If you ask college journalism professors what weaknesses today’s journalism students have, you’ll probably hear that the students don’t know basic grammar rules. The students may have taken AP English in high school and may have high SAT scores, but many don’t know what a compound sentence is or how to punctuate one.
When I ask my students why they make grammatical errors in their writing, most say that grammar wasn’t stressed in their previous classes. In preparing for standardized tests, they didn’t have to learn grammar rules. Essays and research papers written for English and history courses weren’t evaluated for accuracy of grammar use.
Once the students see that in our class points will be deducted for grammar errors, they are motivated to review or learn grammar rules. So what do we do?
(A) Use grammar vocabulary when we talk with students about their writing. “Is that a restrictive or non-restrictive clause?”
(B) Include a grammar book as one of our course textbooks — Kessler & McDonald’s “When Words Collide.”
(C) Develop a list of Web resources for the students to use for independent practice. http://grove.ufl.edu/~mmc2100/resources.html
(D) Give a grammar test.
(E) All of the above.