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My statistics from English students has shown a 100% correlation between those students who do not hand in the first assignment of the semester and those students who end up failing the semester.  This statistic surprised me and I am working on a few initiatives to help students bridge this gap.

I have two theories about what may be happening.

My first theory is that some students are unclear how to begin and just need extra support, but will quickly get up to speed after one assignment.  This group has been observed to improve particularly well when receiving peer support.

My second theory is that a small number of students are unclear how to be successful at this new level of scholarship, and may need extra support throughout the semester.


  • This year, I’m piloting changing the first two essays in English 050 and the first assignment in English 090 to group-work to get some peer support happening.  Solo is, of course, optional.
  • Following in the style of teaching in English 100, I’ve also made the first essay just an Outline and not a full 5-paragraph essay.
  • Following the research on student success, I have put the first assignment due as early as possible in the semester.  In both English 050 and 090, the first assignment is due the second Friday in the course.
  • I've planned for more in-class Writing Exercises
  • I've planned for more lectures on the minutiae of writing in the first week