Revolution Lullabye

December 29, 2011

Reid, “Preparing Writing Teachers”

Reid, E. Shelley. “Preparing Writing Teachers: A Case Study in Constructing a More Connected Future for CCCC and NCTE.” CCC 62.4 (June 2011): 687-703.

In the CCC Special Symposium on the NCTE/CCCC Relationship

Reid argues that the research, scholarship, and practice in the training of writing teachers, which she terms “writing pedagogy education,” can be fruitful ground for future collaborations between NCTE (focusing on K-12 English education) and CCCC (college composition and rhetoric.)  Reid claims that as a professional organization, CCCC has turned away from the practical issues of training teachers to teach writing.  She insists that scholarship on writing teacher preparation, instead being regulated to the margins of the field, as a solitary-institution specific practice or “sub-field” special interest group,  can bring together a variety of members of NCTE and CCCC in order to work on developing policy and practices for the training of writing teachers. In this way, Reid sees potential for a sub-field (writing pedagogy education) to revitalize larger disciplinary organizations.

Reid uses her own efforts to chair a SIG on the Education and Mentoring of TAs and Instructors in Composition and her work on the CCCC Committee on Preparing Teachers of Writing to show how difficult it was, with limited time and resources, to weave together local experiences of writing pedagogy education into a coherent, useful, and theorized whole about the preparation of teachers of writing. Reid calls on WPAs and those who train writing teachers to stop seeing themselves as “local practitioners” and rather, as part of a national, scholarly organization whose aim is to “articulate a larger vision” about writing pedagogy education (692-693). She argues that forums like SIGs and commissioned committees are not stable or sufficient enough to provide writing pedagogy education practicioners and researchers what they need: momentum and diversity of members. She suggests that CCCC follow NCTE’s lead and form a task force on writing pedagogy education, which could help create and support research grants, national studies, or online clearinghouses.

Reid points out specifically that “few studies of writing pedagogy education are data-driven, longitudinal, or inclusive of more than one program.” (692)

Notable Notes

Argues that scholarship in writing pedagogy education can address Patricia Stock’s 3rd question in what English education is: “(1) What is English? (2) How is English best taught and learned? and (3) How are teachers of English best prepared for their professional work?” (368, Stock “NCTE and the Preparation of Teachers of the English Language Arts,” 2010)

common problem in writing pedagogy education: the local: the isolation of individual writing programs, institution-specific needs and policies. No national network or conversation.

problems facing writing pedagogy education: How do you quantify teacher quality (tie in with national discussions on teacher tenure)? How can you measure writing learning as connected to teacher quality? How long does it take to develop good writing practices?  (692)

Move beyond the discussion of “what worked for us.” (692)

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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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