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Why a survey?
The New Jersey Writing Alliance, started over four years ago by a core group of college and high school writing instructors, started promoting discussion among instructors across the state. The Alliance discovered that high school instructors wanted to understand more about what awaited their students in college, and the college instructors wanted to get a better picture about the conditions under which their students had developed. We realized that a survey of instructors involved with teaching writing at both the high school and college levels might illuminate some of the similarities and differences in the expectations, emphases, priorities, and practices that governed writing classrooms in New Jersey. Our hope is that the results will inspire more dialogue.
Once the survey results were available, however, another reason for the survey became clear: The strong majority of high school survey participants want to focus on "effective writing essential for college success," and they admit that "college expectations greatly impact [their] teaching choices." On the other hand, they were not able to be very specific about what this impact might be. The strong desire to prepare students for college and the uncertainty about what students will need creates a real call to clarify what college instructors' expectations are. (See Questions to ask.)
The NJWA gratefully acknowledges the use of much of the material in a survey created by Kathleen McClelland, Sheridan Blau, and Stan Nicholson, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1989-1990.