Tag: english

JSU removes English Competency Exam as graduation requirement

Miranda Prescott, Correspondent

Jacksonville State University announced on Tuesday, April 14 that the English Competency Exam, or ECE, will no longer be required by students to graduate from the university. This change in requirements will take effect as of the summer term this year.

Continue reading “JSU removes English Competency Exam as graduation requirement”

English Department Spotlight: Crossing t’s and dotting i’s

Located in the Stone Center building is one of the many gems of Jacksonville State University—the English Department.

Dr. Robert Felgar is the Department Head and believes that the department provides students with excellent instruction.

“We stand out because we put so much emphasis on skills that are crucial to students’ futures: thinking, writing, speaking, listening, and reading,” said Dr. Felgar.

The English Department offers students a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree along with a Minor in English. The department also offers courses for students seeking teaching certification in English or the Language Arts teaching field.

“The Department offers a variety of special topics courses, ranging from film noir to the graphic novel to The Bible as literature. Broadly speaking, we want JSU graduates to emerge as the best thinkers and communicators possible,” said Dr. William Hug, Professor of English and Director of Writing.

Students who major in English can propel their career into a variety of directions. The department offers an internship for majors to allow them to see what kinds of professional opportunities are available.

“One graduate recently spent two years in Thailand teaching middle-school girls English. Still another graduate focused on public relations and now works for a local Chamber of Commerce,” said Dr. Teresa Reed, Professor of English.

Although students are often reading works that are centuries old, Dr. Andrea Porter insists that the subject matter still significantly interests them.

“Even though the world around us changes, what it means to be human does not. In a time when we’d rather text than talk, scroll an Instagram feed than take a stroll with a friend, our subject matter is more relevant than ever,” said Dr. Porter, Associate Professor of English.

The English Department provides students with the opportunity for financial aid through two different scholarships. The Calvert Scholarship provides the accepted junior or senior student with full-tuition. Freshmen students may apply for Writing Scholarships that provide full tuition for one year.

The English Department is also involved in a variety of community service projects. The “Imagining the Holocaust” Writing Competition is held each year to help teach Holocaust history to middle school and high school students in the state of Alabama.

The annual JSU Writers Bowl allows high school sophomores, juniors and seniors to create teams and compete in the areas of poetry and prose.

Students familiar with the Southern experience may enter their original work into the Southern Playwrights Competition. The first-prize winner receives $1,000, as well as a production by the Jacksonville State University Department of Drama.

Students struggling in their writing classes may stop by the English Department Writing Clinic located in Room 230 in Stone Center. Students do not need to make an appointment, and the tutoring is free.

Students who love reading literature and writing will enjoy the assortment of classes the department provides. The department is full of instructors who are passionate about their subject matter and their students.

Adam Higgins
Staff Writer

Knowing the ins and outs of the ECE

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”—Benjamin Franklin must have been referencing the English Competency Exam administered by JSU’s English Department.
This basic writing skills test must be passed in order for students to be eligible for graduation.
The English Competency Exam, ECE, is an essay that consists of 400-500 words.
Students choose between two essay prompts and have a maximum of one and a half hours to complete the exam. The exam is given three times a year offered in October, February, and June.
“Students who do not register to take the ECE as soon as they are eligible are my greatest concern,” said Susan Sellers, English Professor and ECE instructor.
For students to qualify for the exam they must have completed at least 60 hours and passed EH 101 and EH 102. Postponing the exam could affect a student’s progression at JSU, especially if taken in the last semester before the students expected graduation date. “That’s when things turn ugly.”
The fourteen-year ECE veteran gave great advice to those who have not yet taken the exam. “This test is not meant to terrify students,” said Sellers.
Workshops are available for students the week before an exam is held so that they may prepare for the upcoming test.
When the student arrives to take the test, a blue or black pen is required along with a Blue Book for the essay. Print dictionaries and electronic spellers are recommended, but not mandatory. The student must also bring a picture ID to the exam for identification purposes.
Because this is a mandatory exam, students are given ample opportunity to retake the test before graduation if not passed the first time.
A six-week period known as “remediation” is available to help strengthen writing skills for the next test attempt.
Those who fail are to contact Learning Services in the basement of Houston Cole Library.
A minimum of six essays must be completed and approved by the specified instructor to regain eligibility to retake the ECE.
The English Competency Exam is not mandatory in other universities across the state. This has students questioning, how necessary is this exam post-graduation.
Dr. Felgar, Head of Jacksonville State’s English Department said, “This exam is in the best interest for each student attending Jacksonville State University.”
In today’s job market, technology can give students a competitive edge, allowing them to share work with a variety of different audiences.
Technology is also responsible for the written art to soon become obsolete. Sharp, concise writing skills and English comprehension are necessities for those seeking out an edge when looking for employment.
Tests such as the ECE are put into practice to ensure college graduates can communicate effectively.
“Attitude is everything,” said Sellers, “I tell this to all my students: If you go into the exam or remediation, prepared, with a positive mindset, both situations can pan out in the student’s best interest.”
For more information about the English Competency Exam and registration inquiries, students are asked to visit the website athttp://www.jsu.edu/english/ece.html

Marie Simpson
Staff Writer

JSU’s Writers Bowl bigger, better, and scarier than ever

On Wednesday, October 29, JSU’s English Department hosted its 19th annual Writer’s Bowl Competition. Headed by Steven Whitton, Randall Davis, Katelyn Williams and Christy Burns, this year’s Writer’s Bowl was record-breaking in number. 81 teams from area schools competed, totaling almost 500 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Competition was split into two portions: prose and poetry. Each year, the English department develops clever, Halloween themed prompts for students to write about. This year’s prose prompt required students to combine a classic monster with a reality T.V show. Students were given an hour and a half to write as the producer of the show explaining why the monster was eliminated.

Why was the Invisible Man kicked off of America’s Next Top Model? Did Blake and Adam fight to have the Wolfman on their team on The Voice, or was his unbearable howling the only thing the two could agree on? The possibilities were limitless.

In the afternoon session, teams were tasked with writing a sixteen-line poem following the rhyme scheme ABAB where every other line rhymes. Teams also had to include at least five words from a list provided, and their choices included some positively spooky options, from “spiders” and “asylum” to “spectral” and “lurk”.

Each entry from both prose and poetry was then read and scored by two judges on a scale of zero to five, and the scores were averaged together for the team’s total and used to determine the winners.

In the end, Team Veni Vidi Vici from Sacred Heart Catholic School took the top prize for overall highest cumulative score as well as first place in the poetry competition. Handley High School’s team Scheming Demons took first in the prose competition. One question remains, though: did the judges give extra points if they were scared?

The Writer’s Bowl is hosted around this time every year by the English department, and it is now something that many high schools participate as a tradition.

“It’s gotten bigger every year,” said Dr. Whitton. With nearly two decades of competition behind it, the English department only sees continuing growth ahead.

“We see it very much as our contribution to recruitment,” Whitton said on behalf of Davis, Williams, and Burns, “as our way of getting kids on campus and letting them experience it.”

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ABOVE: 1st Place Poetry & 1st Place Overall: Team Veni Vidi Vici from Sacred Heart Catholic School

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ABOVE: 1st Place Prose: Team Scheming Demons from Handley High School

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ABOVE: Winner of the Individual Essay Contest: Avery Fairbanks; pictured here with his sponsor

Katie Cline
Staff Writer