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Writing at the Micro Level
09.04.13 |
“I am grateful that you have provided me with this opportunity,” wrote Clarissa Perez ’15 in gratitude for her summer 2013 internship. No ordinary high-impact experience, Perez’s project was initiated by her professor through a grant from the President’s Innovation Fund. When Dr. Gary Grieve-Carlson, professor of English and former director of LVC’s General Education Program, first envisioned his new course—Elements of Writing—he expected it to be an impactful learning experience for students. Perez’s letter highlighted that he had the right idea, even though the actual class won’t begin until next spring.

Perez, a double major in early childhood and special education, worked with Grieve-Carlson and classmate Emily Johansen ’15, a psychology major with a minor in English literature, on developing this new team-taught course this summer. Grieve-Carlson selected the duo to develop the curriculum and format for the class based on their impressive performance as freshmen in his English classes. That they are both tutors in the College’s Writing Center added to their credibility as educational collaborators.

Grieve-Carlson is developing the class as the College’s first “sentence-level” course on writing. Inspired by well-known writers William Zissner (“On Writing Well”), Richard Lanham (“Revising Prose”), and John R. Trimble (“Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing”), Grieve-Carlson will teach students from all majors how to write sentences that are strong, clear, and effective.

“Far too little attention is paid to writing at the sentence level, and many of our students recognize that they have room for improvement,” noted Grieve-Carlson. “A student’s writing style is a crucial component of how they are perceived when they enter the working world after graduation. This class will help them to make a stronger ‘first impression.’”

To accomplish improvement in writing skills, Grieve-Carlson will use experienced students, such as Perez and Johansen, to provide more personal attention in the class, which has an enrollment cap of 22. “The class will function as a series of workshops rather than lectures,” said Grieve-Carlson. “Students will write and revise a variety of short essays, and will work on exercises in small groups. My student teaching assistants will move among these groups, similar to the way that lab assistants in the sciences work with students in labs.”

In the same note where Perez thanked Grieve-Carlson for the opportunity to co-develop the class, she added these words: “I truly believe that this experience will be very valuable as I continue my education as well as when I enter my career.” Exactly the outcome Grieve-Carlson had in mind when applying for a President’s Innovation Fund grant.

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