Investigating the Reasons University Students in the South Central United States Have to Retake First-year English Composition
Mellen Studies in Education S.
The university Burford studies is in the southern tip of Texas, and is called a Mexican university because it is in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Most of the students are Hispanic, and most of the faculty is of Anglo-Saxon/European heritage. The school has a history of a high rate of students repeating first-year composition, either because they did
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"For those unfamiliar with the geographical area surrounding the university, Burford provides a very readable and interesting brief historical/geographical description of a unique area comprised of the three southernmost counties of the Lower Rio Grande River Valley of South Texas, Cameron, Willacy, and Hidalgo counties. This is a formerly largely agricultural area with rapidly increasing urban development during the last 10 to 15 years, resulting in greater interest in education. Much of that interest comes from a large number of first generation college students. Burford discovered that within a 90-95 per cent Hispanic student population in first-year composition classes, 65 per cent fail to complete the course or receive the requisite passing grade of C. Instructors are 49.75 per cent Caucasian, 39.6 per cent Hispanic, and 10.75 per cent "other" according to University Fact Book (2000) statistics, fueling Burford's desire to explore whether a cultural mismatch could be responsible for the high attrition rate. Beyond a thorough review of the literature on race, culture, and learning styles, Burford developed student and faculty surveys to learn whether there was dissonance between students' and teachers' goals and perceptions of the first-year composition courses." - Dr. Reimers "Edith Burford's Investigating the Reasons University Students in South Central United States Have to Retake First Year English Composition is a fine book. It shows dedication not only to scholarly excellence, but also to quality teaching. Edith Burford is clearly a woman who cares about her students, and she has used her research to listen to students the way any good teacher does. We are fortunate to have this opportunity to hear what Mexican American students and their teachers have to tell us about improving composition teaching. Clearly we need many more such studies, and Burford's work, following humbly in the footsteps of Victor Villanueva, helps pave the way. As we move further into the Twenty-first Century, we can use Edith Burford's research as a stepping stone on our path to learning how we must reshape composition if we ever hope to make it a course where Mexican American students, and indeed all students, can find their voices." - (From the Commendatory Preface) Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D., Indiana University of Pennsylvania "[This study] provides a comprehensive examination of the possible socio-cultural differences involved in the high freshman composition repeater rate of students at a South Central US college in which the majority of the student population is Hispanic and the majority of the faculty is Anglo-American..... this study is important in that it stimulates discussion of how teaching and learning styles can vary according to the ethnic, racial, cultural, and linguistic differences of teachers and students, and their role in whether or not students achieve academic success. Burford underscores the importance of teachers being sensitive to these differences. Thus, this study contributes to ongoing scholarship in ESL studies in general, and Hispanic education studies in particular, making it a significant contribution to teaching and understanding diverse cultures." - Dr. Margaret G. Lee, Hampton University"