Directed Self-Placement at SSU

What is Directed Self-Placement?

Directed Self-Placement (DSP) comprises a set of literacy tasks that students complete in an approximately 2-hour working session online in Moodle (SSU’s learning management system). In the DSP process, students

  • Engage in a series of college-level reading and writing tasks
  • Reflect on their literacy skills preparation
  • Learn about first year composition/reading courses at SSU
  • Choose their first-year composition/reading course themselves and register for it during Summer Orientation.

Directed Self-Placement

The Benefits of DSP

Once students have experienced a typical college-level reading and writing assignment and have reflected on their skills as readers and writers, they are ready to make an informed choice about their first-year composition/reading course. Studies show that when students make their own course choice, they are more motivated, more engaged, and more satisfied with their work than when they are simply placed in a course according to the results of a one-shot test. [Source: research studies from the University of Michigan and our sister CSU campuses]

Who is required to do DSP?

DSP is required of all incoming students, except those who 

  • Earned a score of 3 or above on either the AP exam for English Language and Composition or English Literature and Composition; or
  • Took a college-level English course that meets GE Area A2 and earned a C- or better.

Please note: Students who are exempt from the EPT are not exempt from participating in Directed Self-Placement, unless the student is exempt by either option above.

What are the 5 steps of DSP?

  1. In Moodle, SSU’s online learning management system, students print out, read, and annotate a challenging piece of college-level reading.
  2. Students write an argument that responds to the reading and upload it to Moodle.
  3. Students reflect on the reading and writing they have just completed in this DSP process, as well as on their high school preparation for college-level work.
  4. Students then learn about first-year composition/reading courses at SSU & view video testimonials from students.
  5. Lastly, students choose their first-year composition/reading course (and they will have the option to add English 99T: Basic Composition—Tutoring), print out their selection, and bring it to Summer Orientation.

How to access DSP

DSP is located online in Moodle, SSU’s online Learning Management System. You will also use Moodle to complete coursework for classes you are taking at SSU. To start the DSP activity, follow these steps:

  1. Login to SSU Online Services at You'll find this Login link at the top of most SSU web pages.
  2. Enter your SSU Seawolf ID and Password; then click on the Login button. 
    Note: If you need password assistance, click on the Username & Password Assistance link located under the Username and Password fields; otherwise, contact the IT Help Desk at (707) 664-4357 or email
  3. Click on the Future Moodle link. (After May 27, click on the Moodle link.)
  4. Click on My Courses on the top-navigation menu, then select the “course” entitled “DSP: Directed Self-Placement for First-Year English 2017.”

What you will need:

  • Your SSU Seawolf ID and Password.
  • A current web browser
  • Connection to high-speed internet
  • Word processing software such as MS Word, Text Edit, or Notepad
  • Printer (recommended)
  • A space where you can work with minimal distractions.

First-Year Composition/Reading Courses and Tutorial Support at SSU

Students have a choice of two first-year writing courses at SSU, both of which satisfy the graduation reading and writing requirement (GE Area A2):

English 101
the faster-paced, more challenging first-year composition/reading course (one semester; 27+ students per class) OR
English 100A-100B
the year-long course that “stretches” English 101 readings, skills, and assignments (22-25 students per class)

Please note: Students may also choose to add English 99T: Basic Composition—Tutoring, a Credit/NC one-on-one writing tutorial ideal for multilingual learners and those seeking extra writing support.

How Should Students Make their Course Choice?

Students should consider whether they like to read and analyze texts, as well as how experienced they are with various kinds of challenging writing assignments.

College-level writing emphasizes the writing of arguments, rather than “response essays” that are more common in high school English classes.

Additional Advising at Summer Orientation

Students will bring the printout with their choice of first-year composition/reading course with them to Summer Orientation. There will be faculty and peer advisors on hand to answer questions about first-year composition/reading courses and students’ placement choice.

Students should make their choice of course carefully, as they will not be able to change courses once the Fall semester begins.

What happens if students do not complete DSP before Summer Orientation?

If students do not complete DSP before Summer Orientation and they are not exempt (see above "who is required to do DSP?"), they will only have the option of registering for a first-year English course according to their English Placement Test (EPT) score.

Questions? Email Barbara Frohlech at or phone (707) 664-2140.