Revolution Lullabye

February 8, 2009

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

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January 28, 2009

Griffin, Teaching Writing in All Disciplines

Griffin, C. Williams, ed. Teaching Writing in All Disciplines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., 1982.

This edited collection centers around the early writing-across-the-curriculum movement in composition and serves as a guide to teachers as to how they might implement writing-for-learning assignments and initiatives in their own classrooms and in their institutions. The collection contains a balance of more practically-oriented pieces (about how different assignments can help students learn math by writing about it, how teachers can respond to all the writing they’re now asking their students to do, and what kinds of mixed reactions teachers and students give to WAC initiatives) and more theoretical essays, like Fulwiler’s “Writing: An Act of Cognition,” which argues that since language makes meaning, we need to ask our students to use and produce writing in order to understand and learn, not just to communicate what they already know. One of the last essays of the collection, by Maimon, likens the WAC movement as a move back to ancient rhetorical training, a grounding in rhetoric that was required for students going into all fields.

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