Archive for February, 2015

February 16th, 2015

What’s “good” writing?

I’m putting this here for the benefit of ALL my students, not just those who will have to write one or more papers in my classes. Instead, I will put a link to this post on all my course companion websites in the syllabi.

Walvoord, B. E.  (2014). Assessing and Improving Student Writing in College: A Guide for Institutions, General Education, Departments, and Classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

The expert writer:

    • Focuses the writing appropriately for the demands of the assignment, situation, and audience, whether that means constructing an argument, recommending solutions to a problem, or reporting scientific research. Uses the modes of reasoning and inquiry, as well as the conventions of correctness that are considered appropriate to the discipline, but also understands the rhetorical situatedness of those modes and their intellectual, political, and social consequences.
    • Organizes the writing in an effective way for its audiences and purposes. 
    • Locates, evaluates, integrates, and cites information from various sources. 
    • Follows ethical principles for research and writing, including collaboration with peers, use of sources (avoiding plagiarism), and ethics of the disciplines such as protecting privacy, presenting accurate data, and respecting alternative viewpoints.
    • Integrates quantitative material, charts and graphs, images, and other multimedia material as appropriate; understands, critically evaluates, and appropriately employs new technologies and new digital and multimedia forms. 
    • Produces clear, coherent sentences and paragraphs shaped for their audiences and purposes. 
    • Uses the grammar and punctuation of Edited Standard Written English (ESWE) in appropriate circumstances, such as formal academic, business, civic, and professional writing.
    • Follows productive writing processes. 
    • Collaborates effectively with others to both give and receive feedback on a writer’s emerging work. (my emphasis).

But before you can do that, you have to internalize the following:

  • See that writing is important and necessary 
  • Experience a safe, supportive, yet rigorous environment with instructors who believe in students’ ability to improve as writers
  • Read, read, read, and, more broadly, work within an interactive, language-rich environment
  • Write frequently in genres that require higher-order thinking
  • Learn to work in multimedia forms and use developing technologies
  • Get helpful guidance, feedback, and chances to revise
  • Learn mindfulness about their own writing (metacognition) and principles they can apply across contexts (again, my emphasis)

Taken from Tomorrow’s Professor eNewsletter #1387, February 16, 2015.