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2009 Innovative Writing in Teaching Recipient

Brad Jarvis, Department of History

Having learned that many students arrive in survey classes possessing underdeveloped writing abilities, I stress the importance of their learning skills in critical analysis and writing. This emphasis on argumentation undoubtedly stems from my own experiences as a first generation college student.

I had a very rude awakening when I realized that my high school education had not prepared me adequately for the rigors of academic discourse at the collegiate level. I was good at memorizing information for exams, and I could "copy" material from sources into a report, but I did not know how to analyze documents and construct coherent arguments. As a result, my first semester in college was a stressful one, and my grades initially suffered. But learning how to research, find evidence, and support an argument paid big dividends for me later in college and when I continued into graduate school.

These skills are transferable to all sorts of majors and careers, so I emphasize them in all of my classes. Paper assignments are designed to prompt students to think about how what they are reading can be used to answer specific questions. I have built paper revision into all of my courses, and each semester I meet with many students in order to work on paper revisions. I am heartened when I see students develop these essential skills.

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