SJSU in the News: $2 Million Federal Grant to Sharpen Student Writing

SJSU gets federal grant to improve writing

Originally published by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal Oct. 17, 2011.

by David Goll, Reporter

A $2 million grant has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the San Jose State University Research Foundation to improve the writing skills of students.

The grant was awarded to the university because it is designated as serving Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander students, but the programs it funds will be open to students of all backgrounds.

The grant will be used for several different programs. The first will be a one-credit writing workshop open to 50 remedial English students that could begin in the spring. Similar programs will be offered through the College of Social Sciences and College of Applied Sciences during the fall 2012 semester. Also funded by the grant will be writing workshops for faculty members led by Linda Mitchell, professor of English, and efforts by Kathleen Roe, professor of health science, in improving writing assignments in lower-division General Education courses.

“This grant is a tremendous ‘win-win’ for both SJSU students and faculty,” Maureen Scharberg, SJSU associate vice president for student academic success, said in a statement. “It will allow us to improve our students’ writing skills as well as provide additional writing workshops and writing support services.”

The move to improve students’ writing skills is expected to boost retention and graduation rates.

One year ago, university officials said a study showed nearly half of all freshman at San Jose State were not proficient in English. About 70 percent of black students, 60 percent of Hispanic students, 50 percent of Asian-American students and 30 percent of white students in the class of 2014 needed to take remedial English courses. It has been shown that students who need to take remedial English can take up to two years longer to earn a degree.

This fall, San Jose State has an enrollment of 28,000 students.

David Goll covers commercial real estate, retail, economic development and transportation at the Business Journal. His phone number is 408.299.1853.