Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence

January 20, 2016 | Updated: January 9, 2020
Author: Amy Guptill, The College at Brockport, SUNY

Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence is designed for students who have largely mastered the conventions of high-school level writing and are now rising to meet more the advanced expectations of college. Students will find in Writing in College a warm invitation to think of themselves as full, self-motivated members of the academic community. With concise explanations, clear multi-disciplinary examples and empathy for the challenges of student life, this short textbook both explains the purposes behind college-level writing and offers indispensable advice for organization and expression.

Subject Areas
Communication/Writing, Academic Writing

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Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence by Amy Guptill, The College at Brockport, SUNY is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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Reviews (2) Avg: 4.45 / 5

Sheryl Newton

Institution:University of the Fraser ValleyTitle/Position: Associate ProfessorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text covers most areas of the subject appropriately. Even though paraphrasing is discussed, the text lacks a chapter on summarizing and paraphrasing. There is an effective index but no glossary; a glossary is not needed for this text.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Content is accurate.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

The craft of writing has not changed much over the years. The author's information is mostly up-to-date. Any text that needs further updating would be easily implemented.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is clear and accessible. There is no jargon. Some technical terminology needs to be further explored, such as summarization.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

There is nothing further to say.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The text is easily and readily divisible throughout. There are plenty of subheadings in larger chapters.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

This is a very clear text and the ordering of the topics is logical. Upon first glance at the ordering, I wondered why introductions and conclusions were separate from the thesis chapter, but as I read through, the ordering of the topics made sense for a first year writing course, as the ordering emphasizes the importance of having strong content.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

There are no interface issues. There are many links throughout which I found a little distracting. I think I would have preferred to see hyperlinks left in the notes section of each page rather than having hyperlinks throughout the main text.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

There are no grammatical errors; however, there is a typo. In the chapter,"What's Critical about Critical Thinking," the first sentence says "that if often...," and it should say, "that [it] often..."

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

I think there could be a few more examples for inclusivity, maybe when the author looks at texts as examples. There could be examples from indigenous writers or even lgbtq writers.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

Overall, Writing for College is a succulently written text. Reading about the art of writing can be quite dull, but Amy Guptill has just enough humour in the text to keep it interesting. I was pleased to see all of the writing examples and the discussions about the writing. I also enjoyed seeing the different exercises at the end of each section. I wish I had this text before I started university level courses!

While this text is meant for first-year courses, I would use it for university writing prep courses as well. I teach a pre-university composition course, and I usually have a difficult time finding a suitable textbook for it, but this particular text would work perfectly.

Kimberley Nowitsky

Institution:Langara CollegeTitle/Position: EAP InstructorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

Although this is not a long textbook, the topics covered is quite comprehensive. The most important macro and micro aspects of becoming a better writer are included. The chapters are logically sequenced in the order in which one may approach a written assignment. The content covers a broad range. While highlighting the mechanics of what makes good writing and the importance of using reliable sources, the book also includes the importance of learner autonomy and responsibility in a post-secondary classroom.
The author also includes useful exercises and other resources at the end of each chapter, enabling readers to do further practice or research.



Comprehensiveness Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

The content is fair and accurate. It includes a variety of examples and quotes from a variety of sources and attempts to give global advice which could be applied to any writing assignment. There are some random quotes from individuals. It may be useful to include their titles to provide more context and prove their background in academics or writing.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Academic writing and grammar do not seem to evolve significantly so the content of this textbook will be relevant in years to come and may be a useful reference tool for students throughout their academic career. It focuses on the basic principles of what has traditionally made good writing and organization. What is lacking however is how some sources have evolved. In particular, the use of online content as an academic source is not mentioned. With more and more experts sharing their knowledge on platforms such such as TedTalks or YouTube, it would be helpful to acknowledge how these sources are cited in-text and in reference lists. This update could be easily added to the end of Chapter 5.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

This textbook is reader friendly and direct. The use of expression and language would be easily accessible for any level of student, but mostly for first or second year students. The sentences aren't overly long or loaded with academic jargon or examples. The writer's sense of humour comes through which makes this text a pleasant read.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The text is consistent throughout. Each chapter builds on the previous ones, recycling ideas, terminology and advice given by the author. The text appropriately highlights background information on each topic for the reader and applies this information to support the main idea of each chapter. Common writing problems or challenges are included, followed by appropriate solutions or advice and follow up resources and exercises. Also the tone of the text remains consistent.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The chapters of this text could be used chronologically or as stand alone units. While the chapters compliment and build on each other, the individual chapters could be studied independently. Additionally, shorter sections in each chapter could be easily assigned as there are clear sub-headings throughout each chapter. Overall, dividing up the content of this textbook should not cause confusion for the reader as each chapter addresses a separate theme related to writing skills.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The organization of this text is user-friendly. Headings and subheadings are clear along with sections, points and lists. Using a variety of font types and sizes help to visually divide the text into digestible parts. The chapters are ordered logically, as previously mentioned, for the most part following the steps students should take when given an assignment. The information on the pages is well-spaced and in some parts complimented with visuals.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

I did not find any interface issues.

Interface Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

This textbook has been edited well for grammatical and spelling errors.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

This text is not highly diverse which may be due to the nature of this subject. However, this text could be more diverse with some simple revisions. All of the names, including contributors, in this textbook are of European origin. This includes many of the sample pieces of writing and the topics in the samples, for example: King in England and Magna Carta. There is little to no mention of minority cultures or names throughout this textbook. Every example references a Caucasian name or person or a historical event from the developed world.
While there is mention of gendered language, it seems limited to pronoun usage. There may be other grammatical choices that readers should be aware of.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I would recommend this textbook as the content is easily digestible and user-friendly from a teaching perspective.