Revising English 01: the creation of a developmental reading and writing course

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Virginia Tech


Bartholomae contends that "a reading course is necessarily a writing course and a writing course must be a course in reading." At most community colleges, however, reading and writing are still taught as if they were independent of each other. The course on which this curriculum study is based, English 07, Writing and Reading Improvement, represents a revision of that traditional approach, for it combines instruction in reading and writing to create a comprehensive class in developmental English. This dissertation describes the salient pedagogical features of English 07, from its rejection of the skills approach to language instruction to its treatment of reading and writing as complementary activities.

The results of this study indicate that teaching reading with writing in the same course can be a viable alternative to teaching these skills separately. Success rates of students in English 07 consistently exceeded those of students enrolled in more traditional classes in which reading and writing remained isolated from one another. English 07 students also enjoyed a relatively high rate of success in subsequent first year English classes, approaching a level of achievement equal to that of students in the general population of the college. In addition, the study revealed several curricular elements that seem to have been unusually important in helping students develop their literate abilities. The course's emphasis upon reading and writing as complementary processes of composition, its thematic focus upon the self, the structure and sequence of reading and writing assignments, and the social relations in the classroom all emerged as significant influences in students' attempts to transform themselves into literate members of the academy.

Clowes notes that successful integration "little evidence exists of developmental theory for the into the practice of remediation," and Berthoff asserts that "we need more research in teaching reading and writing together." This study answers those calls by demonstrating how reading and writing can be melded together to create an effective developmental English course. This dissertation should thus provide other community-college practitioners with an immediate theoretical framework and a model curriculum for helping students become more proficient readers and more accomplished writers.