Community-Based Writing was a concept introduced in my graduate teaching course at Clemson University, taught by Dr. Michael Neal. Community-Based Writing encourages and promotes creative inquiry in all sorts of classes; students look for issues within their immediate communities (ranging from their school campus to the larger metro area where they live) and identify a problem. Students then research and propose a solution to their chosen community issues and present their projects to their peers. Depending on the availability of technology at the various places I have taught, students have presented these projects as business plans (for ENG 203, Business Writing) or in the format of standard school presentations, with posters, flyers, etc. You may view a sample of the basic version of a Community-Based Business Writing Assignment here.
This project generally requires students to work in groups (which they chose, often no more than a four or five students per group) and students must assign individual tasks to each group member (this works well in upper level and lower level courses in terms of group responsibility). Furthermore, students also must evaluate each other’s performance in terms of their effort and attendance, which effects the eventual individual student’s final grade. I continued to incorporate these projects into all my courses at Jefferson Community & Technical College, but Clemson University’s requirement that all students have laptop computers enabled me to require students to film and edit their own commercials. By 2013 at USC-Beaufort, technology had advanced to the point where students could almost film and edit commercials on their cell phones. These commercials worked off of a previous unit on visual rhetoric and advertising that is a common component in freshman composition courses. In schools where technology is not as readily available, students present their ideas in class in various multimedia forms. You are welcome to view the efforts of my USC-Beaufort & Clemson students (below) in order to gain an example of the scope of the Community-Based Writing Assignment.
“Solar Panels Save Money” : Students illustrate how solar panels could lower energy costs at USCB.
“iPads in Education” : Solving the world’s problems (paper waste, textbook costs, organization), one iPad at a time.
“Recycling on Campus” : Students question why USCB only recycles paper.
“Cigarette Problems at USCB” : Stop smoking – or at least stop littering – at USCB, or else!
“The Perils of Wasting Energy” : You can abuse power on USCB’s campus, and it’ll cost you.
“Parking at USCB“: Students detail the agony of finding a parking spot – cleverly censored for you!
“Composting at USCB” : Students propose a composting/garden idea for the USCB cafeteria’s food waste.
“The Environmental Club” : Students start an environmental group to clean up the campus.
“Solar Panels at USCB” : Harnessing USCB’s natural, frequent sunlight could power the campus 24 hours a day!
“Parking Balloons Save Time!” : Implementation of “parking balloons” (a Korean invention) in USCB parking lots.
“Down in the Dumps about Campus Recycling” : Students highlight the lack of recycling receptacles on campus.
“USCB Needs a Campus Shuttle” : A shuttle between USCB’s North & South campuses is proposed.
“Recycling Problem” : Where are USCB’s recycling bins, and why does the campus only recycle paper?
“Bad Cafeteria Food isn’t Hot” : A covert video of the USCB cafeteria reveals little healthy options (to a beat).
“Operation Recycle“: Students move to make recycling a priority on campus.
“Blue Laws“: South Carolina’s stringent “blue laws” come under scrutiny from these students, who, by pointing out their obvious flaws, move for them to be abolished.
“Aramarkopoly“: One food services provider, according to these students, did not offer enough options and also executed a monopoly on campus food resources.
“Fike Puts the Weight On“: The campus gym was too small, thus unable to serve its purpose.
“Dorm Cleanliness“: The dorms on campus go under student evaluation.
“Parking 2007“: Parking on campus involved unfair ticketing, according to students.