English 611
Fall, 1998
John C. Schafer
213 Founders' Hall
Office Hrs.:
Mon.: 1:30-3:00
TH: 11:00-12:00
And by appointment

Seminar in the Teaching of Writing

Table of Contents

I. Guiding Principles(1)

Collaborative Learning: You will learn collaboratively by preparing written responses to assigned readings and discussing these together. You will also work together to prepare a book that the class will publish. Why collaborative learning? Because I'm persuaded, as Kenneth Bruffee is, that reading and writing "are not solitary, individual activities, but social, and collaborative ones."(2) Bruffee continues:

When we read and write we are never alone, although we may seem to be. We are always in the company of communities of other readers and writers whose language and interests we share. Collaborative learning places this social nature of reading and writing at the center of college and university education. (p. 1)

Collaborative learning is related to the next principle of this course: discourse community.

Discourse Community: A discourse community is a group of people who "speak the same language"--people who share an interest in certain topics, know a great deal about them, and possess a common vocabulary for discussing them. You already belong to several discourse communities as a result of your family, ethnic, and religious background and your own set of personal interests (music, football, stamp-collecting). Since you are graduate students, you probably already have entered the academic discourse community of your undergraduate major, though you may feel a little uncomfortable in this community, still a little bit the outsider. This course aims to initiate you into the discourse community of writing teachers and researchers. You'll become initiated into this new community by doing what people in this community do, namely read, write, publish, and talk about the teaching of writing. You will work collaboratively and not alone because that is the way all members of discourse communities work.

Inspired by a passage of Kenneth Burke's, composition scholars think of a discourse community as an ongoing conversation. In our case, the conversation is about writing--the process of writing and how to teach writing effectively. The conversation is already in progress. People are talking animatedly in a corner. You come up, eager to join in. You understand something of what they are saying but not all: the people are using strange terms (tagmemic heuristic, protocol, recursive, topoi, ethos, I-search) and referring to people (Macrorie, Moffett, Bruffee, Shaughnessy, Bartholomae, Flower) that you don't know. So you have to listen for a while and do some reading, but soon you are ready to contribute to the conversation. In academic discourse communities, the conversation is sometimes face-to-face and sometimes "displaced into writing."(3) You will converse in both ways in English 611.

Classroom Publishing: English 611 aims to initiate you into the discourse community of writing teachers and researchers. Another goal is to produce a book about how to teach writing. This second goal helps us achieve the first. Members of academic discourse communities typically write and share their writing. The French have a proverb: "You learn to be a blacksmith by being a blacksmith." I'm assuming that you will learn to become a member of the discourse community of writing teachers and researchers by engaging in the valued activities of this community. And no activities are more valued by members of this community than writing and publishing.

A publishing project in any writing classroom also has these advantages:

1. It focuses the class--provides a clearly understood goal that everyone--students and teacher--can strive to achieve.

2. It provides a wider audience (not just the teacher, not just the class) for the work students produce. This wider audience motivates students to revise and edit carefully.

3. It allows the teacher to play the role of writing coach as well as writing evaluator. The teacher becomes a resource students can turn to as they prepare their article for publication.

4. It results in a tangible record of the classroom experience.

Contact Zones: Mary Louise Pratt defines "contact zones" as "social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power."(4) This notion of contact zones is introduced to remind us people do not always move from one discourse community to another as smoothly as Bruffee suggests. In an increasingly culturally diverse society, the boundaries between groups may not be easily crossed, agreement may not be easily achieved. Questions of authority and power cannot be ignored. So we need to consider Pratt's rougher image of a contact zone along with Bruffee/Burke's metaphor of joining a genteel conversation. For some composition scholars who invoke the idea of the discourse community education becomes accommodation. Many composition specialists believe that we need to create opportunities for oppositional or "abnormal" discourse that challenges the status quo. Some feel that we should purposely pursue pedagogies of conflict to ensure that "marginalized" voices are heard. Others feel that too often "pedagogy of conflict" becomes doublespeak for teaching the failures of Western civilization. Some scholars, Bruffee included, are working hard to come up with ways of helping students and teachers negotiate at boundaries, or contact zones. Under this heading of contact zone we will discuss these proposals.

Classroom Observation: Click here to find out more about this principle and the assignment related to it.

II. Requirements

Attendance: This is a very important requirement. This course emphasizes face-to-face conversation with your classmates and you can't converse if you're not present. Missing class will hurt your grade. How much it will hurt it depends on many factors: whether (and how quickly) you make up the work, the general quality of your contributions preceding the absence, the reason for your absence, etc.

Written Responses to Reading: Expect to come to class every Wednesday with a written response to the reading. This response can take a variety of forms, including the following. Choose whichever one you like, but try each form at least once before the semester ends.

Summary and Something Else

In this form of written response you write a summary of the reading and then do something else.

The summary won't be easy because you will have four or five articles to deal with. You can write short paragraph-long summaries of each article if you wish. That's one approach. Or you can write a summary that focuses on what the authors of the articles say about the key concepts or terms that are the topic for the week's reading. These concepts and terms are printed in bold type on your syllabus. Take the reading for Sept. 23, for example. In summarizing the four assigned articles you can explain what the different authors have to say directly or indirectly about "facilitative commentary."

What you make the "something else" that follow your summary is up to you. It could be a practical application based on the reading--an assignment, activity, or exercise that applies an approach discussed in the reading. Ideally this would be an assignment, activity, or exercise that you have thought up, but it could be one that is presented in the reading. You should describe this practical application (what the teacher does, what the students do, etc.) and also explain how it applies the approach presented in the reading; in other words, you make a link between a theory or a research result and classroom practice. I've included a sample response to illustrate this form of response that we can call "Summary and Practical Application."

There are other possibilities for the something else section. You could relate what the authors of the articles say to what you're observing in an English 100 class. If, for example, you're doing the reading on peer response for Oct. 14 and are also observing peer response groups in your English 100 class, you can compare what the experts say with your observations.

You don't need to follow up your summary with a practical application or a connection to English 100. There are still other possibilities. You could include a fictitious dialogue between two composition researchers who are discussing the topic of the reading; or a poem about the reading; or a short narrative sketch that illustrates a teaching situation related to the reading. You could use this section to relate what the authors say to pedagogical moments in your own life as a student or teacher. You could react to the style of the writer or to the research design (if the article is a report of a research project). Your response could be a parody or an ironic attack on the author's (or authors') views, perhaps employing the "reductio ad absurdum" technique in which you imagine the consequences if the author's suggestions were pushed to an extreme.


Note how the Oxford English Dictionary defines inkshed:

The shedding or spilling of ink; consumption or waste of ink in writing. 1672 MARVELL Reh. Transp. Wks. 1776 II. 58 To spare mine own pains, and prevent ink-shed (etc.). 1677 W. HUGHES Man of Sin III. iii. 94 But to avoid more Ink-shed in these Tales of Blood-shed, let's fall on some that are of a Jocunder Humour. 1759 STERNE Tr. Shandy II. ii, Terrible battles, yclept logomachies, have they occasioned and perpetuated with so much gall and ink-shed. 1850 CARYLE Latter-d. Pamph. iii. 17 With no bloodshed. . but with immense beershed and inkshed.

For us, an inkshed is a four-part response to the week's reading. Here are the four parts of the inkshed:

1. Explanation of Term: what the term, concept, or approach (writing process, invention, service learning, etc.) means to those in the discourse community of composition teachers and researchers. Basically, in this section you define the heading or headings written in bold type on your syllabus.

2. Relation to Larger Issues: how this term (concept, approach) relates to larger

issues in the teaching of writing. In this section, you place the term in a theoretical and/or historical context.

3. Representative Views: what one or two well-known composition scholars have to say about this term, concept, or approach. (If there is a research study that has shaped current thinking on this topic, this is the place to mention it. If this topic is controversial, here would be the place to explain the controversy.)

4. Assignments for Students: an assignment, activity, or exercise that applies the

term, concept, or approach. This practical application could be designed for an English class or a class in another discipline. It could be designed for any level (elementary, high school, college).

The book that English 611 published in fall, 1991 (Teaching Writing: A Graduate Students' Guide to Theory and Practice) consists of 18 inksheds, so you can consult it--it's on reserve--to understand this discourse type better. You can also consult a sample inkshed that I wrote.

Against the Grain Response

A third form of written response is what David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky call an "against the grain" response.(5) Reading in university classrooms usually takes two forms, Bartholomae and Petrosky argue.(6) In the first, students are encouraged to read for information, taking notes and memorizing as much as possible so as to be able to "speak again what the author said" (6). In the second, students read for what most people within a specialized group would take to be the main idea. B and P don't reject these forms of reading, which they refer to as reading "with the grain," but they see them as preliminary to more "aggressive" forms that they refer to as "reading against the grain."

The forms of response I've discussed above encourage reading with the grain. Summarizing and considering practical applications encourage what B and P call a "generous" reading. I've found that students early in 611 are content to be generous but eventually they begin to resist this push toward generosity and want to read more critically. The "Against the Grain" response allows for more critical responses.

Note that in an "Against the Grain" response one also begins with a summary or paraphrase of what you understand the author(s) to be saying. B and P encourage beginning in this way to get "a tentative or provisional hold on a text, its examples and ideas." Beginning by restating, B and P argue, "allows you a place to begin to work" (11). It might be helpful to think of your response as one-third with the grain, two-thirds against the grain.

You may wish to concentrate on only one assigned essay in your response or to make your response apply more equally to all the readings. That's up to you. Sometimes one article will assist you in an against-the-grain reading of another, and thus you could see your response as a continuation of the project begun by the author of the second reading. To ensure that you have at least considered all readings, you should always comment on all the readings. If you find yourself concentrating on one of the readings in the body of your response, you can simply add a paragraph in which you explain how, in your view, the other essays or chapters relate to the reading that received your primary attention. Do they say the same thing? Different things? In what ways do they agree or disagree?

Here are some questions that may help you in your response. Please consider them suggestions, not prescriptions. I have also included a sample "Against the Grain" response, one written by a former student in 611 (pp. 20-21). It's an apt example because in it Cynthia Stuart Romano goes against the grain of Bartholomae and Petrosky's notions about reading and writing.

Questions to Guide an Against the Grain Response

With the Grain Section

What is the author saying? What would be a suitable paraphrase or summary?

What do you think composition specialists would take to be the main idea of this reading?

If you were a teacher and thought or acted in the way the author wished you to think and act, what kinds of things would you be thinking and doing in the classroom?

Against the Grain Section:

Do you find any limitations in the argument presented?

Based on your own experience as a student and/or teacher, do you have reservations about what the author is proposing? Imagine yourself the recipient of the philosophy or teaching strategy being proposed. Would you be lucky to experience it?

Do you see any signs of bias? Can you suggest interests (segments of the population, e.g.) that the author's argument serves and interests that it doesn't serve?

If the author gives examples, do you see other ways they could be interpreted, perhaps ways that would not support the author's argument?

Is there something important left out, not said?

How Essays Relate to Each Other (Doesn't need to be a separate section)

How do you see the relationship of the two (or more) articles? Do they say the same thing? How do their authors agree? Disagree? If they disagree, what different assumptions underlie the disagreement?

Guidelines for Written Responses

1. Length: two pages single-spaced. Could be shorter. Can't be longer.

2. Suggestion for a format sequence to follow throughout the term: Begin responding using the form of "Summary and Something Else," making the something else a practical application. Then move to "Inkshed" and "Against the Grain." Finish with the "Summary and Something Else" form but make the something else a narrative, poem, parody, or dialogue-something that blurs the genres of expository and creative writing.

3. Copies: Bring photocopies of your response to class, enough for your group members and one for me.

4. In class procedure for written responses: Group members pass out copies of responses. Group members read all responses and then begin discussion. This discussion differs in purpose from the talk that occurs in a typical peer response group in a writing class. In a typical writing group you comment to help the writer revise; in your groups in 611 you comment to help each other understand the topic of the day. This purpose doesn't preclude your making comments about the quality of a group member's writing, but these comments should be primarily positive. Since the author will not be revising, there is no point to dwell on weaknesses. Instead you can identify ways in which a group member's response helped you to understand the topic of the day.

Although I don't want to suggest a rigid structure, here's some phases through which your discussion might proceed:

a. Observations about common elements in all the responses.

b. Discussion of differences in interpretation and/or opinion.

c. Identification of some useful or intriguing passages or observations or suggested classroom strategies in the responses of group members.

d. Specification of unanswered questions or unresolved issues related to the topic of the day. These should be listed by the group secretary and will be taken up in our whole class discussion.

5. My written response to your writing: I'll make brief written responses to your writing and return your papers the next class. My comments are not intended to be models of expert written response of the type I would recommend making on papers that students will later revise. Instead they are designed to keep our conversation going about issues related to teaching writing. Although I may sometimes comment on problems related to grammar, punctuation, and style, I do not expect perfectly edited prose in these weekly writings. Consider these them as an opportunity to improve your writing. If you turn in papers that seem problem-free to you, then my comments will be more useful to you. If you turn in papers that you know have problems, then by commenting on these problems I'll be telling you things that you already know.

6. Saving of written responses: Please save in a folder the copies of your written responses that have my comments. I will ask you to turn these in for the mid-term and final evaluation of your work.

7. Evaluation of written responses: Your written responses count 30% of your grade. I'll be asking the following questions when I evaluate them:

-Do they reveal that the reading was done carefully?

-If they focus primarily on one of the daily readings, do the written responses reveal that the writer did the day's reading-that all the articles contributed to the writer's understanding of the topic?

-Do they reveal a developing understanding of concepts, issues and terms related to teaching writing?

-Are they written in a way that will help other students in 611 understand the topic being discussed?

-Does the portfolio of written responses include at least one example of each of my suggested forms--Summary and Something Else, Inkshed, and Against the Grain?

Chapter for Class Book: Every student in the class will write one chapter for the class book. Suggested length for each chapter: six pages, typed, double-spaced. You choose the topic for your paper, guided by suggestions from your classmates and from me. Although I know writing for a wider audience can be terrifying, it can also be challenging and fun. You'll receive a great deal of feedback on developing drafts from your peers and from me.

Here is a schedule for the writing of your chapters:

Sept. 21-Oct. 5: Consult with me to discuss possible topics.

Wed., Sept. 30: One typed page (single or double-spaced) proposal for a chapter is due. Your group will respond to your proposal.

Wed., Nov. 4: Rough draft of chapter due. Your classmates will respond to your draft, you'll respond to theirs. This initial response will address global issues of purpose, focus, and organization.

Wed., Nov. 11: Personal conference with me to discuss the draft of your chapter. Most conferences will occur during class time, but some will be scheduled at other mutually convenient times.

Nov. 16-Dec. 2: Response to your draft from classmates and me. This response will stress editing-style, clarity, punctuation, format (headings, citation form, etc.).

Wed., Dec. 2: Final polished draft due.

By Dec. 5: Editorial Board takes collection to be printed.

Mon., Dec. 14: Class book is distributed to class members.

Class Observation: All of you will observe a section of English 100 or English 100I and keep an Observation Log of your experience. Click here for more information on this requirement.

Deadlines: You are required to meet deadlines for all assignments. Part of your grade is based on how successful you are in completing work on time.

III. A Typical Class

A typical class will proceed as follows:

--Announcements, circulation of attendance sheet

--Group discussion of your responses to the reading

--Whole class discussion of questions emerging from the group conversations

--Short (15 to 20 min.) teacher-led discussion, demonstration or activity related to the topic of the day

--Concluding comments, short preview of next day's topic and reading

IV. Evaluation

Written responses to reading: 30 %

Final paper: 25 %

Observation of English 100 class 20 %

Deadlines: 15 %

Class participation and performance in groups: 10 %

VI. Textbooks, Publication Fee


Connors, Robert and Cheryl Glenn. The St. Martin's Guide to Teaching Writing. 2nd ed. Abbre.: GTW

Elbow, Peter. Writing without Teachers. 2nd ed. Abbre: WWT

Villanueva, Victor, ed. Cross-talk in Composition Theory. Abbre.: CTCT

Packet of articles available in HSU Bookstore


Harris, Joseph. A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966.

There will also be a publication fee of between $10 to $15 to cover the cost of printing the class book. Each student will receive a copy of this book.

VII. List of Topics and Schedule


GTW: The St. Martin's Guide to Teaching Writing (Required textbook)

WWT: Writing without Teachers (Required textbook)

CTCT: Cross-talk in Comp Theory: A Reader (Required textbook)

Packet: Packet of articles that is available in the library (Required textbook)

Aug., 26: Introduction, The Boylston Professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory, Origins of Current-Traditional Rhetoric
Sept. 2: From Current-Traditional Rhetoric to Process Rhetoric
Donald M. Murray, "Teach Writing as a Process not Product," CTCT
Connors and Glenn, GTW, Chap. 6, pp. 101-123
Linda Flower and John R. Hayes, "A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing," CTCT
Linda Flower, "Writing Reader-Based Prose," Packet
James A. Berlin, "Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories," CTCT
Sept. 9: Expressivism
Elbow, WWT, Chaps. 1 through 3
James A. Berlin, "Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class," CTCT
David Bartholomae, "Writing with Teachers: A Conversation with Peter Elbow," CTCT
Peter Elbow, "Being a Writer vs. Being an Academic: A Conflict in Goals," CTCT
Bartholomae and Elbow, "Interchanges: Responses to Bartholomae and Elbow," CTCT
Sept. 16: Teaching Invention and Arrangement
Connors and Glenn, GTW, Chaps. 7 and 8
Karen Burke LeFevre, "A Platonic View of Rhetorical Invention," Packet
Lillian Bridwell-Bowles, "Discourse and Diversity: Experimental Writing with the Academy," packet
Sept. 23: Responding to Student Writing I: Facilitative Commentary
Connors and Glenn, GTW, Chap. 5
C. H. Knoblauch and Lil Brannon, "Responding to Texts: Facilitating Revision in the Writing Workshop," Packet
Nancy Sommers, "Responding to Student Writing," GTW, pp. 307-314
Robert J. Connors and Andrea Lunsford, "Teachers' Rhetorical Comments on Student Papers," GTW, pp. 445-467

Beginning this week and continuing next week, I'll meet with each of you individually to explore possible topics for your final paper.

Sept. 30: Responding to Student Writing II: The Concept of Control
Richard Straub, "The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of 'Directive' and 'Facilitative' Commentary," Packet
Summer Smith, "The Genre of the End Comment," Packet

You should bring to class five copies of a single page (could be longer) of typed notes on the topic you are thinking about writing about for your class book.

No inkshed due this week. Sharing of comments you have written on some sample student papers.

Oct. 7: Social Constructionist Approaches
Patricia Bizzell, "Cognition, Convention, and Certainty: What We Need to Know about Writing," CTCT
Connors and Glenn, GTW, Chap. 6, pp. 123-137
Kenneth Bruffee, "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind'," CTCT
________, "What Teachers Do in Collaborative Learning," first chapter of Bruffee's Instructor's Manual that accompanies his freshman composition textbook A Short Course in Writing, 4th Ed. Packet.
David Bartholomae, "Inventing the University," CTCT
Oct. 14: Responding to Student Writing III: Peer Response Groups; Tutoring, Conferencing
Connors and Glenn, GTW, Chap. 3
Elbow, WWT, Chaps. 4 and 5
Donald Murray, "The Listening Eye: Reflections on the Writing Conference," packet
Lad Tobin, "Productive Tension in the Writing Conference: Studying Our Students and Ourselves," packet


A written response to another student paper is due.

Oct. 21: Service Learning and Composition
Nora Bacon, "Community Service Writing: Problems, Challenges, Questions," packet
Bruce Herzberg, "Community Service and Critical Teaching," packet
Linda Adler-Kassner, "Digging a Groundwork for Writing: Underprepared Students and Community Service Courses," packet
Ellen Cushman, "Rhetorician as Agent of Social Change," packet

Sharing of comments you have written on the sample student paper distributed last week.

Oct. 28: Teaching at the Contact Zone, The Case for "Pedagogies of Conflict"
Mary Louise Pratt, "Arts of the Contact Zone," packet
Richard E. Miller, "Fault Lines in the Contact Zone," packet
Patricia Bizzell, "'Contact Zones' in English Studies," CTCT
Joseph Harris, "Negotiating the Contact Zone," packet

Note: In "Fault Lines" Richard Miller talks about an article by Gloria Anzaldua called "Entering the Serpent" from her book Borderlands/La Frontera which is in Bartholomae and Petrosky's Ways of Reading, a reader for composition classes. Since publishing the article mentioned below, Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzog have published Negotiating Difference: Cultural Case Studies for Composition, a reader that applies the principles Bizzell lays out in her article. Both these comp readers are on reserve. Check them out before class.

Nov. 4: Peer Response to Your Papers


Your peers will respond to a rough draft of your submission to the class book (and you will respond to theirs).
Nov. 11: Personal Conferences

You will meet with me in a personal conference to discuss your submission to the class book. Class time will be used for these personal conferences, so there will be no regular class.
Nov. 18: Computers and Composition; Discussion of English 100 Observation


First half of class: Reports on some web sites related to composition. Assignments will be explained later, but you can see my web page for English 600, especially the group assignment on the internet, for some useful web sites related to composition and rhetoric.

Second half of class: Informal discussion of English 100 observation, including the sharing of promising approaches.
Nov. 25: Thanksgiving Recess
Dec. 2: Teaching Editing and Style


No inkshed due. My aim for this class meeting is to introduce some approaches to teaching style and editing using examples from your own writing. This means I'll need some people to give me a copy of your paper on Monday, Nov. 30.

Connors and Glenn, GTW, Chaps. 9 and 10
Richard Lanham, Revising Prose, Chaps. 1 and 2, reserve.
Dec. 9: Designing a Freshman Composition Course
Connors and Glenn, GTW, Chaps. 1,2, and 4
Chris Anson et al., "Teaching Writing: Course Designs," packet

Instead of the usual written response, write a page in which you explain which of the six course designs (A Personal Essay Course, A Forms and Strategies Course, etc.) described in Anson et al.'s article appeals to you the most. Which design is closest to the design that you would like to use if you taught freshman composition? Are there aspects that you would wish to change? How might you modify it? As you plan modifications, consider Connors and Glenn's suggestions.


Mon., Dec. 14, 3:00--4:50: Final Exam/Distribution of Class Books

There will be no final exam. We'll meet at this time to distribute class books and to reflect on the semester.


Sample of "Summary and Practical Response"

Note: This sample is based on some readings on how to respond to writing by ESL students. The heading in the "List of Topics and Schedule" was "Responding to Student Writing: Written Response."

English 611 Jean or John Q. Student

Vivian Zamel, "Responding to Student Writing" (1985)(7)

Ann K. Fathman and Eliz. Whalley, "Teacher Response to Student Writing: Focus on Form versus Content"(1990)

Dana R. Ferris, "The Influence of Teaching Commentary on Student Revision" (1997).

Changing Attitudes toward Written Response(8)

These articles, written at roughly five-year intervals, reflect changing attitudes toward written response. When Zamel wrote her article, many L2 teachers were enthusiastically adopting the process approach popular in L1 circles. According to recent L1 research on written commentary, she says, teachers focus too much on "surface-level problems" in first drafts when they should focus on "meaning-level" concerns (81-82). They also give contradictory advice: interlinear comments suggest minor editing will fix things whereas a marginal or end comment calls for full-scale revision. Finally, pro-process L1 researchers fault teachers for producing too many comments that are not "text-specific," i.e. comments that could be rubber-stamped on any paper. Zamel then reports on her study of how teachers of university-level ESL writing classes respond to students' writing. She finds that their commentary has the same weaknesses as that of L1 teachers and calls for more flexible responding, fewer references to abstract rules, more text-specific recommendations.

Fathman and Whalley's research focuses more narrowly on the effectiveness of commenting on form as opposed to content. They analyze the writing--original drafts and rewrites--of 72 students enrolled in intermediate ESL college composition classes at two different colleges. Some students received no feedback, some received grammar feedback, some received content feedback, and some received grammar and content feedback. Results: only students who received grammar feedback improved the grammatical accuracy of their rewrites but students who received no content feedback improved the content of their rewrites (but those that received content feedback improved the content more). Based on their study, F and W conclude that general comments (i.e. not text-specific) can be effective and that grammar and content feedback can be presented at the same time.

Interestingly, Truscott(9) (See reading for Feb. 16), who advocates abandoning all grammar correction, discounts F and W's positive results because, he says, F and W prove only that "students can produce better compositions when teachers help them with those particular compositions" (339). Nothing in their study, he says, suggests that those students will be better writers in the future. No doubt Truscott would argue that the learning promoted by the comments of F and W's teachers was "pseudolearning"-"a superficial and possibly transient form of knowledge" (345).

Using an elaborate scheme, Ferris classifies one teacher's comments by type-for example, "Ask for information/question" and "Give information/statement," "Text-specific" (yes or no)-and then searches for connections between comment type and influence on a rewrite. Did the comment cause "No change," "Minimal change/negative effect," or "Substantive change/positive effect," for example. She finds that longer comments and text-specific comments caused more improvement than shorter, non-specific comments; she also finds that comments given in the form of questions may not be effective with L2 writers, perhaps because they don't help students understand what they are supposed to do. Another problematical comment type is "give information" in which a teacher provides information about a topic the student is addressing. Ferris suggests that students may not know what they are to do with the information provided.

Unlike Zamel, both F and W and Ferris find that teachers of ESL writing are making useful comments on students' papers. Is this because they have adopted the commenting strategies recommended in the L1 research praised by Zamel? Maybe not. F and W suggest that grammar correction (Zamel's "surface-level concerns") can be effective and both F and W and Ferris insist that comments that aren't text-specific have their place. These later researchers recommend a more selective adoption of strategies popular in L1 circles.

Practical Application

To help ensure comments are effective, Ferris recommends having students submit along with their revisions a letter in which they review the feedback they received on their first draft and explain how they have dealt with it. If they have disregarded it, they should explain why. This letter is analogous, Ferris says, to the letters scholars write when they resubmit an article to a journal editor after receiving response from readers. "This technique," Ferris says, "encourages reflection upon both feedback and revision yet allows student writers some freedom to ignore or disagree with comments they have received, as long as these decisions can be justified" (331). This letter also provides valuable feedback to the teacher regarding how her comments have been received.

Sample of an Inkshed

This inkshed is based on some readings on the topic of "Writing Across the Curriculum ."

English 611 Jean or John Q. Student

Christopher Thaiss, "Language Across the Curriculum" (1984)(10)

Toby Fulwiler, "Student Journals" (1987)

Charles Bazerman, "Creating Knowledge," "Reading and Writing about Past Events: The Humanities and Historical Sciences" and "Reading and Writing about Events as They Happen: Observation in Social and Natural Sciences" (1987)


Joseph Harris, "The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing" (1989)

Writing to Learn and Learning to Write in the Disciplines

Explanation of Term: "Writing Across the Curriculum" (WAC) refers to a movement to include writing in all subjects of the curriculum, not just the language arts or English class. Thaiss' article is entitled "Language Across the Curriculum" not "Writing Across the Curriculum" because he emphasizes that any verbalizing--talking or writing--can promote learning. The idea suggested by the phrase "WAC" is that one can write to learn (physics, history, etc.) as one writes (journal entries, essays, reports, lab reports, etc.).

Others, however, don't use the term "WAC" but also have ideas about writing in the disciplines. However, they approach WAC in a different way. These composition teacher/researchers talk about "discourse communities" and have been influenced by Bartholomae and others who see the writing teacher's task as showing students how to write papers that will be acceptable to communities of, say, social scientists or English teachers. Those who approach WAC in this way assume that writing in the sciences is radically different from writing in the humanities and that students need to be explicitly taught the differences. The focus here is on learning how to write in different disciplines, not on writing to learn the different disciplines.

Relation to Larger Issues: Those who argue for the first approach to WAC refer to studies like those by Britton et al. (1975) and Emig (1977) that suggest "a close correlation between verbalizing, in speech and writing, and the ability to assimilate perceptions" (Thaiss, p. 34). In other words, writing and talking about a subject enhances learning. Thaiss also makes clear the link between this first approach to WAC and the process theory of writing. Advocates of the process approach like Britton (1975) emphasize that expressive writing is the matrix out of which other kinds of writing develop and they stress the value of unpressured writing--writing that is done to please the self and may never be turned in for evaluation. Not surprisingly advocates of this first approach to WAC stress journal writing (See below).

Those who argue for the second approach--the "discourse communities approach"--have been influenced by modern literary theorists. Harris, for example, refers to Raymond Williams, Stanley Fish, and Roland Barthes. Literary theorists have recently begun to emphasize the social nature of composing--to see literary texts as the products of social forces not acts of individual creation. Similarly, advocates of this second approach to WAC see young writers as having to adjust to the social forces imposed by a community of, say, social scientists. They stress academic writing, not expressive or private writing.

Representative Views: Fulwiler's article "Student Journals" is a good example of the first approach to WAC. For Fulwiler a "journal" is part diary (subjective expression) and part class notebook (more objective). He encourages teachers of different subjects to have students keep a journal to promote learning. Teachers can start a class, for example, by having students write briefly in their journals about a quotation from the assigned reading. Or teachers can end a class by having students attempt to summarize in their journals what they have learned in class. Or a teacher can stop lecturing in the middle of a period and ask students to write about an idea she has just mentioned.

The excerpts from Bazerman's textbook represent the discourse communities approach to WAC. Bazerman emphasizes that writing varies in the different disciplines, partly because people in the different disciplines look at different things: art historians look at paintings, physicists look at electrons, for example. Since a painting and an electron are so different they have to be described in different ways. But discourse differs across the curriculum also because members of different disciplines have different interests. Take murder, for example. A biochemist will want to know if homicidal behavior can be linked to chemical structure, a psychologist will want to investigate the feelings and childhood of the murderer, a literary critic may want to consider how the murder of a character relates to larger patterns in the text, etc. These different interests will lead people in different disciplines to gather different kinds of data to use as evidence.

Bazerman doesn't talk about each discipline, but rather groups certain disciplines whose members produce similar kinds of discourse. For example, history, geology, and archeology are grouped in a category called "reconstructive disciplines" because they attempt to determine what happened in the past (p. 323); sociology, psychology, anthropology, and political science are grouped together because members of these disciplines write about events as they happen, usually in order to establish general principles of behavior.

Assignment for Students: Make notes in a journal as you complete the following activities:

1. Visit a professor who teaches in your major field and ask her to recommend a scholarly article in her field that she admires--that she feels is an example of good scholarly writing in the field. Ask her for a complete citation (author, title, name of journal, date of journal issue containing the article, etc.). 2. Go to the library, find the article, read it, and think about why your professor chose it as a sample of good writing in her field. Then visit the professor again and discuss the article with her. Ask her why she chose the article as an example of good writing in her field. Did she identify the same features as you did?

3. Read what Bazerman says about writing in your professor's discipline in his book The Informed Writer. Does the article you read have the features identified by Bazerman? [This activity could be omitted.]

4. Drawing on your journal notes, write an informal report of around two pages (double-spaced) of what you learned from your investigation.

Variation on above assignment:

Ask the professor to suggest not only a good scholarly article but also a popular article (one written for a more general audience). Go through the same steps but include comments on the difference between the scholarly and popular treatments. Some textbooks like Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff's A Community of Writers include pairs of essays (one popular, one scholarly). These could be used in introducing this assignment to students.

Sample of Against the Grain Response

English 611 Cynthia Stuart Romano

David Bartholomae, "Inventing the University" (1985)

Peter Elbow, "Reflections on Academic Discourse: How It Relates to Freshmen and Colleagues" (1991)(11)

Against the Grain: Bartholomae and Inventing the University


Bartholomae argues that writing is aggression disguised as charity, and that a writer must be in the position of equal or greater status than the reader in order to earn the right of speaking to the discourse community. He suggests that university students have an audience awareness problem, that they must speak to the professor as if they had equal status, which they don't, and must be able to "invent" the university, since they must speak in a discourse that they haven't mastered and may not understand. This dilemma leads to bluffing, imitation, parody, commonplaces, and syntactical errors in student writing because the student may have the words, but does not have the language or the authority to speak.

Elbow argues that the teacher should teach more than the conventions of academic discourse because the purpose of writing extends beyond college. Writers should render as well as explain, and writers should be able to discuss a concept in everyday terms as well as in the terms from a discourse community.


Writing can be more than aggression and power-play. It can take the form of self-awareness, an explorative learning tool, empathetic understanding of the "other," and a genuine invitation to dialogue. If we, academia, want to promote social change, genuine dialogue between multiple voices, and at least tolerance (at best, harmonious relations) between people, then we can teach these other modes of writing as well as argument and analysis, which do tend to be aggressive and hierarchical. Like Elbow, I believe that the purpose of writing extends beyond college.

Bartholomae assumes that the student invents the university, but that the university has no obligation to "invent" the student. He assumes that the ones in power are static and unchanging. I would argue that the university must also invent, must (and does) change and learn from the influence of its students. An old adage is that the teacher learns a lot by teaching; this is one way of expressing the change. I assume a constant, dialogical co-creation.

Bartholomae states that there are no new ideas. He assumes that the students' purpose is to assimilate the authority's teachings. I assume that new ideas happen continually, since this is a dynamic, changing universe, not simply a socially constructed rehash of some static set of ideas. I argue that the world is, again, a co-creation of essentialist givens and social constructions. My job as a writing teacher is to teach students the means to locate within and outside of themselves the ideas and feelings; then they must articulate and express them. My bigger job as a writing teacher is to get each student to trust him or herself as well as to learn from current authorities.

Bartholomae's idea that the writer shapes history through aggression and self-consciousness runs counter to Native American and eco-feminist world-views, to name a few.

I wonder if Bartholomae's high rating of the one creativity essay is because the thesis of the student-that creativity is subject to interpretation, self-conscious doubt, etc.-mirrors Bartholomae's own thinking.

Observation of an English 100 Class


Half way through your observation period: Turn in your notebook to me for review. I'll read it through, make some comments, and perhaps suggest some ways to focus your observations for the second half of the observation period.

Wed., Nov. 18: Turn in your notebook for evaluation.

Purpose of This Assignment

This assignment enables you to see immediately--right at the start of your M.A.T.W. program--what teaching writing is like. I believe the readings and activities in 611 move from theory to practice. But our conversations in 611 can become more meaningful when you observe the issues we've discussed being worked out in an actual class. This observation becomes an important part of your training and prepares you for your required internship (English 682) and for later teaching assignments.

Another purpose of this option is to introduce you to ethnographic research--to give you some experience in making observational notes, arriving at tentative hypotheses, and summarizing your conclusions. One way to approach this assignment is to think of yourself as a teacher-researcher. Many teachers are now doing their own research to find answers to questions that interest them. This movement has been enhanced by growing interest in ethnographic (or participant-observer, or naturalistic) research as a supplement to more positivist approaches based on the pre-test/post-test design. Ethnography was pioneered by anthropologists who live within a different culture and take field notes on what they learn and observe. You may wish to think of this assignment as an opportunity to try your hand at ethnographic research in the exotic setting of an HSU English 100 class. Your notes could be the beginning of a project that you will want to continue working on for your M.A. project

General: You should observe a class for five weeks. Ideally these should be consecutive weeks so you can get a feel for how one assignment builds on another. Your role may be as an observer or as a participant-observer. You should work out a role with the regular teacher that you both feel comfortable with. You may wish to help out with response groups, in individual conferences, in commenting on papers. If the regular teacher approves, you could teach the class for a day or two, but remember you will have a chance to be an intern teacher later. This is a chance to observe how writing is taught, it is not a student teaching assignment, so don't let yourself be drawn too deeply into a teaching role.

Your Notes, Suggestions for Focus: Record in a notebook what goes on in class. Make notes on whatever seems noteworthy, but after a few observations I suggest you focus your observations and notes in some way. You might observe one or two students more closely and note their participation in whole class discussions, their performance in response groups, their success in writing assignments. Or you could focus more sharply on one aspect of teaching writing: on how assignments are made, on how response group work is structured, on how reading is integrated with writing, how revision is taught, etc.

Because you will be preparing written responses to the reading every week and working on a chapter for our class book, I am not asking for a formal report in which you arrive at some conclusions based on your observation. But I do want you to reflect on what you have observed and therefore would like you to do the following:

1. End each notebook entry with a general statement about the class you have just observed. In this statement you could offer your judgment as to why this was a successful or unsuccessful class; or you could relate what you observed to discussions we've had in Eng. 611; or you could explain what this class has suggested to you about teaching writing; or you could mention what research question your observation has suggested to you.

2. Include a final entry in which you do three or more of the following:

a. Summarize recurring themes that you notice as you review your notebook entries.

b. Offer some tentative conclusions about the students you observed most

intensely or the aspects of writing on which you chose to concentrate.

c. Reflect on what the observation experience has taught you about the teaching of writing and how it has affected your own teaching philosophy and style.

d. Describe a research question that has been prompted by your observation, one that you might want to investigate for your M.A.T.W. project.

e. Describe the composition theory (process, social constructionist, cognitive, e.g.) that appears to have inspired the teaching practice you observed.

f. Relate what you observed to the views of some of the composition teachers and researchers you read in 611.

g. Reflect on your "mini-experience" as an ethnographic researcher: Are you satisfied with what you can learn from observation?

h. Comment on English 100 at HSU through a "frame" (See below) provided by one of the articles listed below (in the section called "Frames") or by one of the articles assigned on the syllabus or by some other article you have read.

Degree of Neatness: Your notebook should not be in the form of doodles, indecipherable drawings, illegible writing. Some of you may have to recopy your rough notes taken during class. All of you will probably have to add your concluding statement after you've left the classroom. Your notebook entries should not be in a private shorthand that only you can understand. Sometimes you may have to explain the class activity briefly so I will understand what you are talking about. In other words, this is not a private diary nor is it a class notebook that only you will read. It has a dual audience: it's for you and your teacher.

How to Start: Find a section of English 100 that meets when you are free to attend. Find out who teaches that section (see the Dept. secretary or check the door to the TA offices in the Green and Gold Room). Then contact the English 100 teacher--his or her office hours would be a good time--and see if that teacher is agreeable. Give them a copy of this handout so they understand what is involved. If it's OK with the English 100 teacher, discuss your role, when you begin observing, etc. One rather delicate issue has come up in the past, and I want to discuss it here. Some English 100 teachers have asked if they could read the observer's notebook. This desire is understandable: for five weeks the teacher pours her heart out, struggles to teach her very best, while the observer observes and writes and writes. It's normal to be curious about what the observer is writing, what she thinks about the class. But the observer also needs to be free to get down her thoughts quickly. If she must pause to phrase every observation diplomatically, she may miss something important. I suggest this. Bring up this issue and explain what I'm suggesting, namely, that the notebook not be shown to the teacher, but that the observer agrees to meet with the teacher at the end of the five weeks for a friendly chat about what she has learned from her observation. Tentative conclusions, thoughts about things that went well, impressions of students in the class, etc.--all this could be talked about.

Before You Start: Read the following article which will help you understand what ethnographic research is and what its possibilities are. It includes descriptions of the different roles an observer can play (complete observer, participant-as-observer, etc.), makes some suggestions regarding the kind of notes to take (observational notes, theoretical notes, etc.).

Doheny-Farina, Stephen and Lee Odel. "Ethnographic Research on Writing: Assumptions and Methodology." in Writing in Nonacademic Settings. Eds. Lee Odell and Dixie Goswami. New York: Guilford Press, 1985). 503-535. Reserve

Frames: Chris Anson argues that teachers can help ensure that journals encourage reflective thinking by giving students "frames," or perspectives from which to view their experiences.(12) Anson is speaking about a service learning situation in which students may be keeping a journal of an activity not directly related to the subject of the course. For example, students in a sociology course may tutor students in an adult literacy program. In these situations, Anson suggests, teachers can have students read articles about literacy to provide a frame within which to reflect on their experience. In English 611 our reading is directly related to your observation experience, and so every article can become a frame that can encourage reflection. Many of the assigned articles, however, encourage reflection on a particular aspect of teaching writing-teaching arrangement, commenting on student papers, for example. Listed below are some articles that discuss freshman writers and freshman composition and basic writing more generally. They may provide a perspective that can enrich your observation experience. All of them are on reserve.

Bartholomae, David. "The Tidy House: Basic Writing in the American Curriculum." Journal of Basic Writing 12.1 (1993): 4-21. Reserve.

Brooke, Robert. "Underlife and Writing Instruction." Rhetoric and Composition: A Sourcebook for Teachers and Writers. 3rd ed. Ed. Richard L. Graves. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990. 96-107. Reserve.

Crowley, Sharon. "Composition's Ethic of Service, the Universal Requirement, and the Discourse of Student Need." Journal of Advanced Composition 15 (1995): 227-39. Reserve.

David, Denise, Barbara Gordon, and Rita Pollard. "Seeking Common Ground." CCC 46 (1995): 522-532. Reserve.

Fox, Tom. "Basic Writing as Cultural Conflict." Journal of Education 172 (1990): 65-83. Reserve.

Sullivan, Francis J. et al. "Student Needs and Strong Composition." CCC 48 (1997): 372-391. Reserve.

Evaluation: I'll base my evaluation of your observation primarily on your notebook but also on how you make use of your observation experience to contribute to the conversation of 611. Regarding your notebook, I'll check to see whether you have the required number of entries (10 for TTH classes, 15 for MWF classes) and whether you have conformed to the other requirements set forth above regarding neatness, a concluding entry, etc. Beyond these minimal requirements a good notebook will reveal that you have observed classroom activities with care and intelligence, and it will demonstrate your ability to relate what you have observed to larger issues in the teaching of writing.

Course Packet for English 611: Seminar in the Teaching of Writing

Note: Articles are listed in order they appear on course syllabus. Topics from the syllabus are written in bold type.

I've used these abbreviations:

CCC=College Composition and Communication

CE=College English

From Current-Traditional Rhetoric to Process Rhetoric

Flower, Linda. "Writing Reader-Based Prose." Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing. 4th ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993. 223-248.

Teaching Invention and Arrangement

LeFevre, Karen Burke. "A Platonic View of Rhetorical Invention." Invention as a Social Act Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Univ. Pr., 1987. 10-32.

Bridwell-Bowles, Lillian. "Discourse and Diversity: Experimental Writing within the Academy." CCC 43 (1992): 349-368.

Responding to Student Writing I: Facilitative Commentary

Knoblauch, C. H. and Lil Brannon. "Responding to Texts: Facilitating Revision in the Writing Workshop." Rhetorical Traditions and the Teaching of Writing. C. H. Knoblauch and Lil Brannon. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook, 1984. 118-150

Responding to Student Writing II: The Concept of Control

Straub, Richard. "The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of 'Directive' and 'Facilitative' Commentary." CCC 47 (1996): 223-251.

Smith, Summer. "The Genre of the End Comment." CCC (48): 249-268.

Social Constructionist Approaches

Bruffee, Kenneth. "What Teachers Do in Collaborative Learning." Instructor's Manual for Short Course in Writing. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. 1-19.

Responding to Student Writing III: Peer Response Groups; Tutoring, Conferencing

Murray, Donald M. "The Listening Eye: Reflections on the Writing Conference." CE 41 (1979): 13-18.

Tobin, Lad. "Productive Tension in the Writing Conference: Studying Our Students and Ourselves." To Compose: Teaching Writing in High School and College. 2nd edit. Ed. Thomas Newkirk. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990. 95-112.

Service Learning and Composition

Bacon, Nora. "Community Service Writing: Problems, Challenges, Questions." Writing the Community: Concepts and Models for Service Learning in Composition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner, Robert Crooks, and Ann Watters. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education, 1997. 39-55.

Herzberg, Bruce. "Community Service and Critical Teaching." CCC 45 (1994): 307-319.

Adler-Kassner, Linda. "Digging a Groundwork for Writing: Underprepared Students and Community Service Courses." CCC 46 (1995): 552-555.

Cushman, Ellen. "The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change." CCC 47 (1996): 7-28.

Teaching at the Contact Zone, The Case for "Pedagogies of Conflict"

Pratt, Mary Louise. "Arts of the Contact Zone." Profession 91. New York: MLA, 1991. 33-40.

Miller, Richard E. "Fault Lines in the Contact Zone." CE 56 (1994): 389-408.

Harris, Joseph. "Negotiating the Contact Zone." Journal of Basic Writing (1995): 27-42.

Designing a Freshman Composition Course

Anson, Chris et al. "Teaching Writing: Course Designs." Scenarios for Teaching Writing. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1993. 100-146


1. I'm indebted to James A. Reither, Russell A. Hunt, and Douglas Vipond all of St. Thomas University (New Brunswick, Canada) for some of the ideas applied in this version of English 611. The term "inkshed," for example (see below), comes from them. It is now the name of a newsletter published by the Canadian Association for the Study of Writing and Reading.

2. Kenneth Bruffee, Short Course in Writing, 4th ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 1993. 1.

3. Kenneth Bruffee, Instructor's Manual for Short Course in Writing. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. 1.

4. Mary Louise Pratt, "Arts of the Contact Zone," Profession 91 (New York: MLA, 1991). 34.

5. Ways of Reading, 4th ed. (Boston: Bedford Books, 1996) 10-12.

6. It may seem strange that I speak of ways of reading in this section of the syllabus in which I am explaining how to do a writing assignment. As B and P point out, however, "it is hard to distinguish the act of reading from the act of writing" (12). Reading is not a passive but an active process: readers compose the meaning of a text, they don't find it. Writing facilitates this composing of meaning.

7. Note that the date of the article is included. If the article has been reprinted, give the date of original publication. Knowing this date helps both you and your reader understand the historical context within which the article was written. You don't need to give a full citation because this information (journal title, pages, etc.) is available in your textbook that all members of the class have.

8. Whatever form of response you choose (Summary and Practical Application, Inkshed, Against the Grain) you should give your paper a title.

9. John Truscott, "The Case Against Grammar Correction in L2 Writing," Language Learning 46 (1996): 327-369. When possible, it's good to make connections to other assigned reading.

10. Here are the complete citations for the readings mentioned below: Christopher Thaiss' "Language Across the Curriculum" was published in 1984 by ERIC (Educational Resources and Information Center) and is reprinted in Rhetoric and Composition, ed. Richard Graves, 3rd ed. (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990) 33-37; Toby Fulwiler's "Student Journals" is chapter 2 of his Teaching With Writing (Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook, 1987) 15-34; the selections by Charles Bazerman come from his textbook The Informed Writer, 3rd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989); and Joseph Harris' "The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing" originally appeared in CCC 40 (1989): 11-22.

11. I haven't assigned this article by Peter Elbow this year, but it's a good one to read. It appeared in College English 53 (1991): 135-55.

12. "On Reflection: The Role of Logs and Journals in Service-Learning Courses," Writing the Community, ed. Linda Adler-Kassner, Robert Crooks, and Ann Watters (Washington, D. C., 1997) 167-180.