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Rationale for DSP

Why DSP?

Most colleges and universities use some form of assessment to determine which incoming students are ready for college-level writing and which students would benefit from additional time and instruction as they make this transition. DSP is an alternative to the writing placement methods used at the many institutions that rely on standardized test scores or timed impromptu essays. There are several reasons why Sweetland believes that DSP is preferable to these more traditional kinds of assessment:

  • The University of Michigan’s DSP process asks students to engage in an academic reading and writing task that more closely approximates the expectations of college-level writing at this institution.
  • DSP invites students to reflect on the differences between high school and college-level writing and to assess their own preparation to be successful college writers.
  • DSP invites students to take responsibility for making decisions about their own education—the process treats students like adults and communicates the changing nature of their student role as they enter college.
  • DSP motivates those students who choose to enter directly into FYWR courses to demonstrate that they have made the right self-placement decision.
  • DSP leads to improved attitudes in the Writing 100 sections because all students have enrolled in the course voluntarily.
  • By making students’ DSP essays available to their instructors, the University of Michigan’s DSP process connects assessment to instruction, which is a hallmark of effective writing assessment.

Research on DSP

The concept of DSP was first introduced by Daniel J. Royer and Roger Gilles at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University in the early 1990s. Since then, theory and research around DSP has emerged from a range of institution types serving widely varying student populations across the country.