Writing Goals for Program Candidates
The faculties of the Elementary Education program and the Early Childhood Education program at Governors State University believe that teachers serve as important models of language use, both oral and written, for their students. Students who are preparing to become teachers through these programs will, therefore, be provided with numerous opportunities to refine their abilities to communicate in writing. Because these faculties also believe that in public written discourse it is the writer's responsibility to assure accurate communication with his or her reader(s), the faculties will offer guidance about writing within the discipline in a variety of manners: oral/written comments on students' working/finished drafts, opportunities for revision, peer review within and outside of class, mini-lessons devoted to writing-related issues, and referral to the Writing Center. Ultimately, however, responsibility for achieving clear and accurate professional writing rests with the student.
In order that Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education students may understand the expectations of the faculty about the nature of professional writing within the discipline of education, the following list of goals has been made available. Students may expect that in addition to accuracy or correctness of content, their writing will be evaluated with assignment-specific rubrics based upon and congruent with this list.
In all public written discourse, students should be able to:
1) use Standard American or broadcast English;
2) express their written ideas and feelings in complete sentences;
3) use judgment to choose precise language and effective synonyms to achieve both clarity and variety;
4) use a variety of sentence structures -- simple, compound, and compound-complex -- to convey effectively thoughts and feelings;
5) develop an effective focus;
6) write paragraphs typically controlled by topic sentences of appropriate generality and developed with specific details or examples;
7) organize pieces of writing appropriate to assignment, including such structures as chronology, induction, deduction, cause/effect, comparison, contrast, argumentation/refutation, etc.;
8) effectively introduce and conclude pieces of writing (e.g., with more creative approaches than "This paper will consider the following . . . ," or "Finally, . . . ," or "In summary, . . .");
9) within the body of a piece of writing, employ effective cohesive devices, such as pronoun/antecedent reference (and agreement) and transition words and phrases (e.g., for continuation: "likewise," "similarly," "in addition," "therefore," "furthermore," "thus," "consequently," "as a result," etc.; for contrast: "however," "nevertheless," "on the other hand," "on the contrary," "conversely," "whereas," "although," "in spite of," etc.; for illustration: "for example," "to illustrate," "for instance," "such as," etc.; for completion: "in brief," "obviously," "indeed," "in summary," "thus," etc.);
10) use parallel constructions effectively (e.g., in series: "We were told towrite in ink, touse but one side of the paper, and toenclose our papers in the proper manner"; in comparisons/contrasts: "You may go to the ski jump eitherby special train orby chartered bus"or "He admired the senator notfor his integrity butfor his political cunning");
11) avoid redundancy of language or thought;
12) employ correctly the conventions of the friendly letter and the business letter;
13) demonstrate the ability to write in the following modes: narration and exposition, specifically definition, application, process, argumentation, reflection, analysis, and research;
14) demonstrate the ability to use the bibliographic and editorial conventions of the American Psychological Association;
15) demonstrate the ability in writing to summarize (paraphrase without plagiarizing), analyze, interpret, and evaluate written material;
16) demonstrate the ability to review and synthesize material from multiple sources as the basis for a coherent, appropriately referenced paper;
17) appropriately manipulate tone in writing based upon purpose and audience.
With regard to punctuation, spelling, and other mechanical issues in public written discourse, students should be able to:
1) develop a "spelling conscience," i.e., monitor spelling correctness either with the "spell check" function of a word processing program or use a dictionary;
2) avoid confusion in writing of homophones, especially "to"/"too"/"two," "there"/"their"/"they're," and "your"/"you're";
3) underline book, play, and movie titles and enclose poem and short story titles in quotation marks;
4) correctly use the apostrophe to indicate the possessive;
5) avoid confusion in writing of nominative and objective case pronouns, e.g., "I"/"me," "who"/"whom," etc.;
6) use quotation marks correctly with other marks of punctuation, e.g., Marcus read "Hansel and Gretel," and Jesse read "Cinderella."
7) use the comma consistently to separate items in a series and after introductory words or phrases;
8) use commas in pairs to set off appositives or interrupting words or phrases (e.g., appositive: "The former All-American pastime, baseball, has become less popular than football and basketball"; interrupting words/phrases: "There are, however, few college subjects in which 45 hours of teacher-lecturing and student-listening are effective"; or "I believe, even though the market rallied, that it’s a good time to sell.");
9) use the semi-colon to separate lengthy items in a series or those with internal punctuation (e.g., "The course will survey all the Shakespearean dramatic genres: in the first month, the comedies, including Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It; in the second month, several history plays; in the third month, the tragedies, notably Hamlet and Coriolanus; in the last month, the romances, including Pericles.");
10) use one of the following methods of punctuating compound sentences:
a) The baseball game has been postponed, so we must find another activity to fill this rainy afternoon.
b) The baseball game has been postponed; we must find another activity to fill this rainy afternoon.
c) The baseball game has been postponed; therefore, we must find another activity to fill this rainy afternoon.
11) use the colon to properly introduce a list; to indicate that an explanation, example, or elaboration will follow; and to introduce quotations or formal statements, with or without a verb of saying:
a) Here is a checklist for the camping trip: food, utensils, canteen, bedroll, toiletries.
b) He lusted for one thing above all: an original Cezanne.
c) Pascal's observation on atheism is thought-provoking: "Atheism is a sign of mental strength, but only up to a certain point."