A Clarkson Mosaic - page 407

Raeder, a goaltender at the University of New Hampshire from 1972-75, earning All-American
honors, served as assistant hockey coach at UNH from 1980-82, and also played several
seasons of professional hockey.
Communications Workshop.
The technical communications department hosted a workshop
for over 40 local business people from the area. It centered on practical day-to-day writing
needs of business, government, and industry: memos, reports, letters, and interviews.
After-hours Exams.
At the recommendation of the Curriculum and Academic Policy
Committee of the Faculty Senate, President Plane approved a new Clarkson Regulation which
stipulated that tests or examinations given outside the regular class periods had to be scheduled
only on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, and had to be held within the one-hour periods
between 7-8 p.m. and 8:30-9:30 p.m. Further limits prevented 90-minute "hour exams." Prior to
this policy, tests were given on any weeknight and on Saturday mornings.
Effective with the Class of 1982, a new graduation requirement called for all Clarkson
students to "demonstrate writing proficiency by examination." Known as the Writing
Proficiency Examination (WPE), this test was administered in early spring of the junior year.
Such an idea for a test to judge writing ability came from a nationwide reaction to the
decline in writing skills among students. Additionally, in 1976, a Clarkson alumni survey of the
classes of 1952, 1957, 1962, and 1967 revealed that all four classes put highest emphasis on
communication skills as the most important dimension of career success. This WPE was not
expected to pose any real problem for most of the students, but it would screen out those
students whose writing skills were substandard.
This concern for writing effectiveness first emerged on Clarkson's campus back in 1956
when the Curriculum Committee sent notice to the Faculty Council (forerunner of the
Administrative Council) that many students who demonstrated enough writing ability to pass
the freshman liberal studies courses, failed to write effectively during their remaining years at
Clarkson. As a result, that Committee recommended that some writing be required in all
courses, and that such writing be "graded down" for poor expression. In addition to that
required writing, the committee recommended that a proficiency exam designed to test writing
ability be given to all students in their junior year.
Nothing was done about this problem until the results of the alumni survey in 1976
prompted the formation of an
ad hoc
Communication Skills Committee consisting of five
faculty members from departments across campus. Its threefold charge called on it to
recommend steps that would improve the freshman writing skills; would examine ways in
which term papers, essays, and oral examinations could form part of the requirements of every
course; and would analyze the feasibility of requiring a junior-level Writing Proficiency
Examination. Supported by the Faculty Senate, the WPE examination proposal met stiff
resistance from the faculty, but in time, and through repeated efforts, the examination
requirement was passed, and first administered in February 1979.
Simplistic in design and results, this test revealed that on the average, 14% did not pass
it the first time through. It "caught" a few students whose command of English was
substandard, and caused them to take remedial action before they could graduate. This test was
replaced in 1991 by the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) proposal for Writing Intensive
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