Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Van, Thomas A.

Author's Keywords

Program assessment; Community college faculty; Writing proficiency


English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching; English language--Composition and exercises--Study and teaching; Community colleges--Kentucky--Louisville


The introduction to this doctoral dissertation is an argument for locating Writing Across the Curriculum programs on the community-college campus for several reasons, among them the proximity of the disciplines on the community college campus, the increasingly underprepared community college student, and movements toward accountability and assessment at the local and state levels. As an example of what a WAC program may accomplish in the area of program assessment, which developed from WAC proper in the last decade of the last century, Chapters One, Two and Three present data I collected from fourteen faculty volunteers who gave up a beautiful Saturday in May of 1995 to read and evaluate a set of randomly selected student essays. Chapter One summarizes faculty responses to a ten-minute freewriting exercise, in which I asked respondents to describe or define proficient writing from the perspectives of their disciplines. In their responses, I locate four "global characteristics" used by a simple majority of respondents and 21 "other characteristics" used by at least one respondent. I argue that these characteristics, especially the global ones, constitute our College's local definition of proficiency. I close the chapter pointing out that future WAC workshops could include discussions of "global" and "other characteristics" locating them in student work, and discussing how to teach them, both in writing classes and elsewhere. Although the data in Chapter One are incomplete, they provide a starting place for a teacher-researcher who is interested in how colleagues across the campus describe writing. They also prompt questions about whether the respondents know what they are saying when they use terms like style, purpose, grammar, and audience. Do they really look for the characteristics they claimed to look for in their freewritings? Are there other characteristics to be added to the list? Chapters Two and Three report and interpret additional data from the workshop. Each faculty member read and evaluated end of semester ENG 102 papers, rating them NP (nonproficient), P (proficient), or HP (highly proficient). These chapters are based on an unpublished study Dr. Tom Blues created at the University of Kentucky in May of 1993. Blues was ahead of his time by several years. In 1996, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) mandated an exit-exam for all students in ENG 102 and ENG 105 at Jefferson Community College. I show that a qualitative program assessment could complement or eventually replace the quantitative outside evaluation we are now using and conclude that in 1995 faculty in areas other than English often confused terms associated with writing, but generally returned to their freewriting definitions and descriptions throughout their evaluations. Chapter Four summarizes my conclusions and recommendations, discusses the benefits of local, constructivist assessments in a culture that increasingly "truncates and supplants genuine, holistic writing and undermines progress" (Shafer 242). The chapter ends with practical recommendations mostly for my colleagues in the Writing Program at Jefferson Community College. Where do we go from here? That sort of thing.