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A COMPREHENSIVE WRITING EDUCATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

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    1. A COMPREHENSIVE WRITING EDUCATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY Elizabeth Wardle, Director of Writing Programs, Department of English

    2. Overview of Todays Talk What do we know about writing? Given what we know, what should our writing instruction look like? What are we doing with writing instruction at UCF? Some resources for you

    3. Our Research Tells Us There is no writing in general. Genres are context-specific and dynamic, fusing both form & content. Most school settings do not encourage transfer of knowledge.

    4. 1. There is no writing in general No writing in general beyond scribal skills (J. Petraglia). Scribal skills do not constitute writing. Trying to teach writing in general is like trying to teach general ball-handling skills (D. Russell).

    5. 2. Genres are context-specific, etc. Genres: are typified rhetorical actions (C. Miller). provide textual shortcuts (P. Medway). are dynamic and adaptable. are only ever stabilized-for-now (C. Schryer). work within and for activity systems; outside those systems, they are simply psuedotransactional forms.

    6. 3. School settings do not encourage transfer Writing differs from one activity system to the next, thus students have difficulty transferring what they have learned about writing from class to class or class to beyond school. Transfer depends on ability to recognize similarities between two situations (T. Tuomi-Grhn & Y. Engestrm) and appropriately transform and expand knowledge so that it works in a new situation (R. Beach; D. Guile & M. Young).

    7. 3. School settings do not encourage transfer, cont. Transfer depends on the presence of affordances for transfer being present in the next situation (T. Tuomi-Grhn & Y. Engestrm). To encourage transfer, teach flexible general principles about writing, facilitate metawareness about writing, & create institutional structures through which transfer is encouraged (D. Perkins & G. Salomon).

    8. What Are the Implications of the Research? Universities must think carefully about structures that will encourage vertical, developmental, and disciplinary approaches to teaching writing.

    9. Two Arguments from the Implications FY compositions current goal of teaching students to write is unattainable; we should give up that goal and instead use that curricular space to teach students about writing. Writing programs should be visible and vertical, providing every student a progressive writing education; providing all faculty with opportunities for writing-related training and consultation.

    10. Argument 1: Revise Goals Of FY Comp Courses Teach a course about writing, Understanding Writing Content: how people use writing, how people learn to write, how genres mediate work in society, how discourse communities affect language use, how writing changes across the disciplines, etc.

    11. Argument 1, cont.: Revise Goals Of FY Comp Courses Teaching about writing: teaches students a clear contentwhat we know about how writing and language workand focuses on that content as the object of attention. The nature of that encourages students to reflect on their own writing practices and the writing practices in courses across the academy. Works from teacher and student expertise.

    12. Argument 2: Create Vertical, Visible Curriculum A writing program should coordinate a carefully sequenced and scaffolded writing curriculum that meets students changing rhetorical needs over time.

    13. Elizabeth Wardle, U of Central Florida Model of a comprehensive vertical writing curriculum:

    14. Who Should Staff and Teach Writing Courses? Writing Program should teach its expertise to students, but also teach faculty. First-year course about writing should be taught by language experts. Second-year course preparing students to write in various areas could be taught by language experts or by TAs, post-docs, or faculty from those areas. Writing in the major needs to be taught by experts from those disciplines. Faculty from across the university can be trained to teach writing through: 12-week WAC seminars, Writing Fellows in Residence Programs, and one-on-one consultations with Writing Program Faculty. This necessitates a Writing Program that is identifiable as a teaching, research, and consulting/training unit.

    15. What Are We Doing at UCF? PCSI funding: Increasing funding for and scope of UWC Lowering composition class sizes Hiring more ft instructors Increasing training for and support of composition instructors Changing curriculum in fy writingfocus on writing and research as genuine inquiry Publication of best student work Consider this Phase 1

    16. Would you Like to Know More? Handout describes Best practices around the country Tips for facilitating transfer Tips for designing assignments Examples of potential assignments

    17. Some Best Practices Cornells Knight Institute: FY writing seminar, writing in the majors, expository writing, Writing Workshop, and Faculty Seminar for Writing Instruction. http://www.arts.cornell.edu/knight_institute/ Rutgers Writers House: a laboratory for developing expression in all the media of the twenty-first century. http://wh.rutgers.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=5&Itemid=119 USC Santa Barbara focused writing courses: Approaches to University Writing for Engineers, Writing for Accounting Economics, Writing for the Teaching Professions, etc. http://www.writing.ucsb.edu/courses.htm Dukes use of post-doc fellows from across disciplines to teaching Writing 20: Academic Writing. Some schools with celebrations of student writing: Eastern Michigan, Texas A&M Commerce, Brandeis, and others. Some schools that publish writing of first-year students: Duke (Deliberations), Cornell (Discoveries), Boston College (Fresh Ink), Georgia Southern (Outstanding First-Year Writing), and many more. Peer-reviewed journal for student research about writing: Young Scholars in Writing http://www.bk.psu.edu/academics/degrees/26432.htm

    18. What Can We Do to Facilitate Transfer of Writing Knowledge? Find out what students write elsewhere. Explicitly talk about writing in every course that requires it. Explain the conventions of writing in our class and discipline/field/profession. Talk about the general principles underlying the conventions of writing there. Give students opportunities to make new knowledge but provide structured support. Ask students to use writing to genuinely communicate. Provide structured opportunities for reflection.

    19. Some Assignment Tips Think of your goals first: what do you want students to learn, do, or demonstrate through the writing? Is this a writing-to-learn or a learning-to-write goal? Do you want students to learn to write in a new format or genre (ie lab report), explore an issue or concept, gain deep content knowledge, develop a way of thinking, etc? What genre (category of text) lends itself to this goal? Long or short? Research or personal response? Does this goal require formal, graded writing or can it be done informally, quickly, as ungraded work shared with students only? Can it be support writing (journals, emails, freewriting), or does it need to be conventional academic writing? Can it be non-conventional academic writing (dialogues, role play, concept maps)? Put your directions in writing; make everything explicit (task, form, audience, purpose, sequence with due dates, grading criteria).

    20. Some Assignment Tips If the task is complex, break it into steps; emphasize writing & research as processes. Consider how you complete complex writing tasks. Explain why you are giving this assignment, what you want students to gain from doing this writing. Give examples of good writing for your field and for this specific assignment, if the assignment will be graded. Remind students of what they learned to do in their fy writing courses and explain how what you are asking for builds on that. Anticipate problems; share where previous students have gone wrong; look at drafts and discuss problems with entire class. Match your grading criteria to your instructions; use a rubric to make grading easier and more consistent. Do not over-mark when grading. Unless students will be revising, they do not usually absorb/apply corrections of sentence-level errors.

    21. Examples of Possible Writing Assignments Feedback to ensure learning (1-minute paper). Freewriting to get ideas flowing before class. Annotations in text to ensure critical reading. Reviews of relevant articles or texts. Responses to in-class discussion or reading. Explanation of concepts to new learners. Cases. Role-playing and what if scenarios. Reports or reviews of literature on a topic. Research into genuine questions. Proposals for solving problems. Resource: John Bean, Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom.

    22. Sources Cited Beach, King. Consequential Transitions: A Developmental View of Knowledge Propagation Through Social Organizations. Tuomi-Grhn and Engestrm 39-61. Bishop, Wendy. The Subject is Writing 3rd ed. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 2003. Brandt, Deborah. Sponsors of Literacy. College Composition and Communication 49.2 (1998): 165-85. Connors, Robert. Composition-Rhetoric: Backgrounds, Theory, and Pedagogy. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1997. Guile, David & Michael Young. Transfer and Transition from Vocational Education: Some Theoretical Considerations. Tuomi-Grhn and Engestrm 63-81. McCarthy, Lucille Parkinson. A Stranger in Strange Lands: A College Student Writing Across the Curriculum. Research in the Teaching of English 21.3 (1987): 233- 265. Medway, Peter. Fuzzy Genres and Community Identities: The Case of Architecture Students' Sketchbooks. Eds. Richard Coe, et al. The Rhetoric and Ideology of Genre: Strategies for Stability and Change. Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press, 2002. 123-54. Miller, Carolyn. Genre as Social Action. Quarterly Journal of Speech 70 (1984): 151- 67. Rpt. Eds. Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzes. The Powers of Literacy: A Genre Approach to Teaching Writing. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1993. 22-37. Perkins, David and Gavriel Salomon. The Science and Art of Transfer. Online: http://learnweb.harvard.edu/alps/thinking/docs/trancost.htm --- Transfer of Learning. International Encyclopedia of Education, Second Edition. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press, 1992. Online: http://learnweb.harvard.edu/alps/thinking/docs/traencyn.htm --- Rocky Roads to Transfer: Rethinking Mechanisms of a Neglected Phenomenon. Educational Psychologist, 24.2 (1989): 113-142. Petraglia, Joseph, ed. Reconceiving Writing, Rethinking Writing Instruction. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1995. ---. Spinning Like a Kite: A Closer Look at the Pseudotransactional Function of Writing. JAC, 15.1 (1995): 19-33. ---. Writing as Unnatural Act. Petraglia Reconceiving 79-100. Russell, David. Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction. Petraglia Reconceiving 51-77. Schryer, Catherine. Records as Genre. Written Communication 10.2 (1993): 200-34. Tuomi-Grohn, Tertu and Yrgo Engestrom, eds. Between School and Work: New Perspectives on Transfer and Boundary Crossing. New York: Pergamom, 2003.