DCU journalism course to allot more time to basic writing skills


DECLINING LITERACY standards among school-leavers have prompted a Dublin university to allocate more time to the teaching of basic writing skills to first-year journalism students.

Dublin City University’s BA in journalism programme is to place greater emphasis on writing skills to help students overcome what the college has described as “gaps in their grasp of basic English, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and word usage”.

The college said lecturers had noticed growing numbers of students were having difficulties.

From next autumn, the time spent on the course module covering English language usage will increase by 50 per cent.

Patrick Kinsella, head of the university’s school of communications, said lecturers were spending an inordinate amount of time correcting errors and improving the basic writing skills of students.

“CAO applicants for DCU journalism must have a B in honours English in the Leaving Certificate. Points for journalism rose last year to 445, so we’re still getting very bright, creative and able students,” Mr Kinsella said.

“But despite their great exam results, many students still have significant weaknesses when it comes to the basics. Punctuation and spelling are problematic for some, while others have gaps in their application of grammar or use words wrongly.”

Mr Kinsella added: “When we talk about declining literary standards . . . what I mean is that in the context of everybody having a B in honours English, which is a high standard, there is a surprisingly high proportion who can’t spell or who don’t properly understand words [or] definitions or who have grammar a little bit wrong.”