Lasa conference final paper march 28th

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Lasa conference final paper march 28th

  1. 1. 1 Institutional efforts in teaching academic writing in Spanish in Latin-American universities: what agendas have been envisioned for higher education? Elizabeth Narváez-Cardona1 Abstract In Latin America, as in much of the world, the teaching and support of academic writing in higher education is a new endeavor, with little prior professional, institutional infrastructure, and scholarship, and few academic networks. Therefore, developments of the efforts to educate writers in higher education in Central and South American countries are interesting research sites to examine the history of universities in the region. The ILEES project aims at developing a comprehensive, diverse, and inclusive map of research and pedagogy tendencies in teaching higher education writing in Latin-American region. This paper presents such tendencies emerging from an online survey applied to a purposeful sample by a snowball technique in Argentine, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. Regarding theoretical influences, the findings might confirm that the field of academic writing in Latin-American region has been boosted by eclectic disciplinary efforts from Linguistics, Psychology, and Education. Concerning curriculum arrangements, as might be expected some higher education curricula in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, have incorporated freshman composition courses in Spanish. Such curriculum arrangements may be an evidence of the impact of the scholarships led by Chairs of UNESCO for reading and writing in Latin-American region. However, institutional efforts addressing senior students and faculty development programs may be also part of the current agendas, although less visible in the official curricula. The analysis has revealed thus far that theoretical influences in the region could have been part of importation processes mostly led by an Argentine scholar and two Spanish scholars. Therefore, the impacts of progressive thinking related to advocating the systematic endeavors across higher education, due to the complex process of becoming an academic writer, may be confirmed by the findings obtained thus far. Educating writers in higher education in Latin America In Latin America, as in much of the world, the teaching and support of academic writing in higher education is a new endeavor, with little prior professional, institutional infrastructure, and scholarship, and few academic networks. However, in recognition of the need for writing development in first language -Spanish and Portuguese-, and Second Language -primarily English- in tertiary levels, new initiatives are developing from Mexico south to Argentina and Chile. The scholarship led by UNESCO Chair for Reading and Writing in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, México, Perú, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela has advocated for educating writers for citizenship since 1994 and has also promoted the development of critical reading abilities, in the era of mass media, digital communication, and commercial discourses (Martínez, 2001 & 2004). However, it was not until the 2000's decade that conferences and Latin-American scholars produced literature focused on higher education, mainly developed by scholars from linguistics, literature, education, and psychology (Ortiz-Casallas, 2011 & Murillo, 2010). The initial impulse to 1 Doctorate student in University of California, Santa Barbara sponsored by Fulbright-Colombia and the Colombian Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (Colciencias). Professor of Department of Language in the Faculty of Social Communication in Universidad Autónoma de Occidente, Santiago de Cali, Colombia. E-mail: enarvaezcardona@education.ucsb.edu and enarvaez@uao.edu.co
  2. 2. 2 adopt a discourse focused on a deficit-remedial perspective has been countered by more progressive thinking (Carlino, 2003, 2006 & 2008; Rincón, Narváez, & Roldán, 2005; Murillo, 2010). The focus on writing also has been part of a transformation of educational philosophy from reproducing authoritative information to engaging students as communicators and contributors in creating knowledge, and in participating of information and organizational communication networks. Theoretical framework Since the field of teaching and researching academic writing in higher education has relied on differing epistemological paradigms, the theoretical framework illuminating the project reported in this oral communication is presented in this section. The academic field on higher education writing has addressed different disciplinary and research approaches, which have been strongly configured by the features of the local university systems and the home-based public policies in education. Consequently, researching higher education writing has aimed at exploring two sites. On the one hand, the expectations of the governments through their public policies and of the university directives; and, on the other hand, the historical accounts about how and why writing in higher education has become either a pedagogic goal or a research focus. Identifying both types of accounts are useful and necessary in guiding further research agendas regarding how and why pedagogies on writing might impact higher education. Theoretically speaking, this field has framed writing as an intertwined practice within university contexts and disciplinary epistemologies (Lea y Street, 1998; Carlino, 2008). As a result, writing is conceived as a historical and ideological practice and thus highly cognitively specialized (Bazerman, 2006; Kalman, 2008). Consequently, literacy practices of students and faculty are part of a specialized knowledge associated with epistemological and institutional contexts of higher education (Lea & Street, 1998). Accordingly, theoretical developments in the field have claimed that becoming a writer is a complex phenomenon highly configured by the conventions and expectations of their practitioners; however, since such conventions and expectations are mostly a tacit knowledge, the access and practice of writing in higher education are embedded in a struggle process for newcomers (Soliday, 2011; Thaiss & Myers, 2006). Under this assumption, students´ shortcomings as writers are not interpreted as lacking grammar knowledge. Rather, these difficulties are seen as evidence of a complex process of acknowledging, using, and accessing literacy practices affected by the own personal histories
  3. 3. 3 (Herrington & Curtis, 2000), and by institutional and disciplinary requirements and expectations, particularly, from academic and university cultures (Hall & López, 2011). To sum up, the writing difficulties of students or faculty are not seen as deficits (Ganobcsik- Williams, 2004). Rather, writing is understood as a specialized learning and practice for participating within academic contexts (Carter, 2007); therefore, writing is an intellectual challenge and a struggling process whereby writers build their own identities as members of disciplinary and university communities (Herrington y Curtis, 2000; Castelló, 2007). The project “Initiatives of reading and writing in higher education, ILEES Latin America” The developments of the efforts of educating writers in higher education in Central and South American countries are interesting research sites to examining the history of universities in the region. Under this assumption, the ILEES project aims at developing a comprehensive, diverse, and inclusive map of research and pedagogy tendencies in teaching higher education writing in Latin-American region. The comprehensive knowledge of such initiatives in higher education reading and writing in the region is of use to the academic communities in Latin America devoted to building the field. The project has been part of the doctorate experience of two Latin-American students, Natalia Ávila and Elizabeth Narváez, under the guidance of Professor Charles Bazerman from the Department of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara. The data collection and analysis have been conducted as follows: First stage: applying an online survey in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico relying on a purposeful sample during summer 2012. Accordingly, a preliminary list of 20 scholars was created by the researchers based on their knowledge of the field (i.e., appointing scholars known by their publication and leadership in disseminating programmatic research and pedagogy projects). The preliminary lists created were sent to two leading scholars in each country to receive their recommendations before defining the final list for the survey. The survey is organized in 4 sections. The first section collects information regarding institutional information of the participants. The next section explores information upon teaching initiatives known by the participants in their universities and in other institutions up to 10 universities; the survey provides the categories that the respondents can select2 but also offers open responses to allow them to write descriptions of initiatives that are not included in such categories. 2 The categories are: freshman courses, writing courses after the second year, writing in disciplinary courses, workshops for graduate levels and faculty development programs, writing centers, writing programs, peer tutoring for writing, initiatives in languages other than Spanish, and initiatives addressing non-academic communities.
  4. 4. 4 The third section includes questions regarding authors, journals, books, and data bases used as resources, as well as publication venues from Latin America and Spain to publish their work; this section also collects titles of publications, oral communications, and research projects in the issue. Finally, the fourth section asks for the name of other scholars who might be interested on responding the survey. Consequently, the project has been conducted relying on a snowball technique3 . Second stage: The proposed project intends to extend and deepen the first round of findings by surveying Brazil, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, interviewing academic leaders, interviewing program leaders and teaching faculty of selected programs, observing major network conferences in Latin America, and analyzing the content publications from the region4 . Further, the goal is to build a website for dissemination of the findings to scholars and creating tools for regional networking and support. We will work with partners in the region to support and strengthen communication networks, supplementing them where appropriate. Findings Since the data collection has relied on a purposeful sample and a snowball technique, the findings presented in this section are tendencies emerging from the data, rather than the actual state of art in the region. Thus far, a quantitative approach has been applied to identify the tendencies from the survey applied in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. We have obtained 69 responses over 130 invitations for a 53% response rate (Figure 1). 3 This first stage was funded by the University of California, Santa Barbara. 4 This ongoing stage has been funded by the College Composition and Communication Conference (CCCC), and has been conducted in cooperation with Dr. Vera Lúcia Cristovão from Brazil and Dr. Mónica Tapia from Chile.
  5. 5. 5 Figure 1 Frequency of responses per country Disciplinary affiliations of the scholars leading the initiatives According to the survey data, the overall tendency is that the education departments are housing the initiatives in Argentine and Colombia. In Chilean case, departments in Humanities5 seem leading the initiatives; whereas in Mexican case, the departments of foreign languages. However, as pointing out in the methodological section, this disciplinary configuration might be fashioned by the purposeful sample of the project rather than by the actual disciplinary arrangement in the region (Figure 2). 5 Humanities comprised disciplinary affiliations reported by the surveyees from Literature, Arts and letters, including Linguistics, and Philosophy.
  6. 6. 6 Figure 2 Disciplinary affiliations of the scholars responding the survey The curriculum configurations of the initiatives reported by the participants In theoretical terms, curriculum might be understood as a twofold structure in educational practices. On the one hand, “the official curriculum” might be seen as the programmatic efforts advocated by the directives and institutional discourses of the universities; thus, not surprising, this official curriculum is overtly declared in the official documents thus can afford the recourses to assure its sustainability. On the other hand, “the hidden curriculum” circulates as convictions and efforts of other participants in the educational communities; thus, these endeavors are not stated necessarily in official documents, although its funding and sustainability might be also assured by institutional or external resources. In both types of curriculum configurations, a system of values and beliefs create and are create by educational practices (Díaz-Villa, 2001). Under this paradigm, the following findings not only have displayed the initiatives reported by the participants in the survey, but also a system of values and beliefs that might be inferred regarding the reasons for teaching writing in higher education. The general tendency across the countries is that universities have concentrated their efforts in teaching writing during the first year of the higher education programs. Teaching writing after the second year, in disciplinary courses, and as part of workshops addressing senior students and
  7. 7. 7 faculty development programs are less frequent. The less frequent initiatives seem being the writing centers and projects in languages other than Spanish (Figure 3). This behavior of the data collected might suggest that the universities offer the freshman composition courses still under the theoretical assumption that student shortcomings as readers and writers are mostly because of their prior schooling experiences, rather than as results of the new challenges of the university learning experiences. However, this tendency also might reveal that new curriculum efforts can be developed under the influence of new theoretical frameworks and its dissemination (e.g., authors, books, and journals) and become sustainable not only by such influences but also by the material investments (e.g., time and funding) of the stakeholders (i.e., leaders of the programs, directives, students, and faculty members). Figure 3 Tendencies of the types of initiatives for teaching writing in higher education Accordingly, different hypotheses may emerge from the prior curriculum arrangements. The first one is that the initial impulse in educating readers and writers for the transitional stage between secondary and tertiary levels, mostly led by Chairs of UNESCO reading and writing in Latin America, remains as a strong paradigm.
  8. 8. 8 The next hypothesis is that the influences of theoretical frameworks (e.g., authors, books, and journals) of more progressive thinking that have advocated systematic and sustainable endeavors after the freshman year have barely impacted in the Latin-America region. However, such impacts seem to be evident not only in the types of initiatives reported by the participants based on the survey categories (figure 3), but also in the descriptions written for the open answers. Relying on a grounding analysis (Corbin & Strauss, 1990), the descriptions analyzed might reveal that the scholars of the region have developed inter-institutional networks, research teams, research emphasis on academic writing in PhD programs, conferences, and publishing efforts to concentrating in the issue. Moreover, senior and graduate students have been appointed as key population to work with in educating academic writers. Finally, the third hypothesis might suggest that despite some progressive theoretical frameworks have impacted in the region thus far, the initiatives might be hindered due to the need of investments required to sustain such endeavors. These hypotheses will be explored in the second stage of the project. Theoretical tendencies reported as influential in developing the initiatives To characterize the theoretical influences reported by the surveyees, this section presents the tendencies regarding authors and sources consulted frequently and the Latin-American and Spanish journals appointed as representative venues for dissemination. The overall tendency identify in the data regarding authors is that the most frequent scholar appointed as influential is an argentine professor, Paula Carlino. Her online academic resume6 displays that her background derived from psycholinguistics, cognitive and sociocultural psychology and her publications related to higher education writing started being disseminated since 2002. Since this year, a myriad of paradigmatic works started to disperse the US and Australian scholarships on the issue7 . Consequently, her publication record might suggest that this argentine professor became a scholarly bridge between such scholarships and Latin-American region, mostly by dispersing -in Spanish- the programmatic endeavors and the theories developed in US and Australia, which had been disseminated originally in English (figure 4). The following authors frequently read by the surveyees have been a Spanish scholar, Daniel Cassany, a US scholar, Charles Bazerman, and another Spanish scholar, Monserrat Castelló. 6 Information available at http://www.udesa.edu.ar/files//EscEdu/CV/CV-Carlino2011.pdf 7 The publications have been titled as follows: “Enseñar a escribir en la universidad: cómo lo hacen en Estados Unidos y por qué”, “Leer, escribir y aprender en la universidad: cómo lo hacen en Australia y por qué”, “¿Quién debe ocuparse de enseñar a leer y a escribir en la universidad? Tutorías, simulacros de examen y síntesis de clases en las humanidades”, “Enseñar a escribir en todas las materias: cómo hacerlo en la universidad”, and “Alfabetización académica: Un cambio necesario, algunas alternativas posibles”.
  9. 9. 9 Regarding Daniel Cassany8 , his brief academic resume asserts that his work has been focused on written communication and teaching language, and his main academic background is derived from philology and didactics; however, his publication record might display two moments related to academic writing: a) publications and research projects concerning discourse analysis of technical, scientific and professional communications between 1997 and 20039 ; and, b) publications concerning academic writing and university learning after 200610 . According to the academic resume of Monserrat Castelló11 , the other Spanish scholar, her publication record related to academic writing have been disseminated since 2007 mostly approached from the perspectives of the sociocultural psychology and didactics. Finally, the US scholar, Charles Bazerman, holds an extensive publication record since early 80´s regarding the issue12 . 8 The academic resume is available at: http://www.upf.edu/pdi/daniel_cassany/es/pres/cv/ 9 Among others, the following articles are reported: “Análisis discursivo de la divulgación científica: aspectos pragmáticos, textuales y retóricos”, “Voces y conceptos en la divulgación científica”, “Análisis discursivo de la divulgación científica”, “La divulgación científica en foros virtuales: abulímia y anorexia”, and, “Divulgación científica y didáctica de la composición en registros especializados”. 10 The publications related to this moments as follows: “L’ensenyament de l’escriptura acadèmica: una proposta per a la universitat”, “De la Universidad al mundo laboral: Continuidad y contraste entre las prácticas letradas académicas y profesionales”, “¿Es la escritura académica odontológica hispanoamericana un discurso matizado? Estudio de la atenuación en artículos de investigación”,”Redacción académica: prácticas escritas y aprendizaje”, and “El ABC de la escritura académica”. 11 The academic resume is available at: http://serveis4.blanquerna.url.edu/ServeiCurriculum/CurriculumProfessional.aspx?p=372f476638576c2f4475 697a5958512f302f474f416f3d3856613635483368374758516844336a7a74626f2b456a4675714b323867744c 485434336f304d41476b707656534d5259594b6b48454a33506e4e6c414d48673d 12 The academic resume available at: http://www.education.ucsb.edu/bazerman/cv/cv1.html
  10. 10. 10 Figure 4 The authors appointed as influential by the surveyees These tendencies regarding authors’ influences may reveal differing issues. The first one might confirm that the disciplinary affiliations of the field in Latin-American region have the roots in psychology, didactics, and linguistics, although the US scholar might be deemed as member of the literature field according to the information displayed by his academic resume. The second insight emerging has to do with the exportation/importation processes of theories. It seems that the impact of international frameworks has been possible in making available in Spanish of the developments of the Anglo-Saxon scholarships. However, in the case of the US scholar, Charles Bazerman, two different hypotheses might emerge regarding such theoretical exportation/importation processes, one might be that Latin-American scholars, in fact, have read his developments directly from the English versions or that such access has been as a result of making available in the region his publication in Spanish. Further analysis of citations and references displayed by the publications reported by the surveyees might be useful to explore the latter hypothesis. Regarding the resources reported by the surveyees, the tendencies reveal that most of such resources are scientific journals. The two most frequent resources utilized are a Chilean scientific journal, Revista Signos, and an argentine scientific journal, Lectura y Vida. The Chilean journal was established in 1964 to disseminate works from Literature and Sciences of Language; since 2005 has
  11. 11. 11 redefined its scope in publishing works derived from Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, Textual and Discourse linguistics, and Applied Linguistics13 . The journal Lectura y Vida was established in 1980 by the Faculty of Humanities and Education of the Universidad de la Plata in Argentina and was vanished in 201014 ; this publishing endeavor has been the unique scientific journal published in Spanish and aiming at gathering theoretical and researching tendencies upon reading and writing across schooling systems based on the Latin-American experiences, and it was funded by the International Reading Association (IRA) (Figure 5). The other tendency emerging from the frequent resources utilized by the surveyees has to do with the exportation and importation of international frameworks; specially, the impact of the Journal of Writing Research and the website of the WAC clearinghouse15 . Given that most of the publications released by these two resources have been written in English, one hypothesis emerging is that the scholars in the region who read in English might be the frequent consumers of such literature. Most likely, these scholars might belong to the field on academic writing in English as a second language. Further data collection in the interviews and in analyzing publications reported by the surveyees might confirm the latter hypothesis. 13 The website is available at: http://www.scielo.cl/revistas/signos/eaboutj.htm 14 The information regarding this vanished journal is available at: http://www.lecturayvida.fahce.unlp.edu.ar/ 15 Both websites are available at http://www.jowr.org/aims.html and http://wac.colostate.edu/index.cfm, respectively.
  12. 12. 12 Figure 5 The sources utilized by the participants Regarding the key journals for publishing, four academic venues have been appointed as follows: Revista Signos from Chile, Revista Lectura y Vida from Argentina, Revista Lenguaje and Revista Magis from Colombia, and Revista Mexicana de investigación educativa from Mexico16 (Figure 6). According to their websites, these two latter journals have aimed at disseminating since 2008 and 1995 respectively, the research efforts in education. These findings might confirm that the field on academic writing in Latin-American region has been boosted by the eclectic disciplinary efforts from Linguistics, Psychology, and Education. 16 The websites are available at: http://revistas.javeriana.edu.co/index.php/MAGIS/index and http://www.comie.org.mx/v1/revista/portal.php?idm=es&sec=SC06, respectively.
  13. 13. 13 Figure 6 Key journals in Latin America and Spain for publishing To sum up, there are two overall findings regarding the influential theoretical tendencies. The first one is that there are no central sources and journals recognized by the scholars surveyed. In fact, the figures 4, 5, and 6 have displayed that the category “other” represents an important tendency. Under this category the authors, resources, or journals that had been appointed only once by the surveyees were grouped. These survey outcomes might suggest that there are no key venues within the Latin-American region in which the studies on academic writing are concentrated, or that if they are available, these venues are not recognized as such by the surveyees. The other tendency is that the importation of international frameworks seems to have been influenced by literature disseminated by Spanish scholars regarding linguistic and discursive analysis on written communication, sociocultural psychology and didactics, and in English regarding researching on writing studies, and teaching writing across educational levels.
  14. 14. 14 Conclusions Regarding theoretical influences, the findings might confirm that the field on academic writing in Latin-American region has been boosted by eclectic disciplinary efforts from Linguistics, Psychology, and Education. Concerning curriculum arrangements, as might be expected some higher education curricula in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, have incorporated freshman composition courses in Spanish. Such curriculum arrangements may be an evidence of the impact of the scholarships led by Chairs of UNESCO for reading and writing in Latin-American region. However, institutional efforts addressing senior students and faculty development programs may be also part of the current agendas, although may be less visible in the official curricula. Therefore, the impacts of progressive thinking related to advocating the systematic endeavors across higher education, due to the complex process of becoming an academic writer, may be confirmed by the findings obtained thus far. Furthermore, reasons explaining less frequency of such systematic endeavors across tertiary levels in contrast to the presence of the freshman composition courses in Spanish are not revealed by the analysis. One the one hand, one hypothesis is that curriculum innovations should be boosted by the influence of theoretical frameworks; accordingly, the analysis has revealed thus far that such influence could have been part of importation processes mostly led by an argentine scholar and two Spanish scholars. Given that their publication records on the issue seem starting about 2002, it may be stated that the dissemination process is still in an incipient stage. Evidence of this feature of the field might be related to the frequent tendency of appointing the argentine scholar and mainly two scientific journals in the regions as influential, rather than well-established networks and associations in the issue as might be the case in well-developed scholarships. Consequently, efforts to enhancement networks, professional associations, and central conferences in the issue may be beneficial for the Latin-American field. On the other hand, it may be asserted that despite the theoretical frameworks of progressive thinking have actually impacted, probably the innovative initiatives might be hindered due to the lack of investments required to sustain such endeavors. As expected, curriculum innovations require material investments (e.g., time and funding) of the stakeholders (i.e., leaders of the programs, directives, students, and faculty members). Further implications This project thus far has not explored the public policies in the region related to the curriculum initiatives reported by the surveyees. Given that such influences are part of configuring the field, further explorations at the issue should be conducted.
  15. 15. 15 Furthermore, historical accounts upon when and why the importation processes have been led by the argentine scholar, Paula Carlino, and the Spanish scholars, Daniel Cassany and Monserrat Castelló, are unknown for this project. To exploring how this importation processes has been auspicious in constructing the Latin-American field, the interviews with these leading scholars will be useful. Regarding the sustainability of the initiatives, specific explorations of the history and the reasons to vanish the scientific journal Lectura y Vida may be convenient to conduct, as well as exploring the actual sustainability of the current initiatives. The interviewing processes with leaders of the programs in the region will provide insights on the issue. Finally, this project has not shed light upon exportation processes of the initiatives within the Latin-American region, and between the region and other international soils and derived tensions of publishing and disseminating in Spanish or English. Therefore, exploring to what extent cooperative exchanges are possible might be an interesting research site in exploring sustainability and opportunities in evolving the Latin-American field as well as in providing new insights for the international discipline. References Bazerman, C. (2006). The writing of social organization and the literate situation cognition: Extending Goody’s social implications of writing. In D. Olson & M. Cole (Eds.), Technology literacy and the evolution in society: Implications of the work of Jack Goody (pp. 279-294). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrance Erlbaum Associates. Carlino, P. (2003). Alfabetización académica: un cambio necesario, algunas alternativas posibles. Educere Investigación (20), pp. 409-420. Carlino, P. (2006). Procesos y prácticas de escritura en la educación superior. Revista Signo y Seña. Instituto de Lingüística. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras Universidad de Buenos Aires. 16, 9-15. Retrieved from http://www.escrituraylectura.com.ar/posgrado/revistas/SyS16.pdf Carlino, P. (2008). Leer y escribir en la universidad, una nueva cultura: ¿Por qué es necesaria la alfabetización académica? En E. Narváez & S. Cadena (comps.), Los desafíos de la lectura y la escritura en la educación superior: caminos posibles. (pp. 159-194). Cali: Universidad Autónoma de Occidente. Carter, M. (2007). Ways of Knowing, Doing, and Writing in the Disciplines. National Council of teachers of English, 58 (3), 385-418. Retrieved from http://widatmec.commons.gc.cuny.edu/files/2009/09/carter__ways_of_knowing.pdf/2009/09/carter__wa ys_of_knowing.pdf Castelló, M. (2007). Los efectos de los afectos en la comunidad académica. En Castelló, M., Mirás, M., Solé, I., Teberosky, A., Iñesca, A., y Zanotto, N. (Eds.), Escribir y comunicarse en contextos científicos y académicos Pp. 135-162. Barcelona: Graó.
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