English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate
Jeanne K. Tsutsui
Pub Date: 2019
ISBN 13: 978-1-948027-07-6
Publisher: University of Hawaii Manoa
Conditions of Use
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