English 110 replaced by more tailored courses

Story by Karl Enghofer, Staff Writer

High course enrollment, large class sizes, broad concepts and a slow course pace are all criticisms from students and faculty of the former required first-year composition course, English 110.
“It was a horrible experience,” senior Josh Kilde said. He also said the class was “ridiculous and redundant.”
For the past three years, Dr. Shevaun Watson, Director of the University Writing Program, along with the English Department Chair, Dr. Carmen Manning and Blugold Commitment have been creating a new curriculum called the Blugold Seminar in Critical Reading and Writing.
“English 110 was kind of a one-size-fits-all model,’’ Watson said.
Drastic changes have been made to the first-year composition course. To fulfill UW-Eau Claire’s writing requirement, starting this year students will take one of four courses — Writing 114, 116, 118 or 120.
Each course is specifically designed to meet the composition needs of students as a result of testing into one of the four when taking college placement tests. The courses are geared towards the pace necessary for more specific success.
Each professor teaching the Blugold Seminar selects a theme, broad topic or overarching question to focus on for each section.
Some sections, for example, are titled, “Monsters,” “Gender: Myths and Truths” and “The World According to Television.” Though the theme is different in each section, all courses share the same course goals — Rhetorical knowledge, inquiry and research, writing craft and digital literacy.
Instead of English 112, which held the advanced placement students, Writing 118 is a two-credit version of the Blugold Seminar compared to the five credits in 114 and 116.
“It is the exact same curriculum gone through at a much faster rate,” Watson said. No matter what course students are enrolled in, they all learn from the same textbook, ‘The Blugold Guide.’”
The good news for future Blugolds is that studies show the class is already beneficial. Watson said, in a three-year-long blind study performed by the English department and Blugold Commitment, freshmen’s self perceptions increased in every category: Writing, Reading, Rhetoric, Self-Assessment, Research etc.
Watson also said that the new curriculum helps students regardless of their major. In the study, she found in the student reviews that the rhetoric learned in the course is used in biology, political science and even music courses down the road.
Jack McCann, a freshman enrolled in WRIT 116 this semester, said he would like a class that fits his writing competency and isn’t too large. He said he wants his first experience in college-level courses to fit his skill level — exactly what the Blugold Seminar is intended to do.
To learn more about the 50 plus course sections, about the professors teaching them or if you are interested in watching an informative video with student interviews, visit www.uwec.edu/Blugoldseminar/.