Friday, December 31, 2010

Topic: Assessment of Writing Programs

Question: What is one method of assessing the effectiveness of a school’s writing program?

Answer: Administer the following interview questions to recent graduates. In part the assessment is designed to update the writing faculty on the current needs of graduates in performing writing assignments on the job.

> Can you give us examples of writing you have done that is persuasive and/or public?

> What was your intent in doing each of those pieces of writing? What was the situation that prompted the writing? Who did you think of as the potential readers of what you wrote?

> When doing these pieces of writing, are there certain thing you consciously avoid saying or doing?

> Are you conscious, when performing persuasive and/or public writing, of word choices, of sentence construction, of sentence length? Can you think of some examples?

> What writing technologies did you use when performing the writing, e.g. personal computer, pen and ink, recording device?

> In creating the writing, did you use any particular software, or different kinds of software?

> When writing, do you recall particular practices or pieces of information from your time as an undergraduate doing written composition?

> When you reflect upon your undergraduate experiences as a writer, what kind of connections can you make between those experiences and your current writing practices?

> What should we include in an undergraduate writing curriculum that you believe would prepare someone for you current writing practices?

>. Do you have to research material as part of the writing you do? How do you conduct that research?

>. Do you still follow any research processes that you learned or developed while an undergraduate?

> Are there any research processes you had to learn after graduation, in order to effectively produce the writing you do now?

Comment: These questions help to keep faculty abreast of the latest needs in writing by recent graduates. RayS.

Title: “What Our Graduates Write: Making Program Assessment Both Authentic and Persuasive.” C Cosgrove. College Composition and Communication (December 2010), 311-335.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Topic: English and Culture

Question: What is the effect of the uses of English in countries beyond the U.S. and Britain?

Answer: In countries other than the U.S. and Britain, English is used as the language of technology, but these countries distinguish and separate the language and the culture.

Comment: East vs. West. English may be the lingua franca, but the countries outside the U.S. and Britain want nothing to do with the culture that is associated with the language. RayS.

Title: “Negotiating Cultural Identities Through Language: Academic English in Jordan.” Anne-Marie Pedersen. College Composition and Communication (December 2010), 283-310.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To;pic: The Role of the MA in Writing vs. the PhD.

Question: How can the MA in Writing offer greater opportunities than the PhD?

Answer: Typically, the MA is a doorway to the PhD, which narrows the focus of candidates’ interests. The MA in writing as an end in itself offers far greater opportunities than the typical PhD to provide services in the community that are vitally needed.

Comment: The PhD narrows. The MA in writing broadens interests and opportunities. Worth thinking about. RayS.

Title: “Advancing by Degree: Placing the MA in Writing Studies.” P Vandenberg and J Clary-Lemon. College Composition and Communication (December 2020), 257-282.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Topic: Misreadings in Literature

Question: How can we teach students to read literary works with understanding?

Answer: The students and the teacher read them together, opening possibilities for interpretations as well as correcting misunderstandings.

Comment: In other words, go through the process with your students, showing them how, but also deepening your own understanding. Your students can surprise you with experiences they have had that bear on the literary work. RayS.

Title: “The Virtue of Misreadings: Interpreting ‘The Man in the Well.’” Gary Weissman. College English (September 2010), 28-49.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Topic: The English Professor in Court

Question: If you had to participate in court cases as a consultant or ‘expert,’ would you be prepared?

Answer: “…as the anecdotes that follow will demonstrate, our public stance defending academic values turns out to be much more complicated than one might expect: our claims to expertness are not beyond question, we may have to choose which of conflicting values to argue for, and we can never predict which everyday activities might land us in the courts or other public arenas.” P. 184.

“As I reflect on the experiences in this essay, I think of the sermon I give our fresh PhDs as they assume their tenure-track jobs. You must, I tell them, become citizens of higher education as well as campus professors, be ready to stand up in court, in a hearing room, and in committee rooms as well as in the classroom to defend the values we represent. Such a defense can be complicated and frustrating; it may be ignored (as it was in the Fanny Hill case or the Senate hearing for me) or it may have immediate or delayed effects. You may be listened to with respect or suspicion, and what you say may not be heard as you intend. But you must be prepared to speak out because your job as an English professor comes with important public responsibilities you should not avoid. That part of our job was taken for granted by professors of my, mostly now retired, generation. With the increased corporatization of the university and the general replacement of tenure-track appointments with adjuncts, that task is both more difficult and more important than it was fifty years ago. We must hope and trust that tomorrow’s professoriate will be equal to the job.” P. 194-195.

Summary: A series of anecdotes illustrating some of the rewards and hazards involved in participating in court cases by an English professor. PhD’s take notice You might be next. Are you ready?

Some of the sub-titles in the article: “Fighting for the Right to Read.” “Protecting the Faculty from Itself.” “The Underside of Faculty Appointments.” “On the Hot Seat before Legislative Committees.”

Comment: The job of English teacher at the college level is expanding—to infinity? RayS.

Title: “”English Professor as Public Figure: My Days in Court.” EM White. College English (November 2010), 183-195.