Using Rhetorical Media to Meet Outcomes

and Satisfy Stakeholders



The short video below outlines issues related to the interests of administrators.

The Bottom Line:  To respond to the priorities of Administrators, the first-year composition course should be designed to increase student success.

Addressing these Interests:  Data from before and after the implementations of the documentary film project implies that this project might help increase successful completion of the first-year composition class.  Units 1, 3 and 4 of the Film Project course design attempt to engage students and create collaborative exercises to increase the likelihood that students will persist in the class.

Video Transcript

Since administrators often look at higher education from a programmatic perspective, they are often concerned with issues such as student success and graduation rates.  In part to meet these interests, student success initiatives are becoming common place in higher education, particularly at the open door college.  One such initiative is Achieving the Dream.  This initiative focuses on increasing the success of students at the open door college with particular emphasis on students of color and those who are low income.  

The initiative aims to “increase the percentage of students who accomplish the following: successfully complete the courses they take; advance from remedial to credit-bearing courses; enroll in and successfully complete gatekeeper courses enroll from one semester to the next; and earn degrees and/or certificates”  (“About Achieving the Dream,” 2011).  As a major part of the Achieving the Dream initiative, colleges are asked to evaluate their gatekeeper courses and develop strategies for increasing success in those courses.  

For many colleges, such as the Virginia Community College System, the college system wherein the author of this text teaches, first year English is considered a gatekeeper course.  In fact, when promoting gatekeeper course success among community college students needing remediation the authors explain that “only 47 percent of students in the summer/fall 2004 entering cohort completed gatekeeper English within four years”  (Jenkins, Jaggars & Roksa, 2009, p.8).

Since first-year composition is a course that nearly all students are required to take, a prerequisite to a number of other classes, and one that statistics are showing students struggle greatly with, it is no wonder that administrators would be greatly interested in this course.  They want to see students succeed in first-year composition courses so that they do not become a barrier that might cause students to drop out or fail to reach graduation.

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