How IU’s award-winning First-Year Composition Program is using imagination, relevance, and one-on-one support to help students master the art of writing.
Whether we love to write—or not so much—written communication is a foundational skill and a key to success in college and the workplace. Some futurists have even predicted that writing will remain a robot-proof skill, protecting human workers from the coming wave of change brought on by A.I. and automation.
Luckily for IU Bloomington undergraduates, the Composition Program in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English was recently awarded a Writing Program Certificate of Excellence by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). Known as the world's largest professional organization for researching and teaching composition, the CCCC called the IU Composition Program “exceptional” and “a model for other schools to emulate.”
Composition is a required aspect of general education on the IU Bloomington campus. The program’s director, Dana Anderson, explains that the responsibility of the composition program—First-Year Composition in particular—is to ensure that writing instruction meets with national standards of composition scholarship and teaching. “Not only did we meet these standards, but we met them in ways that were imaginative and well-researched,” Anderson says.
Designing a composition program that serves a broad base of students has required Anderson and his colleagues to act creatively to accommodate a wide array of needs. Restricting class sizes to between 15 to 23 students has been crucial to cultivating the one-on-one interaction students need to build their skills. “The program has proudly changed more in the last five to eight years than it has at any other point prior in its existence,” Anderson says. “We have tripled the number of courses we offer, including courses with an online component, those that are taught with a multilingual pedagogy, and others that experienced instructors get to design for first-year composition credit.”