How Antonio Graduated on Out of Here – Improving the Success of Adult Students with an Individualized Writing Course

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2011


Adult students are more anxious about writing for school, less familiar with academic conventions, and more likely to drop out than younger students. For students learning to move between personal, work, and academic discourse communities, the ongoing and explicit writing instruction argued for in the research of Sternglass, Herrington and Curtis, Carroll, and Beaufort is particularly vital. Writing Workshop at DePaul University’s School for New Learning is one model for providing this instruction. The course works for students with a broad range of learning styles, prior knowledge, needs, and goals because it is individualized and because it is focused on developing writers rather than on teaching specific kinds of writing. It is open to any student struggling with writing, from incoming basic writers to seniors stuck on final projects. Writing Workshop has improved access for and the retention and success of our adult students. This article shows the need for a class like Writing Workshop, explains how it works, discusses challenges, and describes the experience of the at-risk, nontraditional, adult students in one Writing Workshop class.