TNCC Enhances its English Curriculum with Custom Composition Courses


Published: April 15, 2009

Satisfactory reading and writing skills are essential ingredients for success, but English classes can be a drag for some students. Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) will spice up ENG 111: College Composition I with custom courses designed to coincide with the following areas of study: Science and Technology, Social Science, Business and Accounting, Liberal Arts, and Pre-Nursing.

The new courses will be available in the fall as part of TNCC’s Communities of Learning program that helps students transition to college with a team of counselors, advisors, career planners and more.  Program co-directors Associate Professor of English Dawn Hayden and Associate Professor of Reading Mary Dubbé launched Communities of Learning about three years ago to help students in developmental English classes.  In some cases, students take two classes together to create consistency. In other cases, at-risk students take up to four classes together as a cohort group. In the past year, there has been a 15 percent increase in retention among students enrolled in the program. “I see few of my students at graduation because I teach very high-risk students and many of them fail to earn degrees. Now, for the first time, they’re going to be graduating,” Dubbé said.

English faculty members will combine their composition expertise with advice from instructors who specialize in the concentrated area to design the curriculum for each course. “If you’re in Science and Technology and you take the technology section, you’re going to be reading and writing on topics that relate to your profession,” Hayden said.

Each class will also be assigned a mentor. “That is a professor in the career major who will visit the class a couple of times during the semester and talk about opportunities in the career field and answer questions about courses to take in the program,” Dubbé said.
There will be no more than 20 students in each class. That’s five less than the average class at TNCC. To register, students must see Hayden, Dubbé or TNCC Counselor Tom Kellen for a special registration form. The procedure will ensure that each student is enrolled in the proper course.

The curriculum is designed to push students to work together, build relationships and learn more from the instructor and their classmates. “That’s what keeps students in school. They feel like they have a connection to the college, a connection to the faculty member and to other students. Often, students will go into the classroom and not even talk to each other. They go in, get what they need and leave,” Hayden said.  “This is what we are trying to prevent.  “We’re putting the community back in community college.”

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