English class becomes more major specific

Kristen Russo

College Writing I replaces old course to better meet needs of journalism students

Some students now have the option of taking freshmen English classes that are tailored to their major.

This semester, the English department and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication are offering a special section of College Writing I – previously called College English I – that teaches grammar, spelling, punctuation and Associated Press style to journalism majors.

Freshman pre-journalism major Abby Carter said the class has helped her pay attention to the details in her writing.

“I’m used to classes where it’s about reading and writing,” Carter said. “(This class) is different in the way that it gears a lot more to specifics when it comes to writing.”

Although the grammar lessons can be repetitive, she said it’s good to have a freshmen English course that caters to the needs of journalism students.

Brian Huot, English department writing program coordinator, said these kinds of classes are nothing new.

“It’s infusing writing in all parts of the curriculum,” said Huot, adding that writing is best taught in a specific context.

Jeff Fruit, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said students will learn basic writing and news gathering skills in the course, which will allow the school to move on to more sophisticated instruction. He also thinks the course will help with retention.

“This connects everything, including retention, because offering better writing classes will help all students do better in all classes,” Fruit said.

Huot said English department faculty members teach most of the College Writing I sections, but a lot of the instructors have journalism backgrounds.

Karen Kastner, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, teaches the special section this semester. She said College Writing I is one semester long, but if students have trouble in the course, they can take the stretch course in the spring with the same instructor and take College Writing II in the fall.

College Writing II will cover the research and information gathering skills journalism students previously learned in Media Information Gathering, which the school stopped offering this fall, she said.

“The skills (students) learn in this class will help them in all classes later on,” Kastner said. “The effects of it would really be far reaching.”

Huot said the English department has offered special sections of the class to education majors in past semesters and plans to offer it to more departments if it fits students’ needs.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Kristen Russo at [email protected].