Year Awarded: 2005
College of Arts and Sciences
During my time at UCF I have made some observations that strongly inform my teaching. Fact: Students who enroll in my classes do not, for the most part, enter the classroom without my enthusiasm for writing. Some are fairly determined; others want to learn enough to get by. Most do not actively seek feedback on their work and view language as a barrier they must overcome. Many students have been scolded for poor grammar, for breaking rules, for not writing "correct" papers. They have seen their essays and creative efforts splattered with red ink and have lost confidence in their ability to convey their ideas. What enthusiasm students had upon entering secondary education was overcome by fear. Moreover, many students, particularly freshmen who intend to major in fields other than English, oppose writing classes because most college-level general education programs require them to enroll in and ultimately pass a subject which they believe has no practicality.
One of my goals as an instructor is to abate students' fear and resentment of writing. I advise students that first drafts are not graded and that they should feel free to take risks. I provide holistic guidance in person, via email, or through WEB CT so they can learn to pose questions of their work and uncover new meanings. In addition, I model for students how to use evaluation sheets to critique their classmates' work and illustrate how to function most effectively in pairs and larger groups. During these peer responses, writers engage in meaningful dialogues to overcome their fears and see new possibilities in their work.
When students leave my class, they have gained new perceptions about the nature and value of the written word. No matter what career path they choose, they have learned that they do not have to fear or resent putting their thoughts on paper. In fact, many discover that writing will play an important role in their lives.