Linda Adler-Kassner: Threshold Concepts Presentation
THRESHOLDCONCEPTS IN/ANDWRITING COURSESLinda Adler-Kassner, Ph.D.Professor of Writing and Director, Writing ProgramUC, Santa BarbaraGeorgetown UniversityOctober 2012
Start with writing (yours):Think briefly about two different things you’ve written in thelast week. Then, write (for yourself) responses to somequestions:• What did you need to know to do a good job with these things?• Where did you learn these things you needed to know?• What helped you learn them?• What made it harder for you to learn them?(About 8 minutes to respond to these questions)
Threshold Concepts (Meyer and Land)• Concepts that are gateways for epistemological participation within disciplines.• TCs are: • Liminal – learners move toward and through them • Transformative – shift learners’ perspectives on the world • Troublesome – lead learners to question previous perspectives and ways of understanding in initially uncomfortable ways • Irreversible – once learners participate, it’s not really possible to reverse • Reconstitutive – once learners participate, they understand themselves in relationship to disciplines, other spheres differently
Threshold concepts of composition as a discipline• Writing is a subject of study as well as an activity (/noun and verb)• Writing (and language) is situated within and shaped by specific contexts, purposes, and audiences• Writing (and language) is never neutral; in all contexts, uses of writing (/language) are linked to values and ideologies. For this reason, writing can never be separated from the writer and her/his context,• background, experiences, etc., nor can it be separated from the culture/context where it circulates.• Writing (and language) is always situated in genre and genre is shaped by and reflects contexts, values, and ideologies• Qualities of good writing are site-specific; these qualities reflect and are shaped by the values and ideologies of the sites where those qualities are defined and embraced• Participation in writing (and language) is a form of social activity/action
Threshold concepts of writing in instruction• Qualities of good writing are context-specific – there is no such thing as “general skills writing”• Writing development is recursive• Writing performance involves cultural analysis and participation and cognitive ability• Writers develop through experience, reflection on experience, feedback, and revision• Metacognition – knowing how one knows – is central to writing development• Writing development involves analysis and application of strategies involved with prior knowledge (rather than 1:1 application of prior knowledge)
Knowledge capability(Baillie, Bowden, and Meyer)• The ability to situate understandings of “appropriateness” – appropriate knowledge, actions, activities – within the values of the communities shaping what appropriateness means• Cultivating and demonstrating skills associated with “appropriateness” in those communities• Making informed judgments based on understanding of appropriateness and values regarding use of skills.• Knowledge capability is associated with the development of capacity to participate in threshold concepts.
Outcomes for Writing 2 at UCSBOUTCOMESAll Writing 2 classes focus on developing students’ abilities in rhetorical analysis, writing, inquiry, reflectionand editing. Students who successfully complete Writing 2 will:Rhetorical Analysis• Analyze conventions and concepts of genres within academic disciplines and outside of the university.• Apply rhetorical concerns (audience, purpose, context) to a range of reading and writing assignments. For Writing 2E there will be an emphasis on the rhetorical demands of communicating in engineering and technical fields.Writing, Research, Revision and Reflection• Use a process involving drafting, revision, and editing to develop writing.• Use processes of inquiry and research to develop and explore questions relevant in academic contexts.• Apply strategies for locating, evaluating, and incorporating electronic, textual and/or ethnographically-based sources to explore questions relevant in academic contexts.• Engage evidence from sources for academic audiences to support and develop ideas in writing.• Paraphrase, summarize, and/or quote scholarly sources to engage academic audiences.• Reflect on and describe strategies used for writing, reading and research across contexts• Practice academic honesty within academic contexts.• Identify and use the conventions of at least one citation system.Editing Processes• Understand and use conventions of grammar, diction, syntax and mechanics in academic contexts.• Apply usage conventions to academic contexts to produce clear and effective writing.
Structure for Writing 2In a 10 week quarter:Three major writing projects (WPs)During the process of drafting WPs (over about a 3-weekperiod), students:• Complete at least two short, brainstorming/drafting assignments for feedback from the instructor (“project builders”, or PBs)• Read and provide feedback on one another’s draftsAt the end of the term, students revise 2/3 drafts for a finalcourse portfolio worth between 45-60 percent of theircourse grade
WP1…Goals:• Immerse students in study of genre and convention in familiar and/or accessible contexts.• Foster students’ abilities to identify genres (and texts included in them); analyze texts within genres; identify similarities/differences among conventions; consider relationships between genres, conventions, purposes, audiences, and contexts• Example: Choose a topic; identify two genres that include texts discussing that topic and two texts within each genre. Analyze the conventions of each set of texts (thus, each genre) and discuss how they appeal to different purposes, audiences, and contexts.
WP2…Goals:• Move from analysis of more familiar genres (and contexts) to less familiar ones/apply knowledge capabilities developed in WP1 to analysis of genres in less familiar context• Begin to situate conventions within contexts (in our case, academic conventions/contexts)
WP2 examplesIdentify a question in which you’re interested and twoacademic disciplines in which you’re also interested. Findtexts (usually two) in this discipline/about the topic andanalyze how questions are framed, what kind of evidenceis used, and how analysis is represented in thesedisciplines.Choose another class in which you’re enrolled. Gather datafrom texts from the class (syllabus, assignments, exams);interviews (with the faculty member and/or Tas); andobservation (of the class) to answer the question: What areappropriate literacy practices in this class and how do youknow?
WP3…Goals:• Apply capacities with TCs – specifically, analyzing ideas about writing in specific contexts• Reflect on/articulate what they’ve learnedExample:• Reflect on what you’ve learned <about writing in a context, writing in context, writing across contexts>.• Create a genre that conveys this to a specific audience for whom this is relevant• Analyze your work. Audience? Purpose? Genre? Conventions? How did you choose what to include and exclude?Frequently multigenre, multi-modal, “remix” projects with written,analytic reflections.