pen in hand

SJSU Receives $2 Million Federal Grant to Improve Student Writing Skills

pen in hand

The grant will fund three activities: writing workshops for students, writing workshops for the faculty, and an effort to improve writing assignments in General Education classes.

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748

The San Jose State University Research Foundation has received a $2 million grant over five years from the U.S. Education Department to improve student writing skills.

The primary investigator will be Associate Vice President for Student Academic Success Services Maureen Scharberg.

“This grant is a tremendous ‘win-win’ for both SJSU students and faculty!” Scharberg said. “It will allow us to improve our students’ writing skills as well as provide additional writing workshops and writing support services.”

SJSU received the grant as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution. However, the pilot programs the grant will fund will open to all students.

The grant will fund three major activities, beginning with the College of Engineering offering a one-credit writing workshop to 50 remedial English students as early as this spring.

The College of Social Sciences and College of Applied Sciences and the Arts plan to do the same, beginning in fall 2012.

Students will enroll in the workshop for four semesters, with the goal of passing the CSU’s Writing Skills Test. The long-term plan is expand the program to serve all seven colleges.

Two more major activities will be funded by this grant:

  • Professor of English Linda Mitchell will lead writing workshops for faculty members.
  • Professor of Health Science Kathleen Roe will lead efforts to improve writing assignments in lower-division General Education classes.

These efforts will supplement, not replace, current resources including remedial classes and English 1A and 1B.

The effort is expected to boost graduation and retention rates. Data suggests writing skills have a direct impact on student success.

  • In fall 2010, nearly half of all freshmen were not proficient in English.
  • Approximately 70 percent of African American, 60 percent of Hispanic American, 50 percent of Asian American, and 30 percent of white freshmen need English remediation.
  • The CSU requires all new students to pass a writing standards test within one year, resulting in high attrition rates among remedial students.
  • Students who need remedial classes tend to take two extra years to graduate.

Team members for this grant include Deanna Fassett, communication studies professor; Jeanne Linsdell, general engineering instructor; Linda Mitchell, English professor; Kathleen Roe, health science professor; and Sutee Sujitparapitaya, associate vice president for institutional research.

The evaluators will be Pat Backer, technology professor, and Rona Halualani, communication studies professor.

Read a related news release from the Office of Congressman Mike Honda.

The San Jose State University Research Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation established to enable and promote externally-funded programs that further SJSU’s comprehensive educational mission, impact, and public benefit. Each year hundreds of local, state, and federal agencies, businesses, and other organizations partner with the research foundation to engage SJSU faculty and other university specialists to perform basic and applied research, public service and community projects, consulting, and other specialized educational activities impacting the region, the nation and the world.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 28,000 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.