St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN
Reviewed: Feb 8, 2010
Reviewer: Sandra Davenport
Recommendation: What a goldmine!! I would strongly recommend this web site without reservation to students of high school through university levels. It is particularly good for ESL students because information is given over a wide level of individual understanding.
St. Cloud State University is the smallest campus in the MN State University system (staff/student ratio of 1:19). It also has a very large program for foreign students. According to the main web site there are now 1,100 foreign students from 80 countries, and US students get the benefit of "working side by side" with them.
The LEO site is a writing self-help site for college students. Because St. Cloud has a high percentage of foreign students the self-help includes a lot of grammar, but it also gives solid university-level writing information. It is affiliated with St. Cloud's Write Place, which is online 1:1 writing help for St. Cloud students only. The LEO site is open to anyone.
On the home page, students are immediately directed to help for their writing, and given a choice of two ways to look for this information. If the student is just browsing or already familiar with the site, she can click the link for the LEO Catalog which lists help in alphabetical order by subject, such as grammar, punctuation, research papers, citations, etc.
Second, and even more valuable than the catalog in my opinion, is the list of phrases on the home page. The student can look down a long list of options for a phrase which best matches her need. These phrases are very user friendly and many contain links in blue text which the student can click on to drill down to even more specific information and usage handouts.
This section is invaluable, as the exhaustive list of phrases cover just about anything you would want to know about writing. A representative sample of phrases includes (blue text from site indicating links is underlined):
· I'm writing a research paper and want help with quotations and paraphrases.
· I want to improve the way my writing sounds. My writing doesn't flow. It's choppy.
· I need help evaluating the validity of Web documents
· I'm overwhelmed and don't know where to begin working on my paper
· Additionally, there is another whole section titled, My native language is not English, with many phrases listed under that.
Every page to which the student is directed by the phrases and links is documented, with the author (generally a faculty member, but not identified except by name), date last updated and any other sources cited. The information seems complete, relevant and uniformly well-written. Each page also includes a link for students to contact the LEO personnel with any comments or questions they might have on the information. Dates last updated ranged from the late 1990's for grammar information to 2004 for validating Web documents.
Subject Headings: college writing, ESL students