Masters Thesis

Persistence, completion, and the basic writer

This paper is dedicated to improving the classroom experience of students enrolled in writing courses one level below university level composition. Everyone's goal is persistence and completion. The question this paper seeks to answer is, what do instructors of individual basic writing classrooms need to know and do to contribute their piece to the complex puzzle of student success? This paper has three emphases. The first section considers the emotional and social needs of basic writing students and proposes that a classroom environment that emphasizes mastery, trust, cooperation, and interest best meets these needs. A mastery approach aids in restoring the confidence and self esteem of battle-worn students, and is also strongly correlated with promoting other desirable classroom characteristics. According to Senko et al, mastery encourages academic honesty and collaboration. The value of academic honesty is self evident. Collaboration is beneficial to all students but is especially advantageous for students who have been physically and emotionally marginalized from mainstream learning and often feel isolated and barred access to meaningful interactions. Finally, mastery promotes interest. Many basic learners have disengaged from actual learning and have settled for rote, formulaic memorization of rules and facts. Creating interest enhances students' subjective classroom experience and sparks engagement which results in objective gains (Senko et al. 35-36).

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