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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
Thursday, June 18 • 3:45pm - 4:15pm
CON08.07 - Transforming the first year writing experience: Blended learning in the composition classroom

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Writing instruction which aids undergraduate researchers in effectively articulating their ideas is intellectually transformative and vital to the ongoing health of scholarly communities. Yet many current composition classrooms experience challenging conditions due to size (which reduces opportunities for hands-on learning and prompt, individualized feedback). Canadian composition classes average between 30 and 40 students, well exceeding the long-standing Association of Departments of English (ADE) policy statement, which advocates composition class sizes of no more than twenty students (ADE/ MLA, 1992). At a first year level, these classes also rarely have the opportunity to address disciplinary differences in writing and so students do not perceive themselves as entering a research community when they choose their area of study. While online composition courses can offer more opportunities for writing, the isolation and lack of peer interaction can decrease students’ motivation and be antithetical to the notion of entering a scholarly community (Boyd, 2008). This presentation reports on a pilot blended learning approach for first year writing classes which sought to address these size, feedback, and disciplinary issues. The approach incorporated online instructional videos and content slides, as well as online writing assignments, which meant that students physically attended approximately half the class meetings and worked independently for the remainder. Such strategies sought to increase timely individualized feedback opportunities and offer more as-needed, disciplinary-based content, while still creating a learning community and adding to the sparse research on blended learning in Canadian composition classrooms. Findings from comparative analysis of control and pilot group surveys suggest that the blended approach’s increased opportunities for online writing and additional feedback aided student learning. Online content, however, appeared less helpful. These findings will be contextualized in relation to existing studies on blended learning in U.S. composition classrooms (eg. Gouge, 2009; Middlebrook, 2013), and the presentation will conclude with participant discussion of additional blended writing strategies. 

References: 
Association of Departments of English. (1992). ADE Guidelines for Class Size and Workload for College and University Teachers of English: A Statement of Policy. Retrieved from http://www.ade.org/policy/policy_guidelines.htm 

Boyd, P.W. (2008). Analyzing students’ perceptions of their learning in online and hybrid first-year composition courses. Computers and Composition, 25, 224–243.

Gouge, C. (2009). Conversation at a crucial moment: Hybrid courses and the future of writing programs. College English 71(4), 338-362. 

Middlebrook, R. H. (2013). Degree of hybridity: Peer review in the blended composition classroom. Journal of Educational Technology, 10(1), 1-9.


Thursday June 18, 2015 3:45pm - 4:15pm
Chairman Room

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