According to research conducted by ACT News, the country’s largest provider of assessments for students transitioning from high school to college, strong writing skills are among the most important skills needed to promote post-secondary success.
Based on reports from over 6,500 college and high school teachers, some of the most imperative writing skills include students’ ability to convey information in a written, organized, and logical manner, while utilizing correct grammar and sentence structure. As many community college students often struggle with the increased demands of collegiate writing requirements, many community colleges offer resources that can provide both assistance and support for increased writing improvement.
Writing Support for Community College Students
Seeking Assistance Early On
According to research conducted by Linda Jacobson of the Community College Review, students can aim to improve their collegiate writing skills by foremost focusing on their core issues and struggles: “To improve basic skills, developmental writing students need a solid understanding of the basic structure or fundamentals of the subject. Most developmental writing students realize that they have problems in writing well but are not able to identify a specific problem area.”
Oftentimes students may feel inhibited in their ability to write cohesively with clear organization, or may struggle to even start an essay or writing assignment. As such, the Jacobson suggests that students should meet with instructors individually at the first sign of any problems or concerns.
The Benefits of Individual Conferences
In meeting with instructors individually, students can understand what to focus on for further improvement, which can in turn allow the larger class session to run more smoothly and effectively. Jacobson suggests that after an essay or assignment is returned, students should meet with instructors to hold a “mini conference,” where both parties can focus on the finished final product / essay.
With this idea, Jacobson also asserts, “this approach may seem time-consuming, it rarely becomes a daunting process […] Once some of their major writing problems have been identified and correction methods have been explained, most of the students begin to use the specific information they have received to self-monitor their essays.”
Once students are able to identify the errors in their writing, students are subsequently able to use the intervention as a scaffold for future writing improvement. Furthermore, “after the second essay, the students are usually comfortable using the teacher only as a resource for brief suggestions and occasional proofreading assistance. Typically, less than 10% of students need intensive conferences at this time.” Individual conferences and personally communicated evaluations from a community college instructor should clarify specific concepts and skills that may have been areas of concern in student writing. Additionally, “the same process also provides an opportunity to give positive written and oral feedback to the student about the strengths of the essay, such as the use of creative word choices and colorful examples. When students engage in this type of process and receive specific information, they can focus on improvement and build on strengths.”
Community College Writing Centers
In addition to various strategies for student success, students can also look into added assistance by visiting campus writing centers. Almost all community colleges provide students with structured writing centers, where individuals can seek extra help outside of the classroom.
Salt Lake Community College, located in Salt Lake City Utah, is one of the many institutions that provide students with an abundance of writing support. Most notably, Salt Lake has designed two different writing centers: one for community college students, and one for local area residents.
As the SLCC Writing Center describes, “The Student Writing Center helps you to improve as a writer and to succeed as a student.” The center provides students with both physical locations in addition to online resources for all SLCC classes. Additionally, all writing services are free for students, and the college has even created online resources for links to information, an online response service, and grammar aids. Students can attend live online tutoring sessions, or can submit their essays online to await the response from a writing advisor.
Similar to Salt Lake’s programs, Metropolitan Community College, located in Omaha Nebraska, provides students with resources for improved success. As the college explains, “the Writing Center, staffed by experienced English teachers and writing consultants, provides professional assistance and outreach programs to help students and faculty with written communication across the disciplines and beyond. Simply stated, the Writing Center is a place into which writers invite other writers to dialogue about writing.”
At the MCC Writing Center, students can enroll in workshops, personal consultations, and may also seek out both student and instructor feedback. Writing Center Hours vary throughout the week, and are available at 5 different campus locations for student convenience. Ultimately, the MCC Writing Center aims to increase the communication between students and instructors in order to benefit all MCC community members: “we will engage in ongoing dialogue with instructors whose students visit the writing center. These collaborative exchanges will create productive connections between interdisciplinary colleagues as we together seek to enhance student learning.”
To succeed in your academic career, strengthening your writing skills is critical. Taking advantage of resources available on campus, or directly working with your course instructors, are excellent means of improve your written communication skills.
Jacobson, Linda Olson. “Valuing Diversity: Student-Teacher Relationships that Enhance Achievement.” Community College Review, September 2000, available at https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ611812
Metropolitan Community College, available at https://www.mccneb.edu/Prospective-Students/Student-Tools-Resources/Writing-Center.aspx