English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate
Jeanne K. Tsutsui
Copyright Year: 2019
Publisher: University of Hawaii Manoa
Conditions of Use
This concise textbook is a good overview for newcomers to college. I like the first chapter on Success Skills; regardless of orientation workshops and First-Year Experience courses, freshmen need these skills to be repeated and reinforced. Our... read more
This concise textbook is a good overview for newcomers to college. I like the first chapter on Success Skills; regardless of orientation workshops and First-Year Experience courses, freshmen need these skills to be repeated and reinforced. Our institution's writing program is now emphasizing "genre" and "multimodal," neither of which are addressed here. I also would have liked some more help with "peer-reviewing" in the Revision chapter. There is no Index nor Glossary, and it is sometimes difficult to track down specific information. (The online version's search was useless, but the pdf and the ebook were more searchable.)
As far as I could tell, all the information was "accurate," but I cannot say it was error-free. (see Grammatical Errors and Clarity)
The book's audience is specifically Hawaiian, but that only makes it more interesting to read. I found it ironic that in the "Close Reading" section, the students are instructed to use colored pens/highlighters and to use "the front of the book" for notes. This is irrelevant if we don't have a print textbook. Information about how to do this with ebooks would be more relevant, wouldn't it?
The text is USUALLY clear and quite readable, but there are still some rough spots that weren't worked out in the editing. For instance, in the Revision chapter, in Table 1, the term "subordinate clause" is not defined and the example given seems to be a mistake. (Also, Table 1 claims to be about Punctuation and Mechanics, but it is about grammar or style. I mean, the rule that "using 'so' to mean 'really' or 'very' without using 'that' is an error" is NOT a punctuation rule.) Throughout, words are defined in-text, but could just as well be hot-linked. As I said above, "subordinate clause" is not explained, yet frequently the authors use a construction such as "English is a polyglot language (made up of multiple languages)."
SOME in-text citations were hot-linked, but not all. There would be a Works Cited in the middle of one chapter but not the next; why not just leave it to the end of each chapter? In Chapter 4, the hot-links were erratic.
In general, this trait is good. However, a more thorough numbering of the subsections would be so much more helpful. For example, 4.2 could have been further labeled 4.2.1, 4.2.2, and 4.2.3. If the students are using the pdf, page numbers can be referred to, but if they are using the ebook, will they understand "Look at the table at 41%"? How am I supposed to direct them to certain Activities boxes? If most of (at least) one of the chapters is pretty much from Writing for Success, why shouldn't I just use THAT source?
The main outline is organized as I would do it myself--quite standard. Style hints are interjected into the other chapters as the concepts arise, which is fine if the book as a whole will be used but creates a problem in the "modularity" trait. The format of starting with Learning Objectives and A Student's Story was nice, but consistency in adding Works Cited, Sources, and Further Sources would be nice.
Some links do nor open correctly or misdirect. ADA compatibility is weak; the ebook has a lovely built-in reader, but the images do not have descriptions. I especially LIKED this text because of the variety of formats: online (ho-hum), pdf (too much wasted space; vertical format not so great on a laptop), ebook (my favorite; easy to read in a horizontal format). I was unable to test it out on a smartphone, which is how most of my students would probably access it.
In the section explaining the importance of punctuation such as commas, they left out the end-stop period! (I suppose this could be used as a teaching moment, but, really...) The font size went fluky in a couple of spots (got larger for no apparent reason). In at least two spots, I found problems with quotations. One was a quote that was opened and cited, but never closed. The other was at the beginning of the first chapter (some introduction!) The Student's Story was actually quoted from Michelle Obama's speech, but there were no quotation marks and no introductory remarks to indicate to the student-reader that the passage was anything other than the authors' words. Very confusing.
All the examples are Hawaiian. I don't think this would offend any students or make them feel "left out." The intended audience appears to be first-generation college students (which is my main demographic). There is no special sections or hints for ESL students, but the discussions of "code-switching" and Pidgin language is really interesting and enlightening for any student.
I am looking for "one-stop-shopping" in a textbook. This one covers the basics, is quite readable at the freshman level, has activities, gives examples (though not full student papers), and comes in various formats. Unfortunately, the book could use one more diligent edit. More links could be useful (for definitions, for further sources, maybe some exercises).
It covers all the areas a faculty would look for that can serve as a bridge course between high school and college. The topics range from functionalities of language to dynamics of it. The travel from the writing process to types of writing and... read more
It covers all the areas a faculty would look for that can serve as a bridge course between high school and college. The topics range from functionalities of language to dynamics of it. The travel from the writing process to types of writing and ending in research skills complete the cycle of learning required for students to embark on in-depth writing required as they go along in their 4-year college course. The examples provided at the end of each topic reinforces the concept. However, as a faculty, I would have looked for some more exercises with answers for practice. The authors can consider the idea of having a practice book with answers and sample essays as an addendum.
The language used is error-free and accurate.
The topics and activities chosen are relevant in terms of topic and timing. For example, the inclusion of thesis statements, strong and weak thesis statements just before essay writing gives students a definite approach to write an essay. The technique involved in writing a strong thesis statement makes the task of writing an essay easier. The definite transition from a narrative is very commendable as it allows students to embark on a journey of simple to complex. The students start from the art of narrating a story to convincing the audience in what they believe strongly with evidence. All these activities are relevant to what happens in their day-to-day life so their involvement and immersion are complete.
The language used is simple and the students from different backgrounds(ESL) can easily understand the concept. They may find some terms like citation, evaluation, and analysis challenging initially, however, as the course progresses they learn these and get familiar with. Afterall the aim of doing a course is to dwell into something new.
There is definitely a regular progression from simple to complex in the text and the end of the topic exercises cater to reinforcement. The text offers a lot of clarity to students on the topics covered and dwelled in detail to help them understand the concepts needed for effective writing.
The text has been very clearly organized into modules easily accessed according to topics.
There is a definite structure to the text with topics ranging from mechanics of writing to applying them in different forms of writing. The inclusion of student stories in between is a novel concept. The stories make students feel that the fears they have are normal and experienced by many likewise. The structure of the book helps the faculty to structure the syllabus on the lines of the book. The progression from simple to complex and concluding with researching skills leaves students well prepared for their next journey.
The book offers a good navigation process. The graphic organizer for the persuasion chart (pg. 22) could have been on a separate page that way the students can photocopy it and use it for their essays.
The text is strong in language with least or no errors in grammar.
The text can be well understood by students. The fact that the stories do not mention the background of the students is commendable. That way they can relate to students from different backgrounds. The emphasis on place-based and culture-based readings is direct evidence of an inclusive approach of the authors.
The book serves as a good source for faculty in devising their syllabus for College Writing 1. It has all the right things in place and gives a sense of direction to all those who are guessing as to what their starting point should be. The activities are well-graded and there is a logical and holistic approach to the course. I recommend this to all my colleagues who are new to teaching College Writing.
The text appropriately covers all subjects relevant to an entry-level writing course. As an adjunct faculty members teaching Communication and secondary English Language Arts teacher, I find this text wanting for naught in terms of topics covered.... read more
The text appropriately covers all subjects relevant to an entry-level writing course. As an adjunct faculty members teaching Communication and secondary English Language Arts teacher, I find this text wanting for naught in terms of topics covered. The content on introductions and conclusions could be slightly stronger by including full example introduction and conclusion paragraphs. The section on Rhetoric likewise has a bit of room for improvement, as it seems to suggest that "rhetoric" is a term students should be familiar with, but the relevancy beyond could be explained more explicitly. Some examples of how students might see/hear this term used in various courses would be helpful. Additionally, while most technical terms are explained throughout the chapter sections, there is not a glossary or index for quick reference. The content on citations could be a bit more clear by providing a few more examples of in-text citations; one explanation suggests that "when using a signal phrase" the in-text citation may differ, and the term "signal phrase" is unclear (a clearer example could be offered).
Content is accurate, error-free, and unbiased.
The "student story" examples provided are current and relevant to today's students. The organization of these short segments is such that they could be easily updated to reflect online learning environments that students might be experiencing or other changes to the overall student experience. The academic content is up-to-date and will remain current for many years to come, as the writing rules and processes covered are not apt to change in the near future.
The text is written in a clear fashion that is accessible to 100-level college readers. Technical terms are explained appropriately and thoroughly.
While the topics covered are all connected by way of the central goal of the text, there are a few minor "disconnects." For instance, the beginning of the text covers intellectual standards for quality, including but not limited to "clarity." The section on clarity explains and provides examples of misplaced and dangling modifiers and their impact on clarity. This content is important, and I feel it would be worth including again in the section on Editing, as students should seek out unclear modifiers during the Editing process.
This text is easily and readily divisible into smaller sections that can be assigned as needed, in varying order. The layout is clear and well-spaced such that pages or chapters could be disseminated to students as reference material or "worksheets" on particular topics, particularly the content on citations.
The chapter topics and sub-topics are well chosen and organized. The few number of chapters makes it easy to recall where one is in the text while reading. The sections are clear and the subsections are well-organized.
The text's interface is easy to understand and navigate with no issues in display or distortion of images, figures, etc.
The text is grammatically sound. There is one run-on sentence which may lead to some confusion in the section on "Researching" segment of the Prewriting section (#1 of the two often misunderstood aspects of researching).
The "Student's Story" section of each chapter adds to the inclusivity of the text. The content appears to be relatable to most students of various backgrounds.
I would feel confident using this text in an entry-level college writing course. I was pleased to find that much of the content on structuring and organizing writing aligns with popular and widespread knowledge of speech structure. I teach Public Speaking classes and always appreciate clear overlap between teaching writing and teaching speaking!
This book provides a very comprehensive description of all the parts of the writing process. Additionally, when discussing each stage of writing this book gives clear and effective strategies that writers (especially emerging undergraduate... read more
This book provides a very comprehensive description of all the parts of the writing process. Additionally, when discussing each stage of writing this book gives clear and effective strategies that writers (especially emerging undergraduate writers) can use to really engage effectively in the writing process. This book provides many small examples that students could use (such as the examples of sentence revision in the revising and editing chapters, or links to examples of argument writing) but does not directly provide full writing models for students. In addition to providing this comprehensive description of the writing process, this book breaks down a basic essay structure with sections on “Opening Paragraphs,” “Body Paragraphs” and “Conclusions.” All three of these sections discuss and dissect thesis statements. While I appreciated the concrete and clear nature of these chapters, I did find the description of this essay structure to be a bit too close to a “five-paragraph-essay,” which is something many of us teaching composition classes are trying to move beyond. In the Types of Essays chapter, this book describes Narration, Process Analysis, Evaluation, and Persuasion. Once again, in each of these sections, the authors give clear and sound advice and examples to help students engaged in this type of writing. While I would have liked to see more discussion about what unifies these essay types, I do think these four essay types cover most, if not all, writing that students will engage in during their undergraduate years.
The descriptions of the writing process and the types of essays in this book is very accurate and clear. My one concern is the chapter on Essay Structure, and the way that this chapter seems to suggest limitations on a thesis statement that is not always true for more complex writing, and the simplicity of describing an essay using the modality of the five-paragraph essay (in description, not necessarily in name). However, the information and examples in this chapter are accurate descriptions for what would be expected in this highly-structured essay writing, and many of the ideas and examples that are shared in the Essay Structure chapter could also be applied to more complex writing as well even if taken out of the “Opening paragraph, Body paragraph, Conclusion” structure.
This book is up to date, relevant right now, and will remain relevant since it covers aspects of undergraduate writing and undergraduate learning that are quite standard.
This book is extremely clear and easy to follow! Aspects of this book I found most helpful (for myself and my students) were: the learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter, the clear and concrete examples provided throughout the book, and the effectiveness of the book's organization. This book is very accessible for any undergraduate, and I believe it would be a very helpful book to use with all students, including non-native English speakers.
Terms in this book are used clearly and consistently throughout the whole text. This book reads as one well-thought-out text that was developed with a flow of learning in mind.
The chapters and sections of this book are organized in a way that allows any instructor to pull chapters or sections to suit their needs. One could easily use a single chapter or single section from a chapter to supplement another course text, or take chapters or sections from this text and compile them from essay examples, etc. to create a cohesive text for an introductory undergraduate writing course.
The organization of the book flows clearly from discussing the writing process, the structure of an essay, and essay types. Each chapter is made up of sections that flow logically from one to the other, but that could each be used as a stand-alone resource or students as well.
I read this text both as a .pdf and as an online text. Both were very easy to navigate. The online version had the additional benefit of making it easy to use hyperlinks in the table of contents to move around from chapter to chapter, section to section.
The grammar and conventions use is excellent.
The authors clearly used real student examples from their diverse university setting in this book. The student examples and images in the text are representative and inclusive. Additionally, in the appendix, there is a discussion and list of resources to help instructors think about place-based and culture-based readings.
Overall, as an instructor of undergraduate composition, I found this book to be an extremely helpful resource that will be highly accessible and helpful for my students.
The text offers a clear scope and sequence of the writing process. Topics covered include prewriting, brainstorming, drafting, and revising/editing. Each of these steps, building upon previous step(s), creates a strong foundation for its topic,... read more
The text offers a clear scope and sequence of the writing process. Topics covered include prewriting, brainstorming, drafting, and revising/editing. Each of these steps, building upon previous step(s), creates a strong foundation for its topic, and leads to the next step and mastery of the basic writing process. It provides concise definitions for each term, explanation of process, and activity to apply skill. Resources augment instruction to delineate, support, and reteach information as needed.
The text is accurate and unbiased. The content begins by explaining writers'/readers' purpose and continues with visuals and outlines to illustrate writing techniques and structures. This teaches the student reason for writing and creates templates and checklists for students to follow and replicate in their work. It effectively teaches the basics of writing an essay without bias.
The text is relevant. The basic structure of writing is presented in a clear and organized manner that can easily be revised should the user wish to augment the text. Additionally, resources and or graphic organizers can be inserted between clearly delineated sections if desired. However, the content is up-to-date, is the basis for good writing across time, and clearly teaches the writing process.
The language contained in the text's content is easily digestible for all student levels. Vocabulary include expected instructional terms such as brainstorming, freewriting, and chronological order with clear context clues to help low level learners understand them and their applications. Moreover, the text discusses "appropriate language" as it pertains to the differing perspectives of communities and therefore classrooms within those communities. Not only is the language this text utilizes appropriate and effective for the students it serves, but the text directly addresses the issue of language in academia.
Each topic is clearly presented. The textbook's structure is clear and accessible. The table of contents is clearly located on the left hand of each page and links to all areas of the text for ease of navigation. Students can easily advance from topic to topic to review content for clarity as needed. The text directly links to resources to aid in instruction as needed.
The text's writing style is succinct and compact. Material is broken down into major headings: College Success Skills, The Writing Process, Essay Structure, Types of Essays, Research Skills. Each chapter is prefaced by an introduction that outlines objectives and illustrates a student example and perspective to connect with, inspire, and engage the learner. Broken down into sections based upon its topic, each chapter can be addressed as a whole or by focusing on one specific element. Links direct students to resources to support structure as needed. Each lesson is followed by activities for students to apply the skills learned.
Presented clearly and logically, the text begins by introducing students to the rigors of academic performance and provides guidelines for how to be successful. Next, the text systematically approaches the writing process and builds upon its application. After presenting a foundation for how to write an essay, the text delineates the elements of an essay. The remaining chapters elaborate on essay types and provide an appendix of resources.
The text is free of navigation errors and students can easily move from one chapter/topic to another. The presentation of information is prefaced by large headings and medium sized subheadings above the text’s content. These features organize text and draw reader's attention to content. All content is presented in uniform size and is easily interpreted by the student. Links connected to chapters open consistently and accurately present information related to topic. The margins are free of distractions and resources and sequentially linked within text where the augment instruction.
Text is free of grammatical errors. Text uses a variety of sentence and paragraph structures. Items listed are appropriately indented and bulleted as needed.
Content is culturally sensitive and inoffensive in every way. However, some student essays and resources thematically focus on the Hawaiian culture of the authoring university rather than of a cross section of universities in general. These references may not be particularly meaningful to other university’s’ usage and may require additional and more culturally relevant resources be acquired.
While this text is an excellent resource for teaching basic essay writing structure to average and low-level learners, it is not useful for students who arrives in class already espousing a knowledge the collegiate writing structure. The content does not extend beyond the basic essay writing structure, and therefore, the information, while concise, does not engage higher-level learners. Second, the scope of content is narrow. It provides the basic argument essay structure, but does not delve into variations on the structure. It provides a list and definition of ten specific “typical modes of essays” from cause and effect through process analysis essays, but it focuses only on four specific models: narrative, evaluative, process analysis, and persuasive rhetorical. However, the models are presented summarily rather than with the in depth style needed for mastery of the subtle differences between the models. Furthermore, the research essay is not covered at all. On the while, this text is an excellent resource for teaching low to emerging level writers but requires additional resources to reach higher-level learners.
This book provides an overview of some of the main topics in writing instruction. I found the section on "Peer and Instructor Feedback" to be particularly useful (33). The activities provided at the end of each section enable students and... read more
This book provides an overview of some of the main topics in writing instruction. I found the section on "Peer and Instructor Feedback" to be particularly useful (33). The activities provided at the end of each section enable students and instructors to work together on manageable writing goals during class. Other sections, like "The Revision Process," (32), "Language Usage" (34), "Engaging the Reader" (36-37), and "Identify the Characteristics of Good Primary Support" (49) were less developed and would have benefited from a more extended discussion and examples from student writing. The list of punctuation and mechanical mistakes (38-39) isn't comprehensive and may reflect the types of errors that the authors see in their particular students. The book does, however, provide several helpful links to outside resources, like the Purdue Owl and citation management applications.
I like that the brief section on grammar acknowledges that students know many of the "rules" of grammar and usage not because they learned them from a book, but because of their lived experiences (34). Other claims don't seem to reflect the complexity of writing in its many forms, though. For example, the text says that "A paragraph is a collection of sentences related to a main point" (44), when many successful examples of writing contain paragraphs with more than one "main" idea. Also, sentences like "An introduction exists as the first paragraph in a 5-page essay" seems limiting, since many successful 5-page papers have more than one introductory paragraph. Finally, the following admonitions seem idiosyncratic: "That being said, college-level statements would do well to not include the word "should," as a means of trying to sound authoritative so as to make a solid argument" (47); "Remember, do not refer to your essay in your essay. By the time one enters college, such strategies for writing thesis statements have passed" (48). Countless essays in academic journals employ meta-commentary, so it seems odd that students should be warned against doing so.
I really like the book's stance that argument is a "truth-seeking" endeavor (71). Given the horrible state of public discourse in the U.S., this focus on working toward the truth is much appreciated. The book's advice on avoiding plagiarism is also very helpful (78-79). In other areas, the book offers rather traditional guidance that doesn't reflect recent conversations about academic writing. For example, the "Persuasion Map," without proper guidance, could encourage students to produce formulaic 5-paragraph essays that don't really look like real academic writing. I would like to see more information about how college writing is an effort to contribute to an ongoing scholarly conversation. I also would have liked to see more information about how the modes of discourse covered in chapter 4 (60-61) are less reflective of discrete types of essays but rather rhetorical moves that authors can shift among in a single piece of writing. The book hints as much in one of its activities, where it encourages students to "identify the modes of writing found in the [sample] essay" (62).
For the most part, the book did an excellent job of conveying complex topics in accessible language. There were moments when the book would have benefited from more focused editing. E.g.: "Stating in the middle of a story with the conclusion of the story existing as the first sentence in the conclusion paragraph" (45).
There are minor errors in consistency. For example, in its section on conclusions, the text advises students: "If the writer started with statistics, offer more statistics" (54). However, on the next page, it warns students against "introducing new material" (55).
The authors did a good job creating a modular text. I hope to see them develop several of the sections in the future.
For the most part, the book was organized well, with separate chapters focusing on the writing process, types of essays, etc. Some organizational choices seemed questionable, though. for example, I can see why the section on "sentence clarity" would fit into section 1.3: the Intellectual Standards for Quality, but I think it would have worked better in the section dedicated to editing and proofreading (34-35). The book could integrate the Intellectual Standards for Quality into each of its chapters, since doing so would show readers how the standards inform everything the book discusses.
The book's interface was very good. One way to improve it would be to offer hyperlinked references from one section to another.
I noticed a few grammatical errors throughout the piece, and they were a bit distracting. * "she found that her vocabulary were embarrassingly limited" (24). * "Discussing the dangers of illegal drug use is with elementary and middle school students is one method that schools use to help dissuade young people from abusing drugs as they grow up" (47).
I think the book does a nice job of referring to the culture and vernacular of the Hawaiian people. Appendix 1: Place-Based and Culture-Based Readings does a nice job in this regard. I can see other institutions adapting this format to benefit their own student populations. I also like how a couple of the book's "student stories" focused on non-traditional students.
The authors did an impressive job with this resource, given that they had only three days and nights to complete the "book sprint." In fact, many of my criticisms seem unfair given that I'm comparing the text to books that were developed over extended periods of time, with considerable editorial support. I would love to see the authors develop and revise the text based on the feedback they receive.
A first semester composition course has to make certain specific foundational choices about its topic. Do you want to emphasize analysis and paragraph structure? Thesis-building? How much should be given to research and argument, and the citation... read more
A first semester composition course has to make certain specific foundational choices about its topic. Do you want to emphasize analysis and paragraph structure? Thesis-building? How much should be given to research and argument, and the citation process? This textbook hits all of these topics well, but would function best integrated with further exercises and assignments which implement specifics. It comes across as an excellent introduction/survey of how to master composition.
The text never strays from the facts in content areas. Claims regarding the efficacy and value of parts of the writing process are backed up with research references. Citation directions and examples are clear, useful, and easy to apply.
The content covered is not radical; it proceeds through useful and standard methods of composition which are unlikely to require seismic revision any time soon. Contemporary examples are interspersed with classic ones. The web links and appendixes are arranged such that any further updates look easy for the authors and editors to develop.
You notice how the topic and word choice reflect the authors' time in the university and community college classroom, refining how they express their points. Sometimes it feels brief, but never because it is skipping over essential pieces. It states it is targeted at 100-level students, but I feel it would also be effective with developmental students a level below that. My community college students in English 100 were all able to grasp the sections I assigned from this text; no problematic areas stood out.
The team of writers appear to have collaborated tightly, making sure that terminology defined early on in the text remains useful to students throughout the entire book's topics. Once in a while, some areas of the text seems more developed than others. Usually, though, it's steady in its focus. The sections are broken down into the same subheading format throughout. Minimal confusion should ensue.
I used sections of this book out of order, supporting my own existing unit plans. The text sections are very to-the-point and focused on the essential information at hand, which made them plug in well. Subheadings are used frequently. Even more detail and development under each subheading would improve re-usability. In general, though, I did not encounter any troubling tangles.
I appreciate that the topics covered do not dive directly into writing an essay, but rather build up carefully and step-by-step through the portions and process of writing. This is the sort of instruction which helps bring together a class which starts with widely different backgrounds. Some student populations may be ready to dive right into paper-writing, which allows for more time spent on learning and practicing research. But this text's organization and choice of topics makes it very useful for a more heterogeneous community college classroom.
As far the interface's clarity and lack of error, this text is fine. Everything is where it should be and works correctly. The interface and layout only suffers from being a little boring. It could be improved by further editing attention to include more charts and images which set the scene of the work being done. But the text as it is remains useful and functional, with no interface problems interfering with student use.
Next to no grammatical errors turned up during textbook use, and none which proved confusing to students.
This text's cultural sensitivity and range reflects its state of origin. The University of Hawaii educator authors range from indigenous to African-American texts as relevant and valuable examples. Some other sections seem more generic; perhaps a future revision might include similar attentions throughout.
This text does an admirable job of covering a lot of ground without excessive verbiage. It reads as every section being useful to students and applicable to the Composition classroom. I plan to use it, adapted as needed, in my upcoming classes.
The book is a beginning to hopefully providing more in-depth lessons and instructions. Lessons touch upon different concepts of first-year college composition but rely on the person using the text to find almost all examples and supplemental... read more
The book is a beginning to hopefully providing more in-depth lessons and instructions. Lessons touch upon different concepts of first-year college composition but rely on the person using the text to find almost all examples and supplemental materials for further understanding of the concepts. There is a hyperlinked table of contents of the text, but no index nor glossary for the text. Chapters within the text are quite short, sometimes only covering one page in pdf format. Many of the chapters feel disjointed, not quite building on concepts of the previous chapter. In other words, the chapters feel like they are independent lessons rather than concepts building on previous information obtained. Chapter 4 introduces ten rhetorical modes of writing but only includes detailed instruction on four of them. There are no full internal writing examples in a composition text for students to get a sense of completion of essay composition.
Overall, the text has few noticeable errors. There are some formatting choices for headers and subheaders that lead to some confusion in the online text, but those same formatting choices seem clear within a printed (pdf) version of the text. References to "Sources" or "Works Cited" should be centered in the text to follow normal expectations of students producing papers. On P. 38 (pdf file), the first example references punctuation rules of compound sentences but uses a complex sentence as its only example; compound and complex sentences should be distinguished as different sentence types. Chapter 4 introduces different rhetorical modes of writing, but it presents only four of those modes in detailed instruction and includes them out of order from the introductory text. Also, the chapter introduction claims that there are "links to real student essays." However, 4.2 Narration provides no such link, and 4.3 Process Analysis and 4.4 Evaluation link to a journal with no obvious examples of process analysis nor evaluation. On P. 17 (pdf file), in the "Fairness" section, the font size changes in the middle of a sentence, beginning with the bullet point "Are there any fallacies..." and on P. 81, the first full paragraph does the same. On P. 45 (pdf file), "5-page essay" should be "five-paragraph"? The second bullet point on that page has an unnecessary comma in "attitude, toward" and there is a misspelled "Stating" instead of "Starting."
Overall, this section looks like it is doing what is expected. External links look like they can be easily replaced by current examples. Choices in MLA citation can be updated to the latest trends of the MLA style. Examples for the "A Student's Story" sections could easily be updated to modern/current problems when necessary. Appendix 2 gives a list of online content contained in the text, so that section can be updated as needed.
The text seems to do a decent job of being clear throughout on the terms used. There are several introductions to Latin and Greek phrases used in logic and rhetorical concepts with a definition of those words. A glossary and index could be helpful for further reference.
Terminology throughout the text remains consistent. Terms that are defined early in the text are used throughout. That is why the glossary may be necessary. Some terms are defined again, like ethos, logos, and pathos in 4.5 Persuasion.
Because the text is short overall, it does divide sections into smaller sections. In some cases, the sections are too small, with headers and subsequent spacing on the page dominating over actual instructional text. More specific examples could and should be included for each of those sections to give each header more information than what is on the page. For example, in 4.4 Evaluation, the four points of structure are spread out, but only the "Evidence" section has any further explanation. This section either needs bullet points with the definitions or full explanations with examples to give depth to the section.
While the chapters are justifiably ordered by the book authors' preferences, there is little transition from one chapter to another and from one section of a chapter to another. Composition is a type of subject based entirely on adding more information building on previously addressed concepts and practices. While those concepts and practices are indicated, the authors do not explicitly make those connections from one chapter or section of a chapter to another. This may be a space or content decision, but understanding how each of the steps in the writing process connects with the structure of essays and the types of essays could help in giving students a more comprehensive understanding of English composition courses.
Pictures and graphics are minimal. The only effective graphic throughout is the 2.2 Prewriting graphic for making a Persuasion Map. However, that particular map seems to be out of place for the purpose of the book. Alike or similar graphs for other essay types would prove useful here.
All suggestions come from the paginated PDF version of the textbook. On P. 24 of the pdf, 2.1 Introduction, "vocabulary were" should be "vocabulary was." On P. 28, "According to the" is missing what the noun is. On P. 38, the first section gives a complex sentence example for a compound sentence rule: "Unless the surf is bad, we are going to surf in the morning." That should be an example like this: "The surf is bad this morning, but we are still going to surf." On P. 38, under "Absolutes," it states, "Avoid them in most all cases." The term "most all" is a colloquialism and is not proper for a textbook. On P. 45, "5-page" appears to mean "five-paragraph." On P. 45, remove the unnecessary comma in "attitude, toward." On P. 45, "Stating" should be "Starting." On P. 78, it should read, "Students' Stories" perhaps, but definitely not "A Students' Story" as it currently does. On P. 85, one of the citation examples is missing the opening quotation marks.
The text is not specifically geared towards a particular region, but the authors are all a part of the Hawaii university system. Therefore, some of the materials and examples given are based on their particular knowledge of the region. There are no noticeable insensitive or offensive materials throughout the text, and none of the examples of "A Student's Story" seem to indicate the student's race, ethnicity, nor background.
For being a three-day project as indicated in the Foreword, this is an impressive compilation. There is definitely potential in the future of the text with my main recommendations being to make the different chapters and subchapters of the book relate to previous chapters (including internal hyperlinks and an index and glossary section) AND adding more in-text examples for students to have an easier time comprehending and processing the information presented.
Chapter 1 is odd as it does not use the Sections 2 or 3 as modes to introduce a learning narrative, for example; instead, the information consists of details that students should have received in their New Student Orientation program or a New... read more
Chapter 1 is odd as it does not use the Sections 2 or 3 as modes to introduce a learning narrative, for example; instead, the information consists of details that students should have received in their New Student Orientation program or a New Student Experience course. I recommend Chapters 3 & 4 be switched so students are introduced first to the diverse types of essay types; e.g. argumentative, expository, narrative, et al. as Chapter 3's Introduction, explanations and examples are solely from the argumentative perspective, which may make it more difficult for students to try other types of writing, especially first-year students as this point-to-point style is ingrained during their K-12 academic writing career.
In Chapter 5.1, the authors include an example of Jaden’s lack of commitment to research, and note that in his conversation with his teacher, he points out that he included both in-text citation and a Works Cited page. Although his formatting for both requirements were not perfect, he did, in fact, include some details on his external resources, so the authors might want to revise their wording of “Such plagiarism…” as Jaden did not, technically, plagiarize; instead, he was just not accurate in his citation details, which is different. Jaden may be lazy, but in the authors' example, he did not commit plagiarism.
The authors could have included real-life examples of varied Island languages, for example, via prior students' essays for more consistent learning and academic/workplace application.
Chapter 1 can be revised so that the voice is of a peer rather than someone talking to/at the student; e.g. "College students are expected to demonstrate independence, responsibility, and relationship-building skills" could become "As a college student, you will be expected to demonstrate independence, responsibility, and relationship-building skills" to make the advice and subsequent activities and assignments more relatable, and thus applicable, to first-year and non-traditional learners.
Yes, but some terms are more discipline-based; e.g. from an educator's professional vocabulary rather than a student's. When revised, consider the terminology from the students' perspectives, those who are first-year and non-traditional, and know, too, that in Hawaii there are numerous cultures and languages to be considered (and yes, I know the authors know this!), so perhaps include examples using the diversity of the Island. My recommendation here is somewhat developed in Chapter 3.1, "A Student's Story."
Chapter 1, in particular, has too much text; first-year and non-traditional students' interest and focus may increase if (1) graphics are incorporated and/or (2) real-life scenario examples are provided for students to practice during class as this will also allow relationship-building and trust to grow between students and students/educator. Chapter 2.2 could further develop and include examples of varied paragraph formatting styles; the style that is included suggests a Point-to-Point essay, but it is not as the last paragraph does not fit that P2P style. Chapter 3.2, though, only offers instructions from that 5-pararagph model, which is not always a realistic writing practice in the real world. A thesis statement does not always have to be arguable; a thesis statement, depending on the form of writing, can be opinion-based and this more creative in its narrative, which, also, is not always i the 5-paragraph structure. Chapter 4.2's Activities section is not correctly formatted, which may make it more difficult for students with accessibility barriers to read/decipher. If the authors include ten types of essays (Chapter 4.1), then they should include explanations et al. for all ten and not just four (4.2. 4.3, 4.4, & 4.5). Connect each Chapter to the "Clarifying Aristotelian Rhetorical Concepts" in Chapter 1.3 as rare references do not support cumulative learning and application practices. Chapter 5.2 should be moved to Chapter 2 as research is an integral part of the writing processes. The Citation Management in Chapter 5.3 offers three online citation support options; I recommend the authors either (1) use the OWL at Purdue only or (2) require students to purchase via OER a text that offers MLA formatting examples and exercises as EasyBib and BibMe do not use the most recent edition of MLA formatting guidelines.
The Chapters arrangement lacks flow as students should be introduced to pre-flection, research and formatting guidelines in the beginning of their academic writing career rather than in the middle or end of the semester. Updates could be made yearly as past students' examples are incorporated into each Chapter as examples and/or peer-editing practice.
The graphics, charts et al. are high quality, but as a learner with an LD (not assessed and diagnosed until my doctoral program!), some students may find "unpacking" tables, charts, and/or graphs more difficulty, especially as they relate to writing (Persuasion Map, 2.2), so an in-class activity that is included in the book may help students comprehend the mapping idea from a new, applicable lens. Most students will not know what Meta-cognitive (Chapter 2.2.) means. Will this be addressed as it is not in the SLOs? 2.3 could be further developed to include examples for students to peer review and discuss in class before they start drafting. Provide examples of 2.4's ARRR. So glad the OWL at Purdue link is included as this resources is current on MLA formatting, offers applicable examples and is free to students and teachers. I like the inclusion of frequency adverbs in 2.5 as I find my first-year writing students reply heavily on these parts of speech to convey what they believe are profound realizations. Consider adding more in-text or connect to the OWL at Purdue and discourage the overuse of these terms as they are vague in their meaning.
In Chapter 2, Introduction, the term "vocabulary" is used as a plural when it is a non-count noun and must be connected with a singular verb; e.g. In middle school, she found that her vocabulary was (not were) embarrassingly limited. In "A Student's Story," the commas are not uses correctly as the set-off portion is not an appositive, so the second comma should be removed; i.e. As she entered college and enrolled in her first-year writing course, she was anxious about attending a required conference with her instructor who was meeting with each student to discuss the rough drafts of their first essays. In 2.2., this is unclear as it is missing punctuation and a noun or pronoun: "According to the Leilani was shocked..." For 2. under Activities in Chapter 2.2, there is a missing comma: "For each writing assignment in class, spend three (add comma here) 10-minute sessions either..." Also in Chapter 2.2, #2 should include a hyphen for the compound adjective; e.g. "Writers become so involved in the research process that they don’t start the actual writing process soon enough so as to meet a due date with a well-written, edited, and revised finished composition."
I don't find any culturally insensitive content, but I admire that this text is written for a certain demographic, which is why I recommend the authors include examples that students will relate to, such as prior students' essays written in pidgin, which they can revise (as a collaborative activity, with the teacher's help) into Standard Written English to see how code-switching works and can impact their academic and professional writing experiences. If the text will be used (mostly?) in first-year writing programs in Hawaii, then include more examples from students who represent these demographics via names in the opening stories and student examples.
The text should be an exemplar for students, especially as first-year learners tend to copy what is presented, which is why I recommend that MLA formatting be consistent; e.g. Works Cited in 1.2, 1.3, 2.2 et al. be centered, as per MLA formatting guidelines. Chapter 3.2 & 3.4's external resources are not correctly formatted as the title is Sources rather than Works Cited, with each external source listed as per MLA formatting guidelines.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1. College Success Skills
- Chapter 2. The Writing Process
- Chapter 3. Essay Structure
- Chapter 4. Types of Essays
- Chapter 5. Research Skills
About the Book
This OER textbook has been designed for students to learn the foundational concepts for English 100 (first-year college composition). The content aligns to learning outcomes across all campuses in the University of Hawai'i system. It was designed, written, and edited during a three day book sprint in May, 2019.
About the Contributors
Jeanne K. Tsutsui