Teaching College Students to Write by John Maguire

Teaching College Students to Write

A faculty member explains how he figured out the way to turn poor writers into good ones.

By John Maguire

May 07, 2013

Today’s college freshmen can be trained to write well—and in one semester. I will describe one way it can be done.

Let’s start with an example from “Tom,” written in the first week of a freshman course.

Ever Since my childhood I worked many different jobs. In my teenage years I worked on a farm. My job was one to remember. Early Saturday and Sunday mornings, I would bring a bundle of chicken and rabbit food into a coop: Feeding the rabbits and chickens was the fun parts. Cleaning there manur was not so pleasant, but it taught me a leason. In regards to working on a farm my limits started and ended with cleaning manur.

When I graduated high school I became an Ra. I worked with Wellesley/MIT Upward bound Program. It was an enjoyable experience. Monday through Friday I was taking care/tutoring the Students. Being Able to teach Someone, anything while they are Struggling is a good feeling. On the other hand working with students who are not ready to learn, is extremely frustrating. I never wanted to give up on a student, but sometimes the student made that choice for me. Being an Ra I realised my limits was getting too involved and taking it personally.

That’s thirteen errors in fourteen sentences.

I used to drag guys like Tom through, gamely correcting all their errors, writing notes in the margins about the principles of clarity, subject-verb agreement, and the importance of active verbs. Huge expense of effort by me, but little learning by the likes of Tom.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s