking or writing, takes place inside particular boundaries related to time and place. That is because as Lindfors (1999) explains: In communication, there is no such thing There are only words spoken, written, signed, heard, felt, responded to words enmeshed in an intricate web expectations, associations, con nections, relationships a ll these reverberate in the words when th ey become utterances. (p. 215) to describe the notions of context that are important considerations fo r understanding the interactions in a classroom. A good metaphor for the context that one can apply to a classroom e for the event, St. Andrews, and this is true to some event are not as simple as the golf course itself. The golf course encountered by those who began play in the morning during heavy rains was quite different from the golf course encountered by those who began play in the afternoon when the rain had stopped and the greens were receptive to approach shots. These weather changes illustrate how the surround c ontext is
34 impacted not only by the space in which the event occurs, but the time a nd conditions of the event. p. 218 ). In the case of the British Open, several qualities of the event t of the game, along il lustrate how tha to win the 2010 British Open is far different from making a putt at the end of a round on any other day, even if the location w ere St. Andrews. the community college itself and what it may represent, along with the composition classrooms, the individuals participating in class meetings, and the features of class meetings t he time, space, and psycholo gical aspects of the surround context a s well as the possible impact these strands of the surround context have on the students and their learning are important considerations for this study. ndividual as an active particular event (Lindfors, 1999). This understanding of context focuses on the individual and recognizes that each individual brings his or her own set of experiences, expectations, and understanding and using the boundaries created by the surround, creates the context for the experience anew Again using the metaphor above, an individual participant in the golfing event uses his own capabi lities and past experiences and weaves these together with the surround context to create his own context in the tournament. Specifically, one player may choose to hit a
35 driver off of the first tee, while another decides it is a better strategy to hit an iron. The decision t he course, course conditions, weather, import of the shot at a particular time b ut one made by the individual who is using his experiences, abilities, and personal strategy to construct his experi ence. t the individual members of a classroom bring and how these individuals in turn dr a create their understandings of and responses to classroom events. The community college context in which the student participants operat ed is one that differed from the high school classroom the participants had previously been members of, and it wa s the effect if any, of this context on these students and their development as writers that I studied through looking at their academic artifacts and interviewing them and their teachers about their experiences. Issues Affecting the Classroom Context The cont ext of the classroom includes the physical setting of the classroom in the case of my study the community college campus and the individual classrooms located on that campus as well as the participants in the classroom. The community college, with its po licy of a dmitting students regardless of college placement test scores and its lower cost of tuition, is an institution that is attended by students with a variety of backgrounds and abilities. These participants and their variety of linguistic experience s were an important consideration for my study. All members of a classroom community, including the instructor and al l student members, bring his/ her own language abilities and experiences to the classroom. These languages or abilities consist of the lang uage(s) spoken at home and other languages or language variations, dialects, or styles gained through participation in other speech or discourse communities (Kutz,
36 ther languages needed for various situations or communities are secondary discourses. In this view, the school is a discourse community, and this secondary discourse may be more or less like the course may pose problems for those whose primary discourse is less like the discourse of school (Heath, 1983; Kutz, 1997; Lindfors, 1991). The language of school is more like the language of the dominant group (Smagorinsky, 2001) which for most schools, and particularly post secondary campuses is the language of the middle or upper middle class Therefore students who speak English as a second language or acquir ing and using language app ropriate for school discourse. Since some students will be faced with acquiring a new variety of language t he standard English of academia w e can expect the process to be one where the writer begins to incorporate the new features of the secondary discourse while still using some of the features of his / her primary discourse. In other words, as a learner works toward mastering a new variety of English, he / she will not always be able to attend to issues of meaning and form at the s ame time (Kutz, 1997). As the authority figure in the classroom, teachers must recognize languages of different communities and cultures and not mistake different community languages as indicative of deficiencies in language ability ( Heath, 1983; Townsend & Fu 199 8). The business of education proceeds with the use of language or the discourse of the school. In a classroom, the teachers and students do not often physically encounter what is being studied. Rather, the student encounters these worlds conce ptually through language and language use (Bruner 1986). In a school setting, a student would encounter a concept like democracy through a lecture, perhaps. But this encounter does not ensure anything more than an exposure to an
37 idea. For students to c ome to a deep understanding of a concept like democracy, they must not merely encounter the term, but use it in speech acts and negotiate its meaning with others. According to Bruner (1986), learners must actively participate in this discussion, negotiati on, or building of conceptual worlds. Complicating this active participation for some students is their possible lack of familiarity or experience with the discourse acceptable for the academic setting. discussing concepts can impact student engagement and learning (Bruner, 1986; Lindfors, 1991). The instructor is the authority figure in the classroom. The teacher is the leader of the learning communi ty in the classroom, and his/ her language use and atti tude toward learning are important. This stance or perspective taken toward learning and knowledge is one that is 2002). Instructors in educational setting s are transmitting their world view s and how the mind is used in respect to the world when presenting information to students (Kutz, 1997). Stance marking, Bruner (1986) states, can model how one thinks or wonders about a topic by expressing a stance of unce rtainty or doubt. For example, when giving students instruction related to pronoun case, one English instructor may tell his / her students that objective case pr onouns like him and her are used when the pronoun is an object while nominative case pronouns like she and he are used when the pronoun is the subject of a verb. And while there is a grammatical rule regulating correct and incorrect pronoun use, an instr in writing. For example, another English instructor may use language to invit e his / her students to wonder why we have pronouns like him and he or her and she that both denote the same
38 gender and number. Initiating a conversation by wondering why this particular part of speech in the complexities of language. These two instructors may be giving instruction about the same topic, but only one instructor is using a stance that invites his / her students to wonder about some of the intricacies of language. As mentioned, one of the pr imary interactions between the teacher and student in a writing feedback to the student regarding his / her writing. Exploring this feedback and the language the in comments about writing is acceptable for academic discourse and which is unacceptable (Samuelson, 2009). To scaffold student learning effectively, teachers need to fost er a dynamic and collaborative interaction with students (Smagorinsky, 2001). To create an atmosphere that fosters collaboration and welcomes the individual learners as important members of the classroom community, the instructor must attend to issues of distance, power, and rank. When studying politeness and its role in cooperative language use, Brown and Levinson (1987) define power as the status of the addressee and speaker. How much power one has over the other relates to distance the greater the powe r, the greater the social distance that exists between the two. When asking a question in a classroom setting, for example, the speaker is imposing his / her interests or ideas on the addressee. How great this imposition is when the speaker attempts to get the addressee to help him / her go beyond his or her present understanding is defined as the rank. It is important to consider power, distance, and rank in the classroom
39 because these three characteristics are related to the classroom community and whether or not the context welcomes the participation and opinions of all members of the classroom community. In the context of the classroom, a strong and close classroom community where the power, rank, and distance have been reduced works to reduce the imposi tion of the speaker (Lindfors, 1999). If the power of the addressee is greater than the speaker, then the social distance and rank increase mean minimize the risk of t he student, and to do this, the teacher needs to use language that illustrates that he / she is one who wonders about language one who is interested in negotiating meaning (Lindfors, 1999). An instructor can use language that illustrates uncertainty and won dering to create a stance of openness and acceptance of other po ints of view (Townsend, 1998). The composition classroom should be a learning community that welcomes diverse participants and diverse points of view. It should be dynamic and engaging, foste ring the exploration of ideas and the building of knowledge. To create this rich, welcoming, dynamic learning environment, the instructor must attend to differences in student backgrounds and abilities, as well as issues of rank, power, and distance (Lind fors, 1999). In addition to these challenges, the instructor must also be aware of differences in gender and age. has demonstrated that in many American schools, gi rls do not speak as much or as often, and they are not called on by instructors as often as their male classmates ( Sadker & Sadker, 1994; Swann & Gradol, 1994). As Kutz (1997) states, Across levels of schooling, girls are called on less frequently than bo ys, given shorter turns when they are called on, and offered fewer follow up questions that ask them to extend reconceptualization that supports real learning. (p. 179)
40 T hese fin dings should concern instructors because they indicate that girls may not be receiving the same access to the same kind of learning experiences that boys receive. Also, this type of inequity in class participation can promote gender inequities in power ou tside of th e school setting (Kutz, 1997). The participants in my study not only represent ed different genders, diverse backgrounds, and varying abilities, but in the community college classroom, the HSDE student participants we re most often the youngest me mbers of their classroom communities. Age is often privileged with power, and in a large classroom where students may have to assert themselves to participate, some HSDE students may find it intimidating to participate fully with older classmates. In my study, I used interviews with selected students to explore how welcome and comfortable students felt in their classrooms and what activities they engaged in and were asked to participate in by other members of their classroom. To explore student experienc es, it was an important part of my study to try to gain insight in to how these students, with their varying backgrounds, abilities, experiences, genders, and ages, engaged with other classmates and participated in their classroom communities. Secondary Pos t s econdary Learning Options There are many different models and programs designed to allow high school students to participate in college classes and earn college credit. Because of the importance of context and its affect on students, it is important to understand the options available for high school students who wish to take college level course work before being awarded their high school diploma. The American Yo uth Policy Forum (AYPF) uses the term Secondary Postsecondary Learning Options (SPLOs) as a n umbrella term encompassing the range of options that enable high school students to earn college credit before graduation (Lerner & Brand, 2006). I will also discuss these programs in an effort to describe the program that was studied for this project. Because the
41 research tries to label the SPLOs as one of the following programs S ingleton Programs, Dual Enrollment Programs, Advanced Placement Programs, Middle College High School Programs, Early College High School Programs, or Comprehensive Programs it is important to note how the program used for this study compares and contrasts to the most prevalent models for dual enrollment. Singleton Programs Many two and four year institutions surveyed reported offering college level classes to high school stude nts but with no formal dual enrollment program (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). Singleton programs refer to independent electives offered to high school students to introduce them to college level work (Lerner & Brand, 2006). These classes provide enrichment to the high school course of study and enable students to earn college credit. Singleton programs are generally taught at the high school by high school faculty members. This program is quite different from the one studied for this project because all cours e work is completed on a high school campus and the number of hours or amount of credit that a participant can receive is limited. Dual Enrollment Programs Dual enrollment programs allow high school students, as well as students who had dropped out but ch ose to return, to enroll in college level courses held either on the high school or college campus (Lerner & Brand, 2006). Simultaneously counting as credit toward degrees at both levels, courses can be taught by college or high school faculty. Some innovative programs u se team s composed of instructors from both institutions (Jordan Cavalluzzo, & Corallo 2006). As the National Center for Educational Statistics ( NCES ) survey demonstrates, dual enrollment programs vary widely in content, design, and requirements (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). While the program used for this study is self labeled as a high school dual enrollment program, its design is
42 not identical to the one described above. It does provide high school students an opportunity to take coll ege courses on a college campus, but one of its distinguishing factors is that it also offers students the opportunity to take high school classes on a college campus. Advanced Placement Programs Advanced P lacement (AP) programs represent a specific type o f dual enrollment option although they are frequently categorized with other programs for research purposes (Lerner & Brand, 2006). Students enrolled in AP programs are offered a wide range of courses spanning 20 subject areas and taught by specially tra ined high school instructors (Plucker Chien, & Zaman 2006). AP programs operate under the supervision of the College Board. At the end of each course, students take a standardized exam that determines whether or not they earn college credit. Most AP s tudents take AP classes on their high school campus, but AP may be offered through independent study or in some states, over the Internet (Lerner & Brand, 2006). For the purpose of this study, it is important to note that all participants in this study w ere from schools that offered AP course work. Students must meet requirements set by their district or home high school to participate in AP course work. The students involved in this study either did not meet the requirements for AP course work or chose to attend the dual enrollment program as an alternative w ay of acquiring college credit. Middle College High Schools Programs MCHSs are secondary schools, typically organized for grades 10 12, situated on college campuses and designed to provide student s from traditionally underserved populations with a rigorous academic program in a highly supportive atmosphere (Born, 2006; Lerner & Brand, 2006). Students enrolled in MCHSs can take full advantage of the facilities available on campus although it is im portant to note that not all MCHS students are eligible to participate in college level course work. What distinguishes the MCHS from the program studied here is that students
43 who enroll in MCHS programs typically leave their traditional home high school to do so. The program studied in this project actually works with the home high school allowing students to graduate from the home high school and participate in all high scho ol extracurricular activities. Early College High Schools Programs The terms early college high school and middle college high school are sometimes used interchangeably (Plucker et al., 2006). Both MCHSs and ECHSs are generally situated on college campuses and designed to serve disadvantaged or at risk students. However, ECHSs ar e actually small high schools organized so that students graduate in four or five years with an Associate in Arts (AA) degree with a sufficient number of credits to enroll in a baccalaureate program as a college junior (Lerner & Brand, 2006). Students beg in ECHS programs in ninth grade but usually do not participate in college level courses until they reach their junior year. While there are qualities of this kind of program that are like the one studied for this project, ECHSs may not be situated on a co llege campus. Additionally, students may be organized in cohort groups, thus not taking college level classes with other college students. Comprehensive Programs Students enrolled in comprehensive programs take most (or in some cases, all) of the courses needed to complete their high school requirements by enrolling in college level courses on a college campus (Lerner & Brand, 2006). This option allows students to receive both college and high school credit for taking college courses. Comprehensive progr ams are similar to S ingleton P rograms in that the main emphasis is exposing students to challenging college level academics. Similar to AP programs, most comprehensive programs are aimed at academically talented students. It is obvious that there is some degree of overlap among all of these programs due to the vast array of models used to provide high school students with opportunities to earn college
44 credits before graduation. As a fairly new phenomenon, program models are consistently evolving and expan ding. But it is important to note that while all of these programs have some feature or features in common with the HSDE program used for this study, none accurately reflect all of the qualities of the study site. In the case of the site studied, the sch ool district and community college worked together to create a program that offers its students another option for gaining college credit while attaining a high school diploma. High School Dual Enrollment Trends To investigate the extent and nature of conc urrent enrollment participation in the U nited S tates the NCES surveyed a nationally representative sample of Title IV degree granting postsecondary institutions (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). Data were based on the number of high school students taking college courses at their campuses during the 2002 2003 academic year. The data encompassed students taking courses both within and outside of dual enrollment programs. In the N CES granting postsecondary instituti ons that serve as a representative sample of postsecondary institutions in the 50 states and District of Columbia, more than half of the 1,472 colleges surveyed (57%) reported having high school students taking college credit courses at their campuses. Am ong these institutions, 48% offered dual enrollment programs for high school students while 31% reported high school students taking college courses independent of dual enrollment programs (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). Virtually all the community colleges (98 %) had high school students taking college courses at their campus, compared to 77% of public four year colleges and only 17% of private four year colleges. These statistics indicate the prevalence of some type of dual enrollment programs on college campu ses throughout the United States.
45 Numerically, when this survey was completed in 2004, some 813,000 high school students enrolled in college courses, representing approximately 5% of all U.S. high school students (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). Roughly 680,000 o f those students (84%) were participants in dual enrollment programs. More than three quarters (77%) of the college course participants, whether enrolled in a specific dual enrollment program or taking a class as an individual, took the courses through co mmunity colleges. Again, these numbers illustrate the large contingent of students participating in dual enrollment programs m ost of whom are taking courses through their local community college. Community College Dual Enrollment Program Design Trends Off icials from institutions offering dual enrollment were queried about the design of their programs (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). Two important tends related to my study emerged from this survey of dual enrollment providers. First, c ommunity colleges were most likely to offer courses at high school campuses (73%), compared to 47% of public four year colleges and 28% of private four year colleges. This proportion is important to note and suggests that the majority of students taking dual enrollment classes throu gh their community colleges will not be involved in the college setting. The largest segment of institutions with dual enrollment programs (48%) reported that high school students typically took one college course per semester, with 14% stating that their policy allowed only one course (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). These two trends colleges offering classes to HSDE students on a high school campus and students enrolling in only one college level class per semester, were important when looking at the site for t his study. First of all, research completed on dual enrollment students, according to this information, would reflect students who primarily are taught on a high school campus and who most often take no more than one or two college classes. This is not t
46 site, which allows high school students to take all of their course work on a college campus and also allows students to take a variable amount of college course work. The trends for community college programs regarding student part icipation in dual enrollment are also important to note. According to Kleiner and Lewis (2005), community colleges were somewhat less likely to look at grade point average (GPA) than four year institutions but far more likely to require that students pass a college placement test (CPT). CPTs were used by 73% of community colleges but only 22% of public four year colleges and 13% of private four year colleges. These percentages suggest that students can enter the community college program by meeting stand ardized testing requirements, allowing students with different grade point averages to participate. This opportunity is quite different from Advanced Placement classes and International Baccalaureate p rograms. Both of these SPLOs are offered on high scho ol campuses that require particular GPAs for student enrollment. It is also important to note that, in the case of the program studied for this project, the CPT score did not require students to be eligible to participate in college level work for all are as tested. Students simply needed to be eligible for college level course work in reading, math, or writi ng. Course Participation Trends for Dual Enrollment Students du al enrollment trends, Salt Lake City Community College President, Lynn Cundiff, no ted that English and mathematics were two of the most popular courses with dual enrollment participants (League, 2002). Many students regarded completing these courses durin g high school as a way of accelerating college graduation, and Cundiff considers this course work in core classes an efficient allocation of state funds because it can eliminate redundancies between high school and college.
47 White and female students were o verrepresented in dual enrollment in Florida (Welsh Brake, & Choi 2005). Dual enrollment students also tended to be more affluent than their non participant peers (Karp Calcagno, Hughes, Jeong, & Bailey 2007, 2008). Findings demonstrated that collect ively, dual enrollment students had a 4.3% greater chance of graduating from high school than nonparticipants. Furthermore, dual enrollment increased the probability that dual enrollment students overall would attend a baccalaureate institution by 7.7%. Once enrolled, dual enrollment students as a group were 4.5% more likely to persevere to the second sem ester of college. Beyond short term outcomes, dual enrollment students who enrolled in higher education were more likely to persist two years after gradu ating from high school (Karp et al., 2008). In addition, the dual enrollment participants earned significantly higher cumulative GPAs three years after high school graduation compared to their peers with no dual enrollment experience. Dual enrollment participants also earned more college credits three years after high school graduation. While conceding that some of these credits were probably earned thro ugh dual enrollment, Karp et al.(2008) suggested that the dual enrollment students also earned more credits after becoming matriculated college students. Data analysis of student demographics suggested that participation in dual enrollment was especially beneficial for males, low income students, and underperforming students. Karp et al (2008) found this especially promising because lower income and lower GPAs have been identified as risk factors that mak e students less likely to graduate from high school. The positive impact of program participation supports the assumption that dual e nrollment can help increase postsecondary educational opportunities. While most dual enrollment programs offer college course work on a high school campus, recent research supports the idea that getting high
48 risk students into college courses on a college campus as part of a dual enrollment program can increase their chances of successfully completing college (Schaffhauser, 2010). Case Study Research of HSDE Programs While there is plenty of information about HSDE programs and quantitative s urvey s of these programs, there are few qualitative studies of HSDE programs and students. In this section, I will review the few qualitative studies of dual enr ollment programs and students. Jordan et al. (2006) presented detailed case studies of five exemplary sites r epresenting different models of high school / community college dual enrollment programs. At each site, the researchers took a campus tour and engaged in classroom observations in addition to conducting individual interviews and focus group discussions wit h various stakeholders including college faculty, school district and community college administrators, school board members, program directors, guidance counselors, teachers, students, and parents (Jordan et al., 2006). Several features emerged as corne rstones of the successful programs. A unanimous belief was that success (p. 736). Reducing dropout rates was a major force in creating the program. Other importa nt factors included enhancing the rigor and flexibility of the high school curriculum, conventional comprehensive high schools. Leadership was the key to the establishment of the programs (Jordan et al., 2006). Top executive support from both the high school and college was deemed crucial to program success, and leaders of both institutions involved in the partnership acted as powerful advocates and problem s olvers throughout all stages of program development. Jordan et al. noted that to ensure Being called on to promote
49 collaborative action and sustain the support of all stakeholder groups, the program directors were usually experienced veterans who were widely known and respected. d intangible benefits of situating the program on a community college campus (p. 737). The students enjoyed being in a supportive but challenging learning environment, and teachers commented that the students gained maturity by being in classes alongside college students (p. 744). The teachers also viewed the dual enrollment students as valuable contributors to classroom discussions. High school teachers in the program enjoyed the professionalism and respect they were given on the college campus. Colleg iality was a key feature of the five sites. Ranging in size from 125 to 148 as well as a famil ial atmosphere for students (p. 739). In t erms of concrete advantages, Jordan et al. (2006) observed that the students were presented with a wider variety of courses, more sophisticated educational technology, and superior facilities to those in the local high schools. Psychosocial benefits inclu ded interacting with a diverse and more mature student body who served as role models for diligent learning. Being immersed in this atmosphere motivated the students to project a mature and responsible image. However, Jordan et al. acknowledged that whil e most students benefited from the college environment, those involved in the program reported their belief that some dual enrollment participants had difficulties with self discipline and responsibility and chose to retur n to their local high schools. The report suggested that a combination of attributes contributed to the effectiveness of the five dual enrollment programs. In addition to dedicated faculty and administrators and excellent facilities and technology, students in each program had access to a n array of support services
50 (including mentoring) and a carefully designed, challenging curriculum aligned with state standards and targeted to the needs of the specific student population (Jordan et al., 2006). At all five sites, students and teachers co mmented that teaching in the high school classes surpassed the quality of instruction in conventional high schools. of their classroom experiences their HSDE program teachers control led the learning pace, managed the material covered by the curriculum, and offered more opportunities for an exchange of ideas especially through class discussion Students described their assignments as more interesting and aligned with real world experiences than the assignm ents they had at their local high schools. Jordan et al. noted that the teachers used a repertoire of strategies to engage students, in particular adapting their teaching to students who were not making good progress. Team teaching was a common strategy, especially at Mott and Contra Costa. Notably, the teams were composed of both high school and college faculty buil ding on the unique expertise of each team member. Students and parents both expressed overwhelming support for the program (Jordan et al., 2006). Students described how involvement with the programs altered their attitudes about school and learning, and the parents substantiated their positive accounts. Having tuition free college credit was a definite benefit for families although Jordan et al. surmised this was While the Jordan et al. study explores the programs themselves, scholarly research heir experience is rare. In the case studies reported by Jordan The researchers included re,
51 my whole mind (p. 745). Other than the one quotation, their interviews of students who participated in the programs resulted in a few notes of what the researchers found to be signific ant themes: students and faculty members noted that often times student behavior became more mature and assimilated to that of a college student; however, the community college campus did not provide enough structure for some students who reported that th ey were unable to handle the freedom and returned to their home high schools (p p 737 738). No specific data regarding the percentage of students who made the above comments, the number of students interviewed, or the percentage who left the programs were given. In an article written by Nealy (2008) about dual enrollment, one quotation from a student, Grejika Abram, was included. A graduate of the dual enrollment program offered by Neville High School and Louisiana Delta Community College, she commented that her college level experience was used to illustrate an article on the expansion of dual enrollment programs (Nealy, 2008). Her perceptions are consistent with the assumption that dual enrollment provides a context for students to familiarize themselves with the demands and expectations of the first year of college (Bailey Hughes, & Karp 2002; Burns & Lewis, 2000; Karp, 2007 ) However, her course work involved taking classes taught by a college instructor on a high s chool campus. Burns and Lewis (2000) observed that school climate is a prominent topic in educational research, but it has never been applied to the study of dual enrollment. Their participants were six dual enrollment students, three who attended college level classes at their high school and three who attended classes at a community college campus. The four female and two male
52 students ranged in age from 17 to 19 and had comparable GPAs. The overarching finding was that while all six students had posit ive perceptions of dual enrollment, those whose courses were taught on the college campus were more satisfied with their experience (Burns & Lewis, 2000). ste T he students who took the classes on the college campus felt the environment made them more mature and independent. For example, one student commented that students were expected to be on time for class es with no bells or guidance from teachers. The same student admitted that she initially felt intimidated but was Another student felt no apprehension but ra p He believed his experience provided him with an advantage in entering college because after his dual enrollment expos (p. 6). One student had been involved in dual enrollment on both the high school and college campus (Burns & Lewis, 2000). th course I took at the college was She described the dual (p. 6). The main pa rt of a college campus. She acknowledged this herself, explaining that: There is a certain level of familiarity at the high school . At the college location, I literally felt my concentration increase and was more meticulous with my notes. I guess it psychological impact. The two other students who took classes at the community college campus agreed that they felt more responsible for their learning experiences and consequently
53 put more effort into their work. Burns and Lewis (2000) viewed their study as a preliminary At the present time however, this line of research does not appear to have been carried further. Smith (200 7) surveyed 304 students from high schools in rural Kansas regarding their educational aspirations and the influence of program location on their experience. The most important finding was that involvement in dual enrollment had a pronounced positive impa ct on their educational aspirations. In fact, participation in dual enrollment had a more powerful s This finding supports the assertion that dual enrollment a nd other high school college linkages are especially advantageous for students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education (Bailey et al., 2002; Hoffman, 2003; Hunt & Carroll, 2006; Kim, 2006; Plucker et al., 2006). However, the most str iking finding was that students who took dual credit courses on a college campus expressed higher educational aspirations than those who took the same courses at their high schools (Smith, 2007). While these studies note the importance of the location of t he dual enrollment classes, none of them attempted to discuss the impact the location might have on students completing specific course work. Because of the social nature of language learning, one might expect the site or context to impact the learner. T he site used for this study offered an opportunity to study the students taking classes on a college campus and allow ed them to describe how the location of the classes impacted their experiences as composition students. Qualitative Methods and Case Studie s Quantitative research methods are effective tools for answering questions about things that can be directly measured and observed (Glesne 1998). When studying complex behaviors or phenomena, qualitative research methods like open ended questioning, fi eld observations, and
54 case studies may be used to view what is being studied in its real life context (Glesne 1998). In this project, I wanted to study the experiences of h igh s chool d ual e nrollment students taking a college composition c ourse on a coll ege campus. In other words, the phenomena I wanted to study had many overlapping pieces. I wanted to get the perspectives of the students themselves about the dual enrollment program that they were participating in and the community college that houses t he dual enrollment program. When studying these students as learners in a composition course, I needed to study their writing and gain insight in to the composition class as well as the professor s teaching the course. Thus, a qualitative study allowed me to use a variety of techniques to gather information about phenomena that cannot be directly observed or measured Study Design and Rationale The case study method is a method of qualitative research that looks closely at a phenomenon and studies it witho ut separating it from the context in which it occurs (Dyson & Genishi 2005 ; Yin 1981). Case studies use m any sources of evidence and the data represent what is being studied (Dyson & Genishi 2005 ; Yin 1981). A case study is an examination of what Bi rnbaum, Emig, and Fisher (2003) call a bounded system t he case is fixed in time and place and has restrictions such as the event, person, or action that is focused on (p 192). I chose the case study method because it allowed me to study individuals and t heir perspectives. To study only the individual components of the setting t he school or the teachers or classroom w insight in to their impact. Also, each individual brings his or her way of being to the classroom, individual that I hope d to be able to study the intersection between the school context and the experience of the individu al. By employing case study methods like semistructured interviews of student and nonstudent participants in the program as well as artifact collection and analysis,
55 I made an effort to try to separate the individual experiences from the whole. Indeed, inside each classroom the individual members participating in the classroom activities bring their own individual experiences and abilities to bear on the happenings inside the classroom. Each of these individuals in the classroom is then meshed with the other individuals to create the context (Lindfors, 199 9 ). And it is this context that affects the individual learner. A good metaphor for this interaction is a chorus. Each individual voice is unique, and the individual voices affect the sound created b y the whole chorus. In addition, the venue would affect the choral performance, just as the classroom, its physical configuration and location, and in this case the h igh s chool d ual e nrollment program itself can affect the proceedings of the class and the actions of the individual learners. The goal of a case study is to present a holistic and lifelike description, something that might resemble what readers normally encounter in their experience s of the world (Lincoln & Guba 19 8 5), and in this study I want to give readers as complete a description as possible of what high school dual enrollment students experience when participating in a dual enrollment program and taking college c omposition on a college camp us.
56 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY descriptive and interpretive. I began this process w ith a pilot study that helped me refine my approach for my dissertation study. In this chapter I will describe selection of the site and my participants, the pilot study, the collection of data, and the methods I used to analyze that data. Selection of Si te I wanted to study the experiences of high school dual enrollment (HSDE) students taking college composition classes on a college campus; thus, my research was site specific (Marshall & Rossman 2006, p. 60). I needed to find an appropriate, well establ ished HSDE program. Also, when engaging in qualitative research, Patton (2002) suggests the researcher think about his / her role in the setting as a part of a continuum. The researcher can be fully situated in the setting, as a full participant who goes a bout ordinary life in a role in the setting, or he / she can be situated in the setting as a non participating observer. One advantage to having some level or participation in the setting is that the researcher can build important relationships and have acc ess to information a complete observer would not (Marshall & Rossman 2006, p. 73). It seemed appropriate for me to use the HSDE program in which I had been involved for many years as an instructor as the site for my study. This site had been used by othe r qualitative researchers studying best practices of dual enrollment programs (Jordan et al. 2006). Also, because of my involvement in the program, relationship with others who worked in the program and on the college campus, and relationship to students in the program, I was able to gain the access and information needed for a study of the experiences I wished to observe. Finally, because this HSDE program had been in existence on this campus for over 30 years, I was able
57 to study a well established pro gram with well established practices. And because this program has been operating in the same community for such a long period of time, it is well known by students and attracts a wide range of applicants and participants throughout the county that it ser ves. Setting for Study The setting for this study is on the campus of a community college The HSDE p rogram used for this study began at this location in 1974. The HSDE program began as a collaborative effort between the local school board and the commun ity college. The dual enrollment program is well established on the community college campus as it had been operating there for 35 years. The HSDE program that served as the site for this study was one of the first sites in the nation to have high school students full time on a college campus. Some participants in the program take all college courses as part of the regular college offerings; others mix community college courses with high school courses taught on campus by college faculty wh o are also state certified to teach high school courses Attending classes full time on campus is only one of the features that distinguish the program from other dual enrollment programs. This d ual e nrollment p rogram serves a wider range of students than the A P courses or International Baccalaureate p rogram offered to the high school students in this school district because it is available to Fine Arts and Technology and Applied Science students as well as the academically gifted. The program offers a u nique plan of study that allows students to excel in their areas of strength, progress with other high school students in other academic areas, and even remediate their skills in college prep courses. Hence, students with lower college level placement sco res are enrolled in some subject areas to proceed in college work, even while they are completing their high school preparation in other academic subjects on campus, so that transportation and sche duling conflicts are minimized.
58 The HSDE program serves approximately 500 high school juniors and seniors. Students who want to attend the program must apply for entrance. The selection process is completed by alifications for the program, students must have passed the required for graduation from high school, and at a minimum, achieve d a score on the college placement test (CPT) that places them in college p reparatory math, reading, and writing classes. They are enrolled in one of three full time, college based programs: Technology and Applied Science, Fine Arts, or College Academic. Each of these programs allows high school juniors and seniors to earn dual credit for taking college courses that also fulfill high school requirements. In addition to these college level courses, students may take high school courses on the community HSDE students are able to participate in any of the functions or activities at their home high schools while being given all of the rights and privileges of community college students. For public school students, all costs of tuition, books, and suppl ies are waived. Students participating in the HSDE program are not identified on the community college campus in any clear way as high school students. They take classes, whether at the college or high school level, in the same buildings and classrooms where full time college students take classes. They are placed in college classes with other full time college students, and instructors of those classes are not aware that high school students are enrolled until the HSDE counselor of the enrolled student asks them about the student midterm progress. This progress report is solicited for every HSDE student enrol led in a college level course.
59 This particular setting was appealing for my study because it had a well established program, it had a large numb er of possible participants, and it allowed students of a wide range of abilities and backgrounds to participate in its program. Pilot Study interview two high scho ol dual enrollment students in depth, one currently taking the first college level English course, ENC 1101 and a student who failed her first attempt at ENC 1101, about their perceptions of the usefulness of the feedback given to them on written assignme nts, their understanding of the nature of the tasks they were to complete, and what they believed they had learned in the class. Both students had the same college instructor. I then interviewed the college instructor about her perceptions of the two stu dents and their writing abilit ies and her evaluations of their written work. My question became one of looking at the different experiences that these two students had in their college composition course and the sense that they made of the feedback they w ere given by their instructor. In spite of the fact that both students had similar scores on the CPT, the instrument used to place incoming students in courses at the college, their course outcomes and exp eriences were quite different. Pilot Study Partici pants Professor Sands To ensure that this professor participant was given anonymity, she was given a pseudonym. Th is instructor teaches College Composition I (ENC 1101), Writing about Literature (ENC 1102), Advanced Composition (ENC 2301), and Poetry Writ ing (CRW 2300). She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from a four year college and her Master of Arts degree in English from a Division I u niversity. She had worked at the community college for 13
60 years. She spent the first three of those years w orking as an adjunct professor but was then hired as a full time instructor and at the time of the study held the t itle of Professor of English. Student p articipants T o en sure that both student participants were given anonymity, they were assigned pseudony ms. The first participant will be called Lynn, and the second participant will be referred to as Shirley. Lynn Lynn, when she agreed to participate in my pilot study, was a high school junior in her second semester of the dual enrollment program. When sh e first applied to the dual enrollment program, she was given the CPT and scored a 94 on the reading portion and 103 on the sentence skills portion. The college has determined that scores between 83 120 on the reading portion and 83 120 on the sentenc e skills portion are required for a student to be placed in college level English courses. These scores meant that Lynn was able to enroll in college level English even though it was her first semester on campus. Lynn, after talking to her counselor, de cided to take College Composition I (ENC 1101) in the fall semester. Lynn did not receive a passing grade in her ENC 1101 class. Shirley Shirley, when she participated in this study, was a high school senior in the dual enrollment program. Although class ified a senior, she was sixteen years old. When she applied to the program and was given the CPT, she scored an 85 on the reading test and a 105 on the sentence skills test. Even though she was eligible to take college level English courses, her dual enr ollment counselor felt that her relatively low but passing score on the reading test made her a better candidate for high school course work. She was placed in high school courses for all of
61 her junior year and the fall semester of her senior year. She c ompleted ENC 1101 in the spring of her senior year of hig h school with an A average. Pilot Study Findings providing guidance to students as they composed an essay. F or each in class written assignment, Professor Sands handed out an explicit, two page explanation of the topic, how to prepare prior to class, and what to do in class. She also prescribed a length and form, even going so far as to explain how to introduce the subject, write the thesis statement, branch into 2 4 sections, create topic sentences, develop paragraphs and conclude the essay. For out of class writing assignments, she handed out similar 2 3 page explicit assignments outlining acceptable top ics, deadlines, form, and suggestions for how to start the paper. She also included a section that explained how she would evaluate the paper and what the minimum requirements were (Appendix A). This type of explicit assignment may counteract what Profess or Sands intends. In her However, instead of providing guidance, the handouts were limiting and reinforce d the idea that students had little agency in th eir writing. Rat her, composing an essay required strict adherence to rules and was completed for the purpose o evaluation. understood or helpful fo r each student. Professor Sands had a grading method used to give feedback to students about their written assignments. On each written assignment, the instructor placed numbers or even terms like in the left hand margin of the paper. These numbers note d that a grammatical mistake has been made on the line corresponding to the number. The
62 number also represent ed where the error wa s explained. For example, the number 32 correspond ed to a handbook covered page s 426 444 and wa s divided into sections labeled 32a 32j. The number written in the left hand margin d id not designate which section the student ha d to read to get instruction on his /her particular mistake. On one of papers, for example, the number 32 wa wa s then expecte d to look through chapter 32, discover that the section she need ed to read wa needed to correct her mistake. The student who received this instruction and was mak ing an A in the course said that she made sense of this instruction and she believed it helped her (researcher referred to as AB): Shirley: I think that helps because I go back and look at it? And, sometimes I read the sections? AB: Shirley: and then to go back and read it again is just because she puts these out here li ke, the category I had wrong was. AB: The number corresponds to a chapter or to a, an actual section so, which of the two? Shirley: A chapter. AB: conjunction, um, and you n eeded to put it there because it was a compound sentence. Would it say that or would you have to figure it out from the chapter? Shirley: AB:
63 Shirley: Sometimes, very number there too? Like, the letter? But usually she just puts the main chapter and we have to go back and figure it out. Lynn had different feelings about the usefulness of these numbers in the margins of her papers: Lynn: chapter, number, for, every single number. Especially when, you have like, like four, three numbers per sentence. AB: Right. Did you start out trying to look at the Bedford Handbook and look at the chapter? Like the first paper you did? Lynn: Yeah. I did, but. AB: When do you think you stopped? Lynn: t, plus like, but it says why what you did is why what I did was wrong, so. In contrast ed to have only fru strated Lynn She seem ed to have started the class hoping to gain some information by following through with the instructions given because she ma d e an effort after her first paper to get information from the book chapters. She clearly seem ed to have bee n overwhelmed by the number of chapters referenced in her papers. She remember ed the process as having to look up My third finding was about the interaction of the professor and the students. While this professor int ended to support student learning and be seen as approachable by her students s he noted in her interview that she t ried with their s he was not viewed that way by both students. Another part of my interview of the
64 instructor concerned her perception of the two students and how they were receiving and putting t, Shirley, the instructor responded: Um, so with hers I was able to give lots of positive feedback as well. Seems less of like a chore, for her, probably to make revisions. Um, she all seems to be positive. Um, asks the questions that, you know other people have questions about. This response reveals that Professor Sands wa s aware that giving positive feedback on student papers may affect the outcome. She also note d that it was easier for a student with fewer grammatical mistakes to make revisions on papers, and since Shirley ha d a greater knowledge of grammar, it wa s easier for her to make sense of the instruction from The Bedford Handbook All of this positive feedback from the instructor ma d e Shirley feel good about her writing t hat it wa s a rewarding experience for her; thus, she wa s more likely to ask questions in class. Her willingness to participate wa s well received by the instructor as indicated by her response that There we re several differences rev ealed, however, when Professor Sands was asked about Lynn, the student who did not pass her class: or and ent rubric. This was from the in class essays u m a [ sighs ] ovement. She went, from the very first one, an d there she kinda leveled off. First of all, the instructor note d that the numbers in the left hand margin of the paper could have been off putting for Lynn She also sa id that she g ave o this student, the one who wa s not doing as well and could perhaps use more guidance, had to rely on the Professor Sands believe d this process frustrated her. In her y frustrating experience that maybe kinds of
65 While this professor noted reaction to the grading, she did not directly speak to the significant improvement, an indication that the feedback wa s not helping, but again, it appear ed as if the instructor did nothing to intervene. In fact, the instructor noted in the intervie w that when this student began to use the accommodations made available to her through student services, her grades improved. This improvement, she said, was a result of the student being check. This comment reveal ed s everal things. First, the instructor said she wa s aware that her feedback did not help the student but the extra time and use of a computer did help Secondly, the instructor equated an improvement in mechanics with an improvement in writing. She d id n or use of examples or paragraph development. It seem ed that the instructor acknowledg ed that this student did not pass the class because of the number of grammatical and spelling errors that she made. The results of my pilot study encouraged me because I felt that the study demonstrated that composition. The results also helped me create the design for the larger study. After reviewing the pilot study results, I wanted to enlist more student and professor participants so that I would be able to study a wider range of experiences. Also, because students who struggle academically in their home high s chools are often underrepresented in dual enrollment or gifted programs, I hoped to study those students. Instead of gathering information at just one point in the semester as I did in my pilot study, I decided to interview students at seve ral points dur ing the semester, and these interviews gave me an opportunity to ask additional questions about other aspects of This wider view would give me opportunities to ask questions more
66 than once and track their experiences. Additiona lly, I hoped that I would be able to study had not budgeted the time required to analyze the feedback given from the professor. The dissertation study gave m e time to analyze the papers from the student participants as well as the papers g athered during the pilot study. Selection of Student Participants for Dissertation Study I made an effort in my dissertation study to enlist student participants who represented a range of developing abilities and backgrounds t hose who struggled a bit with school achievement so that their grades or test scores might preclude them from more traditional dual enrollment options and/or those students who were underserved b y the traditional dual enrollment options like Advanced Placement classes or the Intern ational Baccalaureate programs. I decided to conduct my dissertation study in the spring semester as I had my pilot study. This choice allowed me to study participants who did not test into college level English in the fall, but were able to use this HSDE program to improve their skills in a high school English class over a semester albeit on the college campus, before enrolling in a college level English course. In an et al., 2003) and gather information from a variety of perspectives, I invited all HSDE students enrolled in ENC 1101 during the spring semester to participate in my study. I did this near the end of th e fall semester by identifying, with the help of the HSDE counselors, all students who planned to enroll in ENC 1101 during the spring semester. I then asked the counselors and fellow instructors to give these students a parental permission slip and volunt eer form, both of which had been approved by my
67 1101 during the spring semester, seven agreed to be part of the study and returned their signed permission slips/v olunteer forms to me. I then scheduled an initial interview for all of the willing participants. This interview was to take place at the end of the fall semester. All seven students responded to the interview request, and transcripts of those interviews formed part of the da tabase for the dissertation. These seven students represented a range of developing student abilities, past academic success, and student engagement in school (Table 3 1) Table 3 1. Student participants of study Participant n ame Gen der Race Reason for e ntering HSDE Academic c hallenges Class o utcome Alex M Black Haitian Parents / Academic Rigor ESL Student / Low CPT B Bob M Caucasian Academic Rigor Low CPT A Ethel F African American Leave H.S. Environment Single Mother / Low CPT C Joe M Caucasian Academic Rigor Low CPT Unknown Maylen F Caucasian Leave H.S. Environment Failed F CAT / Low CPT B Renaldo M African American Parents / Academic Rigor Low CPT B West M Caucasian Academic Rigor Academic Challenges Unknown Instructor P articipants for Dissertation Study Because I wished to gather as much information from as many different perspectives as i nterview three full time English professors on the community college campus. One of these
68 professors was the instructor for three of the student participants. I received e mail communication from another professor and no com munication from one professor. T o create rapport and encourage their participation, I tried to contact each instructor in made near the end of the fall semester, before my study, (during week 12 of the 16 week semester). This date was chosen because I wanted to have enough time to schedule an interview with each professor during the following semester, but did not want to reveal to the professors that their students were HSDE students ea rlier than necessary. From my experience working on this campus, I had anecdotal evidence of college instructors expecting different behavior from HSDE students. I tried to meet each professor in his/her office during office hours so that I could explain my project in person. I also brought participant volunteer forms that had been which explained the project and commitment of time needed for the volunteers. Because I wanted the instructors to par ticipate at the end of the semester, I knew that the amount of time required in an interview would be of concern to them. Thus, I asked each instructor to commit to one semistructured interview. I submitted the five general interview questions to the pro fessors when I m et with them in their offices. I successfully met four of the five instructors. (All names used to refer to instructors or any One instructor Professor Stricker, did not respond to e mail or phone messages and was unable to be reached during office hours. It should be noted that this instructor split his time teaching at two ours on the main campus were limited. I was never able to contact this professor ; therefore, he was not a participant in the
69 project. The other four professors were contacted and agreed to participate. After t hey all signed consent forms, I tried to s ch edule each for an interview. Data Collection Methods Data C ollection My data were qualitative and resulted from semistructured interviews of the students and professors, and the artifacts or written work the students completed during the semester. My data collection methods consisted of: (a) Information gathered through semistructured interviews with students. I interviewed each student in the pilot study once, and in the dissertation study, I conducted four interviews with each of the seven student parti cipants. As a result of attrition, only five participants completed all four interviews for the study. I transcribed and analyzed a total of 24 student interviews. (b) The assigned writing that students completed in their ENC 1101 class (some of this wo rk included prewriting or rough drafts). Overall, I analyzed the feedback professors gave to students and the grading marks in the text for 24 student essays. (c) Information gathered through semistructured interviews with college professors about their experiences with the HSDE participants taking their college classes. I transcribed and analyzed four of these semistructured interviews with instructors, and I analyzed one e mail correspondence. (d) Recorded information in my field journal before and af ter interviews with the transcribed interviews, and other aspects of the interviews with participants that m ight not have been clear through the transcr iption of the interview. Research Questions 1. What are the contextual features of a High School Dual Enrollment (HSDE) p rogram that ? Data sources: student interviews knowled
70 2. What opportunities and feedback are high school students provided to develop their writing abilities in a college composition course? Data sources: professor interviews, gra ded writing, student interviews, writing assignments/class artifacts including handouts, syllabi, grading rubrics 3. What is the nature of the intersection/interaction of selected high school students and college instructors in a college composition course? artifacts/writing assignments Interviews with Student Participants The first round of interviews was completed at the end of the fall semester. These initial semistructured interviews helped me get acquainted with the students and their reasons for enrolling in college composition course and explore their backgrounds and experiences as writers. A specific example of the kinds of questions posed to student participants during our initial meeting follows: What prompted you to enroll in ENC 1101 in the spring semester? Did you have any advice from counselors, parents, other students, and if so, what was their advice? Questions like these also helped me introduce the study to t he participants and acclimate them to the process of meeting me for interviews and submitting written work. After the first interviews were completed, I began transcribing them. This transcription and then reading the transcription s allowed me to notice themes, recognize similarities, or form questions for the next interview. This type of data gathering and analysis is representative of the beginning of what Schatzman and Strauss (1973) call an analytic strategy (p. 108). It allowed me, for example, to notice early on that all participants mentioned being separated from their friends who still attended their home high school s This information allowed me to consider the emotional dimension of attending a n HSDE p rogram on a community college campus. This aspect also made me wonder whether or not these students still considered themselves high school students and led to several questions about their academic identit ies in the sec ond and subsequent interviews.
71 As a part of our interview routine, I condu cted member checks (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) by summarizing the subject of our previous interview and asking them if these summaries were accurate. I also brought copies of transcribed interviews to each subsequent interview so that I could ask a student to clarify any part of the transcription that I may not have understood or heard from the tape recording. If differences in summaries or understanding occurred, I noted those in my journal and asked students to clarify or expand on their answers when possib le. Professor Interviews was convenient to the m During the interviews, I asked the professors to answer questions like the following: 1.What is your assessment of t you believe the student understands the assignments and feedback given? I conduct ed three such interviews with three professors. The fourth professor was not interviewed in person because she did not agree to a meeting time with me This instructor was an adjunct professor. As a result, her office hours were limited, and she did not seem interested in extending them or meeting at another time. Rather than abandon an attempt to get information from t his professor about the student participant, I decided to ask the professor to correspond by e mail or phone, and the professor agreed to respond to questions via e mail. One of the professors who agreed to participate in the spring study was also the prof essor for the two students in the pilot study. Thus, for one professor I had two interviews. The willingness of this professor to meet with me and answer questions not just about her students but also about her pedagogy gave me a rare opportunity to gain insight in to her methods regardi ng feedback and course design.
72 Written Artifacts The essays written by the students served as another important part of the data I collected. These essays were written by the HSDE students, and all of these writings were r esponses to assignments given by their professors. This writing was evidence of the tasks the students were asked to complete and their developing skills and abilities as writers. Additionally, these essays allowed me to view and explore the evaluation o f that writing ability by the professors and to query the students about their impact on their sense of success and understanding of their learning. Because these students were all enrolled in separate classes or sections of ENC 1101, the number and type of assignments submitted to me varied for each student. Also, submission of the written work was voluntary, so while some participants like Bob submitted all assigned and grade d work, Ethel, Maylen, and Alex submitted only two graded paper s The other participants fit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Overall, I collected two samples from Alex four samples from Bob two sample s from Ethel seven samples from Lynn, two samples from Maylen, four samples from Renaldo and four samples from Shirley Data Analysis Procedures To analyze my transcribed interviews and written artifacts, I organized, synthesized, interpreted, and searched for patterns ( Glesne, 1998; Lincoln & Guba 1985). Early generative analysis was done while collecting my data, allow ing me to reflect on the information I gathered, generate new interview questions, and organize my preliminary findings. This early analysis included my notes in a reflective journal, looking for developing themes in interviews. I made these notes in an effort to make sure that I kept track of my developing thoughts and in an effort to prevent losing any information (Glesne 1999). This early analysis also led me to develop codes and to organize and categorize information. This information helped me sha pe the study
73 and clarify my focus. This constant comparative process was recursive and continued to be used as I drafted my results. Analysis of Interviews As stated, I transcribed my interviews after each interview and before the subsequent interview. I typed the transcribed interviews and saved them as Microsoft Word files. I kept printed hard copies of my transcribed interviews in a notebook. I carefully read and re read these interviews as they were completed and made initial notes as the study pro gressed After all interviews were transcribed, I re read them and looked for emerging themes or patterns. I note d these patterns in the margins or on the hard cop ies of the transcribed interview s I then proceeded to organize these themes in emerging c ategories. I created the categories/themes for each participant. For example, in the first interview when asked about why she wanted to take the college level course, one participant stated my initial an alysis this comment was coded as attitude, as it represented her attitude about facing a potential academic challenge. As the interviews progressed, all of my participants gave many responses that expressed attitudes about writing, assigned tasks, and gra des in the interview data. As my analysis proceeded, I recoded the statement attitude toward course to resilient attitude toward academic challenge and belief in self. These coded statements were then placed in the emotional dimension category under the general theme of context about the contextual features of a HSDE program that influence school achievement. See Appendix B for a sample printed transcript. This method of reading through printed transcripts, looking for emerging themes and making notes i n Microsoft W ord documents and journals, then coding these themes continued throughout the study I was then able to look at potential similarities and patterns among my
74 participants. From analyzing the transcribed interv iews with students, I identified seven categories: s ; s ; s ; s ; s ; s ; and s Analysis of Graded Essays Because I also wanted to explore the feedback given to the students, I began my analysis by reviewing the comments made by professors in the text of the papers. Themes or of response (Marshal l & Rossman, 2006). The four categories I identified based on the were (a) grammar / editing, (b) sentence / wording, (c ) content, and (d ) positive feedback. Each comment was then coded into one of the four categories (Table 3 2) For example, in one of the papers, the professor circled grammar. After noting all of the comments made, this category became grammar / editing while content. It was difficult to put all comments in one category. Often, professors made marks on papers and circled words or
75 sentence / wording because it was not a grammatical mistake, but it seemed to be a word or structure that the professor disliked Often, as was the case here, the professor made no note of why the word For a sample of the process of a nalysis of student assignment, paper, and in text comments, see Appendix C. Table 3 2. Sample instructor comments and their corresponding categories Comment Category Grammar / editing Grammar / editing explanation given Sentence / wording Sentence / wording Content Content Positive feedback Positive feedback Researcher Bias As an instructor in the HSDE program for over 13 years, I was a subjective investigator. It was necessary, during the course of the study, to guard against allowing my positive feelings about the program to color the underlying data that I collected. Even so, my years of wo rk with the HSDE program allowed me greater access to HSDE personnel, participants, and records than if I had studied a program with which I had no affiliation. I also had student participants in the study who had been students of mine before they agreed to be participants. While I had to make sure that I did not allow this previous experience to create an untoward bias, I believe that my rapport with the participants promoted their frank disclo sure of ideas and experiences. As a safeguard against undue influence by my own biases, I kept a reflective journal chronicling my experiences in the process of data collection and the study overall. I also used
76 triangulation (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) by collecting data from different sou rces and member checks to ensure the validity of transcribed interviews.
77 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Dissertation Study After completing the pilot study, I wanted to extend my research to include a range of participants and abilities in an effort to get a glimpse o f as many different experiences and perspectives as possible. Also, the additional time allowed me to investigate further the graded student essays I had gathered during my pilot study and include them in my dissertation study. Table 4 1. Student particip ants in study Participant n ame Gender Race Reason for e ntering HSDE Professor p seudonym Class o utcome Alex M Black Haitian Parents / Academic Rigor Prof. Smith B Bob M Caucasian Academic Rigor Prof. Hanson A Ethel F African American Leave HS Environment Prof. Stricker C Joe M Caucasian Academic Rigor Not Reported Unknown Lynn (pilot study) F Caucasian Parents / Academic Rigor Prof. Sands F Maylen F Caucasian Leave HS Environment Prof. Casey B Renaldo M African American Parents / Academic Rigor Prof. Sands B Shirley (pilot study) F Arab American Parents / Academic Rigor Prof. Sands A West M Caucasian Academic Rigor Not Reported Unknown Student Background s Prior to Entering HSDE Program Alex. Alex, a Black Haitian male, was an 18 year old high school senior when he agreed to participate in my research project. His parents moved to Florida from Haiti, and he had only attended school in the states for one year before he began participating in the HSDE p rogram. In hi which meant that he took his English class with other students who spoke English as a second
78 language. When he joined the dual enrollment program, he took a 12 th grade high school English class in the fall semester with other dual enrollment participants, none of whom spoke English as a second language, before entering a college freshman composition course in the spring semester. The college composition course was a course designed for ESL students. I found Alex to be a friendly young man who was quick to smile when we met, but his answers to my questions were often short. In our four interviews, Alex only had ten responses that, when transcribed, took up more tha n two lines of text and no t one of his responses was longer than three lines of single spaced, 12 point font text. Like many of the other students, Alex was encouraged to attend the program by his parents who wanted him to leave his high school and atte nd the community college. He said high school and col Bob. When I began interviewing Bob, a Caucasian male, he was a high school junior who had just enrolled in ENC 1101 for the spring term. He was a driven student, highly motivated and successful if judging by his grade point average (a 4.0 befo re entering the program, and a 3.75 while taking 6 hours of college courses and 3 high school courses during the fall semester of his j unior year, the first semester he participated in the HSDE program). Before attending the dual enrollment program on the community college campus, Bob had attended a laboratory school located in his school district. He had heard that this school would be a challenge academically. However, he reported that it was not as much of a challenge as he had hoped. During our first interview when asked why he had chosen to attend the dual enrollment program, he stated: For a challenge. I heard [his home high sc hool] was going to be really I went to [his home high school] ; I heard it was going to be really strict, a nd disciplinary, and hard, but it and I needed a challenge.
79 Bob reported that his grade point average at his home high sc hool was a 4.0. In spite of that, Bob did not pass the writing portion of the College Placement Test (CPT); thus, he was not eligible to enroll in college English classes. After one semester of the dual enrollment high school English course, Bob successf ully passed the CPT and was eligible to enroll in ENC 1101. Bob said that he was eager to get a jump start on his college career, so he enrolled in ENC 1101. Bob was a well mannered student who answered any questions posed to him, but he did not offer inf ormation to me without responding to a question. My overall impression of him was that he was a quiet young man, and during our interviews I learned that he preferred to be a quiet partici pant in the composition class. Ethel. Ethel, an African American f emale, was a 17 year old high school senior when she agreed to participate in this project. Ethel was also a single mother of a 2 year application to the program was at the end of her sophomore year of high school, which coincided with h er pregnancy. She did not, however, mention her pregnancy as a reason for wanting to enter the program. Instead, she recalled that she disliked high school. She stated that she came ment out here v ersus Ethel was a cheerful young woman, quick to smile whenever we met, but she seemed shy and demure when interviewed. She often responded to my questions by saying and I often had to rephrase ques tions or provide additional prompts to get a response. Joe. Joe a Caucasian male, was a high school junior when he agreed to participate in my dissertation study. He had attended a laboratory school, but he said that classes there focused on [name of standardized test] a I
80 could get some college level course bout it later take advantage of saving money later by taking college classes now. Joe, when I met him during our first interview, seemed like a nice but quiet y oung man. He was proud that he was a member Maylen. Maylen, a Caucasian, upper middle class female, was 17 years old when she agreed to be interviewed for this project, while attending the local commu enrollment program. Both of her parents worked as pr ofessors, one at the community college and one at the university level. She seemed to be a bright, cheerful girl, and when asked about something she felt strongly about, she had much to say. Through analyzing her elaborated responses to my questions in our four interviews, I was able to understand more about her experiences as an English student in the secondary school system. Maylen did not enjoy her time at her home high school, an d she made that point clear. Her dislike of her home high school and high school classes is what I remember most when I recall my interviews with Maylen. It was this dislike for her home high school and search for any alternative for which she was qualif ied (her grades / test scores did not qualify her for AP classes, honors classes, or the IB program) that served as the impetus for her e nrollment in the HSDE program. Renaldo. Renaldo, a 17 year old African American male, was successful academically and socially on his high school campus. He was an A B student and a member of the varsity football team, weightlifting team, and track team. Renaldo said that he was not at all interested ther wanted me to go and get some of the college cou
81 Renaldo was a nice and polite young man. He was pleasant during our interviews, and he willingly answered all of my questions, but his quick answers made me feel that he was ready to complete the task at hand without pondering it. He often said he was ti red and pushed for time. As a HSDE student taking classes on the college campus while participating in both fall and spring varsity sports at his home high school, most days he spent a lot of time on both campuses, taking classes at the community college in the morning before traveling across town f or track or football practice. West. West, a Caucasian male, was 17 years old when he agreed to participate in this project. During his sophomore year of high school, he had attended two schools, transferring from the east side to a home high school in the center of town, and he reported that the curriculum overlapped so he was taught the same thing twice in each school. Perhaps this frustration contributed to his decision to attend the dual enrollment progra m, but he stated that the primary reason he, along with his parents, decided he would attend the HSDE program was [ college ] like uh basically either skipping a year or two t hat wa When I met West during our first interview, he struck me as jovial and interested in discussing his decis ion to enter the HSDE program. anted to enter the HSDE program, I found a recurring theme. The opportunity to access advanced course work or academic rigor was the impetus for Alex, Bob, Joe, Renaldo, and West (five of the seven participants) to enter the program. The students, alone or wit h the direction of their parents, wanted an opportunity to take college level course work for free, and they could get this
82 Research Question 1 Because of the variety of s econdary p ostsecond ary l earning o ptions (SPLOs) available to students, I hoped to use the ir perspectives to analyze any outstanding characteristics of the program and its setting that contributed to the ir academic achievement. These inquires would help me answer my first research question What were the After analyzing transcripts of the interviews with student participants transcripts and records, and reflecting on my experience as an instructor in the HSDE program : the academic counseling, the oppo rtunity to take both high school and college level course work, and the freedom from the high school context. Academic Counseling counselors. These counselors were assigned to work with HSDE students only, and the counselors must be able to help students meet their high school graduation requirements and manage the course work needed for their AA, AS, or certificate degree. When students are accepted into the program, they are time counselors. This counselor will work with the student throughout his or her time in the dual enrollment program. Students are required to schedule a registration appointment with their counselor before eac h semester. During these appointments, the counselor and the student create the hedule for the next semester. While conducting my study, I discovered that this feature of the program had an impact on many of Thr ee of the students in the study, Alex, Renaldo, and Shirley, noted that their high school dual enrollment counselor influenced them to take freshman composition. For example, Renaldo
83 stated that it was not his idea to enroll in ENC 1101 after just one sem ester of high school this dual enrollment program employed three full time guidance counselors to work with the 500 or so students enrolled in the program, the local high school that is closest to this community college in proximity had four full time counselors for their 2,300 students ( chool F acts S chool H ome P age 2005). This difference in counselor to student ratio may not ensure that all students get more at tention when enrolled in the HSDE program, but it is an important contextual feature to consider when studying student achievement. Renaldo would not have enrolled in ENC 1101 in the spring of his junior year without the advice to do so from his counselor. had influenced me to take the next step she was like, your grade was good, your test improved. You know most people who do well on it t w e can go ahead and put his ability to complete the college composition class. Instead, it s eems that this quotation exemplifies how high school students may not be aware of what indicators illustrate their preparedness for college level course work. The counselors of the HSDE program were needed to guide students moving from high school course work to college level course work. Counselors can also help guide students toward specific courses that might help them succeed. For example, one of the participants, Alex, spoke English as a second language, but he was unaware of the special section of E NC 1101 that was designed for ESL students. When
84 interest in takin g the college level English class, his counselor contacted the dual enrollment English professor who had Alex in class during the fall semester to discuss the placement. Alex had retaken the CPT and improved his score so he was eligible for the college l evel class, but the counselor wanted the opinion of his instructor before placing him in freshman composition. His instructor told the counselor that Alex needed an ESL class, so his schedule was built around one of the two ENC 1101 courses offered that s emester for ESL students. Without the help of his counselor, he may not have been aware of a specific class for ESL students or felt it necessary to enroll in that particular ENC the importance of the rol e of d ual enrollment counselor s in helping students negotiate registering for their high school and college course work. The counselor identifies when a student may be prepared to move from high school to college level course work In addition he / she may also be aware of specialized college course offerings l ike the ESL composition class that a high school student is unaware of, due to his/her lack of experience in a college environment llustrated how the achievement. A counselor can help support student achievement by giving them advice about which courses to take and ensuring that students are prepar ed for college course work, but they can sometimes be a hin drance to student achievement. For example, Ethel, a student who wanted to take college level English during the spring semester of her senior year, met with resistance from her college counselor. Ethel had scored into college semesters of high school English in the HSDE program. Ethel, whose qualifications aligned with the other student participants in this study seemed to be a good candidate for college level
85 English, but her counselor was not convinced that Ethel was up to the challenge of a college ript, her grades in the high school English classes taken in the HSDE program, and her CPT scores, I could find no clear reason for her counselor to dissuade her. Perhaps it was b lack v ernacular or a concern about whether or not a young, si ngle mother would Regardless of the qualifications for certain college programs and college leve l course work can be mystifying to one who is not familiar with the college system. Fortunately, Ethel advocated for herself She insisted on taking high school English instructor who had taught Ethel for the previous year and a half, acquiesced. A less motivated student may have been stymied by the advice of the counselor and unab le to earn more college credit. student from making the most of the experience s the HSDE program offered her. One of the benefits of the HSDE program in thi s study is that it can improve access by offering college level course work to students who would not be allowed to take courses offering college credit at their home high school. In this case, Ethel, a n 18 year old single mother, avoid ed payi ng for ENC 1 101 because she took the class while enrolled in the HSDE program. If she had not worked to and simply accepted her recommendation to stay in the high school English course, she would have been denied that access to advanced course work. During my study, I found an exception to the theme of counselors working to guide
86 counselor not acting to help a student understand and make us e of the services offered by the one of the pilot study participant s from a difficult first semester in college level English. In my interview with Lynn, she revealed that she was dyslexic. Lyn n mentioned in her interview that she did not know that she had to go to the disabilities office to register and receive the extended time or use of a spell check to which she was entitled. This lapse became a big problem because she believed that the po or grades she received on her essay s were a result of her being marked off for spelling mistakes resulting from her dyslexia. Lynn thought that registering with disability services would fix this mistake, but after registering, when she did not see a big difference in her grades, she became frustrated: Well, I think is kinda, probably a hassle for her to deal with me when I, first came here and then I needed to go get that filled out, and t hen like things still seemed to be going badly I was, upset and um, you know. Cried during class. This student obviously cared about her grade and experienced frustration during her student with disabilities understands how to use the services offered by the college a process that high school students could be unaware of c ould have helped this student avoid some frustration. In tudent and a plan to help the student deal with his or her particular disability are automatically created at the beginning of each school year and semester. This process differs at the community college where this HSDE program is located. At this partic ular college, a student is not required to register with disability services when enrolling in a class. Enrollment in the additional services is voluntary, unlike the mandatory enrollment at t
87 There were two important themes found when analyzing the impact that the counselors had on the academic succes s of the students in the study. First, s tudents who are not accustomed to working in a college environment may not know what student performance indicators demonstrate their pre paredness for college level course work. Thus, students use the guidance and suggestions of their counselors to help them decide on the appropriate course work In addition, a counselor who does not make a student aware of important college services or w ho may suggest a student enroll in college course academic achievement. O pportunity to T ake B oth H igh S chool and C ollege L evel C lasses Other features of this HSDE e nrollment p rogram t he location of this prog ram on a college campus and the opportunity for students to take both college and high school course work s eem ed students in this study ( Alex, Bob, Ethel, Joe, Maylen, Renaldo, and West) were told that their English skills were not at the college level when they entered the program, and they were required to take either a high school English class or a college prep class that would not give them college credit, one might expect them to lack confidence about their ability to do well in a college level English course. To my surprise, that was not the case. One student, West, stated from the past couple of years, [ pause d] skills a a long [ trail ed off ] ng the high school course on the college campus. Another student Joe, described the high school course a college level it describe the high school course work in the HSDE program by saying W
88 course work that or mo re aligned with a college level course perhaps made them feel prepared for college level course d the HSDE program and the course work connected to that program e ven the high school course work a s at a level s This evaluation suggest ed that the location of the course on a college campus even if that course was a high s chool course, influence d perception s of the class as being more like a college level class. All of the student participants in my study, except Lynn and Shirley, did not have the required CPT scores to register for college level English when they enrolled in the HSDE program. When students enrolled in this HSDE program do not make the score on the CPT required for college level course work, they are enrolled in the high school English class and they must complete that class successfully in addition to retaking the CPT and making the required score before they are allowed to move into college level course work. Alex, Bob, Joe, Maylen, Renaldo, and West had to retake the CPT to be eligible to enroll in the college course work. This requirem ent, which all of the students met before participating in this study, seemed to improve their confidence reg arding their academic ability. This excerpt from my interview with Renaldo highlights this experience. Renaldo stated, ok my English c lass here at [the community college] I had to take the CPT test and I got like a 76 on the reading or writing or something and then after I took [ the English class ] I got like a 109 and I know I benefited he exact source of t his improved test score is unknown, but his awareness of his previous test grade and the
89 improvemen t highlight the importance of testing to students who have grown up with high stakes testing as a major part of their academic career. Also, he read his sco re as a big improvement even though I doubt he knew what the exact numbers meant or the amount of growth they represented. At this time, a score of 83 on both the reading and writing portion of the CPT was required to enter college level English. Renald o did not recall the specifics of how close he was to scoring into college level English when he first took the exam. However, the numbers still represented to him a dramatic improvement in his ability, and they served as proof of something that would oth erwise be unseen. Thus, instead of feeling like he was incapable of performing at a college level, he now felt that he had proof of his abili ty to work at a college level. Another related example of this feeling of academic achievement connected to the co urse work and context of the dual enrollment program is exemplified by Maylen. Maylen, when she entered the program in the 11 th which is given to high school sophomores and is a requirement for high school graduation. at her home high school taking the assessment test people were talking and having problems and it was not a comfortable setting. According to Maylen, it was this atmosphere at her home high school that contributed to her failure on the test. she referred to could have been students and teachers, but sh e did not make a distinction or community col exam so that she would be eligible to re ceive her high school diplom the community college ] It was quiet, it was big and open, and everyone (other test takers) was in It seem ed clear to me that she at tribu ted her failure on the state exam
90 to her high school and the atmosphere there, and while there are obviously more variables at was a difficult one for Mayle n du ring her classes and testing is clear. Maylen asserted that if she I know i This contextual feature of the HSDE program, giving students the opportunity to take a combination of high school and college level course work, positively influenced the student participants in this study in several ways. First of all, this feature promoted student access by allowing students who otherwise would not have been given the opportunity to take college level course work at their home high schools to enroll in this HSDE program and improve their writing skills, retake the CPT (college placement test) and qualify for college level course work. Secondly, students associate d being and taking classes on a college campus, even if they took high school classes, with increased academic rigor. And finally, a chieving academic success in this program, along with the improving CPT test scores, made students feel positively about their academic achieveme nt. F reedom from the H igh S chool C ontext It was sometimes difficult to get students to respond to the questions I posed in our interviews, but there was one subject or topic of discussion that all but one of the par ticipants managed to bring up in the course of at least one of our interviews f riends. Several students, while mentioning that they liked the academic challenge posed on the community college campus, stated that they missed their friends. One student sai [my home high school ] And when I asked what specifically he missed, he stated w O ther similar statements were made w hen students were asked what, if anything, they missed from their home
91 high schools: m, not really much academic wise, they offer the same things and better here, and [ home high school ] I was with all th e international students I was [ unintelligible ] every day because I [ home high school ] While these students missed the friends who were still at their home high schools, their move to the community college campus was an opportunity for them to demonstrate their maturity or growth as people and as students. One student mentioned that at his home high school, he was on a closed ca mpus and could not leave, but at the community college he could take responsibility for myself now like being a grown up Of all of the students I interviewed, to me, Renaldo seemed to miss his high school the he mentioned missing his friends. We had the following exchange during our first interview: AB: ad a choice to go back would you go back or stay here? If it was just all up to you and all about you and your academic goals? Renaldo: Being that I have now been in the [HSDE program] back to [home high school] and kind of focused on completing academic goals, and the second part of his s tatement, that he would not One of the interesting themes that students discussed regarding their move from a high school campus to a college campus was the idea
92 mother, stated It was like so many people y class to class se specific issues or problems that she had dealing with peers from her home high school, but being a pregnant teen on a high school campus may not have been a comfortable experience for her. When meeting with Ethel during the semester of my study, she proudly displayed pictures of her son and would speak of him before or after our interviews. She did not offer any information about her pregnancy even though I ask ed her if anything other than the people or the maturity level led to her enrolling in the HSDE program However, I can imagine that the anonymity given to her on the community college campus t he actual space given to her c ould have been a welcome change. The space or inde pendence that was discussed by other participants was more figurative than literal. Reminiscent of Renaldo and on campus and without friends were the comments by Joe. He stated ike ironment more than the others since he did n o t mention missing his friends from his home high school. He pointed out the expectations for a college environment t o him, it is one that focused on academics rather than socializing. One participant, however, was more negatively affected by her high school environment than the other students. When I asked Maylen to describe the difference between her college course and her home high school English course, she said [ h ome hig h school ]
93 riots and chairs. It was bad. Like it was just bad. Nothing got accomp lished. I remember learning a couple th What struck me when I analyzed this excerpt was her use of the words chaos, insane, and riots. These are certainly strong words used to describe what should be a learning environment. This stu dent experienced a hostile environment, one that she seemed to struggle to describe in a more specific way. Her stat ing, wa s unable either to find the appropriate words to describe the environment or u nable to use words acceptable for our conversation. I can assume that she was making an effort to reveal her experiences because she did take over an hour to respond to my questions, and this question was posed to her within the first few minutes of our i nterview. After her response to me that school w in credibly bad that [She] hated S o why did you hate school, what was so Maylen responded again by me to be more specific, she stated [ pause d] pushing in the hallways and, I mean, I I schools are like that, but I mean I felt like it was bad, really bad and pushing in the hallways, seemed unable to use specific words to describe her experience, but her continued statement that it specifically to one subject. Instead, her comments spilled over to describe her experiences being stuck in a context or environment that she found hostile and e xtremely uncomfortable. She noted
94 Perhaps her clearest description of the environment in which she found herself was her statement s in so established in television shows and movies where high school teachers and principal s battle gang violence, student drug use, truancy and a host of othe r issues To think that this comparison seems appropriate to a girl attending a public high school in a small southeastern city is a bit shocking. While other students may not have experienced this high school in the at this high school was extremely negative ostile conducive to learning. Interestingly enough, Maylen did not see all students in her high school having the same we re her observations, it wa s no surprise that she felt the school system that separated students according to abil ity was not fair because it privileged the students in advanced classes. This separate experience made Maylen feel like she and her classmates were not as smart as the other students. One of my exchanges with Maylen clearly illustrate d how these feeling s changed when she entered the HSDE program and took courses on a college camp us with other college students: Maylen: was. AB: Uh huh, right. Maylen: And it kind of was uncomfortable because like what if they think weird about me Everyone is just as prepared as everyone else.
95 AB: Okay. Um, so if you had to label yourself now a hi gh school student or a college student, what would you say? Maylen College. AB: And why? Maylen: s like my college classes better. Maylen never saw herself as a member of her high school classes, and she felt the ience at her home high help her grow academically. The college atmosphere was a refuge for her, and i t could be for other students. Another student who had the same feeling, although she expressed it differently, was Ethel. When asked if she saw herself as a high school or college student, she said: Ethel: Um, hmm, I consider myself a college student because um, hmm good question. AB: Thank you. [laughs] Ethel: [laughs] AB: Well, how about this. Why are you not a high school student? Ethel: AB: What is the high school stage? What do you mean by that? Ethel: The whole just not for the education. It seemed that the students not only equated being a college student with a focus on academics, but they also associated whether one is a college or high school st behavior. Students focused on the social aspect of school and/ or less focused on academics were
96 high school students. When I asked Bob to explain if he identified as a high student because I still procrastinate and go through the processes that I learned in high school, However, thi s college environment may not fit all students. For example, Lynn, when discussing how she felt about her instructor, told me about an incident in class where she cried in front of other students and her professor after receiving a poor grade on an assign ed essay. Lynn felt humiliated after that incident and said that she did not feel that she could approach her instructor for help afterwards. She did not go into any other specific details, but I could see that some students may feel that there is pressu one that does not permit emotional reactions. These excerpts from my interviews reveal several themes related to the of freedom from the high school context. This environment allows students to focus o n academics, not friends. It gives students the opportunity to operate in a setting where they can gain some anonymity instead of being in a confined environment, taking classes with many of the same students. This learning environment can be a refuge fo r students stifled by high school issues that are not necessarily academic. It can be a good fit for some students; however, this environment, which does require students to be responsible and which takes them away from their peers, can be difficult for o thers environment. Summary of Results for Research Question 1 After analyzing transcripts of the interviews with student participants, three features of this HSDE program emerged as influencing st : the academic
97 counseling, the opportunity to take both high school and college level course work, and the freedom from the high school context. are an important component of this program. These counselors help the HSDE students navigate the unfamiliar college environment and guide them as they plan their course work. I found that the student participants relied on the advice of their counselors as they moved from high school to college course work. Because students rely on their counselors to help them navigate this unfamiliar environment, a counselor who does not make a student aware of important college services or who may suggest a student en roll in a college course too soon can negatively impact college courses on a college campus positively impacted the student participants. First, the ability to enroll in this program when a student was not able to enroll in all college classes allowed more students to gain access to the program. This feature allowed students who could take college level course work in one area, like math, t o enter the program and take a college math course while enrolling in a high school English course, for example. Thus, the students could begin the program and work toward improving skills to take more college courses. Next, I found that the students ass ociated being on a college campus, even if they were taking high school classes, with increased academic rigor. I also found that a chieving academic success and improvement on the college campus can make students feel positively about their academic achie vements. The third important contextual feature of this HSDE program is that it offers students freedom from the high school context. The students are given some anonymity on a college
98 campus, are viewed as college students, and are given room for emotion al growth. The student participants reported relating to college students and seeing themselves either as college students or as transitioning from high school student to college student reflecting their perceived focus on academics. However, t his envir onment which does require students to be responsible and which takes them away from their peers can be difficult for some students. Some students may not be Research Question 2 To answer my second research q uestion What opportunities and feedback are high school students provided to develop their writing abilities in a college composition course? I analyzed and identified three major aspects of the experience: (a) the assignments given to students to develop and demonstrate their writing abilities ; (b) the assessment and feedback given to students from their instructors ; and (c) assessment. Table 4 2. Student p articipants and c orresponding p n ames an d ranks Participant Professor Professor r ank Alex Smith Professor Bob Hanson Associate Professor Ethel Stricker Associate Professor Joe Dropped out of study after 1 st interview Lynn Sands Professor Maylen Casey Adjunct Professor Renaldo Sands Professor Shirley Sands Professor West Dropped out of study after 1 st interview A ssignments G iven to S tudents to D evelop and D emonstrate T heir W riting A bilities When I analyzed the data, I found clear themes regarding the assignments given to students. They were often complicated constraining and uninteresting to the students.
99 Complicated a ssignments When Bob submitted his first completed, graded writing assignment to me, I was surprised and a bit confused by the number of pages, handwritten and typed, completed on pages of differing colors. The colors, I was told by Bob, signified a particular part of the prewriting and rewriti ng required by the instructor. Bob called all of the writing that accompani ed his final draft essays included: prewriting an in class essay or draft writt en from the prewriting a typed draft of the essay from the prewriting (the sample from Bob gave no evidence of changes from the handwritten version completed in class) a second typed draft of the essay (which did give evidence of the student making changes to content and editing the paper) that include d d another student critique of this same paper, and that include d the st paper ha d undergone through this process of writing the final paper submitted by the student The final paper submitted by the student wa s the only one with comments from the professor about the writing. Other than that, there wa s no evidence that the professor g ave any substantive comments on the process which included 8 versions of the paper. There were two other comments that I found in the stack of papers preceding the evaluation of a final essay. The
100 assume d wa The eight but for them to be helpful they would require some feedback or i nv olvement from the professor. own writing, which could be a reason for Bob mentioning parts of the writing process that he felt he improved rather than solely menti oning the surface structure of language as mos t of the other participants did. However, some of the students who are being served by the community college r m ay not be able to make use of these parts of the writing assignment without guidance or evaluation from the instructor. Instead, the many steps could deter students fro m completing the assignment. which obvious ly include d many steps) did not give any evidence that she focused on the parts of the process of writing more than the surface structure; her feedback still clearly focused on grammar. Forty percent of her comments focused on grammar / editing ( see the f ollowing section about in text comments for more discussion of this aspect ) Another example of instruc tion concerning writing that could be construed as complicated was one Pr ofessor Sands, explained her paper requirements this way: I do have specific directions, there are general directions about what I think makes a good essay, makes it easier to read, easier to follow. I always preface it that way. That these are things, t hese are techniques that are shown to make the essay easier to follow. I talk about having a key note technique, having a one part thesis statemen t, and I talk about using a key note that you repeat in your topic sentences and the other sections of your essay, and
101 using imagery, type of thing, but all aiming at from the begin ning saying this is what makes a good essay something that is easy to follow, easy to read. be constraining, she simply showed them a variety of ways to acco mplish the technique n o the students Lynn, who had taken ENC 1101 from this instructor t a keynote is. Never figur This student understanding of turn into a focus for a student that obscures any other possible writing techniques For this keynote keynote can and should be located in and through out the paper. It is also related to, but writing turned into a roadblock for Lynn who was unable to understand and complete what was to her the complicated requ irement of her professor. Writing is a difficult, intellectual exercise, and while I assume professors want to assign students work that will help them improve as writers, some of the assignments seemed to complicate an already complicated activity. For e xample, this same professor described a writing assignment this way: O ne of the middle papers I assigned is to write about broad topics, and they do two rough drafts. One is about a place, either a place that they love or hate, and one is a person who has been important in their lives in some way. And the trick of that is to take such broad topics and narrow down and come up with one dominant impression and to be able
102 to focus the paper based on that and find what are the (unintelligible) or kind of evidence that would help support them, rather than tr ying to write about everything. assignment as a genuinely focused on ha ving students improve their writing. Her assignments and requirements for writing may be well This professor then described another example of a complicated assignmen t. This assignment was to be a collaborative writing assignment requiring students to p air up with another classmate. Prof. Sands: So uh, they had a collaborative assignment. They do not write a paper together, I am afraid to do that kind of thing, but t hey come up with, I have particular assignments, and they have to do a kind of comparison. AB: Uh huh. Prof. Sands: con they just have to devise some where each one does kind of half of the comparison, and they have to have the same focus of the assignment and then they have to use the same branching method, and I tell them you have to use trying to come up with, well if this person is writing, one of the topics was blue collar jobs/white collar jobs, you know [trailed off]. Again, Professor Sands note d that there wa something much more constraining to the wr iter s than asking them to write a persuasive essay. In addition to working on writing a paper that w ould persuade the reader, they must also use a d that these terms we re ones used by the professor in class, and they were included in her written directions a nother example of a complication for this writing assignment and for the students who must comple te the writing assignment.
103 Constraining and uninteresting t opics A nother student participant experienced a constraining a ssignment as the first writing assignment of the semester. According to Ethel, during the first few classes, the professor showed the class the movie Fast Food Nation The professor then instructed the students to about it. The topic, however, was a requirement Ethel described her feelings about the Fast Food Nation seem ed a bit confusin g at first. It made me think that while she understood the movie, she did not understand why she would be assigned to write about it. Perhaps she d id not understand the a m ay already be a challenge for students who are likely to be familiar with a persuasive essay but may have never been asked to write a dissuasive paper. Requiring a specific topic can compound the difficulty for a writer who is not interested in the topic. Assigning a specific topic to write about, one that students are not interested in, is a constraint on which several students commented. Alex, Bob, and Ethel mentioned that their lack of interest in the assigned topic made the writing more what she found to be diffic ult in the class, Ethel stated: Ethel: AB: Ethel: Yeah, like the fast food and t hen we had to write something about songs we like AB: And that was hard, so it was just the topic that made it hard?
104 Ethel: Alex agreed w ith this view when he reported that his assigned re search paper was hard n which coul d be an opportunity for the students to explore areas that they found to be interesting was constraining because he was assigned a topic. And if a student, particularly an ESL student like Alex was assigned a topic with which he was unfamiliar, his writ ing assignment could be much more difficult for him than it would be for the students who spoke English as their first language. Bob also found the assigned topics difficult, but he seemed to have this problem throughout the semester, not just on one or tw I found h is use of the personal pronoun d that she, the professor, gives students the topics, but it suggests that Bob perceived that the assignments were hers t here wa s no writing a more difficult task than it already was. Not all writing assignments bor e d the students. Renaldo, for example, recalled a writing assignment that he enjoyed. For this assignment, Renaldo was able to choose the person or place he wanted to describe. I t was personal; you actually got to do something about yourself instead of having to read something and have to talk about it. It made it somewhat can m ake writing more interesting. After analyzing the transcripts of int erviews with students and professors, the complications of the writing assignments, including compl ex steps required to complete the
105 describe a writing technique i llustrated a clear theme. Overall, these examples illustrate ho w students can be given assignments in ways that make the difficult exercise of composition perhaps unnecessarily complicated and students often found the assigned topics uninteresting and di fficult to write about. A ssessment and F eedback G iven to S tudents F rom T heir I nstructors Students participating in this study received several forms of assessment or feedback from their instructors. T o study these artifacts and the information given by th e students and professors in their interviews, I separated the data into three categories: (a ) in text evaluation of writing, (b ) evaluation of essays given at end of paper / assigned grades, and (c ) asse ssment of grammar assignments. In text evaluation of writing T o describe and analyze the comments students received from instructors in the text of their papers, I note d every word, phrase, or mark made on student papers. I also created four categories that represented the type of feedback I noted: grammar / editing sentence / wording c ontent positive feedback A table identifying the numbers of essays submitted and by whom follows in the next section Sources The following table indicates the quantity of data collected from the written artifacts the students submitted to me.
106 Table 4 3. Data collected from student written artifacts Student # Essays s ubmitted # Paragraphs e valuated # In text c omments from p rofessor Professor Alex 2 7 70 Smith Bob 4 17 60 Hanson Ethel 2 10 0 Stricker Lynn 8 42 413 Sands Maylen 2 8 48 Casey Renaldo 4 16 70 Sands Shirley 4 17 71 Sands Totals 26 11 7 732 My analysis of the artifacts indicated in the above table, a total of 26 submitted essays and 732 in text comments made by the professors, revealed several common patterns that could be identified across all of the essays submitted as part of my study T focused on the surface structure of language, positive comments were the most infrequent type of comment f ound in the graded papers, and many comments were made, but they contained ambiguous and sometimes disheartening messages to the stu dents. Several example s of the analysis I completed that illustrate the themes mentioned above can be found in Appendix D. Th ese samples include a ve essay and my coinciding categories, arranged by paragraph ( a sample of the submitted essay connected to the analysis of in text comments is contained in Appendix C). An example of the type of analysis I completed and the themes I discovered follow. In this analysis, I studied a paper submitted by student participant Alex and graded by Professor Smith. First, I categorized the numbers and types of comments that Professor Smith placed i paper. Figure 4 1 illustrates the numbers and types of in text comments that Professor Smith returned to Alex.
107 Figure 4 1. Analysis of in text c omments o p aper (Professor Smith) The comments found in the text of analyzing the in text comments made by all of the professors. First, Alex primarily wa s given feedback concerning the surface structure of language. A majority of the comments made by his professor, 2 7 of 53 total comments, we re about capitalization, subject / verb agreement, spelling, etc. Prof essor Smith made 11 comments that I categorized as being about sentence / wording, 9 comments about content, and 6 positive comments. When viewing the analysi s of all of the professors and their in text comments, this grading from Prof essor Smith represented the sample that contained more positive comments than any of the other essays submitted by student participants. However, she still, like all of the other professors, most often made in text comments related to grammar and editing and made positi ve in text comments the least. Another theme that I discovered was the ambiguous nature of the in text comments made. A specific illustration of this ambiguity can be seen when one views the 27 grammar / editing in text comments made by Professor Smith. The following table contains a verbatim list of only the 27 grammar / editing in text comments made by the professor and the portion of student writing
108 Table 4 Paragraph # Comments 1 (Introduction) 2 (Body) job/do) respects, and 3 (Body) like a subject / verb agreement error and one to be expected from an ESL s tudent verb of the verb phrase agrees although the second does not) Subject / verb agreement made, but not identified second word in a sentence 4 (Body) made by student) 5 (Body) the sp referred, I believe, to 6 (Conclusion) First, this sample illustrates the overwhelming number of grammar and editing comments that a student like Alex had to process if he were to try to make sense of the feedback his professor returned to him. Even trying to process the comments made about on e specific grammatical mistake could be challenging. In this sample, the professor marked several subject / verb agreement errors but the markings and comments were inconsistent When the error wa s
109 first noted, the professor ma de id not identify the error that sentence that was next to her in text comment. In the next body paragraph, she twice noted that the student had writ ten the same kind of subject / verb agreement error but she labeled the in the text of the sentence. In this same paper but in the fourth body paragraph, the student writer makes the same subject / verb agreement error. The in text comments made by the professor to circle the error the student made wh en h I found these inconsistent comments to be confu sing for several reasons. F irst, the same e any student, and it suggest ed that the student made two separate types of errors instead of the same mistake four times. Also, the student ha d already demonstrated that he d id not understand a grammatical rule by making the same error four times. Therefore, what was he supposed to do with the information in the margin identifying a t ype of error but not identifying where the error occurred? Wa s the student to search the paragraph for the error and correct it? Perhaps the professor believed the student was capable of identifying the subject / verb agreement error himself as a result of her pointing out the previous errors he had made. and writing an accompanying in text comment, but other times simply writing the in text
110 comment was a confusin g practice that I found she repeated in this grading. I found no discernible pattern as to why some errors were marked and identified but others were only identified. Many of the comments t ype of error but the professor did not identify where the error occurred. Again, for a student who obviously did not understand the rule in the first place, not identif ying the error could prove problematic if the professor assum ed he would learn from an d correct his mistake. It wa s possible that this ambiguity in the grading represent ed how the professor may not be thinking of the student and how to best deliver feedback to him about his writing when grading his essay. When asked if he understood his pr did. He said that he needed to work on making fewer grammatical mistakes. Analysis of the graded papers submitted by Alex in the course of this semester to his professor did not reveal any significant changes in the number of errors she identified. This lack of change in performance suggest ed that Alex did realize that he made grammatical mistakes, but being given 27 corrections by his professor in this one paper did not result in a clear improvement in his grammatical correctness on future papers. While I found commonalities among my analysis of all of the in text comments made by the professors, two professors represent the extremes of my findings. Professor Hanson did make the majority of her in te xt comments about grammar; however, the proportion of comments about the surface structure of language was closer to the proportion of comments made about sentence / wording and content. She also had the largest percentage of positive comments.
111 Figure 4 2. Analysis of in text c omments o n Bob p aper s (Professor Hanson) Interestingly enough, Professor Hanson is the only professor in the study whose graduate work was in English composition. The in text comments that Ethel r eceived in her graded essays and illustrated in the following figure were in sharp contrast to the in text comments that other student participants received. In the two graded essays that Ethel submitted to me, her professor made no comments in the text o and these were comments that seemed to justify the grade rather than deliver instruction to Ethel (these comments and analysis are detailed in the next section of the resu lts) Figure 4 3. Analysis of in text c omments o n Ethel p aper s
112 There was no written message delivered to Ethel in the text of the paper, but I believe the lack of feedback is a kind of feedback being given to the student. The lack of in text comments is a failure of the professor to recognize the writing completed by the student. When asked about the comment was not specific to the lac k of in text comments. It does seem to suggest that what she received in feedback from her professor differed from what she expected to get or differed from the type of feedback she had received in the past. A lack of feedback or response from the profes sor may not be a directly stated disheartening message, but the meaning is not encouraging to the student. The in text comments made by Professor Stricker and Professor Hanson represent the range of in text comments that student participants experienced, b ut analysis of the in text comments made by all professors revealed several common themes. While the professors did not give identical feedback, all professors who made comments in the text of the paper had the majority of their comments address editing o r grammar issues like spelling mistakes or pronoun Figure 4 4. Analysis of in text c omments o n p aper s agreement issues etc Overall, professors gave positive comments or feedback the least. Professors made a great number of marks or comments to students in the text of their papers.
113 Overall, professors averaged over 6 comments pe r paragraph written. In a five paragraph ess ay, stude nts could be receiving 30 or more comments, most of which addressed problems with grammar or editing. O n average, students received 6.2 5 comments per written paragraph. This number represent ed a volume of comments, most of which address ed gramma tical or editing mistakes that students had to wade through and interpret if they we re to make sense of the ir feedback. These specific comments were not only overwhelming in number, but they often presented contain ed that illustrate d how a prof essor made an in text comment or as if a grammatical mistake had only one remedy. Lynn submitted a paper to her instructor con a part time job, provided of course that a teen works for ten hours a week or less, have enough To provide feedback to her students used a strategy of placing number s in the ese number s correspond ed to chapter s grammar handbook where there wa s presumably instruction rega rding the mistake made. The professor sometimes included editing or comments in the paper that again, presumably, could be writing. The problem, however, wa s that w riting completed by students with varying degrees of ability may not fit into one clear category of error. Additionally, the sentences they write most often do not resemble the sentences written in the grammar textbook, so the task the instructor assign ed her students in the above example to read an entire chapter addressing a grammar skill like parallel structure was complex.
114 cited above provide d an example of the complexity of ave her. wa s one that contain ed several grammatical mistakes. But these mistakes we re complex. The student wr ote, a nd the instructor crossed out the w in the margin which correspond ed id as instructed and read the ch apter in her grammar book about spelling errors, I d o not see how she could understand the error. In addition to the above comment made by the professor, she wrote the following numbers in the margin: 20, 9, and 21. These correspond ed to chapters about r un on sentences, parallelism, and subject / verb agreement. The instructor expected the student to look through four chapters of a grammar handbook, find the portion of the chapter that correspond ed to her writing, read that portion and apply the instruc tion to the mistakes made in one sentence. This type of feedback seem ed inefficient at best and completely ineffective at worst. It should be mentioned that this professor did offer students an opportunity during the semester to revise one of their graded essays, but in our interview she expressed her frustration over their reluctance to act on this extra credit assignment. Perha ps this indicates how few students were able to make use of her in text comments. was there for her, she only felt better talking to her mom. Which is natural because her mother, the only really close family she has left, is the most comforting person she has to talk to because she too knew her father and also hurt because of the loss.
115 communication, other than the editing, that would indicate to the student why it was necessary to join the two word groups. La ter in this same paper, Shirley wrote in the margin, and she red seem ed to create a sentence fragment, so I found the editing by the professor and the chapter she assigned to the sentence to be perplexing. The professor made a mistake, and it is understandable that mistakes can be made, especially when professors are asked to evaluate so many pap ers in the course of a semester. However, grammatical correctness of the paper appear to be the most important quality of good writing, a mistake in editing by the professor sends a con fusing message to the student. Another example of an instructor delivering a confusing and disheartening message to a of all had noted 8 grammatical mistakes, 17 were circled i n paragraph 2, and 10 were identified in errors not marked by the instructor. The student made 10 grammatical mistakes in the
116 paragraph, not a number too different from the previous paragraphs, but the feedback from the instructor indicates that there are so many mistakes that she cannot point them all out. This feedb ack to the student was different from all of t he other comments she received on her other graded papers, as the professor never again stated there were too many errors to grade B ut I did ng varied much if at all from the writing produced in the previous paragraphs which had 8 and 10 grammatical mistakes, respectively. In this study, I read 26 essays submitted by seven st udent participants. In these 26 essays, professors made 732 in tex t comments and 580 of those focused on grammar and editing. This large number of comments represents a great deal of work by the professors of the student e might expect these comments to have helped students identify and correct grammatical mistakes over the course of the semester, I could see no difference i n their writing abilities or in the grammatical correctness of their papers from the beginning of the semester to the end of it. Overall, the patterns found by analyzing the comments made by the professors illustrate how th text comments fo cus on the sur face structure of language and deliver positive feedback the least. A closer look at specific in text comments exemplifies that students can be difficult to un derstand and contain disheartening messages for students. These in text comments, however, we re not the only comments made by the instructors end of the paper s accompanied by grade s, and all professors except Professor Stricker
117 professor) attached rubrics with additional comments. My analysis of these comme nts and the rubrics follows. Evaluation of e ssays g iven at e nd of p aper / a ssigned g rades My an alysis of the evaluative comments given by instructors at the end of student essays and through rubrics attached to those student essays revealed that the theme of confusing and ambiguous evalu ation continued. I found that connecting comments given at the end of the essay ambiguous, often nonsensical, and difficult to understand. Additionally, I found it to be difficult to decipher how the comments and evaluative marks made in the rubric equaled the assigned grade Connecting comments at end of essay to writing performance In addition to the marks and / or feedback given o used a rubric which was attached to each final draft. T he rubrics given by the professors were exemplifies the types of categories and corresponding comments the students received in this type of evaluation. Table 4 5 Professor s c omments Category Yes On time Excellent Fulfills basic requirements S+ Effectively limits the focus, unifies the essay, and emphasizes a strong thesis statement S+ Effectively divides essay into relevant branches with effective topic sentences S Includes sufficient and relevant details illustrating the keynote idea S+ Correctly uses standard grammar, diction (word choice), and syntax (sentence structure) S+ Follows MLA format for typed papers Grade = B / 80 Tips for the next assignment
118 I found the above rubric confusing. I was not sure a student could understand how the feedback in the paper id the equal a grade of B I also found that the professor used language that might no t be clear to the seem ed e students? Another example that typified the kinds of categories and comments given to students in 10, with 1 being out of class essay #1, appeared as follows: Table 4 Category Range / Score Final Grading Sheet 1 weak 10 good Introduction 8/10 Thesis 7/10 Paragraph Structure 8/10 Paragraph Development 15/15 Overall Essay Structure 10/10 MLA formatting / presentation of quotations 10/10 Grammar and Sentence Structure 8/10 Grade 66/75 Comments (Bob), note my comments and let me know if you have any questions ICE 35/35 ICE 15/15 This rubric was an example of another piece of confusing evaluation. First, the category of paragraph development at 15, is outside of the range ( 1 10) listed by the professor. I also found it confusing to have two seemingly overlapping categories: paragraph structure and overall
119 essay structure. I wonder ed ucture text comments and the comments at the end of the paper and on the rubric, I completed a careful analysis of the in text comments and noted their relationship to the comments made on rubrics at the end of the essay (Table 4 6). The theme that I discovered was one of a lack of correspondence or connection among the in text comments and the evaluative comments given on the rubric at the end of the writing. To illustrate the confusion student participants could encounter when trying to connect the in text comments made by their professor to the ending or evaluative comments made by their professor, I am includin g a specific example. In the following table, I have included Professor text comments, in toto, so that I can illustrate the difficulty of trying to connect this instruction to the comments made in the rubric (Table 4 6). Table 4 7 Analysis o f g rading for Bob ( o ut of c lass e ssay #1) Comment type Comment # Comment Paragraph 1 Grammar / Editing Comment 0 Sentence / Wording Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3 Comment 4 Comment 5 re overusing the word different Content Comment 0 Positive Comment 0 Paragraph 2 Grammar / Editing Comment 1 margin Comment 2 in margin Sentence / Wording Comment 1
120 Table 4 7 Continued Comment type Comment # Comment Comment 2 Comment 3 Content Comment 1 sexuality fall into the category of generational goes to show that, because of different childhood exper iences, you can not bypass generational (no note from professor of the subject / verb agreement error in this sentence or misspelling of cannot) Positive Comment 0 Paragraph 4 Grammar / Editing Comment 1 Comment 2 Sentence / Wording Comment 0 Content Comment 1 Drew bracket around the student s last sentence affirmation of his final point but not necessarily a positive comment) Positive Comment 0 Paragraph 5 Grammar / Editing Comment 0 Sentence / Wording Comment 1 Content Comment 0 Positive Comment 0 The above example illustrates a theme of confusing or unclear feedback to students regarding their grades. How wa s the student to relate the points on the grading sheet and the Paragraph 3 Grammar / Editing Comment 0 Sentence / Wording Comment 1 Underlined the student Content Comment 1 Underlined the student this is often the motive behind parents Comment 2 At end of the paragraph, drew brackets around Positive Comment 0
121 overall grade to the text comments ? My analysis revealed that most of the text comments regard ed structure. How d id these 14 comments connect to the score of 8/10 on grammar and sentence structure? Additionally, it was unclear which comments, if an y, the student would use to inform professor made in the introduction paragraph t s uggest ed that this wa s the cause of h is receiving 8/10 on the introduction and not related to his I found no written comments about the text comments. How could the student use this information in the rubric, along with the in text comments, to improve his writing and his grade? C ould the student avoid similar deductions on the introduction by using more variety in his vocabulary or was that deduction related to some other problem with the introduction? Wa or the broad These questions illustrate ho w the in text comments and their relationship to the comments made on the rubric were unclear. Connecting comments to grade papers, I discovered another ambiguity. The comments on the rubric did not clearly relate to the overall grade of the paper. When noting the final comments, found in T a ble 4 9, I had difficulty connecting the comments in the rubric to the overall grade. How did the specific comments in the paper connect to the overall grade, and how did a student who gets 100% on the prewriting
122 to Bob in the writing of this one essay, but I could not clearly identify what these acronyms stood for nor h ow they were evaluated, since there were no corresponding in text comments for these scored a 116 of 125 possible points, but I was not sure what this represente d as far as this text comment s as a guide, the clearest way Bob could improve his sco re, a number that represented his writing ability or competence on that assignm ent, would be to e liminate grammatical mistakes. I was not the only one who was confused by the lack of correlation between the markings noted that he felt hi ting assignments, he responded: Bob: The assignments were okay, they were sort of easy, but the grading, the way she grades, is kind of hard. She grades really tough on the essays. AB: Meaning what? What was so tough about her grading? Bob: class was kind of subjective. She kind of, if she liked you, you got a little bit few more grammar mistakes. And they get a D and I get an A. And when he was asked about his grades, he stated that he felt that most of the grades he ote I thought was really good but um, en I asked if he knew why he received the reported grade (88 or 87, he could not
123 gra mmar his instructor gave him a large amount of feedback m aking notes in the text of his paper and h e still fail ed to understand why his paper did not get a g d that all of the feedback given by his instructor did not communicate to him how he could improve his writing. Lynn also had trouble understanding the meaning of the rubric. When I asked her what information or i nstruction she received from the rubric, she said most of them are, average or above average so, I didn 70s and then though the majority of portion S o how did these items add up to a grade below average? A sample rubric received by Lynn and one that exemplifies her confusion is i ncluded here in Table 4 8 The rubric was a four categories given a rating of 1 5; at the bottom of the small sheet, the professor typed: 1 = failing, 2 = scores were: Table 4 Category Score Purpose 4/5 Organization 4+/5 Development 3/5 Language and Correctness 1/5 Overall grade 69
124 grade and help her make sense of her writing performance and abilities did nothing but confuse her. Using this rubric as a sample, one can see how Lynn wo Additionally, the math 5) and there are 4 categories, I would assume that the numbe rs would relate to the 100 point scale, but that is not the case here. In fact, if extrapolated, the number score that the rating of the 4 categories at 1 5 would represent would be a 60. Another confusing message is given by awarding the student the g rade of 69. And in this class, freshman composition or ENC 1101, the college requires a grade of 70 or C for students to get credit that can be used toward graduation. In other words, the grade of but this student had 3 grades representing good, good + and average but just one that was failing. Another question I had of 4+. If the professor felt the not be a 5 Another example of grading or evaluation of the essay that did not make sense to the writer was Ethel, who received little or no feedback from her profe was to write a paper about the movie viewed in class, Fast Food Nation She said it had to be a and submitted it. Her ess ay was 1 .75 pages long. The assignment stated that her paper should be 2 pages long. When her paper was returned to her, there were no marks or comments except for D as a D+. Her second essay grade was also a D+, and the grade was given for similar reasons f ailing
125 to meet requirements of the assignment. She was asked to write three paragr aphs that were to respond to the movie Super Size Me In her paper, she had to write a total of three paragraphs. She was instructed to have each paragraph address one of four possible assigned topics. The paragraphs could be about the the performance of those in the movie, the facts used in the movie, or the opinions presented in the movie. Ethel received a score of 3 out of 3 possible points on paragraphs 1 and 3, but her second paragraph, the one where she chose to received 0 points. At the end of the paper the professor w rote, No other feedback was given, and no other markings were made on the paper. Thus, Ethel received 6/9 and was given the letter grade of D+. When asked about the grades she was given, Ethel simpl y stated When viewing comments w ritten in the text of the papers by the professor s and comparing these to the comments made at the end of the writing s a theme of ambiguity emerge d It was difficu intend ed message to the student s When evaluating a paper, an instructor is essentially communicati ng with the student. Presumably, he / she is trying to communicate information to the student that will help him/her improve his / her writing. However, the feedback given was difficult for my participants to understand. text comments. Twenty six of these comments were about grammar / editing. Only one of these comments was to these brackets in the margin of the paper the T
126 Next to thes e categories were check marks (represented in Table 4 9 with X ) made by the instructor along with a few handwritten comments. Table 4 9 only include s categories the instructor marked for her student and her corresponding comments. Categories not marke d by the professor, such as spelling, were ex cluded. Table 4 Category X m arks Professor c omments Topic sentence and development Add more descriptive details Run on sentences X X X X Pronoun reference X X X X X Comma X X Apostrophe X Your essay title X No underlining or quotation marks Overall, the instructor placed 1 3 on the evaluation sheet, but these did not exactly correspond to the comments in the paper. For example, the instructor placed four checks there were five iden discrepancies made me question the need for the check marks on the rubric. If they d id not exactly represent a number of errors made in the paper, then what d id they represent? These discrepancies in the terminology used (comma splice and run on sentence) and in the number of comments and corresponding check marks could be conf using to Maylen, and t he lack of parallel comments in the text and on the rubric did not make the feedback to the student regarding how the comments and rubric equaled a number and/or grade. But for one comment about content that I found in the in text comments, the feedback on the rubric offered no real additional feedback to the student.
127 Overall, after reviewing the feedb ack given to students about their writing at the end of the papers and in rubrics, I found that this feedback wa s often nonsensical to students, confusing, and ambiguous. It c ould be overly complicated because there we re several attempts to explain the gr ade c omments at the end of the paper and comments on a rubric o r overly simplistic and lacking any explanation of a mistake when editing student structural / g rammatical mistakes. Finally, students often f ound it difficult to understand how the comments in the text and on the rubric correspond ed to the assigned grade. It was unclear how the feedback given to students might be used to improve their writing. Assessment of g rammar a ssignments All student particip ants mentioned grammar when discussing their writing abilities, and all student participants but Ethel mentioned some grammar instruction, evaluation, or assignment separate from the feedback given in their written essays that was a part of their class gra de and their assigned class work. When analyzing the data related to evaluation of writing abilities, one of the themes that continued to surface was the focus on grammar and the surface structure of language, and these grammar assignments described by th e students seemed abstract and unrelated to their writing. At this community college, the English department had a battery of grammar skills tests that could be given to students through Web CT their online educational software provider. Of the student pa rticipants in my study, Alex, Maylen, and Renaldo were assigned to complete multiple choice tests that reviewed specific grammar skills like parallel structure or subject / verb agreement by accessing and completing the tests online via Web CT These onl ine, tests we re like the exercises given at the end of grammar text books, but they include d no specific instruction through the computer. Most students describ ed their professors assigning a
128 chapter in their grammar textbooks for the students to read, and their evaluation was the corresponding skills test given through WebCT. For example, Maylen explained her understanding of the grammar assignment and instructi CT the skills test, 15 of them at 100% and that assigned 15 grammar topics, and through Web CT they would be given one ve rsion of the test. Each test had at least five different versions. Students in her class were to complete one of the five available tests at 100% in order to have completed that skill. T ed Maylen A portion of her transcribed interview that reveal ed my grades got lower and it ju st, I This excerpt illustrates not only I asked Maylen to identify the test that gave her so much trouble, she stated: Maylen: [paused] I think it was subject and verb [paused] AB: Subject / verb agreement? Maylen: AB: Okay. Maylen: b get to 100 and then I just gave up. This excerpt further illustrate s the grade of the test. Her professor may have thought that this method of grammar assessment would benefit students by allowing them to re take an exam and get a higher grade. However, Maylen could not remember the skill she was studying, but she certain ly could recall the frustration of trying to get a score of
129 100, instead scoring 70% or 90% and not understanding why. Additionally, this excerpt wa s interesting because when she state d, ed to indicat e that she fe lt an understanding of grammar skills wa s expected for college students. She continued discuss ing her lack of understanding: Maylen: know what homonyms were. AB: Now, did she give you any instruction about this, about these skills at all in class? Maylen: No. AB: She just t old you go, this was a complete it on your own kind of thing? Maylen: Yes. I found these responses interesting because Maylen did not seem to consider that her instructor could have changed the assignment or worked to explain the material on the test s I nstead, Maylen suggested the professor should change the percentage required to complete the test. method of delivering grammar instruction demonstrated how she was a ccepting of the way instructors present material and de sign assignments. Perhaps her acceptance of a portion of the class with which she was displeased resulted from her satisfaction with the rest of the class and the outcome of the class or perhaps it w as because she stated that she liked her professor, while she did not like her home high school. What this vignette makes clear is that this student was given evaluation without the benefit of instruction from the professor or other students. Left to wor k on her own, the student could not understand why she would score a 70 % one time, then a 90 % the next time, and her focus o ne dictated by the requirements of the test w as on the grade, not the skill. This student was diligent and completed all of the exa ms, in spite of not being able to complete any of them at 100%. She reported that only five students in her class
130 were able to complete all 15 tests with the required 100%. This type of grammar testing without any input from the instructor seem ed to have had no benefit for Maylen. Instead, it appear ed that she fe lt as though there wa s a lot wa s unaware. Maylen left this class without feeling as if she understood the grammar she should know. Two exceptions to the W ebC T that any specific grammar instruction, assignments, or quizzes were given in her class. While Bob was not assigned to work on grammar quizzes through WebC T he said that in his class, his i ed to get students in her class to discuss usage and grammar, and I was interested in how his instructor gave a group gra mmar quiz. When asked to detail the grammar exercise, Bob stated O ne person is the scribe and then you all have to agree on what mistakes are and you got one person corrects them and turns in that s But B interesting way of getting students to discuss grammar, he stated a lot of people are not int elligent enough to see all the mistakes and when somebody else tries to um not everybody agrees on the same things or I suggest ed that grammar discussion could be of interest to him, something he might like, but he instructor seem ed to be trying to get students to discuss usage when asking them to come to a consensus about their ed is that he experience d something closer to conflict
131 than dialogue. This excerpt from the t intentioned assignment may not be experienced as intended for all students. And since Bob did not mention any other form of grammar instruction, this excerpt reveals that he was frustrated by being forced into group work whenever being given a grammar quiz. Additionally, because this instructor d id not seem to give grammar instruction to the students in any other way, I wondered what opportunities for learnin g about language, particularly for a student like Bob who was interested, were missed. A his frustration, but that the quiz wa s something he want ed to finish quickly. This quiz wa s not something that he viewed as a group discu ssion, but a chore that ke pt him from moving to another task. Overall, this type of gramma focuses on the sur face structure of language and seems to be of more benefit to the instructor than the student. The instruction and a ssessment methods detailed by the students lacked variety. Both assessment methods g roup quizzes and WebCT w ould benefit the instructor by limiting the grading. The WebCT evaluation is automatically graded by the computer software, and the group quizzes limit the number of quizzes to be graded because each quiz represents the work of a group of students. After analyzing the (a) in text evaluation of writing, (b) evaluation of essays given at end of paper / assigned grades, and (c) assessment of grammar as signments, several themes emerged. The evaluation and assessment of student work focuse d on the surface structure of language, and it wa s difficult for the students to understand the evaluative comments and how the professor arrived at a particular grade. The comments themselves m ight have been overwhelming in number, and these comments often project ed
132 wording and grammar. Finally, the professors assessment s m ight have include d evaluation techniques tha t seem ed to benefit the professors more than the students. A bout Their Evaluation and Learning T writers. Analysis of their responses reve aled three clear themes. First, t he students focused their comments on grammar with no demonstrated understanding of what grammar means or a limited understanding, focused on a single aspect or issue. Secondly, t he students were unable to be explicit about their learning Additionally, t he students did not understand the basis for the grades they received. Student focus on g rammar When Maylen was asked what she learned in the class, she said that she became a better writer. When prompted to explain how that happened, she said the grammar and topics became better, but no specifics other than the mention of her awareness about pronoun use and an overuse of clichs came up. While she demonstrated an awareness of an error, she did not Maylen recalled a piece of feedback given to her by her instructor, she stated ssay or another one, but she kept saying something ed this correction, but I am not sure she understood it. She said but yea h it was weird. I know what a clich was ; ould not be used in an essay comment, however, made it seem as if she thought there was an actual rule in a grammar handbook that precluded students from using clichs in papers.
133 Another student who reported learning grammar but did not demonstrat e a clear understanding of the rule he reported learning was Renaldo. When asked about his skill as an English student or what he learned in class, Renaldo discussed one skill c ommas. During the first interview, Renaldo stated that he had not always been typing on the I nternet and stuff just because we have been going over them so much I want to ed awareness of commas and his distinction between writing in class or a formal setting and informal writing like that on the I nternet : I would not normally be used by him from writing completed in class where commas were emphasized. However, he wa s not discussing the way the commas should be used Instead, he simply stat ed that he wa s aware of a need to use them. And becau se commas were corrected by Additionally, this excerpt illustrates Renal focus on mechanics m irrors the focus on mechanics given in feedback from instructors. c omma use illustrates how students can grab hold of the first surface structure correction they understand or that is pointed out to them a nd focus on it even if they do not fully u nderstand that rule. Another student who focused her comments about learning on one specific aspect of grammar was Shirley. When asked about what she had learned, Shirley stated
134 learned from my te modified pronouns like they. I just used they and it could refer to two people. Or I use it and it aying that she had learned indefinite pronoun use. And she responded of [the professor]. focused on only one of the several grammati fully underst ood the pronoun errors her professor circl ed o n her paper. A student who focused his comments on grammar with no evidence that he understood what he was referring to was Alex. When I asked Alex to tell me what information he had learned about his writing so far, he responded with an answer that focused on his grade and grammar. Unlike the other students wh o focused on a single grammatical mistake, he stated that focus was l the paper. However, he did not demonstrate a clear understanding of any specific grammatical mistake or give an example of the ESL mistakes he referenced. The analysis the surface structure of language a structure of language in thei but it does not illustrate that the students fully understand the grammatical rules they claimed to have learned. Inability to be explicit about their learning A clear example of a student being unable to articulate what he or she had learned was ked how the professor helped her writing, Ethel said
135 improved it because of the feedback and, what did we do? We did something about, we used, did not gi ve specifics about how her writing h ad improved. In another interview, when I asked Ethel to state what she was learning or studying, she In the third intervi Another student unable to state what she had learned and if she had learned anything at all was Lynn. When asked if she had learned about writing and improved her writing And another student, Alex, was unable to give specific information about his learning. When asked what he had learned, Alex st U S o just relearning, maybe ? Alex responded with an affirming nod. but did not giv e any specific ex suggest ed that he focused on grammar, but d id not have a clear understanding of the mistakes. In the second interview with Renaldo that took place after the first quarter of the semester, I asked h well learned in this class, he said read, and most grammar skill.
136 what she learned, she was unable to clearly define about usage. She had only learned they were unacceptable in college writing. h e refers to run errors that were considered to be more egregious than spelling mistakes or capitalization errors. d that his focus was on grammar, and he beli eved, as did the other students in the study, that limiting grammar mistakes was the key to improving his writing. He was primarily focused on the grammatical mistakes in his paper, but he did note that in addition to helping him with grammar, his profes sor helped him comprising the structure of an essay. But this comment d id not reveal an ability to articulate wa s or an understanding of ho w to improve his writing. If students did say something about their learning, they focused on a grammar skill, but they did not seem to understand fully what they were discussing. And what was most striking to me was what was not being said by these stude related to writing like idea generation, limiting a topic, developing id eas, or strategies for revision substantive, content related aspects of writing development. Lack of understanding basis for grades Most o f the student participants clearly focused on grammar, and they connected grammatical correctness, often related to one specific skill, to the grades they received. Again and again, student participants demonstrated that they believed the way they could i mprove their writing and their grades was to correct one p articular grammatical mistake. ed up on like
137 pronouns and stuff l [her professor ] circled it a lot too, and I did not in the grading of the rough draft and final draft she referr ed to, her professor made a total of 48 comments in the text of the paper. Maylen note d that she messed up on pronouns, and her wa s also about pronouns. Her professor noted errors in comma use, spelling, ver b tense, colon use, vague words, run ons, apostrophes, homonyms, and capitalization. Maylen did not mention these other errors. Perhaps she forgot about them, but her comments seem ed to reveal that she d id not truly understand pronouns or pronoun use in spite of her recognition of the mistake and the comments by the instructor s he discusse d and pronouns as if they we re separate topics. Or, could it be that she was overwhelmed by the information she received and only able to hold on to a few basic c omments? Either way, these comments reveal ed a lack of understanding of the basis for her grade Additionally, she demonstrated a c lear focus on pronouns but lacked an understanding of this grammatical mistake and gave no evidence of an awareness of how to improve her writing. Maylen first mentioned her overuse of pronouns in her seco nd interview early in the semester During our last interview of the semester, I asked her what she learned in the class She recalled that one skill / correction: [T he m, not [ pause d]. describe her inst d to the fact that students see essay revealed when she
138 that grading is a subjective matter o ne where the instructor imposes his or her likes and dislikes on students. S he lets you know what you need to do t o improve your writing w y Again, he h as focused on one feature c ommas t hat he sa id wa s this feature that he report ed need ed improvement for him to better his writing. It also illustrate d that he was not focusing on other grammatical mistakes made in his paper and marked by his professor. Renaldo said e comma usage and like reviewing This comment suggests that he was simply using a term or skill that he connected to being a part to interview questions illustrate d that he ha d become more aware or cognizant of comma use. Over all, the professors in this study focused their grading feedback on the surface structure of writing, and the students believed that correcting grammar and learning to punctuate their writing correctly wa s the key to improved writing. Alex had to adjust to according to him was harder than he was accustomed to and focused on deducting points for grammatical mistakes. In our second He continued to reflect on the
139 grade and said that in high school, he was used to higher scores for the same amount of work so that was why he was shocked, but he also said comment by Alex was a bit obtuse. It wa referenced. When I asked him to explain, he said She ( the professor ) told me there is like ESL errors, ESL mistakes that I ha ve to try to not make on other papers After hearing this explanation, I thought that Alex could have been saying that the purpose of being in the college composition course was to make him aware of the grammatical mistakes he had in his paper. He did l n at [home high English class focused on grammar more than his high school English class. I found writing to be of particular interest because her instructor had provided no comments in the text of her graded papers. In the essays she submitted to me for analysis, her profe about her writing were given. It might be unfair to expect Ethel to have an understanding for the question about how her professor improved her writing was the shortest of any given by the student p articipants, perhaps because in spite of her noting that his feedback helped in some ttle or no feedback on papers. When asked about her learning and whether or not her writing improved in the course of the semes ter, Lynn stated
140 xpresse d her doubt about her experience, but it also reveal ed the utter uncertainty she had when trying to discern the grades she made and why she made them. While her grade improved, she did not know what that meant for her as a writer, and because she e ventually learned she had failed the course, she did not know how to evaluate her writing or learning in the semester. exception to the theme. experience differed from the experience of the other participants. When interviewed after the first quarter of the semester, he reported that he had learned more about writing a nd actually discussed deep structure. This perspective differ ed from the other which note d learning about surface structure. He, unlike other students, did not focus on one grammatical error like pronoun agreement and say that he learned more abou t that one grammatical rule. In contrast, he s aid um structure the When I asked him to give me specifics, he stated U m, the topic sentences and how to make them flow better with the essay. How to make them incorporate into recall ed the strict six step process for completing writing assignments that Bob was given, I assignments could have at least made him aware of other parts of the wr iting process. Overall, analysis of student transcripts reveal ed that most students who participated in the study focused on the surface structure of writing when reporting what they
141 learned. This view could be related to the feedback they rec eived from professors which also focused on the surface structure of writing. Students reported learning something, even when apparently dissatisfied with the class. Each student reported that his or her writing improved in some Summary of Results for Research Question 2 My analysis of the collected data in an effort to discern what opportunities and feedback are high school students provided to develop their writing abilities in a college composition course revealed several important themes. My analysis of the transcripts of interviews with students and professors and artifacts submitted from student participants revealed the complications of the writing assignments, including compl ex steps required to complete the as can be given assignments in ways that make the difficult exercise of composition perhaps unnecessarily complicated and stude nts often found the assigned topics uninteresting and difficult to write about. My analysis of the assessment and feedback given to students from their instructors revealed several themes. When I analyzed the in text comments professors returned in studen t essays, I discovered that the students made large numbers of comments, but these comments most often focused on the surface structure of language. These comments, I found, often contained ambiguous and sometimes disheartening messages to the students. I found positive comments were the most infrequent comments given to student participants. When I analyzed the comments professors returned to students on rubrics found at the end of the essays, I discovered that it was difficult to connect them to the in text comments made in the same essay.
142 Additionally, trying to decipher how the comments on the rubric equaled the assigned grade was difficult. Analysis of the grammar assignments given to students revealed that the assignments themselves were abstract and focused on the surface structure of language. Most of the student participants were instructed to complete grammar instruction in a learning lab where their professor was not present. Overall, these grammar assignments were abstract, and their assess ment that was most often completed by the program on WebCT seemed to benefit the professors more than the students. When I studied what students reported about their evaluation and learning, I found that they focused on the surface structure of language, o ften stating one specific grammatical rule that they had learned. However, when asked questions about their understanding of the rule, I discovered that students were unable to be explicit about the topic. Another theme that became apparent after my anal understanding for the basis of their grades. They connected grammatical correctness, often of one specific skill, to the grades they received. Research Question 3 To address the third r esearch question What is the nature of the intersection / i nteraction of selected high school students and college instructors in a college composition course? I p erspective s of the professors and how they experienced working with HSDE students, and then the experience s the HSDE students had working with their individual professors. Professor Participants Three common themes emerged when I analyzed the transcribed i nterviews with the four professor participants T he professors were dealing with the pressure of an increased workload They associated HSDE students with immature behavior ; and t
143 academic performance that were based on t he age of the student. T hrough my own experience working on this campus as a high school English teacher, I knew that some professors did not necessarily embrace having high school students in their college c ourses. For this reason, I thought it was impo rtant to ask the instructors about their experiences with and feelings about working with HSDE students. Increased workload First, the process of trying to secure interviews with the professors as well as their responses to my questions made it clear tha t they felt pressed for time. They were grading final papers and final essays, and I surmised that this timing was a reason for their re luctance to schedule an appointment with me for an interview. The spring semester of my research project teaching load required for all full time college English faculty mem bers. Previously, full time English faculty members completed their contract obligations by teaching 12 contact hours a semester. These hours were fewer than the 15 contact hours required of all other full time rts and Sciences division. Th at semester was the first time that full time English faculty members were required to teach 15 contact hours in one semester. There were a few comments in the interviews and behaviors of the professors that indicated these p rofessors felt the increased workload was stressfu l and impacted their teaching. Two of the professors I met with, Professor Hanson and Professor Smith had to consult their grade books to recall exactly which student we were discussing and his or her perf ormance. For exampl e, when our interview began, Professor Smith U m, at this pective with that many students, but let me
144 dealing with the increased workload presented by an increase in students and apparently had no clear memory of Alex and his work. emed a bit vague, it suggest ed to me that the professor had difficulty connecting a particular student like Alex to his performance in class. I do not think she was unaware of who Alex was, but she did seem to need to consult her records to connect Alex to particular work or performance in class. Another professor I interviewed, Professor Hanson stated in the course of our discussion that her studen t, Bob, did not visit her during office hours. In my interview with Bob, he asserted that he had visited her in her office five or six times. Through my experience interviewing Bob and connecting his answers to specific information from the class, partic ularly the artifacts he submitted to me, I found him a reliable source and a person focused on the details of his class performance. My experience with Bob made me believe that he had visited her office, but this professor, perhaps because of her increase d workload, was unable to remember all of the students who visited her office. This professor would need to keep track of up to 30 students in each of the five classes she taught that semester, so it is understandable that a detail such as who visited her office could be forgotten or she could be visited by a student whose name she did not immediately know. In my interview with Professor Sands she stated that she spent so much time grading, she felt it nece ssary to record the hours each week that she spent out of class grading and completing paperwork. She reported to me that she had recorded over 60 hours of grading and additional school work that she completed outside of her class meetings. And while I r eceived no response from Professor Stricker when I e mailed him and phoned him requesting his participation in my project, it is possible that
145 the increased workload and the fact that he taught in two different locations, downtown and n orth of town, could have made him less likely to contact me and agree to give up his time for an interview. While this press for time and increased workload that clearly affected Professor Hanson, Professor Smith, Professor Sands, and probably Professor St ricker was not directly related to the HSDE students enrolled in their classes, the additional three hour class was a new stressor for these full time English professors. Because the HSDE program at the school asks teachers to complete a progress report f student could also be seen as an additional burden for these instructors. However, I did not expect these professors to complain to me about the extra work the HSDE students presented as I wa s a representative of the HSDE program. HSDE s tudents and i mmature b ehavior Another common theme found in the responses from the professors was their concern about the potential for immature behavior from HSDE students. Because this program had been estab lished at the college for over 25 years, all of the professors had worked with several dual enrollment students. All mentioned that they had experienced having excellent HSDE students in their classes, and three of the four professors who responded ( Profe ssors Hanson, Sands, and Smith ) noted that high school students are often some of their best students. However, this experience of having well performing HSDE students in their classes did not keep all of the respondents from stating that they were leery of working with high school students because HSDE students often behave in an immature manner. Several comments that I found through my analysis of transcribed interviews and correspondence with professor participants illustrate d the associating HSDE stud ents with immature behavior. In her correspondence with me, Professor Casey wrote:
146 A few high school students are immature. One in particular stands out. She turned in a D research essay, expressed anger at her grade, and then claime This same person was also squeamish and disapproving of some of the material we discussed in class. When I reviewed s statement, what stood out was that while she said only a few were immature, her e xperience with the one particular student stood out. I found that to be a feature in the responses from all of the professor participants t hey all cited one specific instance that seemed to impact their opinion of working with HSDE students. Additionally I found only one part of Professor Casey w hen she seemed to suggest she should not be graded harshly because of her age t o be immature. Being squeamish and disapproving of material or turning in a poor research paper could be a product of student, the professor seemed to attribute all of her unwanted behavior to her apparent immaturity. Another recollection from a professor participant, Professor Hanson had features reminiscent of Professor Casey Professor Hanson about her experiences with HSDE students: Prof. Hanson: And one time I did have a classroom full of dual enrollment students. AB: Really? Prof. Hanson: Yeah, I had, um, it was the worst class I ever taught, actually. AB: Really? Prof. Hanson: Yeah, it was years ago. AB: Why would it be the worst class? Prof. Hanson: Um, you know, because they knew each other. It was a unique circumstance; there were about 10 of them and 6 or 7 of them knew each other, so it had an effect of making it feel very retro for me. I mean they were not, they were not easily controllable.
147 AB: Right, so it was more behavior than Prof. Hanson: Absolutely. AB: t han writing potential and skill level? Prof. Hanson: Yes, yes. Again, this exchange illustrates how one specific negative experience with HSDE students stands out for the profe ssor. But again, these students who seemed to be friends outside of class r high school experience and having a group of HSDE students in the classroom made her feel uncomfortable which she seemed to attribute to them being friendly with each other, does not seem to b e related specifically to an age group. However, like Professor Casey Professor Hanson attributed this unwanted behavior to the age group of the HSDE students. The other two professor participants did not cite specific examples as Professors Hanson and Casey did, but they did continue the theme of connecting immature behavior in class to HSDE students. When asked about working with HSDE students, Professor Sands stated, ho have the worst in class [ pause d] misbehavior. Yeah, Professor Sands seemed to be recognizing that more than one category of students chat with others during class, yet she seemed to be attributing the inued to describe working wit h the HSDE students and stated: Prof. Sands: I teach in a computer classroom and that just exacerbates the situation. AB: Sure.
148 Prof. Sands: ut just, yeah, I try to forbid them. computers before or after class either. In addition to Professor Sands continuing to focus on the HSDE students as the most egregious offenders when it c ame to accessing the computer rather than focusing on her class lecture, her reveal ed a seem ingly inflexib le classroom management style. Another example of a professor participant connecting HSDE students to immature behavior was found when analyzing Professor Smith She do I get someone who is a little to o immature uh, I had a few problems last year with a couple Professor Smith occas students to immature behavior, she experienced it either as less of a problem than the other professors did or she had not had an experience with HSDE students that was as strikingly bad as the experiences recounted by the other professors. She did not mention the behavior or f effort on their assignments. HSDE students, their overriding concern was that HSDE students might be behavior problems in their classrooms. None of the professors int erviewed stated that the students were unable to complete the assigned work. Instead, it seems as if they believed some of their previous HSDE And one of the professors Professor Sands, stated that the problem of how to deal with the behavior of students in class was a real
149 inconvenience. When asked if she contacted the students who were behavior problems outside of class or contacted the HSDE office for help, she stated I usually carry so many students that I have other things to worry about that these HSDE students could be perceived as additional work for the professors. Expectations for s tudents b ased on a ge In addition to dealing with an increased workload and connecting HSDE students with immature behavior, another theme that I found after analyzing the data suggested that professors Professor Sands sta ted: Prof. Sands: ester than I had last semester. AB: Really? Prof. Sands: They are primarily from older students. AB: Yeah? Prof. Sands: They really are. Professor Sands had not been prompted to make a statement about the numbers or types of spring semester. This response was not backed up with any specific evidence, but it did suggest to me an expectation or connection between the age of the students and their academic performance in class. I found another example of this type of connection between age and student grades or perfo rmance when interviewing and the appropriateness of his placement in the course, Professor Hanson stated: Prof. Hanson: I do notice that sometimes my dual enrollment students, they sort of fall into, well they fall into a couple of categories, but I do have a number of them who t end to be very quiet. They are, you know, I think just trying to get a sense of how the
150 AB: Right. Prof. Hanson: And I think it can make them a little timid. AB: Uh huh. Prof. Hanson: [Bob]. AB: Yes, I think so. Prof. Hanson: And I think that raises the volume on that effec t, makes it more so, so yeah, maybe bring that life experience to the classroom. Her response suggested that she was aware that HSDE st udents could feel out of place in the college classroom community, but she made no statement about how she could address this ought that life experience to the classroom suggested that she did have more positive expectations for her older students and their participation in a classroom discussion. comments suggested that she had expectations for students and their level of participation in the class based on their age s It is possible that these expectations were communicated to students in some way so this professor inadvertently encouraged older students to participate in the class activities but expected the HSDE students in her Whi s with their academic performance s in the class, these responses do illustrate how some HSDE students may intersect or be placed in classrooms that are more or less welcomin g, with a professor who may have expectations about their behavior or performance based on their age.
151 P erspectives of T heir P rofessors and the C ommunity C ollege C ontext identified two common dimensions of the experience that impacted their experience s as students. The first was the impact that their professor had on their experience, and the second was the overall impact that completing the class had on them as writers and as students. The impact of th e professor During my pilot study, it became clear to me that one of the problems that Lynn had in her ENC 1101 class was her lack of willingness to approach her professor. Lynn stated that she did not find her professor approachable. This feeling came at least in part, from her interpretation of completing my research, I could not help but wonder how the interaction between instructor and stude nt affected While not all of the participants seemed greatly impacted by their professors, the professors and their teaching methods and personalities intersected with the students in the s Three examples that illustrate a high opinion of his instructor, but ended the semester with a different opinion. Another student who began the semester not engaged in the class finished the class with a different opinion of her professor, and one student who had left her home high school because of a dislike of the high r as a student created a welcoming learning environment. Bob began the semester liking his professor describing her as a good professor, but his opinion of her declined as the semester continued instructions and requirements for essay assignments. Students were given two topics to choose
152 from. Then the essay assignment required brainstorming, drafting and revising, and a final draft. Students had to submit all parts of this assignment, but the work submitted b y Bob show ed that the professor graded and made comments only on the final draft. At the beginning of the semester, Bob did not find fault with these assignments. He said that he understood them fully, and he even complimented her as an instructor. He s tated [ pause d]. S he does a lot of one on one he U h huh His opinion had changed when I interviewed him at the end of the semester. He was not complimentary. When asked in the final interview to assess how this class af fected his writing, we had the following exchange: Bob: the major things I learned was how to do that and the strategies to do that. AB: Okay, so anything else other than a reasoned argument that you believe you learned this semester? Bob: No. AB: argumentative writing? Bob: AB: Yeah, was there anything that you were presented in the class this semester that you had not done before? Bob: No. AB: No, just the persuasive writing?
153 Bob: Just the persuasive writing. At t he beginning of the semester, Bob had reported learning more about how to write a thesis and work on the structure of his essays, but at the end of the semester, the persuasive writing was the only assignment he found useful. This change in his feeling ab out the course work seem ed to correlate with his growing impatience with his professor and his dislike of the S he is a pretty good teacher at the end of the semester he reported that he did not like his professor. When asked h conversation c ontinued: AB: Okay, how so? Why was she not likeable? Bob: AB: Okay, you already told me about those Bob: d, everything has to be square. AB: What was unorganized about it? Bob: The way she taught. Her writing on the board was sideways, she just wrote over here and then dre w big long arrows all the way around the board, and I just, it was hard to follow her instructions sometimes. Since Bob previously mentioned that he did not like the group work required by his professor as part of the grammar quizzes, that part of the resp onse did not surprise me. I did find the mention of her unorganized writing on the board unexpected. That complaint seemed to be about something meaningless, and it sounded more like Bob found the personality of the instructor annoying. Later in the int erview, Bob had another complaint about the class:
154 Bob: think like, oh I wish I could skip this class cause it was so boring, all we do is just busy work basically, just bu sy writing work AB: Uh huh. Bob: a frustrated me to have to sit in class and write for 75 minutes. assignments led him to be annoyed by the smaller things his prof essor did in the class, like change or vary the way she presented t he material or assigned writing to the students. He may have simply grown weary of the many required assignment parts, which includ ed prewriting, outlining, rough drafts, final drafts, and self editing. Certainly these could be productive assignments, bu t evidence of little or no feedback from the professor ma de it seem as if these assignments were the b usy work that Bob described. Another point is that it seem ed as if Bob wa s a structured person, with a clear idea of how he would have like d the class to be run. This professor may simply have be en incompatible with him in regards to experience and his experience as a writer negatively. Professor Stricker, also changed in the semester, and this change seemed to be related to his personality. She began the semester seemingly displeased contrast to the semester, she was pleased with her professor and described him as fun and a good teacher.
155 In the second interview, when I asked Ethel if she felt her instructor was a good teacher, she stated U her dissatisf action with the class was her first writing assignment. She described her Fast Food Nation the movie, b ut she did not understand why it was a topic worth discussing or writing about. She stated Her comments made it clear that what the professor had chosen as material for the class to study was not salient to Ethel, and s he f ound it difficult to write about a topic that did not interest her [ the class ] r opinion at the midterm of the semester. In her third interview, she stated that her professor jumped around from topic to topic, and when I asked her to rate how interesting the class was (with 1 being most interesting and 10 being most boring) she sai d that the class was a 7. But by that she enjoyed. And whil e her interest in the assigned movie from the beginning of the professor changed, so did her performance in the class. When Ethel was asked about her grad e However, by the end of the semester, Ethel was passing
156 Th at Ethel found her professor entertaining may not have made her a s uccessful student, but it made her experience in th e class more enjoyable than if she had not been engaged by the professor. It may have been ster, coinciding with her improved opinion of her professor. It seem ed d that her class by mak ing it more interesting for her. Another student who had a positive view of her instructor was Maylen. From our first interview, she made it clear that she left her home high school for the dual enrollment program because she did not like her home high sc hool. In particular, she described herself as a student who was prepared for her classes and interested in learning, but other students at her home high school made fun of her. When I asked Maylen if she felt comfortable in the college classroom, she sai d classmates contributed to Mayl Maylen described her instructor, Professor Casey, forg ot his or her book or if he or she was not prepared, the professor would lend the student her rated that Maylen still saw the professor in the college class as one whose job w were not doing what she (Maylen) judged most important: being prepared for class. Maylen
157 titude of the professor but did seem to want the professor to note the students who c a me to class unprepared. Also, I found it interesting that when asked what made her professor a good instructor, Maylen did not note anything that I would have expected t assignments or insightful feedback about her writing. I am not suggesting that these things were not present in the class, but if they were, they were not noted by May l en. which lk about things, that she cared about us, asked how the professor did this, Maylen recalled her first essay when she wrote about a difficult time in her life: her grandmother had just died, and her older sister, her only sibling, had just left the paper which she quoted as saying teachers n instructor was one who would relate to her on a personal lev e l, not just as an instructor. Additionally, this comment made me realize that when professors assign and receive personal writing or narratives from students, even though that writing may be designed to accomplish an academic task, a professor may be privy to information that is extremely important to that student. This information may require more of a response from the professor
158 than the response of a reviewer, critic, or editor for students to feel at ease and open to instruction. Overall, these excerp d the positive impact that her professor had on her experience entering the college classroom community. Reported o verall i mpact of the community college context questions regarding their overall experience s in the class and the outcome of the class experience, I found several important themes Students, after successfully completing the college class and gaining college credit, reported that they would change not hing about their class experience even if they had complain ed about the class and/or the professor. s in their college composition course may have given them a negative emotional response to writing as they found the class meetings and writing assignments boring. However, s tudents who successfully complete a college course may have improved confidenc e in their academic abilities. Students would change nothing about their class experience In spite of having complaints about the class, all student participants except one reported that they would not change anything about the class experience. Two students A lex and Ethel had almost identical responses when asked if they would change anything about the class. They bot h agreed they would not change anything about the classes, but they did mention that they wish the class meetings had not been so long t heir class meetings were an hour and fifteen minutes each. Another student, Renaldo, also would not change the class be The theme of not changing anything because one was successful in the class despite having
159 write drafts and rewrite drafts was busy work. In spite of this dissatisfaction with class and the previously mentioned dissatisfaction with his professor, he still stated that he would change nothing about the class: AB: Would you change anything if you could change any thing about this class experience? Bob: Not that I can think of. his professor and when I asked him if he would recommend her to other students, he said that he would not Of all of the student participants, Bob reported being most dissatisfied with his professor and the class. He said the class was boring, his professor assigned boring topics and busy work, and she was disorganized. He was not willing to sugge st that other students take the class from his professor. Thus, I found it perplexing that he would not change anythi ng about his class experience. ed two important points. First, the student participants were focused on co mpleting the course and gaining college credit. All student participants but one were able to accomplish that task, and all student participants but one would not change the course at all because it moved them closer to their ultimate goal of earning a co llege d egree Second, the focus on the course outcome suggest ed that the students did not focus on develop ing successfully completing the class mirror ed the professors focus on the surface structure of the we re not given clear information from their professors about how to improve their writing competencies, it should not be surprising that they fail ed to focus on the devel opment of those writing competencies as a desired outcome of the class.
160 Negative e motional r esponse to w riting My a identifying another important theme. The students, even though they successfully completed the college writing class as high school students, may have gained an adverse emotional response to writing and writing classes. Bob, Ethel, and Renaldo all reported finding t he classes boring, and all reported dissatisfaction with most of the writing assignments they were given. The writing assignments did not interest them, an interest in writing, revealed that writing in the college classroom had proven to be a less than exciting and interesting activity for them. Lynn, t he student who failed the college writing class was the only student participant who reported that she regr etted taking the class. I am sure that she was unhappy that she did not receive college credit, but I also think the data collected in her interview suggest ed that her response to the outcome of the class was more complicated than that. She had no additi onal comments about the effect of the class, perhaps because she was unable to put into words how she felt or what it meant, but in my time spent with Lynn, her frustration with the class, the professor, and her inability to understand how to make sense of the feedback she received about her writing was clear. I was left wondering what kind of emotional response to writing resulted more enthused about writing aft er her experience in ENC 1101. These responses suggest ed that the students, like the professors, we re focused on a product. The product for the professors wa s the finished paper, and the product for the students wa s ultimately the grade that they receive d fo r the class and the credit earned toward a college degree. Indeed, the completion of a college class while still a high school student may give some students a sense of accomplishment. Two particular student examples illustrate this point.
161 Gaining confid ence in academic abilities When Ethel started taking the class, she was not getting passing grades, and she did not think her professor was a good teacher. Ethel had said in one of her interviews that she worked hard to make sure her counselor allowed her to take the college level English class because it s I asked Ethel in one of our interviews if she regretted taking the class. Ethel responded by saying no, and then with a C d how her experience of su ccess fully completing a college level class allowed her to prove something to herself, and perhaps to others like the counselor who initially tried to dissuade her from taking ENC 1101. Ethel may not have improved her writing competencies, and she may not have become more interested in writing, but she did prove to herself that she could be academically successful in college level course work. Another example of a student gaining confidence academically by being successful in a d experience with a particularly successful writing assignment. Maylen reported that received When I asked her did not say that this experience helped her see how her writi ng had improved or that she was a good writer. What Maylen reported was not a specific item that she learned, but a sense of pride that she gained as a result of out performing her college classmates. In an effort to get Maylen to delve deeper into how t his affected her as a writer, I then asked her to explain how the
162 And, not so much in like, chemistry and that, but it helped me like in my writing aspects o f she made no specific comments that I would associate with awareness of improved writing competencies. Summary of Results for Research Question 3 After analyzing the transcribed interviews with professors, I identified three important themes The professors felt that the increased workload was stressful and impacted their teaching D rawing on their previous experiences working with HSDE students, the professors associated immature behavior with HSDE students and p rofessors attributed good performance in class with older students, suggesting they had preconceived notions o based on his / her age. w hile not all of the participants seemed greatly impacted by their professors, the professors and their teaching me thods and personalities intersected with the students in the course of the s The analysis I completed revealed a range of experience. One student who was not interested in the course at the beginning of the semester became interested and reported that her professor was funny. Her interest in the professor coincided with her improved grades. Another student began the semester believing his professor was a good teacher, but ended the semester complaining of h er teaching and her assignment of
163 difficult, hostile environment was assigned a caring, welcoming professor in her college classroom. ses to questions regarding their overall experience s in the class and the outcome of the class experience, I found several important themes Students, after successfully completing the college class and gaining college credit, report ed that they would change nothing about their class experience s, even if they had complain ed about the class and/or the professor. This disparity suggest ed that these students were focused on acquiring college credit more so than improving their writing com petencies. experience s in their college composition course may have given them a negative emotional response to writing as they found the class meetings and writing assignments boring. However, s tudents who successfully comple te d a college course may have improved confidence about writing, even witho ut improved writing abilities. Summary of Results Research Question 1 : What are the contextual features of a HSDE program that influence Analysis of the data revealed that academic counseling, the opportunity to take both high school and college level course work on a college campus, and the freedom from the high school context were three important contextual features of the HSDE program studied that Academic Counseling Students who are not accustomed to working in a college environment may not know what student performance indicates their preparedness for college level course work. Thus, students use the gu idance and suggestions of their counselors to help them decide on the appropriate course work. Also, a counselor who does not make a student aware of important college services or who may suggest a student enroll in college course work too soon can negativ ely impact a
164 Opportunity to Take Both High School and College Level Course Work on a College Campus This opportunity to take a combination of high school and college course work promotes access, allowing students to begin t he program and work toward improving skills in order to take more college course work. Students associate being on a college campus, even if they are taking high school classes, with increased academic rigor. Achieving academic success and improvement on t he college campus can make students feel positively about their academic achievements. Freedom F rom the High School Context Students who are given some anonymity on a college campus and who are viewed as college students are gi ven room for emotional growth Student participants reported relating to college students and seeing themselves either as college students or as transitioning from high school student to college student reflecting their perceived focus on academics. This environment which does requi re students to be responsible and which takes them away from their peers can be difficult for some students. Some students may not be ready Research Question 2 : What opportunities and feedback are high school stude nts provided to develop their writing abilities in a college composition course? T o study the opportunities and feedback that the HSDE students were provided to develop their writing abilities in a college composition course, I studied (a) the assignments given to students to develop and demonstrate their writing abilities, (b) the assessment and feedback given to students from their instructors, and (c) ir assignments and assessment. Assignments Given to Students to Develop and Demonstrate T heir Writing Abilities Students were given constraining and complicated assignments. Students found their assigned topics uninteresting and difficult to write about. Assessment and Feedback Given to Students F rom Their Professor s In t ext C omments
165 Positive comments were the most infrequent type of comment found in the graded papers. A large number of comments were made, but they contained ambiguous and sometimes dishearte ning messages to the students. Evaluation of e ssays g iven at e nd of e ssays and on r ubrics p erformance in the essay was difficult. It was difficult to decipher how comments given to students on the rubric equaled the assigned grade. Grammar a ssessment The grammar assignments given we re abstract and focus ed on the surface structure of language The grammar assignments and assessment seem ed to benefit the professors more than t he students. The grammar assignments lacked variety and were not experienced as intended for all students. c omments about t heir e valuation and l earning l anguag e, often stating one specific grammatic al rule that they had learned. However, when students were asked about the specific grammatical rule they reported Students lacked a clear understanding of the basis for their grades and most often reported that grammatical correctness, often related to one specific skill, was responsible for the grade they were given. Research Question 3 : What is the nature of the intersection/interaction of selected high sc hool students and college instructors in a college composition course? Analysis of the The professors were dealing with the pres sure of an incr eased workload. They associated HSDE s tudents with immature behavior.
166 age. of Their Professors and the Community College Context The impact thei r professor had on their experience The student begins with a positive impression of the professor, but ends with an overall negative impact. The student begins with a negative impression from the professor, but reports a positive impact at the end of the semester The student begins the semester uneasily, but the professor positively impacts his/ her experience. Overall i mpact of the community college context on students Students, after successfully completing the college class and gaining college credit, r eport ed that they would change nothing about their class experience s, even if they complain ed about the class and/or the professor. This acceptance of their experience suggests that these students are focused on acquiring college credit more so than impro vi ng their writing competencies. s in their college composition course may have given them a negative emotional response to writing because they found the class meetings a nd writing assignments boring. Students who successfully complete d a college course may have improved confidence about writing, rather th an improved writing abilities.
167 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS Summary of the Results All of the students participating in this study were high school students taki ng a college extreme importance because it constitutes the strands that the student participants used to create their experiences in the composition classroom. An across case analysis of the individual program seemed to influen not include developing their writing capacities. The characteristics that influenced achievement were the location on a college campus, the counselors specifically available for HSDE stud ents, and the feature of allowing students to take a combination of high school and college level course work. schools and enter the dual enrollment program on the college campus, I found that students sought academic challenges that they were either not receiving at their home high schools or unable to access at their home high schools because their academic records precluded them from entering other secondary postsecondar y learning options (SPLOs), like AP course work or IB programs. These students could enter the HSDE program I studied and take a combination of high school and college course work on a college campus. To navigate the college campus and enroll in appropri ate course work with success, the student participants needed the assistance of gave the students some anonymity, provided them room for emotional growth. Stude nts
168 mentioned the physical and emotional space as a positive part of their experience. The students reported missing their friends at their home high schools but identified themselves as college students or as high school students transitioning to college students. This self identity reflected their sentiment that being involved in college course work required a focus on academics and a move toward adulthood. Overall, the context of the HSDE program offered students opportunities for academic and emotiona l growth. This program made advanced course work and a college context available to students who were, for one reason or another, dissatisfied with their home high schools. Students participating in this study who successfully completed college course wo rk on a college campus as high school students reported that they felt proud of their academic achievements. When studying the opportunities students were given inside their community college English classrooms to improve their writing abilities, I found s everal common themes. Students were given complicated assignments. Explicit but somewhat confusing instructions regarding the steps required to complete the writing assignments were common. Students were also given constraining and uninteresting assignm ents. Professors usually assigned the topics, and these were not salient for the students. Additionally, the feedback given to students in the text of their papers focused on the surface structure of their language, attending to aspects such as grammar an d editing. Overall, professors gave positive comments and feedback the least, and students received an overwhelming number of comments in the text of their papers. Professors made almost seven comments per paragraph. In a five paragraph essay, students could receive 35 comments, most addressing problems with grammar or editing.
169 I found that the comments were confusing and difficult to understand. The comments could differ in terminology used from the in text comments, and there often was a lack of correlation between the in text and the summative or evaluative comments. Also, it was difficult to evaluative comments equaled the assigned grade. Overall, the in text and end of text feedback given to the students to defend the grade given than to provide stu dents with formative feedback to help improve their writing. semester, students focused on grammar or one single aspect of grammar, while still unable to articulate a clea r understanding of grammar or the aspect they believed they had learned. They also could not express a clear understanding of the basis for their grades. All of the students primarily focused on the surface structures of language, editing, and grammar, a nd this focus reflected the feedback given to them by their professors. While students may have felt positive about their writing and increased confidence because of success in a college class, they did not seem to be aware of what content or deep structu When studying the nature of the interaction between the individual college professors and the student participants, I found that professors were reticent to work with HSDE students. Their answers to intervi ew questions revealed that some professors had expectations for student behavior and academic performance based on age. They associated positive academic performance with older students and immature, unwanted classroom behavior with HSDE students.
170 The par ticular professor assigned to a particular student and his or her ability or inability to However even those students who did not seem to be pleased with their profes sor would not change anything about the class experience s This lack of desire to change anything about their classroom experiences, even when reporting dissatisfaction, seemed to illustrate that student participants were primarily interested in the final product or credits earned. Successfully completing the class meant they had taken a positive step toward acquiring their degree. That degree, not necessarily the learning that accompanied it, was their desired goal. Even so, this experience of acquirin g college credit seems to have positively impacted their confidence as students. One common complaint of most participants was that their composition class was boring or too long. This complaint could have reflected their lack of engagement in the writing process, but an unfortunate by product of taking this class seemed to be that the students had an adverse emotional response to writing. Limitations of the Results In this study I examined the experiences of particular individuals in a specific HSDE progr am. As is the case with qualitative research, it was my hope that studying specific students enrolled in a particular HSDE program and writing class would give me detailed information to help me describe the particular phenomenon I have studied. Because the specific students, professors, artifacts, and program studied are unique, any conclusions drawn from this study apply only to this particular situation. However, I believe that my particular case study can help us understand something about the experi ences of any HSDE student attempting to complete freshman composition on a college campus (Glesne, 1998). I think this study has implications for school leaders developing and maintaining high school dual enrollment programs, and it
171 sheds light on issues concerning the teaching of writing in the community college. I will discuss these implications in the next section. The student participants in this study provided unique perspectives on their experiences in the college composition classroom. These exper iences from students of various backgrounds, genders, and academic abilities varied widely. However, the number of participants in this study also limited its scope. While I made an effort to recruit as many student participants as possible, most student s enrolled in the HSDE program and enrolled in freshman composition during the spring semester were not willing to participate. Additionally, two students who began the study did not participate in all interviews or submit artifacts for analysis. And bec ause I was using student volunteers and asking them to voluntarily submit all of their graded essays, my analysis of artifacts was limited by their willingness or even their remembering to do so. The artifacts I gathered varied in type and number from par ticipant to participant. Another limitation of the study was my inability to videotape or otherwise document the proceedings in the composition classroom. Because of the limitations of time and my inability to follow each student because of their overlap ping schedules, I relied upon interviews from the participants to document what happened in the classrooms. in the study. Furthermore, most professor participants d id not seem willing to spend an extensive amount of time talking to me during the semistructured interviews, and they were more willing to discuss the HSDE students than their own classroom practices. Because these professors knew me as a colleague, I bel ieve they were more willing to grant me an interview, but I also feel that they may have been more reluctant to discuss pedagogy with another English professor especially one studying the teaching of English.
172 As stated above, I believe that my working as a n English teacher in the HSDE program at this college benefited me because it allowed me access to students, professors, and artifacts that may not have been made available to someone from outside the program. However, my connection to the program made me a subjective researcher. Another limitation of my study and others using the case study method is the limitation of time. While I believe my data collection for this study is sufficient, having more time to increase the breadth and depth of this study b y working through two or more semesters and with more student participants would have Discussion of Results When I began working at the community college where the study took place, I was a part time English instructor. Like many adjuncts, I worked in several different departments to earn as classes to students hoping to improve their College Placement Test (CPT) scores to beco me eligible to take college English classes, and I worked in the HSDE program. Before seeking job opportunities at the community college, I was unaware that programs like this HSDE program existed. When I started working as an English instructor for the HSDE program, I became aware of the many opportunities for college course work, both academic and technical, offered to the students who lived in this particular school district. I also became aware of the diverse student population served by the program. People may believe that only students with high GPAs and experience allowed me to see students of differing levels of academic ability and experience successfully compl eting college level course work. The student enrolled in my high school English class might be leaving my class to take high school biology or college chemistry.
173 After three years of part time work, I became a full time instructor of high school English o n the college campus, working almost exclusively with HSDE students. In my ten years of full time work in this program, I worked with many different students and shared in their successes and sometimes witnessed their failures. These experiences of seein g some of my students leave my high school English class and flourish in the college English classroom, while others floundered, made me wonder about the experiences that these HSDE students had when they left the high school classroom on the college campu s and entered a college classroom. To explore their experiences and perhaps gain insight to what the students experienced in the college composition classroom and how that experience was impacted by the context of the HSDE program, I designed a pilot stud y, and my dissertation study followed. What I discovered about their experiences was interesting and in some respects, unexpected. I found that the community college context and the HSDE program offered valuable opportunities for academic growth to the st udent participant as a bridge to college course work. However, I was surprised at the lack of opportunities for development of writing abilities offered to the HSDE students in their college composition classrooms the writing instruction they received, th e evaluation of their writing, and the roles of their professors in their experiences were underwhelming. HSDE as a B ridge to C ollege C ourse W ork School reform seems to be an ongoing discussion in our nation, as evidenced by the release of the documentary Waiting for Superman (2010). T he aforementioned documentary focuses on high performing charter schools and demonstrates the frustration of those whose only option is to send their child to an ineffective school. Those who are not being well served by the ir public
174 Placement (AP) courses are often given as examples of the b est opportunities for academic achievement that our public school system can provide high school students. However, these score requirements. The HSDE program u sed as the site for this study is an example of how a partnership between a county school system and a local community college can work to increase access to college level course work for secondary students without requiring that students meet the prerequi sites of the aforementioned programs. Studies have shown that virtually all community colleges in the United States (98%) offer some form of dual enrollment (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). However, of the community colleges that offer dual enrollment classes, th e majority (73%), conduct classes on the participating high impact student achievement. G etting high risk students into college courses on a college campus as part of a dual enrollment program can increase their chances of successfully completing college (Schaffhauser, 2010). While the time limitations of my study did not allow me to follow es, my research did give me some insight to the contextual features of this HSDE program that positively influenced the academic achievement of my student participants. Two experiences in particular, those of Lynn and Renaldo, illustrated the importance of having counselors in the HSDE program who only work with HSDE students on the college campus. This contextual feature was an important part of Renaldo deciding to take college level English at first, and because he was unsure of what academic markers would indicate his preparedness for college level English, Renaldo did not initially plan to enroll in college composition. His
175 counselor, during their counseling session for the spring semester, told Renaldo that his performance in the high school English class indicated that he should retake the CPT and enroll in college have remained in high school Engli sh. The role of the guidance counselor who was able to understand credit and course requirements for high school and college degrees and help students navigate scholarship programs was extremely important to the HSDE program and its students. And just as a counselor can help a student be successful academically, this role can her aware of how to access college services for her dyslexia. At the end of the semest er, when lege composition might have ended differently if her counselor had either recommended she take high school English and finish it successfully before enrolling in the college course, or helped Lynn register with the semester began. The contextual feature of this program that seemed to have the greatest positive academic impact on the student participants was its location on a college campus. This feature was important for two reasons. First, the location of the prog ram on the college campus allowed students to take both high school and college course work on a college campus. This combination led students to associate their high school classes with a college environment one they associated with academic rigor and a focus on academics instead of socializing. Two students who had personal difficulties on their high school campuses, Ethel and Maylen,
176 appreciated the anonymity that the college campus gave them. They enjoyed the increased emotional and physical space th e community college campus gave them. Interestingly, students either identified as college students while enrolled in the HSDE program or high school students transitioning to college student status. This identification indicated their focus on academics, a focus necessitated by their attendance in a program located on the college campus. The students felt that their ability to succeed in the classes on the college campus, either high school or college level, was a positive academic attainment. In effec t, this program, with high school course work offered on a college campus and counselors who work closely with HSDE students allowed students to begin navigating a college campus and college course work. For high school students in this specific county, t his unique program offered an opportunity for them to begin college level course work, attend classes on a community college campus, and earn college credit without having to pay the cost of tuition. Writing Instruction What seemed to be missing from this college experience, however, was the opportunity for the students to improve their communicative competence and writing abilities. Much is known about the writing process and effective pedagogical methods to help students improve their writing. One of th engagement ( Bakhtin 1986 ; Bru ner, 1986; Vygotsky, 1978 ) Most of the students in the study complained about the difficult topics assigned by their professors. These topics we re most often uninteresting to the students. Additionally, these topics and writing assignments were a typical assignment, this one given to Alex, made me awar e of how complicated these writing assignments could be. Alex was told that he could choose from three specific topics, but any of
177 two assigned essays. Additi onally, Alex was told to write a minimum of three body paragraphs and a minimum of 500 words. He also had to use a minimum of three quotes from the essays diff By allowing only three possible topi cs, the instructor took away the opportunity for students to learn how a writer chooses and narrows an appropriate topic. Additionally, it may confuse the students to be assigned a comparison/contrast analysis but then given a topic that a comparison/contrast topic. To further confound the student, he/she is told how many body paragraphs to write, the number of quotes to include, and how to include them. nment exemplified the type of unnecessary complication presented by the professor when he/she requires a particular phrasing to be used when presenting quotes or when he/she requires an analysis paper but notes that one of the topics is not an analysis. I t is almost as if the instructor track. What Britton et al. (1975), Hairston (1982), and Lindemann (2001) found true in their research on the teaching of writing I found occurring W riting instruction most often included prescriptive assignments designating a particular format and topic And what I found in these prescriptive topics seemed more limiting than I would have
178 expected not just th e format and topic were prescribed, but particular topic sentences or types and numbers of quotes. A good example of the extremely specific and constraining topics assigned the students is described by one the professors as follows: One takes one side, an d they can do a pro and con. They just have to devise some where each one does kind of a half of the comparison, and they have to have the same focus of the assignment and then they have to use the same branching method, and I tell them you have to use su trying to come up with, well if this person is writing, one of the topics was blue collar jobs/white collar jobs, you know [trailed off]. The assignment described by the professo r was intended to make students work together, a similar method of organization. But I was unable to see how this particular assignment facilitated the development of their writing abilities, and the assignment itself confused both the researcher and the students. Ultimately, the assignments given by the professors in the study, like the one described by the professor above, emphasized the end product, not the difficult but intellectually challenging process of writing that occurs as one moves from thought to written language (Flower & Hayes, 1980). The opportunity to be exposed to a variety of writing situations and styles and to be active learners engaged in building an understanding of language should be part of a freshman composition classroom, but I found no evidence of those learning opportuniti es during this study. Ideally, a composition classroom that helps students develop their writing abilities would give students opportunities to explore topics they found salient (Lindfors, 1991). The teacher would engage in the class activities, giving st udents the perspective of an advanced or accomplished writer (Claggett, 2005), and students might have opportunities to publish their
179 work for an audience other than their instructor, who is also their evaluator, by developing a class collection of writing Formative Evaluation In addition to analyzing the types of assignments given to student participants, I analyzed the feedback given to students about their writing. I found that students recei ved a lot of text comments should be to dramatize the presence of a reader and raise questions that the writer may (Knoblauch & Brannon, 1981), the in text feedback that I found primarily pointed out grammatical mistakes. Instead of providing what Horvath (2000) rt of a collaborative effort between student and instructor aim om text to text, the professors in this study functioned as editors whose primary goal was to point out and correct grammatical errors. Additionally, what one might expect to be straightforward correction s of grammatical errors were not clearly identified or explained. Some professors circled an error and wrote a correction above it, with no explanation of the grammatical mistake. Another professor wrote a o a chapter in the grammar handbook addressing the type of mistake. In the left hand margin of a sentence in which a comma error was made, the student might find the number 18, which corresponded to a chapter on comma use the sentence, identify the error, and then read the entire chapter on comma use, identifying the rule he/she had misused or failed to use in his/her essay. This type of instruction seemed futi le at best. One student, after receiving this type of instruction, said she gave up looking through the grammar handbook in an effort to learn about
180 her grammar mistakes. Other problems that I found with the grammar instruction included professors using the same error. It is unlikely that students who make the grammatical mistake in the first place will understand that they are repeating the same mistake. After analyzing a ll submitted essays, it was clear that students did not reduce the number of grammatical mistakes they made from one writing assignment to the next. Overall, the professors seemed to work diligently to correct of how to give formative feedback and help students develop their writing from text to text or draft to draft. Instead of working as the more effective writing and behaviors or skills of an experienced writer the professors in this study functioned as evaluators and editors. The feedback professors gave students in the rubrics and comments at the end of their papers was also confusing, and students reported difficulty understanding the basis for their grades. The professors used grammar terminology in the rubrics that did not always match the terminology used to mark the same mistake in the text of the paper. The grades given in the rubric were difficult to connect to any comments in the te xt of the paper, and the numerical grade assigned by the instructors did not have a clear basis when trying to connect the grade to the about their writing mirrored those reported by Connors and Lunsford (1993) there were a number of different evaluative comments given to students, the bases of their grades were difficult to decipher, and the world of teaching writing differed greatly from the theoretical world of co mposition studies. Given the type of feedback delivered to students about their writing, it should be of no surprise that when reporting what they had learned, the students identified grammar in general or
181 ocus on the surface structure of language mirrored the focus of the feedback given to them by their professors. However, there was no evidence that they learned the grammar mentioned. They could not articulate the grammatical rule they thought they learn ed, and their subsequent writings did not demonstrate an improvement in grammatical correctness. The students only gained awareness of making a grammatical mistake. The analysis of the assignments and feedback given to students made it clear to me that th ey were not given opportunities to improve their writing competencies. Instead of gathering evidence that students improved their writing abilities, I found that students gained confidence about their writing abilities, a distinct and possibly damaging di fference. While the professors in this study did not give formative evaluation, it must be mentioned that the number of students placed in their composition classrooms and the number of classes professors were required to teach created a heavy workload for the professors. When professors have 25 30 students enrolled in their classes, and they teach five such classes each semester, it is difficult for them to find the time to read the essays submitted and give meaningful, substantive feedback to students. It is difficult to imagine the workload a full time composition professor would endure if he/she gave both formative evaluation of final drafts and meaningful feedback to students from draft to draft. The Role of the Professor A professor is a part of th e surround context of the classroom (Lindfors, 1999). As part of the classroom context, the professor sets the tone for the class proceedings and discussions and sets the class agenda. The students in this study reported different experiences as related to their professors, but all students in this study were impacted by their professors. The experiences of
182 the students reflect the ability of the professor to have either a positive or negative impact on the r writing abilities. classroom was greatly impacted by the professor. Lynn felt her professor did not approve of her writing or her behavior in class. Additionally, Lynn requirements. Lynn began to get poor grades, but she felt her professor was not approachable, so have been a di not help her develop her writing abilities. Another student, Ethel, started her class not liking her professor, not enjoying the writing assignments he gave, and not under standing his grading method. Over the semester, however, reported feelings about both her professor and the class changed. She thought her professor was a good teach er, even though she could not articulate what she had learned, and she enjoyed his class. As her opinion of her professor changed, so did her grade in the class. Ethel began the e semester. Although her grades on her papers changed, I found no evidence to suggest that her writing submissions seemed to meet those length or topic requirements, and it is her meeting of his requirements, not an improvement in writing ability, that I attributed to her change in grades. From my analysis of our interv iew transcripts, I deduced that Ethel became more engaged
183 she reported finding her professor to be fun and interesting. His personality may not have improved her writing abilities, but it seemed to keep her interested in the class at a crucial time, when she could have become discouraged by her poor grades. Overall even students who found fault with their professors reported that they would not change anything about their experiences. What this common thread demonstrated to me was that the students were happy to complete the class and get a passing grade. This gr ade that allowed them to get credit toward their high school and college graduation was the desired outcome not necessarily improving their writing abilities. However, because they believed that grammatical correctness was the key to good writing, it was understandable that the surface structure of language and their reported improvement of one aspect of that surface structure would be what they discussed when asked to report the evidence of their improved writing abilities. Another common outcome of their composition classroom experience was their reported dislike of writing. Participants reported that they found their writing assignments to be uninteresting and difficult. Only one student mentioned being given an engaging essay assignment. For this ass ignment, Renaldo was allowed to choose the person, place, or thing that he wanted to describe. Renaldo was engaged in this assignment and composed an essay emotions about wanting to see his aunt because he loved her and enjoyed her company, but he felt uncomfortable in her home. This type of engaging writing assignment, one that prompted the student to use language as a necessary tool to convey his feelings to the rea der (Lindfors, 1991), was lacking in most of the
184 my study was not one that allowed them to explore ideas and build meaning through engaging in purposeful comm unication (Lindfors, 1991). Instead, the students had to be creative if they were going to produce a text that met all of the requirements made by their professors, requirements that in many cases seemed to go beyond the ones discussed by Hairston (1982). Students were prescribed by their professors instead of being asked to engage in the creative, recursive, non linear process of discovering meaning through writin g (Bartholomae, 1985). The writing assignments given to students, as well as the feedback given to students by their professors, in most cases differed from what researchers and theorists have identified as effective writing instruction. The college compo sition classroom should be a welcoming and support their learning and their developing writing abilities, acting as what Vygotsky refers to as styles for a variety of purposes and given the opportunity to explore ideas and topics they find salient (Lindfors, 1999). The professor would engage in writing along with the student s in an effort to give students examples of the work of a more experienced writer (Claggett, 2005), and professors would engage in formative evaluation, a kind of feedback that has been found to help developing writers. And if students view the feedback from their professors as part of a collaborative effort to improve a text, they are more likely to value that feedback (Cleary, 1991). The professor, by using sum mative evaluation to help students improve a particular text and giving them opportunities to publish that writing or develop it for an audience other than the
185 evaluator, allows the students to see him or her as the person supporting learning rather than c riticizing it. Implications for Practice The results of my study illustrated how these student participants were not being well served by their home high schools. While there were characteristics of the HSDE program that supported their academic success a nd opportunities for these students to improve their confidence in their academic abilities, more could be done to support their development as writers. Because of the link between writing and intellectual development, supporting writing growth is an impo rtant part of supporting intellectual growth (Vygotsky, 1986). For this development to occur, I suggest the following: We must ensure that all writing teachers, even those at the college level, are given appropriate instruction regarding writing research, theory, and practice or have an advanced degree in English Education. Professors of freshman and sophomore composition at the community college need to understand how to teach writing. We cannot assume that those who are proficient writers because they have a degree in English or literature understand the practice of teaching writing. We must support the difficult practice of teaching writing. Schools require instructors to assign students a significant amount of writing but fail to limit class sizes a nd teaching loads; as a result, formative evaluation is nearly impossible. To support effective writing instruction, schools need to address the teaching load of writing instructors. Writing instructors need to give students more opportunities to develop their writing abilities. Students could be asked to produce writing that may not fit a prescribed format like a five paragraph essay. Students could be asked to engage in activities like reverse outlining that help them think about their writing. A rev erse outline requires a student to look at his completed text and derive an outline from that essay, thus evaluating his organization and development of ideas. rea d, understand, evaluate, and produce good writing (Smith, 1986). Students should be given opportunities to explore their own areas of interest. If students are able to pursue topics they find salient, they will be more engaged in the writing process.
186 Students should be given opportunities to produce writing for an audience other than the evaluators. Students could be asked to produce work for their school paper, their fellow classmates, or a member of their family. This kind of activity would allow t he instructor to support writing for a specific purpose not simply to assign a grade to an essay and would help students develop a broader sense of audience. Writing instructors need to offer students opportunities for real revision, including strategies purpose and audience to revising the entire work by turning a narrative essay into a one act Writing instructors need to be involved in all parts of the writing process, making the often uld model how one brainstorms, chooses a fruitful topic, makes decisions about tone or wording, develops ideas, and incorporates outside texts and sources into his/her writing. Implications for F uture R esearc h This study, which allowed me to explore the e xperiences of HSDE students taking college composition on a college campus, raises several questions that should be explored in future research. HSDE programs are growing, and much research has been completed that describes the different secondary postsec ondary learning options (SPLOs). However, more research programs may affect academic performance. I believe that my study reveals the importance of having HS DE counselors who work solely with HSDE students. These counselors need experience working with high school students and their graduation requirements as well as gu ardian, ensuring that they are properly prepared for and enrolled in appropriate course work. Further, they serve as the tether linking the students to two institutions and cultures the high school and the college. In this study, it became clear that the students were able to use the high school course work on the college campus as a bridge to advanced, college level course work. This contextual
187 feature and its affect on students merit further investigation. Perhaps students were able to transition to co llege course work because they began to identify themselves as college students rather than high school students. More research into this question of academic identity and how it affects or is related to academic achievement is warranted. Additionally, r esearch that does more than just describe the contextual features of SPLOs, research that endeavors to probe these contextual features and more deeply study their affect on students, is needed. Another important question that should be addressed by resear chers is about the long term effect of these programs on students. Perhaps researchers could gain insight into possible long term academic effects on those who do or do not successfully complete these various programs. The value these programs hold to st udents and society, particularly if they are able to increase access to advanced course work for underserved students, merits further investigation. While the results of analyzing the assignments and feedback to students confirmed previous findings from st udies over the last 20 years (Britton, 1975; Hairston, 1982), it does raise a question about why the gap in composition theory and the practice of teaching writing still exists. Are those whose primary job it is to teach freshman and sophomore composition to students who are entering a community college through their open door policy being given the proper pedagogical background to make them successful writing instructors? Or does the college system privilege advanced degrees in English literature, even w hen those specialty areas will rarely be used to teach the majority of courses offered at that institution? Additionally, de me wonder if professors stereotyped students because of their ages. Are professors resistant to working with younger, HSDE students
188 because of their experiences with immature students and/or because they believe that teaching high school students is no t as prestigious as teaching college students? What this study demonstrated to me is that teaching writing is an extremely difficult task. While much research has been conducted and theories developed about the effective ways to teach writing, little evid ence of effective practice was found in the college classrooms I studied. I wonder if this is an anomaly or the prevailing condition of our college writing classrooms. Does the resistant to change culture of so many classrooms prevail over our understand ing of best practices? Perhaps the lack of monetary rewards or recognition for the difficult and time consuming job of providing meaningful feedback to 30 students who have each submitted several pages of writing provides no real incentive for professors to pursue best practices. While my study revealed that there are several questions about the teaching of writing in college composition classrooms that should be addressed, it also revealed how the student participants benefited from being given the opport unity to participate in this dual enrollment program. The students, ones who for one reason or another were not able to get access to advanced course work at their home high schools, were allowed to take a combination of college level and high school leve l course work on a college campus. Their academic success on a college campus and in college classes helped them gain confidence in their academic abilities. Additionally, being members of the college community and involved in the college context support ed a transition in their academic identity from that of a high school student to that of a college student. These positive outcomes are directly related to two characteristics of this program that are most often not a part of other HSDE programs (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). The location of this program on a college campus and the opportunity for students to take more than one college class as well as enroll in a combination of college and high school level courses
189 academic success. The effect of these components, as well as the possibility of other community colleges offering these opportunities to students, merits further investigation. Ultimately, addressing these topics in research will help offer all students educational opportunities, and delving into research that promotes and supports writing education will help our schools, at all levels, develop better writers and independent thinkers. nd local leaders of education look for ways to improve the education being offered to our students, they must not fail to address the teaching of writing. Teaching writing is an essential part of educating our students. Writing is an important activity t hat supports creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual development.
190 APPENDIX A SAMPLE CONSTRAINING ASSIGNMENT
193 APPENDIX B TRANSCRIPT ANALYSIS
194 APPENDIX C SAMPLE OF PROCESS AN ALYSIS
209 APPENDIX D SAMPLE GRADING ANALY SIS 1
212 APPENDIX E SAMPLE GRADING ANALY SIS 2
213 APPENDIX F SAMPLE GRADING RUBRI C APPENDIX G
214 INSTRUCTOR CONSENT
216 APPENDIX H INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (IRB) APPROVAL LETTER
217 APPENDIX I STUDENT CONSENT LETT ER
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BIOGRAPHI CAL SKETCH Angela Elizabeth Browning received her Associate in Arts from St. Johns River Community College, her Bachelor of Arts from Presbyterian College, her Master of Arts from the University of South Carolina, and her PhD from the University of Florida in Spring 2011. She lives in Neptune Beach, Florida, where she enjoys teaching college composition.