« February 2006 | Main | April 2006 »

March 30, 2006

Brannon and Knoblauch, "On Students' Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response"

The authors contend that, when writing instructors read student work, we sometimes ignore the writer's intentions and impose our own "ideal text" on the writer. When we thus "appropriate" a student's text, we often focus more on making sentence level corrections to the work which, while well-intended, has the effect of showing students that the "teacher's agenda is more important than [the student's]" (214). Further, this focus "compromise[s] both our ability to help students say effectively what they truly want to say and our ability to recognize legitimately diverse ways of saying it" (215). Instructors should move away from this "paternalistic" approach to a more student-centered focus where we provide feedback that can help facilitate revision. Multiple draft assignments can help accomplish this goal, as can individual conferences where the instructor acts as "sounding board" rather than as "authority" (218). Peer response and instructor comments (but not corrections) are also important in helping the writer make effective choices in revision. Even when "face to face" interaction with the writer is not possible, the authors suggest "simulating" a conference by having the student write out their intentions for a draft in the right hand column next to the actual text of the draft in the left. The instructor thus has a much clearer view of the writer's intentions and can comment more effectively on the work to help the writer realize those intentions. Brannon and Knoblauch acknowledge that, at some point, student writing must be evaluated. Evaluation should only occur, they argue, after the writer has received peer and instructor feedback, has had the opportunity to revise, and has decided on their own that they are ready to have their work evaluated (221).

March 28, 2006

Delpit, Silenced Dialogue

Delpit argues for teaching traditional content in a progressive way with radical intent. Instructors who are reluctant to acknowledge their own power, or to teach the conventions of those in power, do poor students and students of color no favors (and are on some level motivated, Delpit suggests, by a desire to maintain the status quo). Instructors like the idea of giving students the freedom to express themselves, and it seems stiflingly autocratic to impose one set of rules for language use on everyone. Students and parents, on the other hand, expect teachers to communicate their expertise and equip students with the skills they need in order to complete their education and pursue careers. Conflict arises surrounding the issue of facilitating entry into the "culture of power," as well as over different perceptions of how to acquire and exercise authority.

Delpit agrees that it’s important to respect students’ home cultures and the styles of speech that are currently comfortable for students. Peer workshops, literacy autobiographies and other trappings of progressive classrooms are valuable, as they affirm students’ own expertise, but insufficient. Instructors must explicitly teach the codes of the culture of power, such as the conventions of standard English, so that students may ultimately gain some measure of power as participants in that culture. Standard English and other conventions should be presented in their political and historical contexts, not as superior but as the rules of the power players’ game. They should be taught through relevant communication situations rather than depersonalized memorization. But students must demonstrate their proficiency with the rules in the papers and other materials they produce: “Teachers do students no service to suggest, even implicitly, that ‘product’ is not important? (447).

Meanwhile, educators who see injustice in requiring people to conform to arbitrary codes should work toward institutional change—serving on curriculum and admissions committees, for instance.

Schiappa's Thoughts on Plagiarism

Download file

Gary's Power Point presentation

Download file

March 23, 2006

Elbow: Doubting and Believing Game

Download file

March 22, 2006

Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers, by Nancy Sommers

Sommers’ basic idea is that theories of writing fail because they model themselves on speech. They fail because they don’t take into account perhaps the most important part of writing: revision.

If writing is forward moving and irreversible, as speech is, then there is no real role for revision. Sommers defines revision broadly as “a sequence of changes in a composition—changes which are initiated by cues and occur continually throughout the writing of a work.? So revision is not just a “post-writing? exercise, but something that occurs throughout the process.

She then contrasts students’ ideas about revision with those of experienced adult writers. Students tended to see revision as a re-wording activity, whereas experienced adult writers tended to change their vision throughout the writing process. They tended to “re-vision? the work, and to use the revision process as a means of discovering meaning. Sommers does not address the possibility of the “one draft? professional writer, and ways in which this writer does or doesn’t revise. She also didn’t talk about the extent to which students—even if they couldn’t talk about the revision process—might have been revising anyway.

Sommers goes on to argue that the reason students revise in such a shallow manner isn’t that they’re unwilling (although there must be some who are), but because they have been taught to revise “in a consistently narrow and predictable way.? She ends her essay with a call to encourage student writers to see writing as a discovery process, as a repeated process of seeing, and then seeing again.

March 21, 2006

Summary of Harris' "Composing Behaviors of One-and Multi -draft Writers"

According to Harris there are basically two kinds of writers; the one-drafter and the multi-drafter. Harris reviews previous studies about the matter, but in order “to draw a more inclusive picture of composing behaviors for considering the pedagogical implications of dealing with individual differences,? he had to make his own study. The subjects of his study were experienced writers who identified themselves as definitely one or multi-drafters. Harris observed them composing. He found that the one-drafters expressed a strong need to clarify their thinking prior to beginning to transcribe, there were a little resorting of written notes and little use of written outlines. In contrast the multi-drafters’ preference was for open ended exploration as they write. One-drafters generated fewer choices, reach decisions more quickly and before transcribing to paper. Harris also found that the early drafts of one-drafters are reader based, while multi-drafters’ are writer based.
Harris concludes that both ways of writing have disadvantages or “costs?. “One -drafters are in danger of cutting themselves off from further exploration from a richer field of discovery than is possible during the time in which they generate options.?(66) Multi-drafters often miss deadlines, create writer-based first drafts, produce large quantities of text that is discarded and get lose in their own writing. Harris explains how teachers can assist students with some strategies, and help them become more aware of their composing behaviors. Harris also states that teachers should not impose personal preferences.

March 19, 2006

Laura's objectives: Psy 3902W

-Understand the structure and flow of APA-style journal articles
For any given article:
-Be able to identify the research question, and operationalization of the research question, for any given article succinctly
-Identify potential threats to validity, potential limits to generalizability

-Write an APA-style research proposal that:
a) identifies gap in existing psychological literature
b) identifies application to a real-world problem
c) clearly states a testable hypothesis
d) develops a research design to test hypothesis that is reasonably free of potential threats to validity
e) describes the research design with enough precision to be replicable
f) identifies the appropriate statistical test
f) uses scientific tone and conforms to APA-style

-Be more questioning and critical when presented with so-called “conclusive? findings/evidence/?proof?

[Note that my syllabus contains an Expectations section which contains more of the softer stuff like being respectful of peers' opinions, giving constructive feedback, etc. I don't include them here under course objectives because I do not believe it is for me to explicitly teach these soft skills].

laura's interractive flash program

Download file

March 16, 2006

Maru’s Classroom Observation

This is a Spanish Class called Analysis of Texts (Span 3104) Its main subject is Spanish poetry. The entire class is taught in Spanish with a few comments in English.
The majority of the students in this class are majors and/or minors in Spanish Studies. Nearly all are required to take this course to enter the major program of core courses in literature. Most know Spanish fluently and want to learn to read and understand literature better. According to the instructor, “Most students are fairly well prepared to enter Spanish 3104, but occasionally there are some who experience tremendous difficulty, especially with older texts from the Medieval and Renaissance periods.?

The class I observed was on Tuesday, march 08 from 2:30 to 3:45 PM. The class consisted of fourteen students and one instructor. The instructor has taught this course for 25 years.

1. To what extent were the apparent objectives for the class session achieved?
The apparent objectives for the class were achieved through critical analysis of “En tanto que de rosa y azucena?, a poem by Garcilaso de la Vega, a Spanish poet from the Golden Century. The objective was, in the instructor’s words, “To find the secret code in Garcilaso’s poem?.
This objective is part of the general objective of teaching students how to think critically through the analysis of fictive texts.

2. At what point in the session did students seem most and least engaged or motivated?

In the last quarter of the class, when the “secret code? was explicit and the students could find some sexist and manipulative features in the meaning of the poem, the students seem most engaged, even excited and some female students showed their surprise with comments. Some of these comments were shared with the entire class, some of them were between nearby partners. I could hear, for example, one female student who said to her nearest classmate: “What a jerk! This poem is a threat: Garcilaso says if you don’t share your body with me you will become ugly and your body will be wasted?

3. Did you have the overall sense that writing instruction and “content? instruction were braided together or separate?

In the class that I observed, there was no specific activity about writing instruction, despite the fact that most students took notes and took note of a few terms written by the instructor on the blackboard. According to instructor, he usually facilitates open discussions in class focusing on particular textual aspects.

March 14, 2006

Spanier, "Encountering the Biological Sciences"

How persuasive do you find Spanier's argument that both the style and content of biological discourse contributes to the exclusion of women and minorities from scientific fields and that writing projects assigned in science classrooms can have a transformative effect on these inequities? What relevance does this argument have for those of you who are not teaching science courses?

One of the ways that Spanier challenges the exclusivity of traditional scientific discourse is by writing in first person and asking her students to do the same. How effective is this strategy likely to be---what are its benefits and liabilities?

What is your reaction to this passage: "Scientists, as a group, are less apt to embrace the view that scientific knowledge, like all knowledge, is socially constructed by, for the most part, a small part of the population and that it reflects the experiences, beliefs, and biases that serve that tiny but powerful population; scientists, that is, tend to embrace a positivist notion of truth rather than an understanding of scientific knowledge as highly political" (328) ?

Haas, "Learning to Read Biology"

Haas concludes that Eliza's development into a sophisticated rhetorical reader of scientific texts resulted from four factors, some developmental and some instructional. What does this indicate for you about sequencing reading/writing assignments within your course and within your discipline's curriculum?

Marsella et al, "How Students Handle Assignments"

Marsella et al argue that three factors are particularly influential in the ways that students understand and respond to writing assignments. Does your experience (as a student and as an instructor) conflict with or verify these three? What ELSE affects students understanding of/ approach to writing assignments?

In discussing assignments, the authors wade into the discussion we've been having about too much structure / too little structure. What will you do in your assignments to find an effective balance?

What is your reaction to the schism indicated in this passage:"While professors in our study tried to use writing to foster their students' learning, their students were asking themselves, What's the most efficient way to complete this assignment and get the highest grade I can, given everything that's going on in my life?" (321)?

Clark, "Genre"

What arguments can you line up in favor of or against the explicit teaching of genres? Are you affected by the evolution from positivist definitions of genre (Freeman and Medway)or more current views (Bawarshi? The Australian perspective? Freedman? ) How might Elbow and Bartholomae argue? What do you think?

Consider a genre that is typical in your discipline. What can you speculate about its development; that is, what function did it fulfill and what effect has it had on the discourse subsequently?

Is the Freirian/Villanuevan argument in favor of assigning personal narratives persuasive to you? Why/Why not?

Clark ends with a list of suggestions for incorporating students’ reflective use of /choice about genres. Is this advisable/feasible in your course?

March 13, 2006

Maru Informal Writing Assignment

María Eugenia Domínguez-Mujica
EngL5630: Theories of writing and Writing Instruction
Mar, 13, 2006

Informal Writing Assignment

Write an e-mail to your selected classmate summarizing the most relevant features of the concept “objectivity? (versus “subjectivity?) in writing for academic purposes.
You have to send the final version of this email at least 24 hours before the last class day on this topic (mm/dd).
Additionally you have to read and print the email that your partner sends to you and bring this print out to class (mm/dd).
On the last class day on this topic (mm/dd) you will compare your partner’s printed email with your own (printed and provided for your partner). At the end of the class you will assess your partner’s email.

How to do this assignment?
Try to imagine that your email partner missed the classes about this topic, that he or she needs to brought up-to-date this matter, and that you are helping him/her to do so.
Use the class discussion to clarify any aspects that you find problematic or uneasy to explain about this subject.
If you think that it will help, add any example or quotation from our class readings that could clarify the point.
The style and formality of this email is up to you, but remember that how well your classmate will grade this assignment depends on how useful it is as a guide for identify the features of “objectivity? in writing.

Why to do this assignment?
Keep in mind that the goal of this assignment is being sure that you can identify the features of “objectivity? in real academic articles, so try to summarize in a practical way; that is, in a way that anyone can use this information in real analysis of academic articles.
You will use all that you learn from this assignment for one of your two final reports in which you will identify objectivity features in real articles.

How will be assessed this assignment?
This assignment is part of your participation grade (5% of total grade) and you will be assessed 60% by your partner classmate and 40% by another classmate randomly selected at the end of this period.

Gary's Observation Analysis


Writing and Representation: Advice and Persuasion (WRAP) is a required two semester course for first year law students at William Mitchell College of Law. The course is described in William Mitchell’s online course catalog as a

[m]ultifaceted study of skills that are fundamental to representing clients effectively and responsibly. Includes interviewing a client, researching primary and secondary sources in paper and computer media, reading the law, reasoning about a client's situation in light of the law, writing office memos and advice letters, counseling a client, negotiating and drafting contracts, investigating facts, settling cases through mediation, and arguing motions in writing and orally. Instruction is through large-group discussion and demonstrations, 12-person small group classes, six-person representation exercises, and individual conferences.

The WRAP class I observed, which met on Wednesday, February 22 from 4:30 to 6:30, consisted of twelve students and one instructor, an adjunct professor who practices insurance law with Meagher & Geer, a large Minneapolis law firm. The instructor has taught the course for several years. Prior to enrolling in law school at the University of Minnesota, he earned an M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught first-year composition and introduction to literature as a graduate student. The instructor commented to me that “moonlighting? at William Mitchell gives him the opportunity to teach, something he enjoys very much.


1. Class objectives

From my observation, it appeared that the instructor had two primary objectives for the class: one, practicing legal citation format, and two, practicing advocacy skills.

Objective: Understanding Legal Citation Format

Understanding legal citation format by learning to use the Uniform System of Citation (also known as the “Blue Book?) is a key component of the first year legal writing experience. Students must know how to cite cases, statutes, and other legal materials for assignments in other law school classes as well as for clerkships, internships, and positions after law school where they will be doing legal research and writing.

As a former law student I remember well the difficulties I had understanding legal citation format, difficulties I now see in my students as they work with MLA style in my writing courses. I have yet to find what I consider to be a “painless? way to teach students to understand MLA, and I suspect that the instructor faces a similar challenge. Indeed, on several occasions he apologized for how complicated legal citation can be, something I find myself doing with my own students in discussing MLA. It appeared to me that, in the supportive environment of the classroom that he provided, students were able to help each other better understand how to cite correctly, and they showed their understanding in accurately completing the exercises he gave them. His students, with some prompting, seemed well “trained? in using the Blue Book to answer citation questions. His pedagogy reflects my own belief that students need coaching in using the source material to answer their own questions, rather than “rote? instruction in rules that they will not remember.

Objective: Practicing Oral Advocacy Skills

Like citation format, learning to “think like a lawyer? is a key goal of the first-year law school curriculum, including being able to apply legal principles to a particular set of facts, argue a position, and respond to questions challenging that position that would most likely come from another judge or lawyer. In that sense, oral advocacy is as important as written advocacy.

In the class I observed, students were making their first attempts at examining a legal issue, applying a particular set of facts to the law, and then articulating a position. If the instructor’s goal was nothing more than his students “getting their feet wet? with this aspect of the course (which, based on his comments to me afterward, it was), then I think his objective was achieved. Students clearly took the assignment seriously, using the ample time he provided for discussion and synthesis of their ideas, and then presenting their “cases.? In my view, all students were engaged in the task, taking the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and coming to one another’s aid in the question and answer portion of the exercise to convince the “judge? of the worthiness of their position.

2. Students’ engagement

As stated above, my sense was that students were clearly engaged during the second half of the class, when they working on the advocacy exercise. What was more surprising to me was their high level of engagement during the “citation drill? of the first half of the class, when it would have been very easy to lose focus, or engage in other tasks (all had laptops with wireless Internet access). The fact that the class stayed “on task? tells me that the instructor does a good job of stressing the importance of understanding citation format from the beginning of the course, perhaps through grading “stakes? or by emphasizing its “real world? applications (for example, the prospect of risking the ridicule or displeasure of a judge or fellow attorney by not citing sources correctly).

3. Relationship between writing instruction and “content? instruction

In my view, with respect to the first half of the class, writing instruction and content instruction seem inextricably linked. A large part of effective legal writing is understanding citation format. In the second half, however, the relationship between content (making a legal argument) and writing (drafting a brief) is less clear, only because I will not have had the benefit of seeing the written briefs students were going to be writing for the problem that was under discussion and the class was focused on oral presentation of their arguments. The instructor, however, did assign the class to rewrite the facts for their particular position, so I would imagine in the next class he will be working towards integrating their writing with their oral arguments.

4. Sharing of data with the instructor

I did not have the opportunity to share my formal observations with the instructor, but I offered to forward to him this assignment when it is completed. I did chat with him briefly after the class, however, and I commented on what I saw as the high level of engagement of the students, even in something as difficult and tedious as learning citation format. I also remarked that I found his gentle admonition to students to “get the knives out? to be interesting. He said that students often have a difficult time making the transition from writer and researcher in the first semester to advocate in the second (something I can attest to from my law school experience). He commented that it is a “gradual? but necessary process, and it is important to create a supportive but rigorous environment in which students can both practice and be accountable for the positions they take in their advocacy.

5. Representation of theory

In “Inventing the University,? David Bartholomae states:

…students…have to appropriate (or be appropriated by) a specialized discourse, and they have to do this as though they were easily or comfortably at one with their audience [even though] it is difficult to imagine how writers can have a purpose before they are located in a discourse, since it is the discourse…that determines what writers can and will do. (594)

One would be hard pressed to find a clearer example of students both appropriating and locating themselves in a specialized discourse than in the class that I observed. In fact, taking control of the discourse is essential to the success of these students in law school and, later on, as lawyers. Indeed, the primary tasks of the class as set forth by the instructor (practicing citation format, arguing a position) were designed to further the students’ comfort level with legal discourse, both as writers and as speakers.

The behavior and interaction of the students with the instructor and with each other supports this view. Though only “first years,? class members made great efforts to engage in the “language? of the discourse. In addition to attempting to learn the “language? that is legal citation format, students made notable efforts to use legal concepts and terminology to reflect their understanding of the issues under discussion, concepts particular to the legal field (“summary judgment,? “mixed question of law and fact,? for example). Further, though the classroom environment was overall informal and supportive, the instructor addressed students as “Mr.? and “Ms.,? much like they would be addressed in court by judges or other attorneys. Students in turn practiced this modeled behavior with each other, addressing one another as legal professionals rather than as students.

Moreover, the class that I observed appeared to place equal emphasis on writing as well as speaking in the academic discourse community that is law school. Therefore, I would tend to disagree with some of Janet Emig’s statements in “Writing as a Mode of Learning? as applied to this context. She maintains that “[b]ecause writing is often our representation of the world made visible, embodying both process and product, it is more readily a form and source of learning than talking? (91) and that “[w]riting tends to be a more responsible and committed act than talking? (111). Law students, in order to evolve into effective advocates, need to understand the importance of speech as a persuasive tool that goes hand in hand with persuasive writing, as demonstrated by the instructor’s objectives for the class that I observed.

6. The instructor’s approach compared/contrasted with mine

Though our student populations are quite different (I teach first-year college writers), I do see some commonalities with the instructor. Most notably, as discussed under question 1 above, I face many of the same challenges in teaching MLA citation format to my students and have tried a number of approaches (quizzes, games, or simply choosing not to cover it at all). I have found that, like the instructor, an applied approach—giving students a particular problem to solve, then asking them to write it on the board for feedback from students and myself—seems to offer the most opportunities for student engagement while also “training? them in understanding and using a handbook to answer citation questions.

In addition, I was impressed with the warm and collegial environment that the instructor has created in his class, an environment in which students are clearly comfortable with and respectful of him and exhibit the same behavior with one another. I like to think that my classes have a similar quality in which students have the opportunity to develop as writers and thinkers and to learn from both me and from each other.

March 10, 2006

Steven's Observation Analysis

1. The apparent objectives for the class (providing the class with thoughtful information about globalization, increasing the class's understanding of proper MLA documentation, teaching the class about proper paraphrasing, and teaching the class about proper use of the colon) all seem to have been achieved. The instructor spent a considerable amount involving the class in discussions of these issues. The instructor used many overheads to illustrate his points and randomly called on his students to make the entire class think about his questions. However, the overheads seemed to be a little small. This probably made it more difficult for students sitting in the back of the class to follow the class's discussions; one student, for instance, responded to one of the instructor's questions about an overhead passage by saying: "I can't really see it, but it changes the text a bit." Most of the class, however, actively participated.

2. The class seemed least engaged during the discussion of proper MLA style. During this part of the class, the instructor had to plead with the students to participate, by saying things like "Come on I need a vote!" The students' lack of involvement was probably caused by two things. One the discussion was very detailed (should a period be placed here or not?), and I suspect that many of the students had not memorized MLA style to the extent that would allow them to participate comfortably in this discussion. Two, the details of MLA style are in and of themselves dull, and the instructor was not forcing students to participate by calling on them randomly in the way that he did when covering the proper use of the colon.

3. Generally, writing instruction and content seemed to be treated separately in this class. The moment when they were most connected came at the start of the class in response to a student's question about how their paper should be organized. Here, the instructor suggested structuring their papers' in three categories: Before Globalization, Impact of Globalization, and After Globalization. The content of their papers was thus intimately tied into how their papers should be written; the suggested organization of the papers might also direct the students to new insights as they wrote their papers. The rest of the class, though, was focused mainly on the mechanics of academic writing. Students were given samples of MLA style, proper punctuation, and proper paraphrase, but these issues were not treated as being closely related to issues involving globalization. In fact, the sentences that were used as examples of proper style were often about subjects unrelated to globalization. Also, the instructor did not incorporate student writing in his survey of which countries were most globalized. This was an isolated instance of learning about globalization, not writing about it.

4. N.A.

5. The theories that seemed most represented in this instructor's style of teaching were Berlin's current traditionalism and Bartholomae's. The instructor focused on teaching the conventions of academic writing, in particular proper grammar and paraphrase. The instructor also modeled how he would structure the students' paper (using a before and after structure and topic sentences). His students were encouraged to think about the facts of globalization, and to analyze those facts, not to express their feelings about them.

6. I liked the instructor's use of overheads and his quizzing his students to teach them correct paraphrasing; I do something similar to this when I talk to my students about academic sources. The instructor's teaching style was, however, more authoritative than my own. He was also much more focused on the conventions of academic writing than I tend to be. While I do spend a little time teaching my students about academic conventions (I have students give group presentations on grammatical rules which I then quiz them on) I put less emphasis on these conventions. In fact, I stress to my students the arbitrary quality of many of these rules. I want them to understand that they are expected to use these conventions in academic writing, but I do not want them to think that people who do not know these conventions are less knowledgeable than they are. I also spend more time looking at arguments with my students, than I spend teaching grammar and MLA. I ask my students to analyze the assumptions of various arguments. The instructor in this class seemed more interested in presenting facts about globalization that were reported in a credible source (here a Foreign Affairs article that lists that world's most globalized countries). While I would discuss with my students the difference between Foreign Affairs and Newsweek, I also would be more interested in getting them to question the importance of that Foreign Affairs article as well as the sources of information that the author of the Foreign Affairs piece was drawing on (presumably government statistics). I also teach styles of documentation very differently. While I will spend time explaining things they need to cite versus things they do not need to cite, I do not expect them to memorize MLA style in detail. I'm more concerned that they know the kinds of things that they need to look up in their style handbook and the pages on which they can find it.

Edward Eiffler's Presentation Proposal

Edward Eiffler
Proposal for Presentation - EngL 5630
In this presentation, I would like to discuss the use of peer-editing in second language classes and, hopefully, find ways to use it that will help the students with their writing both in and out of a second language context. This is an area that we have explored in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, but that I have never felt has been used in a particularly effective manner. From conversations with colleagues it looks like most have the students bring a rough draft of a short composition which they exchange with another student. The directions are generally to correct any errors they find. In my classes this approach has elicited very little response. Most students read the paper over, correct one or two orthographic errors, and return them to their owners. I cannot but feel that there are better ways to have the students produce more effective critiques of their classmate's papers. In this presentation, I hope to examine ways to do this. My basic questions are: 1) what are level-appropriate ways to help the students appraise each other's writing? 2) what are appropriate goals for these students? 3) to what extent does the critiquing of other student's writing help students to read their own writing more critically? 4) if it turns out that the main goal of peer-editing at this level should be grammatical improvement, how can we best achieve this? and 5) is this an appropriate activity for intermediate second language students?

March 9, 2006

Heather's objectives

The syllabus I inherited for Comp 1011 for NNS contains a laundry list of very specific objectives. If I were to reword them in more general terms, I think they would look something like this.

Students will

- become familiar with the basics of academic writing, such as forming and supporting a thesis and incorporating outside sources

- learn to evaluate, revise, and edit their own writing

- begin to read critically, considering issues such as an author's purpose, credentials, arguments, and evidence

- recognize the importance of treating writing as a process, and become comfortable with the fact that the process is a messy one

- learn to appreciate the value of writing - not just to display their knowledge, but as a tool for learning and for meaningful communication

March 7, 2006

formal assignment assignment

Download file

Marcia's powerpoints

Download file

Observation assignment (yes!)

Download file

March 6, 2006

Maru Course Objectives

María Eugenia Domínguez-Mujica
EngL5630: Theories of writing and Writing Instruction
Mar, 05, 2006

Here are my Course Objectives.
The following Course Objectives are created for Language and Communication, a writing composition class for freshman in the Humanities, in a national university in Venezuela.
Usually in Venezuela the students don’t receive any kind of specific training for writing before starting College; they are expected to learn this by themselves.

University of Los Andes. Venezuela
Language and Communication

In this course students will:

a) Relate their personal communicative competence with concepts of discourse analysis, such as stereotype, register of formality, standard norm, etc.

b) Use references for writing such as dictionaries, thesaurus, handbooks for writers, web sites, etc.

c) Identify and use models for their specific writing interest, especially articles found in peer-reviewed journals

d) Experiment and practice writing keeping in mind concepts such as audience, genre and tone.

e) Prioritize time effectively, taking into account the complexity of each writing assignment.

f) Understand what “objective? (versus subjective) means in academic discourse

g) Understand how orthography, punctuation and other formal aspects of writing serve as both an inclusive as well as an exclusive code in the academic world.

University of MN Composition Goals

In composition courses at the University of Minnesota, you will learn to

Explore diverse contexts and styles of reading and writing
Read and think critically to identify an author’s audience, purpose, argument, and assumptions
Craft a thesis in persuasive and logical ways
Evaluate and present evidence to support your ideas
Describe, analyze, and synthesize ideas among different readings
Explore cultural functions of literacy

Develop a process of writing
Interpret the contexts of your writing, its audiences and purposes
Practice the activities of writing, including generating ideas, organizing arguments, revising, editing, and creating multiple drafts
Identify and practice forms of writing most effective for your ideas and audience(s)
Learn to produce, receive, and integrate constructive feedback in your writing process
Rewrite to achieve clarity and grace of expression

Practice disciplines of research and study
Use your time and resources efficiently
Locate, analyze, document, and integrate potential sources from the library, the Internet, print sources and other media into your writing
Recognize differences between popular and scholarly sources
Demonstrate an understanding of grammar and style conventions in standard written American English
Find resources to teach you what you don't know or remember

March 5, 2006

Laura's intake assignment: Psy 3902W

In Standing & Huber (2003), the extent to which undergraduate psychology courses reduce belief in “psychological myths? was tested.

A 20 question true/false myth belief questionnaire was administered to 94 undergraduates. Demographic (age, university year, gender) and educational information (number of psychological courses taken, major, and advanced methods course taken) was also collected.

Data is presented below. Note that high scores on the myth belief questionnaire indicate greater myth rejection.

Table 1
Predictors of Psychological Myth Belief Scores, with Means and Standard Deviations
r M SD
Myth belief questionnaire score (max 20) 12.91 2.88

Junior college psychology courses -.142 1.89 1.81
University psychology courses .272** 9.93 8.24
Total psychology courses .237* 11.82 8.37
Major .257** 70% psychology major;
30% other major
Advanced methods course .361** 18% had taken AM course;
82% had not taken
Overall grade .305** 74.20 8.61
Age .242** 21.74 3.07
University year .071 2.03 1.18
Gender -.034 22% male; 78% female

In the class time that remains (roughly 45 minutes):
a) Write 1 true/ false question that you think might appear on a “psychological myth? belief questionnaire.
b) Summarize the main findings of the study (based on the table data) in no more than 100 words.
c) Indicate one demographic or educational variable that the present study did not measure, but which you think might affect the findings.
d) Provide a justification for the impact of the variable you indicate, drawing on personal experience and/ or other psychological studies than you can recall.

This assignment is intended to help me assess your initial skills in thinking critically and communicating succinctly as a psychologist. This will help me better tailor lectures and assignments to the class. This assignment will count towards the participation component of your grade only.

March 4, 2006

Steven's Course Objectives

Here is my revised list of course objectives. They're still rough, as I've bothered course objectives on my syllabus before. I'm actually still not sure that I would do so.

-Be able to recognize different kinds of political arguments and the value systems underlying those arguments.
-Understand the traditional strengths and weaknesses of those arguments
-Apply those arguments to one's own politics
-Recognize the difference between scholarly and non-scholarly articles
-Master basic research skills, i.e. be able to locate scholarly articles
-Master a style of documentation
-Have an improved understanding of grammatical conventions
-Be a more perceptive reader; one more sensitive to details and word choices
-Be a more perceptive proof reader of your own and others' writing

Assigning Collaborative Writing - Materials from Marcia's Presentation

Assigning Collaborative Writing: Is It Worth It?

These are the basic materials I’ll have around on Monday.

I’m not going to photocopy “Assigning Collaborative Writing: Fourteen Students Respond? for everyone, since I’m running low on photocopies. But it’s here if anyone wants it. It has practical suggestions (and warnings) from undergrads and graduate students who've had experience with collaborative-writing projects. (Download file)

I think there’s no real reason to have the PowerPoint around, as it’s just a skeleton of talking points.

In case you didn’t get one, this is the annotated bibliography. (Download file)

Also, Gary and Ann were interested in practical tips for assigning collaborative writing. There's a really practical one-sheet on the Internet from Rebecca Moore Howard. (Link here.)

I'm not crazy about this article by Jane Babin (it's not in my bibliography), but she has a very nuts-and-bolts practical approach, and some suggested collaborative-writing assignments. (Link here)

March 2, 2006

Post-Observation Comments, Poetry Seminar, Michael Dennis Browne

Not sure what format these comments are supposed to take; these are just some notes. If I've totally got it wrong, will someone please tell me? Oh, and this is my whole observation, if anyone's curious. Download file

Post-Evaluation Comments


Michael Dennis Browne is retiring after this year. He’s taught for over 30 years, and is an extremely successful lecturer and seminar leader. I was mostly interested in observing MDB to pick up successful teaching habits. This seminar, which is on political poetry and seems particularly close to his heart, is a combination of reading and writing poetry. It seemed that his idea was to have the seminar so student-centered that it almost leads itself. He emphasized in-class writing and collaborative work.


One aspect of the teaching that seemed successful: When he had them read aloud, he took the time to really listen to what the students were saying and engage other students. What did you remember about that? He picked out something he liked about it, and repeated that back to the reader.


Exploit this strength even further? Perhaps he could have taken even more time with each reading, asked the others what they remembered best. Sometimes, he moved over this quickly.


Another aspect that seemed successful: He asked them how they used their in-class writing. They responded variously, often chiding themselves for not using it more. At the end, said that he thought, even if they didn't use it anywhere, it was still "recorded in the universe" somewhere. 


Exploit this strength even further? Perhaps have had the students talk about ways they possibly could use their in-class writing.


Another aspect that seemed successful: He had the students' papers and quoted them back to themselves, situated them in the debate (a real debate about the nature and value of political poetry) before they started the discussion. He seemed to value and respect their comments.


Exploit this strength even further? One of the students wasn't engaged in the discussion. Perhaps find something from his paper instead of an already-engaged student's.


Were there two-three aspects of teaching that didn’t seem consistent with the professor's goals?


1) He kept saying, "I'm talking too much." Sometimes, I think he did give more information--all good--than it was possible to digest. His method/philosophy was almost for the students to run the seminar, so this wasn't quite consistent. There could have been more presentation by students, as he had planned for the following meeting.


I couldn’t come up with more than one. Some of his students say he’s a little “quote happy,? but they all fit, and are relevant. Having them bring more to the class would be the only thing, I think.


Ann's Comp Objectives

I wrote these in anticipation of teaching composition. They seem vague and unruly to me at this point; perhaps objectives always seem vague until you fill in the course with assignments and activities designed to further the objectives.

Download file