Revolution Lullabye

November 11, 2010

Anson, Who Wants Composition

Anson, Chris. “Who Wants Composition: Reflections on the Rise and Fall of an Independent Program.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 153-169. Print.

Anson describes the history of the stand-alone Program in Composition and Communication at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, which was created in the early 1980s, and explains how, because of struggles and moves for power and money within the English Department and university structure, that program was suddenly re-absorbed by the English Department in the summer of 1996 (who then removed Anson from the director’s position.) The Program had no major and had no tenure lines; the faculty and director of the Program had tenure lines in other departments. Anson argues that the implementation of a Responsibility Center Management (RCM) budget system at the university gave the English Department incentive to take back the Program in Composition because the Program’s large number of student tuition dollars and low teaching costs gave them a favorable budget, while the English Department’s low number of students and high teaching costs put them in a precarious situation.

Notes and Quotes

A WPA’s job can no longer be seen as “a hobby, to be set aside whenever the stacks of nineteenth-century literary criticism or the latest PMLA beckon. Composition is embracing new, burgeoning areas strongly connected to learning and literacy: innovations in technology, service learning, and multifaceted forms of assessment; advances in faculty development, such as reflective practice and the scholarship of teaching; analyses of increasingly diverse writing communities; college/high school articulation. To be a WPA means to be passionate and devote time to these connected areas” (166-167).

“In spite of the politics nad hierarchies in which we work as administrators of writing programs, it is the human moments, the connections we make and the lives we touch and improve, the ways we live and work in and through our places in higher education, that really matter.” People, not programs (168).

May 20, 2009

Adler-Kassner, Anson, and Howard, Framing Plagiarism

Adler-Kassner, Linda, Chris Anson, and Rebecca Moore Howard. “Framing Plagiarism.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 231-246.

The authors, all current and/or former WPAs who wrote the CWPA statement “Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism”, argue that the current frames used to talk about student plagiarism position students as ignorants, cheats, and theives who are undermining the purposes of education and need to be caught and reformed. They argue for compositionists and writing instructors to look beyond the academic cycle of citation for credit and credibility to see how people compose with sources for other purposes. They use the example of direct borrowing from the language of a FDA statement on safe food handling to show that more public texts, like these author-less statements and policies, are used freely like author-less bits of information. Students exist in multiple activity levels and systems, and so it is important that instruction on source use (not technology-based plagiarism prevention) include critical discussions and examples of how different systems use and compose with sources.

Quotable Quotes

“Many cases of so-called plagiarism occur at the borders where one set of (typically academic) values and practices blurs into another (typically public) set of values and practices” (239).

“All writers are always in a developmental trajectory; writing is always intertextual; a variety of rhetorical and pragmatic forces work against attribution of sources; the use of texts is a complex act that is steeped in the conventions (disciplinary, behavioral, and otherwise) of academe; and the sanctioned academic expectations for attribution are often applied unevenly, even by experienced, ethical writers.” (243)

Notable Notes

example of one university borrowing another’s statement on plagiarism

temptation to use Turnitin and the temptation to buy papers online are both grounded in panic (243)

what is implicitly said when you require all students to “submit” their papers to Turnitin? (242)

Lakoff “frames” – these become naturalized, we need to reframe

May 1, 2009

Carter, A Process for Establishing Outcomes-Based Assessment Plans for Writing and Speaking in the Disciplines

Carter, Michael. “A Process for Establishing Outcomes-Based Assessment Plans for Writing and Speaking in the Disciplines.” Language and Learning Across the Disciplines 6.1. (2003): 4-29. In Assessing Writing. Eds. Huot and O’Neill. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 268-286.

Carter outlines how the Campus Writing and Speaking Program, a WAC-like program at NC State (where Chris Anson is), helped departments establish speaking and writing outcomes for their undergraduate majors. Outcome-based assessment asks programs what skills and knowledge graduates should have, how the program helps students achieve these outcomes, and how the program could assess their outcomes and use their assessment for program development. The essay contains a list of questions departments can use to develop both objectives and outcomes (which, unlike objectives, are teachable and measurable), and gives an extended example of the outcomes from the anthropology department. Carter argues that such a discipline-specific assessment broadens both the responsibility of teaching writing and speaking skills to all departments and the timeline in which a student will be able to achieve these communication outcomes.

Notable Notes

outcomes need to be student-centered, faculty-driven, and meaningful (271)

outcome-based assessment does not assume that students will achieve something based on one course; it looks holistically at a whole program to assess its effectiveness in helping students achieve outcomes

compare to the continual improvement assessment in industry (ISO certification) and accountability movement in K-12 schools

the departments can state the disciplinary goals for their majors

what about students not in a traditional major? at schools with more blending capabilities?

articulate an assessment procedure with each department – including things like tests, exit interviews

the function of a speaking/writing professional (a WPA?) changes with outcome-based assessment

March 31, 2009

Anson, Figuring It Out

Anson, Chris M. “Figuring It Out: Writing Programs in the Context of University Budgets.” In The Writing Program Administrator’s Resource. Eds. Brown and Enos. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002. 233-252.

Anson describes how WPAs can come to fully understand their program’s budgets by using a mapping heuristic to create a visual diagram of a program’s expenses, sources of income, and problems. He shows through a fictional case study how a WPA can find creative solutions to budgetary problems by mapping, because mapping allows for a WPA to create budgetary categories and to see relationships in and between those categories. He also advocates arguing for better pay and benefits for part-time instructors through analytical data and facts rather than emotional or theoretical appeals about equitable and ethical compensation because he believes administration will be more moved by hard-line data about the profits a composition program brings into the university.

Quotable Quotes

“That a program is forced to pay its teachers less than the full-time salary at the fast-food restaurant in the student union, and that it is unable to buy a new computer or provide donuts and coffee at its teacher-development meetings even though it is generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in net revenues is a sad commentary on the way in which an essential part of college-level instruction is viewed by those who govern our higher educatoin institutions. Jodi’s analysis, done carefully and disinterestedly, can contribute much more effectively to the mobilization of forces against such continued exploitation than will unsupported assertions, anecdotes, or the sort of victim mentality that lends to a begrudging acceptance of the status quo.” (251).

Notable Notes

responsibility-centered budgeting trend

uses Tim Peeples’ mapping concpet from his article about WPA and Postmodern Mapping

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