Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2012

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Rhetoric and Composition

Department

English

Major Advisor

Heidi Estrem, Ph.D.

Abstract

Placement into first-year college writing classes can have great impact on students, but student voices are rarely heard in the debate on which placement methods are best. In this thesis, I work to illuminate the student perspective on the placement process through an examination of a pilot guided self-placement program at Boise State University. Developed from existing directed self-placement models and scholarship on best practices for English placement, The Write Class placement program gives students a voice in how they are placed. With students taking a role as active agents in their English placement decisions, one of the main concepts for my study is self-efficacy. The obvious questions for me are; 1) How were students utilizing the resources provided? 2) Were students who participated in The Write Class placement program exhibiting signs of self-efficacy? The second question became important because of previous studies (Gore, 2006, and Chemers, Hu, and Garcia, 2001) which showed a correlation between self-efficacy and academic achievement.

Using scholarship on self-efficacy and directed self-placement as framework, I conducted a survey of incoming college freshmen during a series of 2011 summer orientation sessions here at Boise State University. The results of the survey provide a fascinating look into how students made their placement decisions, and demonstrate that students who participated in The Write Class exhibited signs of self-efficacy, as evidenced through high levels of confidence in their decisions and abilities. When asked about their confidence levels in their placement decisions, their abilities to accomplish the goals they set for themselves in their English classes, and their level of preparedness for the coursework ahead of them, over 80% of the students responded that they felt confident and prepared. This result is significant because high levels of self-efficacy in previous studies have been shown to be indicative of future success.

Share

COinS