Phyllis--you asked me about my reasons for objecting to Competency
Tests. In my opinion, these tests are incompatible with a view of
writing as a social act. Writing involves a search for knowledge,
wisdom, truth, through dialogue: dialogue with the self; dialogue
with professors and fellow students; dialogue with a wider social
audience. The university cannot encourage or foster that kind of
dialogue when students are designated as "good writers" or "bad
writers"--numbered 1, 2, 3, 4. These tests are based on a
competitive, individualistic view of writing. They imply that once
individuals reach the level of "good writers", they have arrived.
They can then get on with the more important task of gathering
information. The "bad" writers must keep writing--as penance?
You also asked about my problems with the logistics of deciding
what constitutes a WI course. I guess I see it as a necessary evil.
But I can envision some people focusing entirely on issues like
these: how many words, how many essays, how many research projects,
what percentage of the grade, etc etc . There are so many ways of
using writing,varying from prof to prof and discipline to discipline.
we put these into a formula? Any ideas out there on this subject?
I am meeting first with the whole Senate, then with a committee of
Thanks for starting this conversation. I too have been more of an
email "lurker." Maybe we aren't lurkers any more! Best wishes.