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Committee seeks to integrate more writing into curriculum

Jan. 19, 2001

Printed expression key, members say



In schools across the country -- schools like Duke University, the University of Colorado, Johns Hopkins University and Washington State University --educators are taking an initiative to increase writing throughout the curriculum.

Baylor also is taking steps to improve students' writing. Dr. Wallace Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, appointed a committee last semester to explore possible ways of integrating writing into the curriculum.

Writing is being emphasized because faculty members believe it is important no matter what is being studied.

'It's not like you take one class and know how to write,' said Dr. Frieda Blackwell, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the committee.

'All of our thinking is done in writing,' said Dr. Gordon Grant, director of Freshman Composition and a committee member. 'All of our communication is done in writing.'

Still in its early stages, the committee is gathering information and exploring possibilities.

'We're constantly looking at the curriculum and seeing how we'll make it better,' Blackwell said.

The committee, led by Chairwoman Dr. Rena Bonem, met twice last semester and plans to meet again this semester. It also plans to distribute surveys to students and faculty, as well as incoming students, in order to understand how writing is perceived on campus.

LaToya Wesley, a Lancaster sophomore in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core program, said her Writing and Speaking class 'made me more aware of what I was writing.'

Writing requirements have already spread to other areas, such as mathematics and science. Dr. David Arnold, a mathematics professor, gives his students in Mathematics 1301 at least one writing project.

'There is a common misconception that you don't need to use English skills in math, and that's false,' Arnold said.

Brian Randecker, an Anchorage junior seeking a business degree said, 'I write more papers now than I did when I was a freshman taking English.'

In the past, professors have had to work on their own to integrate writing into courses. The committee wants to give writing a more formal place in the curriculum.

'There's been a lot of effort but it hasn't been coordinated,' Grant said.

The committee could recommend changes to emphasize writing in courses outside the English department. Every class from art to zoology could have a writing component as one of its course requirements.

'I have mixed feelings,' Anne Vestal, an Atlanta senior said. 'To be able to express yourself fully at times, writing is very beneficial, but I don't know that in some courses it would be very pertinent.'

'Integrating more writing requires that we give up some content, so there has to be a balance between writing and context in science classes,' said Dr. Ann Rushing, a freshman biology professor.

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