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Student Success & Academic Rigor Go Hand-in-Hand in Redesigned English Composition Course

“Writing is one of the most essential skills a college student needs to be successful in their educational journey,” said Dr. Melanie Glennon, English Faculty and instructional designer at StraighterLine. 

StraighterLine recently redesigned its English Composition I online college course to help students master their writing skills, gain research experience, and understand the writing process. 

“Our new course meets the standards for best practices as put forth by the leading body of experts within the field of writing. We revamped the course to provide students with the best, most up-to-date curriculum,” said Glennon.



StraighterLine’s writing programs were rapidly growing since 2020, which gave impetus to bringing on a full-time faculty member who could lend expertise to the fundamentals of composition and teaching of writing with the right pedagogical approach. A lecturer in writing at York College of Pennsylvania, Glennon was identified to oversee for StraighterLine all courses with qualitative assessments and writing assignments. She also manages all qualitative graders and handles any student concerns related to writing.

“I work closely with a team of dedicated professors that are out and about in educational communities and higher ed who function as graders and subject matter experts for us,” said Glennon. “We took what we know as educators and bridged it with the most up-to-date standards for teaching composition and internally wrote the textbook for the course. The new textbook includes all the elements of composition that would help a student succeed in the course and beyond.”

The course was designed to align with the recommendations from the Conference on College Composition and Communication writing instruction protocol and the National Council of Teachers of English. Reviewed by the American Council on Education (ACE), the course is recommended for three college credit hours. Before launch, StraighterLine also initiated a student focus group to go through the course and offer feedback on the new design.


StraighterLine’s English Composition I course is designed to fulfill the mandatory requirements of English 101 that students earning associate’s or bachelor’s degrees are required to take. In the course students are introduced to both the art and process of writing. Assignments include drafting a personal narrative in which they tell a story that exemplifies gratitude, writing a persuasive letter invoking change, and composing an argumentative essay where they stake a claim and use logical evidence for support. Each assignment also requires a level of research, an essential skill for all college students and professionals.

“We redesigned StraighterLine’s English Comp to provide students with the best, most up-to-date curriculum and user experience,” said Glennon. “Students can expect assignments that are thought-provoking, and engaging.”

“For today’s learners, it’s clear that rigor is reflected in a combination of course challenge, learning support, and design,” writes Dr. Amy Smith, Chief Learning Officer at StraighterLine in her new issue brief, Rigor and College Credit. “The variables within each area can be turned up or down, but each must be present and they need to move in relation to one another."

The requirements to complete English Composition I at StraighterLine are similar to those of courses offered at colleges and universities across the United States, however students can go at their own pace with this online offering. StraighterLine also provides a Writing Center that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, where students can get draft feedback and access tutorial videos and assignment guides. 

“This course is a great entry point into college-level writing,” said Glennon. “The best part is that it’s convenient and flexible for students juggling a busy schedule or wanting to move through coursework quickly.”