Composed & Collected

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Perhaps never is history has there been such a disconnect between what schools teach and what students need to know. “Students in first-semester composition classes are routinely assigned to write a research paper, but this exercise rarely succeeds because they do not yet grasp how to analyze their sources, say the chief researchers of a multi-institutional study of college students’ citations,” Dan Berrett reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education on March 30, 2012.

“We need to be teaching analysis, and a lot of it,” Rebecca Moore Howard, professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University and co-principal investigator of the Citation Project, told Berrett.

They’re  not likely to get it from the folks who teach college freshman composition classes. “As part of a larger study, I am surveying students about writing apprehension using Daly-Miller, self perceptions of their cognitive abilities, and speaking apprehension. I am collecting data at several points, first at the beginning of their first year and then a few times later,” Cynthia Cochran of Illinois College revealed in an e-mail in a list-serve that I am on.

“Although I don’t know of current work regarding writing apprehension (except the talk I just attended; see a few lines down), I remember that when I did research on basic writers and considered various self-belief constructs, I became aware that writing apprehension had less predictive value of students’ performance than Bandura’s self-efficacy construct,” Ed Jones of Seton Hall wrote..  “Self-efficacy in a sense incorporates writing apprehension as one element in a larger psychosocial construct.”

“As a result, I’d suggest looking into using a writing self-efficacy instrument.”

Here are some of the topics that composition teachers like to look into at conferences:

  • “Exploring Transfer of Learning in Higher Education: A Cross-Institutional Study. Our project collects data on the following four phenomena: (1) student knowledge about writing; (2) student beliefs, perceptions, and dispositions about writing and writers; (3) textual performance, and (4) progress over time on items 1 – 3.”
    • “Affordances, Constraints, and Roadblocks: A Study of Writing Transfer” This involves “Longitudinal case research looking at constraints and affordances in rhetorically challenging moments; we are co-researching with our participants, who are directly guiding what data we collect, how we collect it, and they may participate in data analysis with us”
    • “Introducing Writing Studies”
    • “Practical Perspectives of Writing about Writing”
    • “Assessing Writing Studies 101: Introducing Reflective Practice through a Writing Strategies Inventory”

Composition professionals from coast to coast attend these “educational summits.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.

 

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