'Write Your Future'

College tests new academic program

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KC is preparing for a visit from an accreditation board by bolstering its Quality Enhancement Plan with a focus on improved student writing skills.

Dr. Staci Martin, vice president of institutional planning, described the key strategies of this plan at an August 13 board meeting. The program, which is called “Write Your Future”, is being pilot-tested in the 2018-2019 school year before its planned launch in fall 2019.

“The goal is to enhance student writing,” Martin said. “Strategy One of our three strategies is to enhance student writing through the implementation of a grammar boot camp that will be integrated into all sections of English 1301, which is our composition course. This is going to be a five-week emphasis in those courses that begins at the beginning of the semester where the faculty focus on the mechanics of writing and those things that students typically struggle with.”

Martin explained the boot camp would begin early in the semester to help students quickly improve writing skills which can be applied to other courses on their schedule. The hope is to see a net boost in students’ performance.

Every 10 years, KC must receive reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. A group from that association will visit the campus October 1 through October 4 this year to ensure KC qualifies for continued accreditation.

As part of the process, KC must submit a Quality Enhancement Plan. A new QEP is developed every five years. The previous QEP focused on boosting student reading comprehension. The current plan has been in development since fall 2016.

Martin said the jump-start on writing skills would be enhanced by the creation of on-campus and online writing studios, enabling students to receive tutoring and support even when out of class.

“Strategy Two is the establishment of writing studios, both concrete and virtual, that will be staffed by professional tutors who will help students with their writing. We are in the final stages of the development of the writing studio in Kilgore, which is in the library. Grant funds paid for this, which we got from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, due to our work in developmental education reform. The room in the library that will be the Kilgore writing studio is just as you go inside the library to the right,” Martin said.

A writing studio is also planned for the Longview campus. All of the studios will be staffed by former instructors or current part-time faculty who will provide one-on-one tutoring, rather than simply proofreading papers.

Martin described online virtual writing studios already being tested among the student body.

“We’ve partnered with a company called Tutor.com. Again, we’ve been piloting this along with other things using grant funds and students can actually go in at any time of the day and get help with their writing with a virtual tutor. We’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction from the students so far. Every student who completes it does a survey. We get monthly reports so we can see if it is working or not and if it’s a good investment for us,” Martin said.

As the final element of the new QEP, KC instructors will customize their writing assignments to mesh with the goals set out by the plan.

“The third and final strategy is, faculty in our core curriculum courses will hone their writing assignments that they’re already doing within their courses that are contextualized to that subject matter and this will occur throughout the core curriculum,” Martin said. “The faculty will be aided in this through professional development, mainly given by Jason Graves, who is our department chair for language development, to help them to know what they should expect out of student writing, how to effectively grade it using a rubric, which is a scale they grade it on to make sure the appropriate content is there in those courses so the students are having consistent expectations throughout their core classes. We will be adding this gradually to the core as we roll it out to different sections.

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