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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Directed Self Placement (DSP)?

Directed Self Placement (DSP) is a widely-used placement practice that guides college students like yourself to choose a writing course sequence that aligns with your skills and needs. Sit down with the DSP when you have time to learn about the GEW offerings and to answer a few self-reflective questions about who you are as a writer and reader.  

Your responses to the survey questions will lead to a recommendation of one of four possible GEW Pathways.

What is taught in different GEW courses?

There are three General Education Writing (GEW) courses at CSUSM: 

  • GEW 101B: Writing as a Rhetorical Act. This 3-credit course fulfills your GE requirement in written communication (A2). It focuses on writing as a rhetorical act and on academic, research-based writing. In this course, you’ll locate academic articles through the university library and integrate those sources into your own writing project. You’ll also interrogate the power dynamics and social constructions that inform academic knowledge production. By the end of the semester, you will have produced a 10-12 page research project that contributes to an academic conversation. 
  • GEW 101A: Writing as Critical Inquiry. This 3-credit course teaches critical reading and thinking as foundational skills for academic writing. You’ll engage in textual analysis and work with sources to construct sound arguments. The final project in this course is a 6-8 page project that demonstrates your skills in critical reading, analysis, and information literacy. Because this course focuses on critical reading and thinking as foundational skills for academic writing, it fulfills your GE requirement in critical thinking (A3).  
  • GEW 100: Writing Lab. This 1-credit lab is designed for students who want extra feedback on their writing and want extra time to work on their writing in a community of writers. The class meets for one hour once a week; in those meetings, you’ll workshop in-progress drafts with classmates and get feedback on your writing from the instructor. You’ll also engage in some reflection on your writing process and have an opportunity to ask questions. You can take GEW 100 alongside GEW 101A and/or GEW 101B. 

To learn more about GEW, including our program mission statement and course content, check out our website

What are the different GEW course sequences?
  First Semester Second Semester

Pathway #4

This pathway provides the most support. Students learn the foundational skills of critical reading and thinking in GEW 101A before progressing to GEW 101B. They also have the benefit of additional writing time and feedback in the Writing Lab each semester.

GEW 101A - Writing as Critical Inquiry 

GEW 100 - Writing Lab 

GEW 101B - Writing as a Rhetorical Act 

GEW 100 - Writing Lab 

Pathway #3

Students learn the foundational skills of critical reading and thinking in GEW 101A before progressing to GEW 101B. They benefit from the Writing Lab in their first semester, and are ready for more independent writing and revision in their second semester.

GEW 101A - Writing as Critical Inquiry 

GEW 100 - Writing Lab

GEW 101B - Writing as a Rhetorical Act

Pathway #2

This pathway is for students who feel confident in their critical reading and thinking skills. They know how to analyze and integrate a variety of cources into their writing, and they're ready to practice library research and academic writing. This option also provides some extra support in the form of additional feedback and writing time in the Writing Lab.

GEW 101B - Writing as a Rhetorical Act 

GEW 100 - Writing Lab 

 

Pathway #1

This pathway is for students who feel confident in their critical reading and thinking skills and are ready to practice library research and academic writing without the extra support of the writing lab. Students who choose this option are also accustomed to lengthy, multi-draft writing projects and are able to complete such work independently.

GEW 101B - Writing as a Rhetorical Act 

 
Will taking GEW 101A before GEW 101B delay my time to degree completion?

No. Regardless of which writing course sequence you choose, you’ll be fulfilling your general education requirements and staying on track to graduate. GEW 101B fulfills your General Education requirement in writing communication (A2) and GEW 101A fulfills your General Education requirement in critical thinking (A3). If you don’t take GEW 101A, then you’ll fulfill the critical thinking requirement via a different course (in philosophy, literature, psychology, math, or linguistics). If you do take GEW 101A, it simply means that your general education coursework includes additional support for academic reading and writing. 

What happens if I do not complete the Directed Self Placement Survey?

You will be placed into a GEW pathway according to the CSU system of multiple measures. This system looks at high school GPA, high school and college coursework, and standardized test scores. It does not account for your own assessment of your experiences with reading and writing. Taking DSP is highly recommended because it gives you a say in what sequence you take; as such, it is a more precise placement strategy that tends to increase students’ engagement in their coursework.

Where do I find the DSP Survey?

Click here to begin the Directed Self Placement Survey. 

Please note that the survey closes on June 1, 2022. If you have missed the deadline, you will be placed into a course sequence according to multiple measures. Please consult your Degree Planner for more information. 

Note: Directed Self Placement is a new initiative at CSUSM, effective Summer 2022. Please consult with your academic advisor for more information