Course Coordinator: Gregg Rogers
What is English 04?
ENGL 04, Basic Writing Skills, is a three-credit, one-semester course. Like other composition courses, ENGL 04 is designed to give students lots of practice in writing, practice calculated to improve their ability to invent substantial content and express it in fluent prose. It also tries to help students learn to see the many functions of writing-as a way to discover ideas, play with language, and communicate with and influence audiences. Along the way, students learn or review conventional practices of usage and punctuation. Note: while credits earned in ENGL 04 count in GPA and computations of full-time status, they do not count toward graduation requirements for any baccalaureate degree.
Who takes English 04?
English 04 is required of students whose Freshman Testing (FTCAP) scores suggest they need more writing practice before entering ENGL 015. The underlying premise of ENGL 04 is that students required to take it are inexperienced writers who need practice. The assumption is not that there is anything "wrong" with the students, not that they are incapable of college work. Basic writers do have the ability to conceptualize and organize ideas, to perform complex thinking, but they are unfamiliar with the world of formal writing. We assume that these men and women are apprentices--Mina Shaughnessy's word (Errors and Expectations, Oxford, 1977)--who need experience as writers.
What else do I need to know?
The emphasis in ENGL 04 is first on meaningful expression and then on mechanics, on invention before correctness. Focusing first on meaningful content, students see that they have important things to say. In this setting, where students and teachers value student ideas, the students may be led to see the value of correctness. But this is not to say that the course is half over before students study the conventions of standard edited English. Rather, time is regularly set aside from the beginning of the course to help students develop skill at the sentence level. Thus in every writing assignment students will first find a vital, significant subject, audience and purpose, and then turn their attention, during the editing stages, to correctness.
At the end of ENGL 04, each student submits a portfolio of the semester's work to the instructor, who reviews it to make sure that the student is ready for ENGL 015. The rare student who has not met the course objectives can be advised to repeat ENGL 04, even if the student has earned a passing grade (usually a D) in the course.
Links for Instructors