mandatory writing class

Although We May Think a Mandatory Writing Course Is Unfair

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Nothing humbles a seminary student like participating in a writing lab. A personal experience with a writing lab left me feeling as if I could not write anything adequately. The red ink on a graded five-thousand-word essay probably added a few ounces to its weight, but the instructor (grammar arbitrator) made an important point: even if we are completely capable, innocent errors in grammar and spelling in our written communication can make some readers question our competence.

The three major areas considered in grading a written assignment are content, format, and orthography. – Santiago Chavez Click To Tweet

The discussion about how to grade orthography (grammar and spelling) is a familiar and recurring topic to the Academic Team and instructors at Artios Christian College. The three major areas considered in grading a written assignment are content, format, and orthography. Although points are deducted, written assignments submitted by our students are not failed due to grammar, spelling, or format alone. Poor orthography must render an assignment incomprehensible for such an assignment to earn a failing grade.

The only sure way to fail an assignment and probably a whole Artios course would be plagiarism. According to a University of Oxford webpage, “plagiarism is presenting work or ideas from another source as your own, with or without consent of the original author, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement.”[ref]Plagiarism. University of Oxford. Accessed April 9, 2023.,your%20work%20without%20full%20acknowledgement.[/ref]

Whose English (or Spanish) Is Better?

I had the privilege of traveling in Sierra Leone in 2007. The leadership of our international team originated mostly from England, but we were from all over the globe. Some of the other team members were Irish, Scots, Canadian, Jamaican, and American.

When conversations were not related to work, other team members would usually asked me about why “colonials” have destroyed the English language with considerable conviction. I was severely outnumbered so I would just smile. “Colonials” is the endearing term our friends from “the other side of pond” still have for Americans.

In the same tour, I also interacted with people from Sierra Leone itself and they would shyly ask, “We know that you and the British both speak English, but why do we understand you better?” Not surprisingly, I have witnessed similar conversations in Spanish among folks from Argentina to Mexico and even Spain. I suspect such conversations probably occur in every language on earth.

A Beautiful International and Multicultural Conference

I believe the example of that experience in Sierra Leone to be very relevant to this article because our General Conference is a beautiful international and multicultural conference. Our organization serves three distinct cultural groups, Caucasian, Caribbean, and Hispanic, but each of them is made-up of many backgrounds.

Concurrently, our programs serve students from various English and Spanish speaking backgrounds. The answer to the question of which version of English or Spanish is preferable is subjective at best. Whether spoken or written, there may easily be many correct ways of saying the same things.

Coming to a Consensus

In order to communicate effectively, a consensus on which set of signals will be employed between a transmitter and the targeted receiver must be achieved. Effective leaders write countless emails, publish periodic newsletters, and may publish academic material. We could add personal notes and cards to this list. Each of these are opportunities to foster wellness and productivity or cause confusion and additional work.

In Artios Christian College programs, the cultural origin of the English or Spanish for written assignments has not been openly established. Almost everyone, students, instructors, and staff come from various backgrounds. Coming to a consensus about how to present written work is warranted and has been addressed as follows.

Writing Style Guides

There are various writing/citation styles accepted by academia in the United States[ref] “Guides: Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, IEEE: IEEE Style.” IEEE Style – Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, IEEE – Guides at University of Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh. Accessed April 7, 2023.[/ref}:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) is used by Education, Psychology, and Sciences
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) is used by the Humanities
  • IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Publication covers books, conference technical articles, online sources, periodicals, theses, and more
  • Chicago/Turabian is generally used by Business, History, and the Fine Arts

Each of these writing/citation styles has it purpose and benefits. Chicago/Turabian is the style preferred by Artios Christian College and the Bible Advocate Press. It is possible this could be the first time our readers see the title, but you are already familiar with Chicago/Turabian if you read the Bible Advocate. I feel that it may be the most intuitive to learn and read.

The Great Benefits of Taking a Writing Course

Chicago/Turabian is the style taught in Artios’ written communication course. Writing well may not come naturally. I am aware that I may not be the best person to write this article, but like most folks, I value written communication, especially if it is well-written.

I still have embarrassing memories of the grades in the writing courses I have taken in the past, but I sincerely believe taking a writing course benefits leaders and the people they serve. I encourage our leaders to invest in a writing course with Artios or at their local community college.

I sincerely believe taking a writing course benefits leaders and the people they serve. – Santiago Chavez Click To Tweet

Artios Christian College offers Written Communication for Leadership (COM 121) every term. The opportunity for development is an inexpensive two-credit course that introduces the student to the writing process and different types of writing.[ref]“Academic Catalog-Course Descriptions.” MyArtios. Artios Christian College. Accessed April 7, 2023.[/ref] The course is designed to assist 21st century leaders in communicating effectively and the useful writing guide prepared for this course is available in English and Spanish.

Artios Christian College is here to help you learn more about effective writing!

    • Register for COM 121 Written Communication for Leadership here.
    • Check out the course schedule here.
    • Visit the Artios Christian College website here.
    • Visit the Artios Center for Vibrant Leadership here.
Santiago Chavez

Santiago has been married to his best friend, Lourdes, for 32 years. They live in Maryland and have three adult children. They worship and serve with our Lanham congregation. Santiago currently serves as Artios Christian College Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs in Spanish.