Revolution Lullabye

June 12, 2009

Sommers, Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers

Sommers, Nancy. “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers.” CCC 31:4 (Dec 1980) 378-388.

Sommers argues that the field needs to focus and research how writers revise, and offers her case study of twenty students and 20 adult writers (from Boston and Oklahoma City) as a starting point. Each writer wrote three essays, revised them twice, and sat for interviews with Sommers about their revision strategies. Sommers found that students often focus on the word level when revising – they have what she deems a “thesaurus philosophy of writing” (381) – while the adults saw revision as an opportunity to shape their thoughts and discover the direction and meaning of their writing. Sommers stressed that the truncated view of writing students have – one in which they have a thesis before they even begin writing – does not allow them to engage in writing as a process of discovery or learning, and that teachers of writing need to show students that good writing allows for a holistic and recursive revision process, one that seeks dissonance and wrestles with meaning.

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May 20, 2009

Brown, Fallon, Matthews, Mintie, Taking on Turnitin

Brown, Renee, Brian Fallon, Elizabeth Matthews, and Elizabeth Mentie. “Taking on Turnitin: Tutors Advocating Change.” The Writing Center Journal 27.1 (2007): 7-28.

These four writing center tutors ran a paper through the Turnitin software and analyzed its results, arguing that Turnitin has both pedagogical limitations and ethical problems in the way it handles student writing.  It oversimplifies what it means to write with sources, and students can quickly learn how to “outsmart” Turnitin (but not become more sophisticated source-users) by using thesauruses to change individual words in an Internet source. Writing centers, since they come into contact with writers from all over the university, need to take the lead in plagiarism and citation issues and should argue for teaching citation first and giving workshops so that instuctors can interpret Turnitin results into pedagogical solutions.

Notable Notes

who owns the database of papers that Turnitin uses?

universities find it hard to opt out of Turnitin for a different service…all the student papers are stored there; they’d lose what they had gathered.

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