Writing AC TIVITY Nowhere in the university system is the debate about the ‘crisis’ in education and the ‘lowering of standards’ more intense than in the arena of student writing. (Lillis 2001)
Typically Students: Working 20 or more hours per week Supporting or raising families Engaging in modules rather than courses… Have little time: to tackle new material to practice their thinking/writing to familiarise themselves with a bewildering array of assessment engines
Imagine tackling Presentations & seminars Seen & unseen exams Essays, reports, Open or closed book exams papers, dissertations & Exams with differing time projects limits Case studies & child Exams with differing word studies limits Annotated bibliographies AND that perennial favourite Group work – with group Reading Records mark awarded Learning Logs Group work – with Abstracts & individual mark awarded Group work - with self- Summaries and/or peer evaluation
Student responses to this:I’ve been humiliated in ways I’d never have put up with outside that institutionI am still not sure if my work is considered academic, I still don’t know what makes one of my essays better than another.
And:Academic language, the kind of language that doesn’t readily flow off my tongue: the type of language I rarely use when speaking to my peers. The type of language that I don’t readily understand and the type of language that means spending hours at a computer turning something quite simple into something that sounds moderately impressive with elitist results.
Perhaps it is not that the trouble withstudents is that they cannot write But that the problem for students is that they have to write when: Insufficiently inducted into the epistemology, discourse and content of a subject Tackling new material, at new levels within a variety of assessment engines Having little opportunity to ‘write to learn’, to practice their writing or to discover that … Writing gets easier with practice. So …
Participant ActivityFree writingEach person should have in front of them: Two sheets of paper: One, blank, to write upon, One, the ‘commentary’ sheet, to note reasons for not writing Pens or pencils
Participant Activity The Activity When asked, turn to your blank paper and write for ten minutes without pause (on anything you see, hear, think or feel) If you stop writing for any reason, write that reason, no matter how trivial or insignificant on the ‘commentary’ sheet. After ten minutes we will discuss the exercise, leaving enough time at the end for the Q&A session
Participant Activity Collate ‘reasons for stopping’ Discuss solutions How will this help with future writing?
Some reasons for stopping: Thinking Searching for a word, spelling, tense Uncomfortable Distracted Couldn’t see the point
Some solutions … Get into a good physical & mental space: Be comfortable – your way Accept the task – or fake it! Brainstorm & plan before you write Once you start – go with the flow Don’t stop! Do not search for the right word – re- draft and improve later.
Writing … How will this help with your writing? Collect responses…