Composition Courses are the “College Fear Factor”

Composition courses are potential pits of fear for our students, according to Community College Spotlight: “The College Fear Factor.”

Struggling students will drop out without asking for help — unless they have some relationship with the instructor, Cox says. That can be as basic as calling on students by name.

Writing instructors also can start the semester by asking students to write about themselves without the fear of being judged or graded. The teacher can learn about the students and assess their writing skills.

Trying to boost completion rates, community colleges are focusing on peripheral strategies, such as offering more advising, tutoring or access to a learning center, Cox says. We can’t restructure community colleges “unless we think about the very core function — teaching and learning in the classroom.”

So, we can have an introductory writing diagnostic, but not a grade, and we can call our students by name. Those two things can make a connection between our students and us that may help them overcome the struggles they have to get to and stay in college.

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