Crossing the Bridge to Academic Discourse: A Collaborative Exploration of What High School Seniors Need to Know to Write Well in First-Year College Composition Courses
Susan Groenke, associate professor of English education, partnered with Shannon Jackson, District Supervisor of English/Language Arts Instruction for Knox County Schools to create a 12th grade writing curriculum for Knox County English teachers.
“As we move forward with Common Core and College and Career Readiness Standards,” says Jackson, “the partnership with the university is a very important component of KCS teachers’ professional growth.”
College instructors estimate that 50% of high school graduates are not prepared for college-level writing. Many high school seniors who graduate from Knox County Schools attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and take first-year composition courses. The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to better understand how to prepare high school seniors for college-level writing.
A number of Knox County teachers were also involved in project planning and implementation, bringing their own expertise to the table.
Joining the UT team for this project were Kirsten Benson, director of First-Year Composition in the Department of English and Marcel Brouwers, director of the UT Writing Center.
Both UT and Knox County teachers presented on instruction happening at both university and secondary levels as the curriculum was developed. Meetings were designed according to priorities defined by Knox County teachers, and each of these meetings was videotaped and transcribed to document the ongoing and mutual process.
Groenke is developing this work into an article for English Education, a leading journal in her field, about the Year 1 collaborative work with Knox County Schools. She intends to continue this research into Year 2, with a focus on how the Knox County teachers revise their curriculum to better align with college expectations for writing.
UT faculty, meanwhile, gained a great deal of insight into the constraints of teaching writing at the high school level, which will better inform their own writing instruction. The team intends to submit a collaborative article on the teaching of writing.