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Columbia College Part Of PBS Line-up

Columbia College students may soon see a familiar face on public television.

Maria Madruga, director of Columbia College´s Academic Achievement Center,

will be featured in a new PBS video telecourse series, titled “English Composition: Writing for an Audience.”

Madruga also wrote a chapter in the textbook that accompanies the 26-part college-level lecture series. Designed over a five year period, the program was recently released in its entirety and is considered to be one of the most sophisticated and comprehensive distance learning projects currently being offered, according to Dr. John Lovas of De Anza College.

“PBS will be airing the program nationally for ten years,” said Madruga. “It´s meant to be educational — and entertaining — for audiences.” For example, people from “Saturday Night Live” enact a comedy routine in one episode to demonstrate the rigors of working on and revising a skit.

In fact, the whole video series is aimed at expanding students´ view of writing by transforming it from a classroom exercise into a usable, every day skill. Thus in another episode, a police officer teaches some writing techniques in a “real-world” situation, according to Madruga.

Among the list of telecourse instructors are noted English composition teachers and professional writers like Dave Barry, Frank McCourt and Sue Grafton, as well as football coach Bill Walsh and polar political opposites Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken.

The video series was developed by a steering committee, consisting of an advisory board of some of the most prominent composition professors in the nation: Dr. Joe Harris (Duke University), Dr. John Lovas (De Anza College), Dr. Min-Zhan Lu (Drake University) and Dr. Cynthia Selfe (Michigan Technical University).

In describing Madruga´s selection for the video series, the telecourse producer and curriculum designer Peter Berkow said, “I have the highest regard for Maria Madruga´s knowledge and abilities. Her grasp of composition theory and practice is so thorough, I often consulted with her to collaborate on design and content for this project. And since her personal connection with her students in the classroom is so strong, I incorporated several live student/teacher interaction scenes of her working with students.”

Before coming to Columbia College in 2001, Madruga was the director of Shasta College´s Writing Center in Redding and an English instructor there when she was selected and filmed in the video teaching series.

Madruga sees writing as the key to many kinds of learning. “Writing is the best teacher for developing critical-thinking skills,” she said. “It helps you learn how to organize your thoughts and then communicate them in a logical order to others.”

Madruga´s chapter in the video telecourse textbook, “A Community of Writers: A Workshop Course in Writing,” focuses on revision as an essential step in the writing process. She said that her approach to teaching this was developed when she saw the difference between how she wrote and how she required her students to write.

“I would write an article for publication, often revising it five or six times before publishing. My students, on the other hand, would spend a set amount of time on each part of the writing process, and would write assignment after assignment with little effort in revisions,” she said.

So Madruga changed her teaching methods to match what was really happening

in her classroom. Instead of assigning six papers, Madruga had her students

write three papers, but revising each one six times. “My students would even joke about renaming the class Revision 101!´” she said.

At Columbia, Madruga is currently working on a project that she named “Thinking Across the Curriculum,” which will be her multi-media presentation at a statewide conference on Mar. 8 at CSU Monterey Bay and repeated at Columbia College on Apr. 15. This is in addition to her duties in overseeing the growth of Columbia´s Academic Achievement Center. “We tutor 24 different disciplines and 127 different courses at the center,” she said. “The students use it regularly, and we´re busy helping them.”

The PBS video telecourse series is available to schools as a complete package or individual videocassettes. Interested parties should call the Annenberg/CPB Project at 1-800-LEARNER.

For information about offering or taking the telecourse, visit PBS´s Adult Learning Service at {url:www.pbs.org/als/guide/courselistings/index.html} www.pbs.org/als/guide/courselistings/index.html{/url} and click on the “English Composition” link.