CAI Portfolio English 111 : a new direction for freshman composition at Middle Tennessee State University.

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Clayton, Maria
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Middle Tennessee State University
A paradigm shift occurred in writing instruction theory and pedagogy during the 1970's, a shift that mandated a move away from the current-traditional emphasis on product and towards a new, more rhetorically-based focus on the composition process. As a result of this shift, two different but complementary pedagogies emerged almost simultaneously, portfolio-based composition, also propelled by needs in the field of assessment, and computer-assisted composition, made possible by the rise in computer applications in the classroom. Portfolio-based and computer-assisted programs have enjoyed a solid following well into the 1990's and, in fact, continue to gain status among academic disciplines, particularly in composition studies. In the past decade the symbiotic potential of portfolio and computer methodologies has been recognized by many institutions of higher education where they have been implemented as natural partners in the teaching of writing.
The marriage of portfolio-based and computer assisted composition can bring innumerable benefits to the writing classroom by capitalizing on the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of both print literacy and computer literacy. However, as with all new programs, the successful implementation does not occur unless careful attention has been paid to the theory and pedagogy behind the merger.
CAI Portfolio English 111 is the first attempt at Middle Tennessee State University to incorporate the strengths of both pedagogies. Its first semester of implementation has been a success. The merger works and works well. Through its use, the English Department will finally formalize its move away from product-based composition and formally identify process theory as the mainstay of its first-year composition program. Implementation of CAI Portfolio English 111 will also afford faculty and students a vehicle through which to bridge the gap between print and computer literacies, bringing them together at a time when higher education and real world requirements move into the next century.
Advisers: Ayne Cantrell; William Connelly.