July 28, 2014  

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Southern Miss Offers Expanded Composition Course for 1st-Year Students

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After three years of piloting the program, The University of Southern Mississippi English Department is ready for full implementation of Expanded Composition (English 100E/101E) on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Coast campuses. 

The course, which extends the curriculum of a traditional 101 course over two semesters, has been remarkably successful in its pilot phase with high rates of student satisfaction and high rates of success in English 102, according to program administrators.

Beginning this fall, Comp I - Expanded will be required of all students who score below a 20 on the English portion of the American College Test (ACT), says Joyce Inman, director of composition. Inman explains that because it is a yearlong course, Expanded Composition carries six credits: three elective credits for the first semester (ENG 100E) and three credits for ENG 101 the second semester (which fulfills the GEC requirement for English 101).

“The Expanded Composition program covers the same material as ENG 101 but does so over the course of two semesters, and in most cases with the same teacher, same students, and even the same classroom,” said Inman. “Our program provides students with additional time, attention, and resources to help them succeed in their college classes.”

That success, so far, has been evident in students’ satisfaction with the program and higher success rates in English 102, says Ann McNair, who coordinates the Expanded Composition program. 

“More than ninety percent of our students report high levels of satisfaction with Expanded Composition in our annual program survey,” said McNair. “And they go on to be successful in future composition courses. Not only do Expanded students outperform their peers in traditional 101 when we compare their writing, but they also have higher rates of success in English 102 than their peers in traditional 101.”

McNair adds that she sees students in Expanded Composition program develop the confidence and resourcefulness key to their future success:

“Our students are confident writers because they have more experience writing and reviewing other students’ writing, and they’re savvy -- they know how to get the most out of peer reviews, conferences with professors, and university resources like the Writing Center, Speaking Center, and libraries,” she said.

While Comp I – Expanded is required for students who score below a 20 on the English portion of the ACT, the course is recommended for anyone interested in having more time and more individual attention in a first-year writing course. 

“Students who have been out of school for awhile often choose to join the Expanded Composition program because it offers them a way to re-adjust to academic writing and academic life, and with a strong community of supportive peers,” said McNair. “We also offer a writing group in Expanded Composition for military-affiliated students that is led by student-veterans who have taken the course.”

Students who score below a 16 on the English portion of the ACT will co-enroll in ENG 100E and ENG 99E, the Expanded Composition Studio, their first semester in the program. This one-hour, workshop-style companion course does not bear credit but does provide students a unique opportunity for even more advice and guidance on their writing from an instructor and peers in a small class of 10 students, says Inman. 

“The goal of our Expanded Composition program is to create a multi-layered community for our students, and ENG 99E adds yet another layer to that community,” she said.

Inman also points out that in addition to the documented success of the Expanded Composition pilot, similar programs, which draw on a highly successful model at Arizona State University, have been successful at a variety of institutions across the nation. 

“We are confident that our Expanded Composition program offers students the opportunities, support, and foundational experience they need to succeed as writers in college and beyond,” she said.

For more information on the Expanded Composition program, contact Joyce Inman, at 601-266-6096 or joyce.inman@usm.edu, or Ann McNair, at 601-266-5751 or ann.mcnair@usm.edu.  Or visit www.usm.edu/englishand click on Composition.