Students Speak — You CAN Take It With You!


Students Speak – You CAN Take It With You!
by Jen Richrath, Illinois Central College

At the end of a writing course, I often strive to remind students that all the work they did is not only applicable within a composition classroom.  I ask them this question: “What is at least one thing you learned in this composition class that you will take with you and use in other classes and/or ‘real world’ situations?”  I’d like to share some of their responses in an effort to continuously check-in with the student perspective and keep their voices an important element in the choices we make every day.  Here is what they said:

–What I’ve learned in this class can probably be used in any sort of working environment.  My career at present is in childcare, so organization and focus are always a plus.  Being able to speak and write in an orderly manner will always be important to maintain professionalism.  Lastly, learning from my mistakes is something I will continue…and it’s something this class has given me the opportunity to practice.

–I learned to write in a wide variety of formats, such as reflective, informative, and persuasive.  I can use this knowledge to write more effectively in other classes, to better communicate within an office environment, and to maintain a professional tone in emails.

–One thing I learned in this class that I feel I can use in other classes and the real world is to focus on who my audience is.  If I remember to whom I’m writing in the future, I will be able to better articulate my points.  This will help me with future employers to focus on what they need from me.  Another thing I learned is to avoid procrastination.  It’s important to take time to think about what I want to say so it is well written.

–A few things I learned would be considering the different formatting necessary for different types of writing.  I can see how thinking about argument and persuasive techniques could be useful in the workplace.  And, something I will use in future classes is the ability to organize my ideas.  Even if I’m just answering an essay question on an exam, the more organized I am, the better I will be able to defend my points.

–I’m so much better at getting started.  I don’t just stare at a blank screen anymore—I have invention tools to help me get what’s in my head onto the page!  I’ve learned confidence in this class that I have something to say, and now I’m much more comfortable saying it.

–Before I began English 110, I didn’t know what Microsoft Word was.  I had heard of it and had seen it posted in job wanted ads.  I even thought about lying and saying I was familiar with it on job applications; thank goodness I didn’t.  In the beginning of class, I was writing my drafts by hand on paper due to the fact that I couldn’t even open a blank document.  Once I started using Word to write my papers, I quickly learned what a valuable tool it was.  I even dabbled in Microsoft Publisher to create a brochure this semester, so now importing/exporting pictures and changing colors/types of lettering are in my wheelhouse as well!  I feel like I can communicate so much better in school and the work world with these skills.

–To choose one specific thing that would be the most beneficial to my life is difficult because they all enhanced my writing and speaking. I took the time to sit down and work on my phrasing, source citing, grammar, and interview skills.  Each one of those areas helped me to complete more fluent and credible work.  I’m a better communicator, and that skill will be something that helps in all aspects of life.

And so, my take away was one that assured me that the students can actually see that the skills they learn in an English class aren’t left behind as the door closes on the last day.  They can see the usefulness of the skills they honed.  My hope is that they will be haunted by my voice in their heads  (just call me “the ghost of comp classes past”) during all those future communication opportunities.  😉

Be heard!  (Ask your students questions, and tell me their answers!  I’d love more contributions for the “Students Speak” area!)
Are you interested in contributing to the Midwest Messenger?
Send submissions to:
Jen Richrath, Midwest Messenger Editor
[email protected]

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