Read and Respond for 4/1

Happy Spring Break, colleagues!

I don’t know about you, but I felt like I was post-pedagogy-ing until the bitter end this term, if ya know what I mean….

I’m looking forward to our next meeting, which will take place on April 1st (obligatory April Fools joke). We will be discussing a genre studies approach to the teaching of writing. Please read the selections I’ve posted on the schedule and respond to this prompt:

For WIC/WAC faculty who most commonly teach writing in their discipline, a genre studies approach to teaching writing can be a lifesaver, as students have (theoretically) already fine-tuned foundational skills associated with healthy writing habits and rhetorical analysis. Do you (perhaps unknowingly) abide by a genre studies model of teaching writing in your discipline in your classroom? If so, how does this manifest? If not, how might you consider helping students write in your discipline through a genre studies approach?


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3 Replies to “Read and Respond for 4/1”

  1. I honestly found this week’s reading a little over my head. Until this WAC group, I had never heard of many of the concepts we’ve discussed, including genre studies. I attempted to incorporate some of these ideas in my class last term, such as encouraging creativity in writing a first peer-reviewed draft of a film analysis paper by incorporating a different genre: a film review. However, after reading my evals, the students found the assignment confusing, as they had to switch genres from a more informal film review in the first draft to a more formal analytical paper for the final. It was a learning experience for me in that I need to be much more clear on my objectives and expectations. While the concept of genre is intriguing, I would have to be more explicit in how the students should connect the assignments together into a final product. In my training, I’ve only written as a historian and never questioned what that meant, and we never discussed rhetorical strategies, etc. in grad seminars, so incorporating these ideas is a learning experience for me as well.

    In my classes, we do discuss the differences between primary and secondary sources, and we spent an entire class on what sources are reliable, how to find peer-reviewed sources, etc. But in the future, I could incorporate more interrogation of historical methods and genres by asking students to analyze different historical sources and identify the pros and cons of using each. (I also like the idea of a syllabus critique.) I’m teaching an upper-level history class this term, and the major assignment will include the option to write a longer paper, or a shorter paper and digital humanities project. It will be interesting to see how the students respond!

  2. Phew! Sometime reading in a different discipline is a real challenge! I found the article very interesting. It seems as if the article is suggesting that we teach our students to write within our own discipline within the context of understanding that we are writing within a different genre. To a large extent, it suggests that we need to teach writing as writing is taught in a writing or literature course. To approach writing of a science paper as an exercise in understanding genre: (What is the purpose, who is the audience, etc.), rather than jumping in with “this is how it is done”. This allows students to have an abstracted, and intentional, way of approaching a writing project…no matter the genre. It also helps if we all teach writing with a common language.
    As I said at the beginning though, reading in a different discipline is a real challenge, and learning to teach my students to write with this approach would also be a challenge. I feel like I need to go back and take WR121 to learn this (foreign) language of writing! As usual, I always feel that there is not enough time in my class to do this. But maybe there is?

  3. I’m going to assume for a second that I understand the article and the prompt! In my discipline, we spend a fair amount of time teaching students how to get through primary research articles. This usually involves teaching them the structure of a journal article, understanding the purpose of the study, what the researchers did, and what they concluded. In my WIC class, I take this a step further and teach them to read primary research as a rhetorical work. I want them to understand that in the intro, the author is setting them up by cherry picking research that supports the purpose of their study. Everything about the research is then to argue that their methods were appropriate to support their purpose, their results supported (or didn’t) their hypothesis, and their conclusions were justified based on their results. They even explain away the counterargument and bring the reader back around to the solidity of their results, just like a rhetorical essay does! Their major writing assignment uses primary research to support an argument of their own. I think that reading research from this lens really changes it for them. They no longer get bogged down in the methodology and the statistics. Instead, they read research as an argument paper. It also helps them understand that you can make science say what you want it to say, 98% of the time!

    Most of the Corvallis sections of this class do not have students write this way. They have them do a lit review or even carry out a mini research study. Personally I like my approach because it helps students understand research as a means to support a theory (argument) rather than just synthesizing the results from multiple studies into a lit review, which basically just says, “this is what we know.” It stops short of making students really think about what we DON’T know and/or how to use what we know to “prove a point.”

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