Monday, February 29, 2016

Addison and McGee: Writing in High School / Writing in College

This article talks about the lack of expertise in student writing, the causes due to budget cuts in schools, and the large (and small) scale studies surrounding writing. They try to look at studies and trends in research and at writing across the curriculum (a recent buzz word).

The study the authors conducted was funded by the CCCC. They wrote a questionnaire and gave it to a wide range of respondents.  Not sure their sample size was enough to draw definitive conclusions, although none of the conclusions were surprising.

I will investigate the partnership between the WPA and the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE). It sounds like something interesting that I should be following; it's about helping students and faculty improve the undergraduate experience. I'm in! Their collaboration is called the Consortium for the Study of Writing in College.  As an aside, their website is rather ugly.

The National Commission on Writing published a study that found that poor writing skills keep workers from getting promoted. Did they not know that before the study? I didn't think that was a secret.

The ACT people sponsored a study that found that we need to improve writing studies K-12. Oh?

The NSSE did a survey and the 5 areas that were studies include:
Pre Writing
Clear Expectations
High Order Writing
Good Instructor Practices
Integrated Media
The study of these 5 areas confirm the  need for "quality writing experiences throughout the curriculum."

They also looked at genres in writing and what the students were assigned to write in college. It is debatable whether the learning is transferred from one genre to the next.

The differences in reporting on pages 158-159 between the faculty and students does not seem surprising. For example, I require more than one draft of a paper. Some students, however, turn the same exact draft in as a first draft and final draft. I wonder if that has anything to do with the discrepancy in reporting. What faculty require and what students actually do doesn't always align.

There was little surprise in the survey responses to how well students think they do and how well faculty rate them. Also, the part about grammar and mechanics being ranked better at a private Catholic girls' school than at an urban school--Who would have thought? :)

The article says professors tend to not assign workplace genres out of principle. I disagree.I think they don't assign them because they haven't worked in a workplace other than the university and aren't familiar with workplace genres. They've only read about them in books. It's the same reason I don't assign lab reports to my students, even though I know how relevant that genre is for them. I don't know how to write a "real-life" lab report.

As the authors look forward, they stress the following:
That colleges must pay attention to other forms of writing.
That NSSE and WPA collaboration should be a model for future research.
That we need to diversity types of writing assignments and foster transferrability.
That we don't necessarily need more research. We need to compile and analyse what we have and disseminate it.

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