The Kresge Foundation Awards Excelsior College $639,000
Albany, N.Y. (June 28, 2012)
Funding will enhance Excelsior's Online Writing Lab’s capability to address writing deficiencies of adult learners
Excelsior College has been awarded a $639,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation to fully integrate multimedia into the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab (OWL) for greater student engagement and increased academic success. Excelsior's OWL is a free, publicly available online writing service designed for adult learners.
Excelsior's multimedia OWL is an innovative response to a national emergency. According to a 2006 national study conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, 44 percent of college faculty surveyed said high school students entering college are not prepared for college-level writing. An internal survey conducted by Excelsior College in June 2012 on college preparedness indicated 42 percent of newly enrolled adult learners felt concerned about their writing ability.
"The number of adult learners who do not possess college-level writing skills has reached a near crisis level, acting as a hurdle for many seeking out a college degree," said Dr. David Seelow, director of writing programs in Excelsior's School of Liberal Arts. "This grant will allow us to build a more robust, interactive writing lab capable of reaching and benefitting any type of learner through early intervention, tutoring and computer assisted learning."
"The Kresge Foundation's Education program seeks to promote access and success in higher education by supporting innovative non-profit educational programs such as the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab," said William F. Moses, Education Program Director for Kresge. "Academic under-preparation is probably the single biggest reason why students, especially low-income students, are not able to complete degrees. Our shared mission to serve the traditionally underserved creates a natural partnership between Kresge and Excelsior and we look forward to continuing to work with the College on this initiative."
Excelsior's multimedia OWL builds on the College's FIPSE-funded English as a Second Language Writing Online Workshop (ESL-WOW), scheduled to be publically available in 2013. ESL-WOW, designed for community college students and adult learners, consists of a series of interlocking interactive modules that encourage students to progress through each stage of the pre-writing, while-writing, and post-writing processes.
Excelsior's OWL follows a similar format consisting of four interlocking components: Grammar Essentials, Writer's Studio, Essay Zone, and Research Corridor. The Kresge funding will enhance the OWL's capabilities, increasing assistance with written mechanics and facilitating the tool's integration into college courses throughout the nation. It will also enable Excelsior to introduce gaming technology into one module.
The OWL's design is based on adult learning theory which suggests that adults learn best when exposed to a wide range of learning methods, from active simulations and group projects to direct, real-world experience or independent, self-paced study.
Excelsior has partnered with five community colleges in the development of project, including Valencia College, San Diego Mesa College, Howard Community College, Broome Community College, and Union County Community College.
"Developing stronger writing skills will help boost persistence rates and better prepare adult learners for both academic and career success and help us reach the President's goal of a better, more educated workforce by 2020," concluded Dr. Seelow.