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September 04, 1986 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-04

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6

Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 4, 1986 -

LSA may review writing courses

By PHILIP LEVY
Disturbed by poor writing among
many University undergraduates, of-
ficials in the College of Literature,
Science, and the Arts may solicit
faculty opinions this fall on how to
improve the college's introductory,
composition program.
Courses under, the program are
required for about 85 percent of
University students after not scoring
high enough in their English
placement exam.
The courses are overseen by the
English Composition Board which
was created in the late-1970s "in.
response to a faculty sense that
student writing was in trouble, and we
needed to do something major," said
the board's director Prof. Deborah
Keller-Cohen.
Students can't write
However, Keller-Cohen said that
even now, "some faculty have said
I'm teaching an upper-level course
and these students still can't con-
struct sentences. What went on in in-
troductory composition?"
"Speaking for myself," said history
Prof. Rudi Linder, a member of
LSA's curriculum committee that is
concerned about the program, "I'm
disappointed in the writing skills of
many of the students I teach."

I'm disappointed in the writing skills of
many of the students I teach.'
-History prof. Rudi Linder

Problems cited
The issues raised by the committee
include:
* the lack of coordination among the
different courses, and the absence of
an "underlying philosophy of
teaching composition."
" The lack of evaluations to deter-
mine whether the programs are
working.
" the use of teaching assistants, not
professors, in introductory com-
position courses.
Committee members hastened to
point out they were not criticising the
program, but rather raising issues
where it could be improved.
Needs a philosophy
Keller-Cohen acknowledged
needing to come up with a philosophy
for teaching writing. One experienced
teaching assistant in the English
Department, however, said a
philosophy already exists.

He said that being able to teach
writing in a variety of disciplines, and
to teach critical thinking are stressed
in training teaching assistants.
He also said many of his colleagues
teach in more than one introductory
composition courses, such as the
Honors Great Books class and
English 125, thereby supplying a
degree of continuity.
Evaluating the program
The issue of evaluating a student's
improvement in writing is more sub-
tle. According to William Ingram,
director of freshman English, the
problem of evaluating writing ability
is a "nationwide dilemma, and is cen-
trally important. The person who is
devising a means of solving this
problem to everyone's satisfaction
will be instantly famous and
nationally so."
This makes it difficult to ascertain
the effectiveness of introductory

composition. "We don't have the in-
formation to know if it's working,"
said Keller-Cohen. Keller-Cohen,
though, thinks*some sort of evaluation
is possible but would require years of
research and study to find a system.
Teaching assistants
While Ingram says that the 75 per-
cent use of teaching assistants in
freshman English classes is high,
teaching assistants suggest some ad-
vantages over using professors. "to
have someone closer in age and ex-
perience (to the student) ... helps
immensely," said the English
teaching assistant, who refused to be
identified.
He added that teaching assistants
are "more than competent,' and
made possible smaller classes with
greated contact with the instructor.
Keller-Cohen, Ingram, and the
teaching assistant, all agreed that
problems with student writing extend
beyond the scope of introductory
composition. Ingram compared lear-
ning writing with physical education.
"You can't take is once and then let it
go," he said.
Ingram said the lack of writing
requirements in other, courses other
than introductory composition allows
students to get sloppy in their writing.

q
6

Admissions to 'U' rise, despite trends

a

Daily Photo by ANDI SCHREIBER
Guiding light
A lighthouse near Frankfort, Mich., guides ships over the sometimes
choppy waters of Lake Michigan.

By PHILIP LEVY
Despite a nation-wide drop in high school
graduates and increasing competition among
universities for quality students, the number of
applications to the University's College of
Literature, Science and Arts rose by more than
seven percent this year.
The rise marks the third straight year of in-
creases.
But despite the University's recent success, the
future could be somewhat bleak. According to
Michael Donahue, associate director of the
University's admissions office, demographic
studies have projected that graduating seniors in
the University's prime recruiting areas will
decline by 15 to 30 percent.
The decline, attributed to a drop in the number
of births after the baby-boom period of the 1960s,
has caused major concern among University
administrators.
Drop in college students
This year, over 10,000 applications were from
out-of-state, Donahue said. The exact size of the
freshman class is unclear but the admissions of-
fic aims for a class of 4,400-about one third
from out-of-state and two-thirds from Michigan.

Other than Michigan, the University draws
most heavily from New York, New Jersey,
Illinois, and Ohio. All of these states are expected
to experience a drop in potential college students.
Michigan is also predicted to drop, and studen-
ts from five counties from which the University
draws 70 percent of in-state students, are projec-
ted to decline more than the rest of the state,
said mathematics Prof. Hugh Montgomery, a member
of the LSA Blue Ribbon Commission.
Cliff Sjogren, the University's director of ad-
missions, is nonetheless optimistic about the
prospects for University recruiting. He said the
Great Lakes area has been hit hardest by
population declines since the late 1970s, and
Michigan has been the hardest hit of the Great
Lakes states. Despite this drop, he points out, the
University has still seen record numbers of ap-
plications.
"We're bucking that trend," said Sjogen. "This
University is in as good a position as anybody n
the country to meet the problem."
Donahue attributes the University's success to
good publicity and active recruiting. University
sports, student activities, and the state's im-
proving economy help the University's image, he

said.
Donahue contrasted the University's image
with that of Michigan State. He said that choosing
a college is a family decision and such highly-
publicized events as the MSU dormitory fire and
a pornographic film recently made by students
have hurt the school's recruiting image.
MSU remains the University's biggest com-
petitor for in-state students, said Donahue.
Nationally, the University competes with North-
western, the University of Pennsylvania and the
Ivy League schools because many students who
end up at Michigan also applied to those schools,
he added.
Good image
Montgomery said the recent increases were due
to an "increasing awareness
that the University is offering a very good
education for the price. There is a research ex-
cellence here comparable to Ivy League
schools."
. Both Montgomery and Donahue said recent
books which rated the University highly and
described it as a "public Ivy" had been helpful.
"We're after the very, very, very good
student," said Donahue. "So is everybody else."

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(Continued from Page 2)
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housing. "I applied in
March, and did my housing late, in
July. It's a first-come, first-serve -
How could we complain? People walk
in and say, 'do you have connec-
tions?' ** because the' room is so
large.
Williams said the housing depar-
tment tried to minimize the moving
and inconvenience of the temporary
housing. "The students we put in con-
verted lounges in Bursley had Bur-
sley as their top choice, so we
minimized the moving around," he
said.
According to Clifford Sjogren,
director of admissions, the University
accepted 9,400 out of 17,500 ap-
plications received this year. The
number of applications rose 7 percent
over last year - a record high for the
second straight year.
4,900 of the 9,400 admitted paid a
$100 security deposit to enroll. Of this,
4,600 students are expected to enroll,
'200 more than previously anticipated.
In-state enrollment is 2 percent
higher than expected and out-of-state
enrollment is 1 percent higher, accor-
ding'to Sjogrens.
Favorable publicity in college
guides such as "The Public Ivys,"
and The Today Show, spot as well as
the success of Michigan sports teams
helped increase applications, Sjogren
said.

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