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Creativity in research_academic_writing_by_olga_dysthe


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Creativity in research_academic_writing_by_olga_dysthe

  1. 1. “CREATIVITY IN RESEARCH AND RESEARCH WRITING What support do students at different levels need?” Olga Dysthe Department of Education, University of Bergen, Norway Workshop Estudis de Psicologia i Ciències de l’Educació, 23. Oct, 2013
  2. 2. Overview •  Purpose: Provide background and strategies for discussion of how to teach writing at different levels •  Introduction: Why focus on ‘creativity’? I. Three traditions in writing research and their view of creativity in writing & writing strategies: Rhetorical Cognitive Sociocultural II. Examples of a program for teaching acad. writing Undergraduate Graduate Postgraduate iii. Research on postgraduate students’ writing practices
  3. 3. Creativity and/or reproduction in writing •  Creativity presupposes a strong knowledge base: •  Much writing at undergraduate level is writing-to-learn •  Students need strategies for writing from sources •  Strategies for developing own ideas are crucial •  It is easier for students to learn to borrow ideas & reproduce well •  Thinking is hard work – and so is writing •  Students today will go to jobs where innovation and creativity is a must
  4. 4. The rhetorical tradition
  5. 5. The rhetorical tradition – classical •  Aristoteles, Cicero, Quintilian …. ORAL: How to make a speech that can convince the audience 5 Phases •  1) inventio: finding out and choosing what to write (content) •  2) dispositio: structuring the text •  3) eloqutio: stylistic forming of the text •  4) memoria: memorizing Rhetorical writing pedagogy (US): 1) learning through models: read good texts 2) very strict norms for text quality Reproductive or creative?
  6. 6. The pentagon as rhetorical strategy in academic thesis writing •  Rienecker & Stray Jørgensen: The Good Paper (2007) : the pentagon & «the thesis as an argument» (use Toulmin’s argumentation model). •  W. Booth et al: The Craft of Research (2003) 1. Problem formulation 2. Purpose 5. Methods 4. Theory Concepts 3. Data ‘the pentagon’
  7. 7. Rhetorical strategies for introduction to scientific articles •  John Swales: CARS-model •  Move 1: Establishing a territory (Aspects of Article Introductions, 1981) •  Step 1 Claiming centrality •  Step 2 Making topic generalization(s) and/or and/or •  Step 3 Reviewing items of previous research •  Move 3: Establishing a niche •  Step 1A Counter-claiming •  Step 1B Indicating a gap •  Step 1C Question-raising or or or •  Step 1D Continuing a tradition •  Move 2: Occupying a niche •  Step 1A Outlining purposes •  Step 1B Announcing present research •  Step 2 Announcing principal findings 1 •  Step 3 Indicating research article structure or
  8. 8. A rhetorical writing exercise: the cube Topic: What: The 6 sides of the cube: description, comparison, association, analysis, use, argumentation How: Write 2 minutes about your topic from each perspective: 1.  Describe! 2.  Compare! 3.  Associate! 4.  Analyze! 5.  Area of use! 6.  Argue for or against! Why: The exercise helps you get ideas quickly on paper about your topic by exploring it from different perspectives
  9. 9. Cognitive tradition – the lone writer •  .
  10. 10. Dysthe Early cognitive process models of writing 1 Flower & Hayes (1981) Strategies and techniques for generating ideas and text Cognitive writing researchers saw retrieval of ideas & knowledge from long-term memory as crucial • Brainstorming • Freewriting (”non-stop writing”) • Brain mapping • WIRMI: ”What I really mean is….” • Satisficing - delay the perfect … • Start writing where you are (what you know) • Break the writing task into smaller pieces
  11. 11. Early cognitive process models of writing 2 Bereiter & Scardamailia (1987) Knowledge telling and knowledge transforming •  Novice writers •  Expert writers •  ‘writer-based prose •  ‘reader-based prose’ •  Writing as a rhetorical problem: •  Writing: telling what they know •  Cognitive overload is a major problem (hinders retrieval) •  Strategies that reduce the number of simultaneous concerns what the audience need to know •  View writing as a matter of achieving communicative goals •  Planning important –both before and during writing •  They transform what they know to suit their goals and their readers •  Strategies focusing on audience expectation and knowledge
  12. 12. Peter Elbow: Freewriting’ ‘Writing without teachers (1973), Writing with power “Freewriting is a way to produce bits of writing that are genuinely better than usual less random, more coherent, more highly organized” (p 8). “It is a way to end up thinking something you couldn’t have started out thinking (p.15)
  13. 13. Technique for improving writing and for creativity at all levels? •  What? «Write for 10 min (Later 15-20). Don’t stop for anything. Og quickly without rushing. Never stop to look back, to cross something out, to wonder how to spell something, to wonder what word or thought to use, or to think about what you are doing. … The only requirement is that you never stop.» •  «Freewriting must never be evaluated in any way. You may share it, but no comment and no discussion» •  Why ? •  to counteract procrastination and writer’s block •  to improve productivity •  to foster creative thinking Elbow: We are inculturated into avoiding mistakes, ‘getting it right’, and we edit away unacceptable thoughts and feelings. Giving up control! •  By separating internal editing from production, we open up for unconscious thoughts, for new ideas, for our own ‘voice’. «It is our own source of power»)
  14. 14. Freewriting – advice from Elbow •  Traditional advice: «Think first, then write» vs «Write to think» •  Use for finding topics, warming up, getting started, overcoming procratination & writers’ block, dicovering new ideas, being creative •  The main usefulness not the immediate product, but the gradual effect on future writing. •  Keep a freewriting diary: just 10 min pr day •  Don’t be afraid of digressions! (Notice when it happened, where it took you, how it connects to other thoughts. Next step: explore & reflect •  Do several freewrites. Pick out the good bits. Discard the rubble. Use as starting points for more careful writing. •  Editing: finding out what you really want to say – the last step in the cycle •  «Cut away the flesh, and leave the bones’ (Throw lots away: ‘easy come, easy go’) •  Write many summaries •  Outlining at the editing stage is very useful (but not before starting to write) •  Encourage conflict, look for disagreements
  15. 15. Dysthe ( Christian Koch: «A tool box for writing» «How to juggle with one ball at a time» 1. Brainstorming Unsensured ideas 3. Mindmap a graphic structuration (or a linear disposition) 2. Freewriting a series of unorganized short texts about questions and problems relevant for the topic 4. First draft a continuous text which is a preliminary version of the finished text
  16. 16. Sociocultural tradition of writing
  17. 17. Socio-cultural perspectives on writing •  «A social-interactive view of writing underscores the quintessential mutuality of written communication» (Nystrand, 1989, p 82) •  Language is not just a vehicle for thoughts already produced, but a way of thinking (Vygotsky: Thinking and Speech) •  The writing process itself is social – writing is a constant negotiation with the reader(s) •  Meaning is co-production with the reader (Bakhtin, 1985) •  «Message is not transmitted from the writer to the reader but is constructed between them as a kind of ideological bridge, is built in the process of their interaction» •  The discourse community influences the writer’s choices, and thus the text is not just a result of the writer’s purpose
  18. 18. Bakhtin: Difference and confrontation as resource •  Bakhtin: •  Understanding and the development of knowledge emerge through negotiation of meaning in the encounter between different voices •  The learning potential is greatest when different points of view confront each other •  Cultivate multivoicedness, resistance and confrontation ?
  19. 19. Practical implications of sociocultural perspectives for writing strategies •  Students use social strategies at different points of the writing process •  Writing groups (online groups or face-to-face) •  Prewriting strategies •  Dialogue/discussion with others (chat, e-mail,phone, face-to-face while writing) •  Feedback strategies (in groups or dyads) •  Teachers use dialogical feedback practices • 
  20. 20. II. What intitutional support do student need to improve their academic writing? Examples of how we teach academic writing in our department
  21. 21. Dysthe 2010 Knowledge areas in disciplinary writing What is the institutional responsibility ? . Subject Matter Knowledge Rhetorical Knowledge Writing Process Knowledge Genre Knowledge Discourse community knowledge Beaufort (2004)
  22. 22. Dysthe 2010 A plan for academic writing from Bachelor to PhD •  Bachelor level: •  Introductory lecture about writing in Higher Education •  Course book: Dysthe et al: Writing to Learn. Writing in HE •  Writing-to-learn assignments in all courses •  Regular writing assignments w/teacher feedback •  Writing workshop in connection with Bachelor thesis •  Writing process, referencing & citation, genre, strategies, peer feedback •  Master level (campus & online) •  Teaching of specific topics in sem 1 or 2 •  How to --- generate ideas (freewriting), write from sources, write introd., litt rev •  Writing groups – peer feedback •  PhD-level: •  Research Schools provide writing workshops on specific topics •  Writing groups
  23. 23. Undergraduates What should the institution prioritise? •  Knowledge about the genres students are expected to write •  Writing assignments •  must be clear about genre expectations •  must list assessment criteria •  Reading-to-write: How to use sources in academic writing •  How to avoid plagiarism •  Develop good writing process habits: strategies •  Writing assignment that suggest specific writing strategies •  Peer feedback integrated in course •  Revision of first drafts to be handed in (learn to utilize feedback)
  24. 24. Plagiarism (vs creativity) •  Def: Unethical academic practice. To plagiarise is to give the impression that you have written, thought or discovered something which you in reality have borrowed from another person without giving due credit in an accepted way Ex: 1. Copying the work of others (cheating) 2. Reformulating others´ original ideas without reference 3. Use referece, but refer the content with only small changes 3 is the most common form of plagiarism. Help stud develop good habits Advice: i.e. don´t have the source in front of you when you write. Training: Assignments and specific feedback
  25. 25. Characteristics of our web-based master prog. 1.  Core element: Students´ text production and feedback 2.  Not rely on students´ own initiatives, but build active participation into the course design 3.  Students work in online groups of 5-6 (´creating communities of learners´) 4.  Regular assignments, peer and teacher feedback 5.  Dialogic feedback – encourage creative thinking
  26. 26. Graduate & postgraduate students´ needs 1.  How to write ‘good’ academic texts (that communicate with readers 2.  How to write regularly, - avoid or fight procrastination and writer’s block Rationale: If you don’t produce text, you don’t have a chance to become creative in writing or improve your writing 3. How to use writing to foster creativity in research (daring and original ideas; interesting interpretations /explanations / combinations) How to improve writing for publication? 5. How to give and utilize feedback 4.
  27. 27. Torrance & Torrance (1994) Development of postgraduate writing skills Four relevant research studies • Survey of 228 full-time UK social science PhD students –  34 % found writing highly stressful –  27 % found writing frustrating –  21 % thought the difficulties they experiences might jeopardize thesis • Understanding writing problems of postgrad students –  Think-then-write approach vs develop thinking through writing approach –  Revision • What writing strategies worked best for postgrad students? –  Definition of ‘writing strategy’: «the way in which a writer partition the task of writing into more manageable components, and the sequence in which these components are executed» • Evaluation study of 3 conceptual approaches to writing instruction –  Product-centred course –  Cognitive strategies course –  Generative writing and shared revision course
  28. 28. Postgrads’ writing strategies & productivity 1)  2)  the stage when they took decisions about content & structure number of drafts & revisions A «PLANNERS» think-then-write, fewer drafts than B &C, revised for style & clarity of expression B «REVISERS» started writing without plan and clear ideas (reported that writing clarified their ideas & understanding), more drafts than A, revised also for content change C «MIXED STRATEGY» planned content before writing, but wrote more drafts than A & C and revised for content Findings and interpretation: •  A most productive (ratio of words to hrs of writing) – Strategy that suited them •  A & B both enjoyed writing & satisfied with product –Strategy that suited them •  C had great problems, less productive + anxiety No coherent strategies
  29. 29. What kind of writing course was most useful for postgrad students? •  Product centered course (Rhetorical tradition) –  Structural features of academic texts –  Findings of linguistic research (i.e. Swales) •  Cognitive strategies course –  Strategies for developing their own thinking prior to, or independently of, producing full text –  Tool-kit of cognitive strategies (Flower 1989) heuristics for generating and structuring content •  Generative writing + shared revision course –  1) pre-draft of text related to thesis using generative strategies Elbow, 1970; 1981;Wason, 1985) Freewriting, revising to working draft –  2) reviewing and revising: peer comments to text; revision of a working draft by experienced academic; ‘comment-as you-read’ (Johnston, 1978)
  30. 30. My own advice to grad & post-grad students about being creative and productive in writing My theoretical base is sociocultural, but I believe in combining strategies from all traditions - when you need them • Establish a regular schedule for writing every day - stick to it •  Use freewriting strategies to get started and for exploration • Be conscious about what kind of a writer you are • Organize a writing group - make it work for all participants •  Develop expertise in giving and utilizing feedback • Learn to use disagreement and conflicting views (in the group and in the literature you read) as hotbeds for new ideas and creative thoughts • Use revision as creative spaces for developing your ideas
  31. 31. Thank you for listening!
  32. 32. Dysthe 2010 Literature •  Dysthe, O. (2002) Professors as mediators of academic text culture. An interview study with advisors and master degree students in three disciplines in a Norwegian university. Written Communication, Sage publications: 2002, 19/4, 485-536. •  Dysthe, O. (2009) What factors influence the improvement of academic writing practices? A study of reform of •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  undergraduate writing in Norwegian higher education. In C. Bazerman, et al (Eds.), Traditions of writing research. New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis. Dysthe, O., Lillejord, S., Vines, A., Wasson, B. (2011) Productive E-feedback in higher education – Some critical issues. Ludvigsen, S., Lund, A., Rasmussen, I. & Säljö, R Learning across sites: New tools, infrastructures and practices. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press, pp. 243-258. Dysthe, O. (2012) Multivoiced classrooms in higher education academic writing. In M. Castelló & C. Donahue (Eds.) University writing: Selves and Texts in Academic Societes. Emerald Group Publishers. Elbow, P. (1971/91) Writing without teachers. OxfordUniversity Press. Flower, L. (1981/89) Problem solving strategies in writing. Harcourt Brace. Flower, L. & Hayes, J. R (1981) A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication, Vol. 32, 4: 365-387. MacArthur, C. A.; Graham, S. & Fitzgerald, J. (2006) Handbook of Writing Research. NY/London: The Guildford Press. Merry, S. et al. Eds. (2013) Reconceptualising feedback in higher education. London/Ny: Routledge. Montouri, A. (2005) Literature Review as a creative inquiry: Reframing scholarship as a creative process. Journal of Transfomative Education. 3, 374-393. Rienecker, L. , Jorgensen, P.S. & Skov, S. (2013) The good paper. A handbook for writing papers in higher education. Copenhagen, Samfundslitteratur. M. Torrance , G.V. Thomas & E.J. Robinson (1992) The writing experiences of social science research students, Studies in Higher Education, 17:2, 155-167, Torrance, M., Thomas, G. V. and Robinson, E. J. (1993), Training in thesis writing: an evaluation of three conceptual orientations. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 63: 170–184 Silvia, P.(2007) How to write a lot. A practical guide to productive academic writing. APA Vines, A. & Dysthe, O. (2010) Productive learning in the study of law:The role of technology in the learning ecology of a law faculty. L. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, C. Jones, B. Lindstrøm (Eds) Analysing networked learning practices in higher education and continuing professional development. Sense Publishers. Wake, J. D., Dysthe, O., & Mjelstad, S. (2007). New and changing teacher roles in a digital age. Educational Technology & Society 10(1).