Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Topic: Collaborative Writing

Question: Why don’t Teachers of first-year composition teach collaborative writing?

Answer: “But assigning collaborative written papers in an introductory college writing course is still rare. Researchers cited several reasons: our cultural values emphasize individualism, competitiveness, hierarchy, not group thought, cooperation, or negotiation…. Most readings used in introductory courses feature the works of individual authors; and students ought to practice writing as ‘loners,’ that is, ‘you and your pencil in a closed room.’ …. Some critics even argue that writing collaboratively denies students the ‘mystery of individual creation’ …and the opportunity to reflect deeply on a subject of personal interest. Lastly, many teachers sense that students fear receiving grades based on part on others’ work.”

Comment: A famous example of collaborative writing was JFK’s book Profiles in Courage and his inaugural address written with the collaboration of Ted Sorenson, followed by the expected criticism that Sorenson wrote both and not Kennedy.

What does collaborative writing really mean? Some participants provide ideas. Some provide research. Some provide criticism of drafts, but, in general, the writing is the product of a single person. Writing by committee has been frequently ridiculed. And in my own daughter’s experience, she felt that she was not an equal partner in the collaborative writing in her first-year composition course and did not believe she deserved a grade equal to the person who took the responsibility for the writing.

An interesting study—and one I have never seen—would be to determine how journal articles are written collaboratively. RayS.

Title: “Assessing Collaborative Writing in Non-traditional and Traditional First-Year College Writing Courses.” IG Daemmrich. Teaching English in the Two-Year College (December 2010), 161-175.

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