Revolution Lullabye

May 26, 2011

Greene and Orr, First-year College Students Writing across the Disciplines

Greene, Stuart and Amy J. Orr.  “First-year college students writing across the disciplines.”  In Blurring boundaries: Developing writers, researchers and teachers: A tribute to William L. Smith.  O’Neill, Peggy (ed.) Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2007. 123-156.

Students do more argumentative writing in their first-year composition class than in other classes across the disciplines or in their major, where the focus of their writing is to synthesize extant knowledge in the field in order to gain mastery of the material. However, the first year composition’s class emphasis on the disciplinary nature of writing – that writing serves different functions and looks differently in different discourse communities – helps students negotiate later writing assignments. Greene and Orr conducted a four-year longitudinal study of 30 students, collecting their texts, assignments, instructors’ written comments, and interviews with both the students and the instructors in order to investigate the connections between the work they did in their composition classes and the work they did writing in other disciplinary courses. The purpose of their study was to investigate what challenges students face when meeting the shifting demands of writing across the disciplines and also what the critical features are of successful college writers.

Notes and Quotes

Collected 689 student papers as part of the study. They were coded and categorized into four groups: narrative, explanation, argument, interpretative. The claims were categorized into interpretative or evaluative.

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May 25, 2009

Valentine, Plagiarism as Literacy Practice

Valentine, Kathryn. “Plagiarism as Literacy Practice: Recognizing and Rethinking Ethical Binaries.” CCC 58.1 (Sept 2006): 89-109.

Plagiarism needs to be understood and treated more broadly as a literacy practice rather than a black-and-white ethical binary, for the ethical lens through which we talk about plagiarism casts our students’ identities in particular ways they cannot dictate and does not validate certain kinds of student writing and work. Valentine uses an extended example of Lin, a 3rd year international PhD student who was accused of (and admitted to) plagiarism on a literature review. Valentine sees his lack of citation and original argument not as a criminal, unethical, and dishonest act, but rather as a an unawareness of American graduate education citation and literacy expectations. It is important to see the bigger picture teach plagiarism, then, not just as an ethical problem – one in which all students are in danger of being dishonest – but as a negotiation of cultural and social contexts and literacy practices.

Quotable Quotes

“Plagiarism is a literacy practice…something that people do with reading and writing” (89).

“Plagiarism becomes plagiarism as a part of a practice that involves participants’ values, attitudes, and feelings as well as their social relationships to each other and to the institutions in which they work” (89-90).

“The problem with teaching citation and plagiarism as rule following is that it is not enough for students to know the textual practices of citation. Rather, students need to know citation and plagiarism as literacy practices – as complicated ways of making meaning” (105).

Notable Notes

Butler – performative identites – you have your identity by what you do (students’ identities are formed by whether or not they adhere to textual citation practices and expectations)

students live in fear of plagiarizing. They aren’t safe – even honest students can unknowingly trip up and plagiarize, then labeled as dishonest (fear of going to jail as a kid)

ethical morality (Zygmunt Bauman) – being moral because you are following a rule, not because you are acting on what you think is right…no personal individual moral responsibility or choices needed

February 8, 2009

Mutnick, On the Academic Margins

Mutnick, Deborah. “On the Academic Margins: Basic Writing Pedagogy.” 183-202.

How to teach and understand basic writers has developed from studying them through their errors (Shaugnessy), to in-depth cognitive research to understand how their thinking and writing practices, to finally seeing them in the larger political and social context, analyzing how they learn to appropriate and use academic language, and how academic language affects their home language and culture. Basic writing pedagogy is interested in how students from diverse cultures and backgrounds come into and work in the university, the relationship between language and meaning, linguistic theories of error, and the writing and learning processes of adults. New pushes in basic writing pedagogy include mainstreaming basic writers in “regular” first-year composition classrooms and developing competency requirements that aren’t tied to a particular university course.

Notable Notes

First forays: Mina Shaughnessy – CUNY Open Admissions; Horner “Discoursing Basic Writing”

Cognitive process studies: Perl “Unskilled”; Sommers; Lunsford “What We Know” – showed problems in analysis and synthesis

Social and rhetorical theories: Bartholomae Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts and “Inventing”; Gilyard Voices of the Self; Students’ Right to Their Own Language; Bizzell biculturalism; Tom Fox “Standards and Access”; Alice Horning “Teaching Writing as a Second Lanuage”

students on the social margins change through education but must develop their own consciousness, the new discourses they learn affect their home ones. Basic writing courses can transform the students, teachers, administration, and institutions

McLeod, The Pedagogy of Writing Across the Curriculum

McLeod, Susan. “The Pedagogy of Writing Across the Curriculum.” 149-164.

The literacy “crisis” of the 1970s, coupled with open admissions policies, led college administrators and writing instructors to discussions on how to improve students’ writing. One solution, pioneered by Barbara Walvoord and informed by British and American curricular movements spearheaded by James Britton and Toby Fulwiler, was writing across the curriculum, which has two complementary agendas: writing to learn and writing to communicate (often called WID, writing in the disciplines.) A WAC coordinator has the tricky job of modeling the pedagogy they are trying to get the faculty, who hail from all different disciplines, to teach: not to dictate what is correct and incorrect writing (rather, invite a discussion); have faculty write themselves; and encourage opportunities for faculty to talk with each other about their expectations and reactions to student writing. Some of the benefits of WAC and WID is that it increases students’ awareness of the conventions of different discourse communities and genres, it shows them that different fields (and workplaces) write differently based on their fundamental theories, missions, and values; and it highlights the fact that good writing is important in all disciplines.

Notable Notes

Attributes: student-centered, active learning, reflective, constant feedback loop from students to teachers to faculty

Berkenkotter and Huckin (genre theory); Elaine Maimon; Patricia Lindon; Britton (Language and Learning); Fulwiler (The Journal Book); Russell (“Rethinking Genre in School and Society”); Emig (Writing as a Mode of Learning)

WID emphasizes learning discourse conventions, genres, and the processes of acquiring knowledge in that particular field.

apprenticeship model

February 16, 2008

Freed and Broadhead, “Discourse Communities, Sacred Texts, and Institutional Norms.”

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Freed, Richard C. and Glenn J Broadhead. “Discourse Communities, Sacred Texts, and Institutional Norms.” CCC 38.2 (May 1987): 154-165. 

The authors argue that analyzing the written materials (the sacred texts) and terminology of discourse communities is a powerful way to understand the values and the systems of those communities. It is vital that students understand how to analyze the discourse communities they are writing to and in so that they can most effectively and persuasively construct their messages. The authors advocate teaching students ethnographic methods for learning about different discourse communities and cultures. Also, instructors should employ an ethnographic perspective on their own teaching and courses to discover what assumptions exist in their pedagogy.

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