Writing in the University

Writing Project Three: Writing in the University Blog

Throughout the semester you have investigated writing–in your own writing practices and in the rules that guide writers. In Writing Project One, using reflective writing and empirical data, you analyzed your conception of writing and gained insight into you as a thinker and writer. In Writing Project Two, you investigated a rule in writing in order to question its utility and history, ultimately making an informed recommendation.  In a very real sense, you have participated in the kinds of academic work that professional writing scholars perform every day. Furthermore, you have gained valuable insights into how real writers of all kinds discover ideas and shape them into texts that are meaningful and important to readers.

The next step in our course will show how writing in the university by advanced practitioners—upper classmen and professors—gets done.  The writing done in college for the university, generally speaking, is used to investigate the ideas of other writers and to engage in extended conversations with those writers in the discipline. In other words, writing is not an “end” in itself; it is a tool to develop and share ideas. Like the writing process, the research process is highly (and often maddeningly) complex and consists of many “recursive” steps. This writing project asks you to begin the process of researching the writers around you in a chosen field.

 

Your assignment: write a reflective, analytical essay post in which you (1) survey existing research on a particular topic (of your choosing) relating to writing in the university; (2) demonstrate thoughtful engagement with each source through summary and analysis; and (3) show how each source affects your thinking on the topic.

As we have discussed throughout the course, there are multiple scholarly conversations about writing that have a direct impact on students at all grade levels. Often, these conversations are initiated and discussed among writing instructors, school administrators, and educational standards committees with very little direct input from the students who are directly affected by those changes.  This is your chance to enter the conversation with input from you and your participant.

Start by asking what you want to know.  This question will guide your search for information and can ultimately develop into a thesis.  Some possible questions to consider answering include:

  • What did you not learn in high school about writing that you need to know in college for this major?
  • What genres do most students write in this major? What are the disciplinary writing conventions?
  • How is writing used in different classes? What does this reflect about the discipline/major?
  • How much assistance in regards to writing can students expect from professors? What does this assistance look like?
  • How does the writing of first-year students compare to that of upperclassmen? How does student writing change during time spent in this major?
  • How does writing in college compare to academic writing in the field?
  • Why is there not one standard formula for writing at the university? If there’s not one standard, how can students figure out how to write appropriately?

Next You will need to do some research in the library databases and online.  Please keep in mind all of the articles in our textbook are credible scholarly sources for your analysis.  The following journals hold the most recent scholarly conversations about writing in the university: College Composition and Communication (CCC), Composition Forum, Writing Spaces, Across the Disciplines, College English, Pedagogy, Written Communication and a few others.  Make sure that whatever you select is a peer-reviewed source.

In addition, you’ll need firsthand inquiry in the form of interviews to produce an effective discussion.

Ask if you can speak to a professor (either of a class you’re currently in or in the major you’d like to pursue) or interview at least one upperclassman to get some information about how writing works in a different part of the university.

We will create interview questions in class; they need to connect to your research question.  Some possible interview questions include:

  • If you want to know more about a professor/upperclassman’s own writing practices, you might ask: What sorts of texts do you write on a regular basis in conjunction with your major/discipline? And how do you know how to construct the texts in your discipline?
  • If you want to know more about the writing required in your major, you might ask: How is writing used in your classes?

When we get to the stage of putting it together, we will discuss writing strategies in preparation of your first draft for this paper/blog.

Source Requirements: You must use a minimum of five sources—interviews and surveys count here– in your analysis. At least two sources must come from the LU library databases or the articles in our textbook. One other source can be your choosing—another blog, pop culture site or magazine.  Keep in mind that you must write a thorough analysis, so you may need to use more than the minimum number of sources.

Format Requirements

  • 1000-1250 word blog post
  • Turn in transcripts of interviews into Canvas
  • A citation format: APA, or MLA etc,  including a References/Works Cited page
  • Turn in signed consent forms from participants of interviews.

Goals of the Assignment

  • Critical reading, selection, and synthesis of secondary sources
  • Application of ideas in secondary source(s) to analysis of a scholarly conversation about writing
  • Effective integration and appropriate documentation of ideas from secondary source(s)
  • Generation of new insight into the conversation (for reader and perhaps for writer)

Grading Criteria See the blog rubric

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