First-Year Writing Program: Directed Self-Placement Frequently Asked Questions

What is Directed Self-Placement Program?

The English Department at California State University, Fresno has designed a new method for placing students in composition classes. We call our new program Directed Self-Placement (DSP). With guidance and direction from counselors, faculty, this brochure, and English Department Directed Self-Placement web page, we want you to choose the first-year writing class that best meets your needs. Now you have the opportunity to make an important decision about which composition classes are best for you as you prepare to read and write successfully at the university.

Note: International students are placed into appropriate courses based on their scores on the University English Exam (UEE).

Directed Self-Placement and the English 10 choice:

What happens if I elect to take English 10 and find out that I am in over my head?

At the beginning of English 10, your instructor will outline the kinds of work you will be doing. She or he will also ask you to do some writing and look at your writing to see if there is any indication that you are better suited to another course. If, within the first week, you believe you have not made the best decision, you may be able to switch to another course. Such changes present challenges for the student and the university, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to make the change that semester. For these reasons, it is best to weigh your options carefully and, when in doubt, you may want to choose English 5A/5B sequence.

What if I elect to take English 5A and then find out that it is too easy for me? Can I change into English 10?

Depending on course availability, some students may be able to make this switch-- within the first two weeks of the semester . However, do not anticipate that this will be the case very often. In most cases, we will encourage students who feel that English 5A is too easy, to view it as additional experience. Rather than anticipating a change, we encourage you to weigh the different options as carefully as possible, based on the questions identified in the Option Comparison Chart.

If I fail English 10 and decide to take English 5A and 5B, will the 5A/5B grades replace my English 10 grade?

Yes.

Directed Self-Placement and the English 5A/5B choice

I am a good writer, but I need help with grammar. Which class should I take?

You should consider your command of grammar conventions as one of many factors in your decision making process. Command over grammar is one of the many characteristics of experienced college writers that both English 5A/5B and English 10 will address. In all of the first year writing courses, the focus on grammar will involve its relationship to what you are trying to express, the ways you are thinking, and the decisions you make as you write. We think it is important to remember that grammar is simply one aspect of successful writing. Many people are very good sentence writers, but still need more practice and instruction regarding planning, organization, developing ideas, reading critically, research methods, and revision strategies . Instead of focusing on one issue like grammar, we encourage you to consult the questions on the Option Comparison Chart.

If I fail English 5A do I have to retake it or can I go into 5B and pass the English requirement by passing English 5B?

Successful completion of English 5A is a prerequisite to taking English 5B. This means that you must receive a C or better in English 5A in order to enroll in English 5B.

Will taking English 5A and 5B mean that I will not graduate on time?

The credits you receive for English 5A can be applied to graduation as elective credits and English 5B meet general education requirements (Foundations Area A2). Taking the English 5A/5B sequence will not delay your graduation. We believe, moreover, that in the long-term, taking the course that is most appropriate to your experiences and preparedness will increase the chances of a timely graduation.

Will I have the same teacher in 5A that I have in 5B?

In most cases you will have the same instructor for English 5B who you had for 5A. Indeed, one of the benefits of the English 5A/5B sequence is that it enables you to make important connections and form "learning communities" with instructors and students who you will see in the same class for an entire year.

Why should I pay to take extra credits for English 5A/5B when I can get take care of my English requirement with one class?

English 5A counts toward elective college credit, so you would not be paying for an extra class; you would be making choices about the best classes to take for your educational experience.

Directed Self-Placement and the Linguistics 6, English 5A/5B choice

How do I know if I should register for Linguistics 6? What does that class offer?

Linguistic 6 is designed to help students who feel they may need more instruction in college-level English language, reading, and writing. Even if you have graduated from a US high school, you still might need additional preparation in the English reading, writing, and language to help meet university expectations. Linguistics 6 gives students more intensive training and instruction in English reading and writing before they enter English 5A/5B. Many students who graduate from U.S. high schools find that they can benefit from additional instruction.

To determine whether or not Linguistics 6 is the best course for you, we recommend that you consult the questions on the Option Comparison Chart. These questions are the best indicators of the types of experiences and abilities appropriate to a specific course designation.

I learned English in high school and graduated at a US high school. Should I still enroll in Linguistics 6?

Linguistic 6 is designed to help students who feel they may need more instruction in university-level English language, reading, and writing. Even if you have graduated from a US high school, you still might need additional preparation in the English reading, writing, and language to help you meet the expectations of the university. Successful completion of this course helps students who feel they may need more English language practice and instruction before they enter English 5A and 5B. Many students who graduate from U.S. high schools find that they can benefit from additional instruction.

We do not believe that graduating from a US high school itself should be the primary reason for selecting English 5A or English 10 as your first course. Instead, we recommend that you consult the questions on the Option Comparison Chart. These questions are the best indicators of the types of experiences and abilities appropriate to a specific course designation.

I am a multilingual student who speaks English very fluently. Should I consider Linguistics 6?

Perhaps. While speaking English fluently may be one of the factors you consider in making your decision, it is important to remember that the first-year writing program focuses on written as well as spoken language. Linguistic 6 is designed to help students who feel they may need more instruction in university-level English language, reading, and writing. Even if you have graduated from a US high school, you still might need additional preparation in the English reading, writing, and language using expectations of the university. Successful completion of this course helps students who feel they may need more English language practice and instruction before they enter English 5A and 5B. Many students who graduate from U.S. high schools find that they can benefit from additional instruction.

To determine whether or not Linguistics 6 is the best course for you we recommend that you consult the questions on the Option Comparison Chart. These questions are the best indicators of the types of experiences and abilities appropriate to a specific course designation.

Why should I pay to take extra credits for Linguistics 6 followed by English 5A/5B when I can get take care of my English requirement with one class?

Linguistics 6, like English 5A, counts toward elective college credit, so you would not be paying for an extra class; you would be making choices about the best classes to take for your educational experience.

Directed Self-Placement and the English Placement Test

Do I still have to take the English Placement Test?

Yes. All students entering the CSU system are required to take the English Placement Test.

How much should I weight my EPT score in making my decision?

While the EPT is one factor to weigh in your decision, we do not recommend that you use it as the sole or even the primary basis for your decision.

The best way to make an informed decision about which course to choose is to consult the English Department Directed Self-Placement web page, (go to www.csufresno.edu/english and click on "Directed Self-Placement"). In addition, please pay particular attention to the Option Comparison Chart. There you will find a set of questions that will help you decide which option best suits you individually. These questions are specific to reading and writing experiences and will give a better indication of your preparedness for a specific course than your EPT score. If you are still not sure which course to choose, discuss this information with high school guidance counselors, high school English teachers, parents, other Fresno State students, or come to the Fresno State DOG DAYS orientation this summer where faculty advisors will be present to answer any questions you may still have.

What influence does my EPT score have when I choose either the stretch or accelerated program?

The EPT is no longer used to place you in a specific section of the first-year writing program. While you may use it as one of the many factors you and your counselors use to determine the program that is best for you, the choice is yours.

What if I believe that I am a good writer, but I do not take tests like the EPT well?

One of the reasons that we use Directed Self-Placement instead of test scores is that we do not believe that a single, timed test offers the best indication of your preparedness for a specific English course. Many students do not "test well." More importantly, we do not believe that the exam itself represents the experiences of college writing in a way that can be boiled down to a single score. The best way to make your decision is to address the questions on the Option Comparison Chart. These questions are better indicators of the types of experiences and abilities appropriate to a specific course designation.

Directed Self-Placement and High School English

How much should I weigh my high school grade point average in making my decision?

While your high school grade point average is an additional source of information to use in making your decision, we do not recommend that you use it as the primary basis for your decision.

The best way to make an informed decision about which course to choose is to consult the English Department Directed Self-Placement web page. (go to www.csufresno.edu/english and click on "Directed Self-Placement") In addition, please pay particular attention to the Option Comparison Chart There you will find a set of questions that will help you decide which option best suits you individually. These questions are specific to reading and writing experiences and will give a better indication of your preparedness for a specific course than your high school grade point average. If you are still not sure which course to choose, discuss this information with high school guidance counselors, high school English teachers, parents, other Fresno State students, or come to the Fresno State DOG DAYS orientation this summer where faculty advisors will be present to answer any questions you may still have.

What if I got a score of 3 or better on my AP test?

Passing the Advanced Placement Test in English Literature/Composition or English Language/Composition with a score of 3 or better exempts you from English 5A/5B and 10. A passing score on the AP test means you have already met the undergraduate G.E. writing requirement for CSU Fresno.

However, we would like to suggest that you enter English 5A/5B or English 10 even if you have passed the AP exams. Our experience with students shows that AP classes are frequently not equivalent to the freshman writing experience. Because our program emphasizes writing as a process of rhetorically situated decision-making, we feel the kind of information and experience you will have in our first-year writing program will supplement much of what you have learned in your high school class. High school and college are different: different students, different work- load, and frequently different writing tasks generate a more complex context for student work. Our programs' focus on genre-based writing, analysis of the rhetorical situation as a guide to writing processes, and interdisciplinary literacy strategies helps students adjust to a wider range of literacy tasks, moving you beyond literary analysis and the study of essay modes.

So, while you are free to skip a writing class in your first year, we suggest that you "stay in shape" by registering for a writing class in our program. We would welcome your rich, tested experience in our classrooms.

The AP test is one factor to weigh in your decision; however, we do not recommend that you use it as the sole or ever the primary basis for your decision.

The best way to make an informed decision about which course to choose is to consult the English Department First Year Writing Program web page, (go to www.csufresno.edu/english and click on "First Year Writing Program "). In addition, please pay particular attention to the Option Comparison Chart. There you will find a set of questions that will help you decide which option best suits you individually. These questions are specific to reading and writing experiences and will give a better indication of your preparedness for a specific course than your performance on the AP test. If you are still not sure which course to choose, discuss this information with high school guidance counselors, high school English teachers, parents, other Fresno state students, or come to the Fresno State DOG DAYS orientation this summer where faculty advisors will be present to answer any questions you may still have.

If I took AP English in high school, should I go into English 10?

Not necessarily. The best way to make an informed decision about which course to choose is to consult the English Department Directed Self-Placement web page, (go to www.csufresno.edu/english and click on "Directed Self-Placement"). In addition, please pay particular attention to the Option Comparison Chart. There you will find a set of questions that will help you decide which option best suits you individually. The questions in this brochure are specific to reading and writing experiences and will give a better indication of your preparedness for a specific course than AP credits. If you are still not sure which course to choose, discuss this information with high school guidance counselors, high school English teachers, parents, other Fresno State students, or come to the Fresno State DOG DAYS orientation this summer where faculty advisors will be present to answer any questions you may still have.

While your experiences in AP English will likely help you, many students find college writing much different than AP English. We recommend that you consider your experiences in AP English as one factor to weigh in your decision, and we do not recommend that you use it as the sole or even the primary basis for your decision.