Writing Over Time in the Special Education Major
Professor Susan Cherup; Professor Nancy Cook
The faculty responsible for the Special Education majors at Hope College has been concerned about teacher candidates’ writing skills for a number of years. They became intentional about improvement of these skills since the dismissal of a special education student teacher due to poor writing skills. Data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment and NSSE also motivated the Team to review how written expression was addressed in the majors for emotional impairments and learning disabilities. A Teagle Grant provided time to complete the review and design ways to improve writing in the special education sequence (summer 2011). This process included not only a review of the conventions of writing but also the ideas, main message, and supporting details that enrich and develop each assignment’s theme. As a result, the Team rewrote its Written Expression Policy and developed its Teagle Grant 6+1 Writing Traits rubric, both of which were implemented in the Fall 2011 semester. Data was then gathered from the Fall 2011 through the Fall 2012 semester to determine if special education teacher candidates’ writing skills improved from the fall semester of the junior year through the fall semester of the senior year as a result of the Written Expression Policy. Though the preliminary results indicate that there was limited improvement in the students’ written expression skills, data continues to be gathered and analyzed.
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