Use this space to consider the answer to the above question. Think about what we discussed in class about the impossibility of imagining an audience, think about what we know about power relations from Inoue. Think about both ends of the writing experience--invention to final product, including revision.
The threshold concept of imagining yourself the identity of a writer is fraught for student writers. What can we do--can we do in assignments, in assessments, in feedback, in class policies--the move our students ever closer to this very important threshold concept.
Hello All. Just reminding you to check the syllabus for all of the changes to deadlines for the upcoming weeks. This is an asynchronous week. Remember that I reduced the reading substantially and am instead using this week to 1) help you manage the workload for the midterm portfolio and 2) to start to think about how you will complete the ethnography/case study.
OVERVIEW: In order to post, you'll need to read the material in the Bhattacharya to get an overview of what qualitative research looks like and what kind of qualitative research will work best for you. For a complete discussion of the project, check out the assignment page for this project--mostly remember that this is not a big assignment and you don't have a ton of time to complete it so you want to identify a manageable site and research question for the purposes of fulfilling this assignment.
WHAT TO POST: Please post your idea for the site of your qualitative research. Indicate who would be involved and how you would have/get access to the site and the writers you would be observing. Secondly, indicate what kind of qualitative research you would be doing (mini-ethnography, case study, auto-ethnography). If something in the Bhattacharya appeals to you in terms of conducting research for your project (interviews, surveys), and want to pitch that you are welcome to do so. Finally, make an attempt at a research question. A good research question is more than half the battle of a successful research project.
NOTE: Just saying, the last time I taught this class, a fair number of folks in the group expanded this project for their final project due at the end of the semester. So you might think about this as a first phase of a larger project. It might help you to focus your idea into something manageable for the short term but flexible in case you really like what you produce and want to go deeper.
OVERVIEW: It's so easy to complain about student writing. It feels like a right and a privilege to do it when you work so hard at trying to help our students be better writers, readers and thinkers. Further, culturally, as (nearly) the first half of our semester has shown us, the inclination of literally everyone--teachers, employers, public-policy makers, parents--contribute in various ways to a narrative that writing has declined precipitously.
As we have discussed in class, there are two ways to react to this: you can say, as most folks do, that the only way to fix things is to "go back to basics"--whatever that means in that moment. Typically, however, it usually involves more testing and more correcting of error.
Composition and Rhetoric arise out of a moment in education when folks questioned if this was the way to go. Now, to be clear, it has not always been well-received and, if we consider current conversations about student writing skill, it would seem it has not reversed this enigmatic trend towards worse and worse writing. However, the field is also a hopeful one. We see this, most recently in the work of Inoue. But we can also see it going all the way back to 1980, during that restless time when Open Admissions created a new landscape in colleges and universities.
Basic Writing, as an area of teaching and scholarship, is the title given to courses that were essentially for those writers identified as not sufficiently prepared to take writing courses for credit. The concept has evolved over time to a greater and lesser extent depending on the institution. Community Colleges, for instance, still often offer these "remedial" classes, particularly for multilingual readers and writers. BSU got rid of its version of such a course in 2004 and replaced it with a 4 credit co-requisite model to support less resourced students. The Community College of Baltimore County has had an incredible impact on basic writing, pioneering the stretch model of writing instruction that extends the amount of time students spend in first year writing.
Before leaving our historical look at the field, I'd like for us to read from Mina Shaughessy's important work Error & Expectation. She was one of the first scholars who looked at this new landscape and said there are things we can do. She was a writing teacher at ground zero of Open Admissions, City University of New York. Her work was scene as groundbreaking at the time that it came out. Now, certainly, since that time, she's come under heavy fire for some of her ideas. But there has also been renewed interest in her work in the past year (Sadly she died from cancer not long after the publication of E & E).
POST: I started by the semester by saying that one way to flip the script on writing instruction is to change the narrative of "students are bad writers" to "writing is a hard skill to learn." In what ways does Shaughnessy speak to one or the other of these statements? In what ways does her discussion of "basic" writing speak to how we talk about writing instruction and error to day? And yet what seems forgotten from her argument in how we shape writing instruction?
torda & the 513s
Post to this space no later than 15 minutes before class when we meet synchronously; post by midnight on the day of class when we meet asynchronously (that includes both your post and your response to your colleagues).