Communication Across the Disciplines

First-Year Success in Writing--Directed Self-Placement

10 students in commencement regalia, grouped in a semi-circle with Monte

Introduction

The writing and math courses you take as first-year college students are the foundation of your success in college. Every class you take will require critical reading skills, writing skills, and the ability to reason with quantitative information. For that reason, it is important that you take the right first-year classes.

The decision about your first-year math and writing course should be made through careful reflection on your own experiences, not just your previous grades, so at CSUMB, we ask you to choose for yourself which first-year reading/writing and first-year quantitative reasoning course you take (that’s the self-placement part). But it’s also important you don’t make a quick or uninformed decision. So we’ve created online experiences to help (that’s the directed part).

Write to Register

For writing, you need to decide whether you want to take one semester or two to build the critical reading and writing skills you will need for more advanced college work. In Write to Register you’ll Engage in activities to give you a sense of the kind of work you’ll do in first-year composition courses. You will read an article, summarize the article, compare your summary to one written by a college professor. Answer some survey questions about your experience doing those activities, your thoughts about the kind of reading and writing support you need, and your past history of reading and writing in and out of school.

Your responses to the survey questions will lead to a recommendation about whether you are likely to feel appropriately challenged and supported in a one- or two-semester first-year composition (A2) class.

You will then read a description of your options and make your own choice. The one-semester options are HCOM 120, ENSTU 120, or SBS 110. Those three courses are similar in their degree of challenge and support. They differ somewhat in the topics on which they focus and approaches, with ENSTU 120 focusing on environmental topics and SBS 110 focusing on social science topics. The two-semester option is CAD 101A/B (101A the first semester, 101B the second). This pair of courses is treated as a single, year-long course in which you remain with the same instructor and same group of students for both semesters. It is designed for students who want or need longer to work on their critical reading and writing skills to prepare for upper-division work.

This experience should take about 1 hour.

Orientation Tables Outside of University Center

For quantitative reasoning and mathematics, you will first want to consider if your intended major requires a specific course (e.g. statistics, calculus, etc.) or if you have a choice for your first year mathematics or statistics course. Since everyone has different experiences with mathematics and statistics when they enter college, we offer Support Courses to review important concepts, deepen your understanding of the content in your first-year mathematics/statistics class, and offer you strategies for learning and overcoming anxiety.

We’ve designed Choosing Your First-Year Math/Stat Course to help guide you to the best mathematics/statistics course for your intended career/major and to help you determine whether a support course might help you be more successful based on your own reflection on your experiences, skills, and expectations. In that online experience, you’ll Complete two mathematics activities, one multiple choice and one open ended. Review your solutions. Take a reflective survey which will ask about your experience on the activities, as well as your past mathematics experiences, your views on mathematics, and other reflective questions. Based on your responses to the survey a recommendation for taking the support course associated with your required math or statistics course will be provided.

Students who do not complete the online experiences will be placed into first-year mathematics and composition courses according to the CSU’s multiple measures, which are based on past performance.

College is all about taking responsibility for your own learning and success, and we want you to begin with that intention. Directed self-placement is an early opportunity to do so.

Wondering about first-year Mathematics or Statistics?

You can find information at https://csumb.edu/math/first-year-mathstatistics-course-information.

Questions?

Contact Nelson Graff, ngraff@csumb.edu