Writing at Millersville

The Multiple Uses of Writing

In 2007, the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) noted that writing education is being pulled in different directions.  The impact of these different approaches is felt especially at the college level, where many students who are educated in rigid, K-12 assessment-focused curricula now have to reframe their perspectives to write for a multiplicity of audiences, disciplines, and contexts that breach the barriers of this limited K-12 focus.  The CCCC Statement on the Multiple Uses of Writing captures this environment beset by conflicting purposes:

Two recent movements in American education are working to pull the teaching and learning of writing in contradictory directions. On the one hand, a new and critical emphasis on the liberal education of citizens for the 21st century aims to help us better respond to the size, speed, and global interconnectedness of changes in economics, science and technology, politics, environmental issues, and a host of cross-cultural concerns (Association of American Colleges and Universities). On the other hand, the rise of standards-based education in the United States, especially following the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, works to compress curricula and learning into narrow indicators of teacher accountability and student achievement. At the same time writing instruction is being called upon to multiply its vision and expand student abilities, to move outward from its traditional emphasis on academic contexts and forms to include public, cross-cultural, professional, personal, and artistic contexts and forms, it is also under increasing pressure to employ high-stakes assessment procedures which research shows encourage an over-emphasis on correctness, formulaic writing, unoriginal thought, and test-driven teaching (Armein & Berliner; Hillocks).

Developing Your Writing at Millersville

In the English Department, our mission is to empower our students with communication skills, analytical strategies,aesthetic awareness, and creative abilities to enable them to attain both professional and personal success. We strive to develop students’ intellectual agility by fostering systematic ways for understanding and using language.

All Millersville students take Freshman Composition and Advanced Writing Courses to anchor their abilities in writing well across different contexts and for different audiences. We have well defined outcomes for these courses to develop student abilities.

Our suggestions for all students (not just English majors) is to take Freshman composition and follow it with a general education Writing (W) course.  Then take Advanced Composition and follow it with 2 Writing W courses, at least one of which is in your major.  The third writing course can be in the major, or an English course like ENGL 472: Writing Workshop. 

Discuss with your advisor about how to work on your writing in your capstone course.  For example, honors students write theses and work with individual faculty members to enhance their writing skills as they develop their own ideas.  English majors can also write a departmental honors thesis to receive departmental honors.  Students in internships should similarly ask that their writing be developed along with their other professional skills during their internship experiences.  Some internships (especially those for our journalism majors) will focus directly on writing skills.  Whatever your capstone, make sure that writing with revision is involved.

Critical thinking and writing are foundational skills for all professionals.  As the statement from CCCC suggests, students who have been educated in a K-12 formulaic writing environments have some catching up to do to expand their ways of thinking and their modes of expression to be ready for their professional and civic responsibilities. To optimize your learning, choose your classes with thoughts toward developing your critical thinking and research skills, your technical and media knowledge, and your writing prowess.   

Writing Studies Resources

Millersville University is fortunate to have several writing studies specialists within the English Department who focus on developing writing skills both for English majors and for all majors.  Dr. Amber Nicole Pfannenstiel and Dr. Justin Mando lead our Writing Studies team.  If you have questions about developing your writing, please feel free to contact them. 

Dr. Timothy Mayers also leads a team of thoughtful peer tutors who can help develop your writing at the university's Writing Centers.  These peer tutors can help you develop writing as a craft by working with you on papers that are due for your classes. The center also has online tutoring.