Thinking about the Comp II curriculum one more time. . .

I changed my sequence III assignment today. Okay, not change so much as offer another option: originally, sequence III was supposed to be a traditional 4-6 page persuasive essay on an issue of the student’s choosing. They’re building off of research they did in sequence II and developing their own opinions for an audience of their choosing. It’s all well and good (and rhetorical). Right?

I’m not so sure.

As I was looking for something to show in class today (I like to use the first class back from spring break to ease students back into class discussions), I was reminded of this video:

It’s a sobering but realistic look at the state of university education, I think. It’s dated (2007) and I’ve seen it many times before (and shown it in class), but I don’t think the message is any less relevant today (and there is an update on the way):

This video reminded me of what I want to do but have been afraid to implement so far here at SWOSU, partly due to technological access concerns and partly due to wanting to fit in with the expectations of the faculty. But the thing is, while teaching students how to write persuasive essays is useful, I feel like I am better serving them by asking them to think about how to incorporate their opinions and research into real-life settings and genres. Maybe it would be better for them to create a facebook page or blog about their issue–to reach an actual audience–instead of BS-ing 4-6 pages of text in an essay. They still need to do research, have a thesis, worry about citation and integrating sources. It’s just that the setting is different.

So here’s what I’m thinking about the next time I teach Comp II (which will probably be Spring 2012):

Sequence I: interview write-up, but with a focus on one specific issue or topic that interests the student.

Sequence II: annotated bib and cover letter to me about research over their topic; the cover letter might involve students outlining what they consider to be the most important debates surrounding their topic or issue.

Sequence III: a close reading and critique (perhaps a refutation) of one of the sources from their bib.

Sequence IV: creating a persuasive text that enters into one of the debates they identified in their research. . .and that text could take many forms. . .

What I know presentations, still? Maybe. . .and if I take this approach, perhaps some of those what I know presentations could focus on technology options. . .or even useful tips about using MS Word or Power point or something. . .hmm. . .

On a related note, here’s what I’m thinking for Comp I now:

Project I: have students work on what I know presentations and then stagger presentations throughout the semester.

Project II: personal essay

Project III: op-ed text

Project IV: in-class essay exam

Project V: revision/creating an alternative text in a new genre. . .

Again, I say “Hmmm. . . .”


I am an associate professor of English and writing center coordinator at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. I teach courses in composition, creative nonfiction, fundamentals of English, and peer tutoring.

Posted in How it’s going, Me, Students, teaching

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