Posted in CCCC 2013, History of Basic Writing, Resources, Scholarship of Basic Writing

Resources from Session F.28

Karen S. Uehling has generously provided this incredibly useful bibliography for her talk on “Assessment, Placement, and Access: Framing Arguments from Local and National Histories” as part of her CCCC presentation March 15, 2013.

Assessment, Placement, and Access: Framing Arguments from Local and National Histories

A Bibliography by Karen S. Uehling

Adams, Peter, Sarah Gearhart, Robert Miller, and Anne Roberts. “The Accelerated Learning Program: Throwing Open the Gates.” Journal of Basic Writing 28.2 (2009): 50–69. Print.

Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Susanmarie Harrington. Basic Writing as a Political Act: Public Conversations about Writing and Literacies. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton P, 2002. Print. [See Chapter 5, “Looking Outward: Basic Writing and Basic Writers in the Mainstream Media,” for information on newspaper coverage of the General College of the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis in 1996 and City University of New York in New York City in 1999.]

Bartholomae, David. “The Tidy House: Basic Writing in the American Curriculum.” Journal of Basic Writing 12.1 (1993): 4–21. Print.

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. 2nd ed. NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958. Print.

Collins, Terence G. “Basic Writing Programs and Access Allies: Finding and Maintaining Your Support Network.” CBW Newsletter 13.3 (1998): 1–6. Print. [Available as a PDF through the CBW archives.]

———. “A Response to Ira Shor’s ‘Our Apartheid: Writing Instruction and Inequality.'” Journal of Basic Writing 16.2 (1997): 95–100. Print.

Glau, Gregory R., and Chitralekha Duttagupta, Eds. The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Basic Writing. 3rd. ed. NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. Print.

Gleason, Barbara. “Evaluating Writing Programs in Real Time: The Politics of Remediation.” College Composition and Communication 51.4 (2000): 560–88. Print.

Greenberg, Karen L. “A Response to Ira Shor’s ‘Our Apartheid: Writing Instruction and Inequality.'” Journal of Basic Writing 16.2 (1997): 90–94. Print.

McNenny, Gerri, Ed. Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access. Mahwah: Erlbaum, 2001. Print.

Otte, George, and Rebecca Williams Mlynarczyk. Basic Writing. West Lafayette, Indiana: Parlor P, 2010. Print. [Also available as open access book on the WAC Clearinghouse: http://wac.colostate.edu/books/basicwriting%5D

Ritter, Kelly. Before Shaughnessy: Basic Writing at Yale and Harvard, 1920–1960. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2009. Print.

Rose, Mike. Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves A Second Chance at Education.
NY: New Press, 2012. Print.

—. Lives on the Boundary: The Struggles and Achievements of America’s Underprepared. New York: Free, 1989. Print.

—. Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America. Houghton Mifflin: 1995. Print.

—. The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker. NY: Penguin, 2004.

Shor, Ira. “Our Apartheid: Writing Instruction and Inequality.” Journal of Basic Writing 16.1 (1997): 91–104. Print.

Soliday, Mary, and Barbara Gleason. “From Remediation to Enrichment: Evaluating a Mainstreaming Project.” Journal of Basic Writing 16.1 (1997): 64–78. Print.

Soliday, Mary. The Politics of Remediation: Institutional and Student Needs in Higher Education. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburg P, 2002. Print.

Sternglass, Marilyn S. Time to Know Them: A Longitudinal Study of Writing and Learning at the College Level. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1997. Print.

Traub, James. City on a Hill: Testing the American Dream at City College. Reading, Mass.: A William Patrick Book/Addison-Wesley, 1994.

Uehling, Karen S. “The Conference on Basic Writing: 1980-2005.” The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Basic Writing. Ed. Gregory R. Glau and Chitralekha Duttagupta. 3rd ed. NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005. 8-22. Print.

Posted in Calls to Action, CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Contingent Labor, Politics of Remediation, Resources

Petition for Human Readers (Anti-Machine Scoring)

Hi Folks,
This was already posted, but it got a lot of play at CCCC last week, so I wanted to repost it. This is a petition emphasizing the importance of human readers for student work, protesting a trend towards machine scoring.

http://humanreaders.org/petition/

Posted in CCCC 2013, Digital Literacy, Relationship to First Year Comp, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing

K.02: Revising the WPA Outcomes Statement for a Multimodal, Digitally Composed World

Although this session is not explicitly about basic writing, I think it’s important to add to the conversation. As we think about basic writing, its many forms, and its many different curricular definitions & iterations across the country, the WPA Outcomes for First Year Writing have become a national touchstone for what first year comp “should” do. Campuses often rely on this as a way to shape local conversations and the outcomes provide an important baseline for national conversations about writing curriculum.

There is no correlation for basic writing. In fact, as many of us regularly discuss at CCCC and CBW, there is not even a common definition of basic writing other than “not ready for college level writing.”

As the WPA takes  next step in thinking about the impact of technology on multimodal composition, it seems like this is a crucial consideration for the basic writing community.

Should we work communally to try to develop an outcomes statement, in collaboration with other groups, like TYCA? If so, what role would technology play in this statement?

Notes from this session are offered in the spirit of thinking about a future basic writing outcomes statement.

Chair: Beth Brunk-Chavez, University of Texas at El Paso

Respondent: Kathleen Blake Yancey, Florida State University
Speaker: Joe Bizup, Boston University
Speaker: Darsie Bowden, DePaul University
Speaker: Dylan Dryer, University of Maine
Speaker: Susanmarie Harrington, University of Vermont

The panel began with Susanmarie Harrington offering a history of the WPA Outcomes statement and its origin in 1996 with a post to WPA-L that resulted in more than 120 suggestions to an individual writing program director about a local outcomes statement. This kicked off a lengthy process in developing a statement that would be useful to campuses. The outcomes statement was made by hundreds of people to be used. The collective work created a policy document that was used to create change. It provided a scaffold for local programs that used the statement and adapted it to get local work done. It provided a frame for what writers do, what works for students, and what works for faculty and programs.

Darsie Bowden, chair of the task force, provided an overview of the task force’s work.

Task force members include: Darsie Bowden, Susanmarie Harrington, Kathleen Blake Yancey, Beth Brunk-Chavez, Lisa Mahle-Grisez, Doug Downs, Doug Hesse, Joe Bizup, Dylan Dryer, Bump Halbritter, and J. Elizabeth Clark.

Bowden next presented the results of a survey: 195 respondents from a four-year college, 21 respondents from two-year colleges, 3 from high schools, and 7 others.

61% of the respondents were very familiar with the WPA Outcomes Statement and an additional 27% were somewhat familiar.

The response to “What does ‘digital literacies’ mean” was very varied. 65% of respondents preferred that any revisions including digital literacy be added to the current WPA statement.

Bowden shared a rich set of written comments provided by respondents including suggestions for additional items (like basic writing and translingualism!) to be added to the WPA Outcomes Statement.

Dylan Dryer gave an overview of what the WPA statement does today and made a case for revising the current statement. He explored the differences between composing and writing. He argued that the WPA statement describes the common knowledge, skills, and attitudes sought by first year composition programs in U.S. post-secondary institutions. Today, that should include digital literacies.

Joe Bizup provided 3 concerns about revising the statement: teaching digital literacies are not central to teaching writing (a central concern), we lack a definition of digital literacies (a definitional concern), digital literacies are best addressed after first year composition (a not yet concern). Bizup enumerated and complicated each of these concerns as a way of thinking about how to deepen the work of the committee and the revision.

The session then moved to small group discussion and critique of the statement and the proposed revisions as a way to garner additional input from the CCCC community.

In the small group report out, people raised the following concerns/issues:

  • Issues of access: where will students do this work? What does it mean to bring technology into first year writing but not into the classroom (if you don’t have a computer lab/iPad program/etc.) ?
  • How can this document speak to people who teach in a program where there is only 1 required comp course? (versus 2)
  • What is the definition of digital literacy?
  • What is the difference between this and the “Composing in Electronic Environments” document?
  • Could this be more of a framework that part of the outcomes?
  • Modality, digital, on-line: what are we talking about? Are they the same? What are the boundaries of composition as a field? What do we acknowledge is not ours as a field? For example, what about audio included in a composition? Who here is an expert in speech and audio production?
  • The introduction to the original statement says that the WPA Outcomes Statement is NOT a required set of outcomes. They were meant to be adapted.
  • Could this document embody the multiple purposes and audiences more fluidly? What would happen if this document embodied multi-modal composition?
  • How can we make this document embody recursive practice?
  • The original document talks about “habits of mind” and “skills” that students should have. Why? Why do we want them to have this? The answer to this question leads us to why digital literacies are important in our curriculum.
  • If we’re going to teach them to be good critical consumers and good writers in the spaces they (students) inhabit, then we need to move into digital spaces.
  • Are our students writing and reading in digital spaces? Are we preparing our students for the workforce? We need to make sure that we have empirical numbers. Isn’t some of this happening off-line?
  • Digital technologies can already be included in many of the current outcomes as a form of writing. We don’t need to specifically address digital technologies.

The session ended with Kathleen Blake Yancey, offering a response to the session, the task force’s work, and the small group discussion.

1. Yancey argues that the document needs some kind of updating.

2. The current WPA Outcomes Statement was meant to be a boundary document (setting out definitions and constructs). We do not want to lose that utility.

3. The 6 areas we need to examine are:

  • Representativeness (the other areas that have been identified like reading & translingualism) & consensus about the national landscape of first year writing
  • The idea of cross talk between this document and other documents (should that be an implicit or explicit part of the process?)
  • The construct of writing: what is the difference between writing and composing?
  • The distinction between digital literacy and visual rhetoric is odd: they are not synonyms; what about digital rhetoric? Visual literacy? Now we have 4 terms, not 2.
  • Can outcomes sponsor conversations? Yes.  (see Pamela Moss’ work) Can outcomes support students? These are both useful and important components of a flexible articulation of writing.
  • There are other issues that need to be addressed such as how students who are enrolled and supported in first year writing programs are successful in college.

4. The WPA Outcomes Statement is a living document. It will be revised.

 

 

 

 

Session Materials:

https://bu.digication.com/CCCC13K/Home

Posted in CCCC 2013

J.37 Fostering Reading Identity for Students in the Developmental Writing Classroom

Again, excuse typos and autocorrect, folks! iPad typing is difficult.

Cheryl Hogue Smith, Kingsborough CC: Basic Writers as Basic Readers: Addressing Obstacles to Academic Literacy

Students act as “miners for gold”–looking for the correct answer the teacher wants them to find. But they miss the “gorillas” that appear in the text. They have “inattentional blindness”.

Students can never out-write their reading abilities, acc to Hogue Smith.

Reading with purpose: Louise Rosenblatt’s efferent (what we take away from the text) and aesthetic (what we enjoy about the text, the feeling that comes with it) stances

Hogue Smith proposes a deferent stance. Students defer to those who they think have the “right answers.” these students assume, when reading a confusing text, that the problem is them, not that the text is difficult. This is deferring to the emotional baggage of reading–they bring past struggles to bear on the current reading act.

Hogue Smith then moved the audience into a reading activity that she uses with her students; the activity requires students to summarize and collaborate. Activity moves students from summary to analysis.

1. Students re-read and revise their interpretations of the text

2. Students discover the value of their interpretations as well as the value of alternative interpretations.

Article on this topic is forthcoming in the Journal of Basic Writing.

Maureen McBride, U of Nevada Reno: Fostering Reading Identity for Students in the Developmental Writing Classroom

They began with an overview of Salvatori, Rizzi, and Donahue’s College English article, “What is College English. Then they discussed the genesis of their critical reading course at U of Nevada, Reno and the course outcomes.

Their initial study aimed to understand what students identify as difficult in dull, uninspiring, required readings. They began with Salvatori”s difficulty paper:writing about what students find difficult when reading. Gives teachers better understanding of student perspective and gives students agency.

Not enough knowledge of reading pedagogy, especially among graduate TAs, acc to the speakers.

Have collected over 200 papers over three semesters. These papers asked students to summarize the reading and identify what they found difficult.

Themes that emerged: identity and expectations. They will only discuss the identity results.

Used Gee’s identity model for analysis: nature, institutional, discourse, and affinity identity.

Core categories that emerged:

Students were intrinsically or extrinsically motivated (nature–“I am not a person who reads”). The idea of outgrowing reading (I used to read, but now I don’t). “This is a waste of time” attitudes that compartmentalize reading from other classes.

Rejecting an affinity identity.

Personal desires and institutional requirements for reading.

How do we adjust our pedagogy?

Addressing reading like a writer: give direct instruction on the reading-writing connection. Teach the reading process as well as the writing process. The reading process is invisible to our students.

Described the students’ idealized college reader (responses given when asked to define the ideal college reader) : has no problems reading, finds interest in assigned readings, reads for pleasure, reads at any pace, absorbs info easily, reads once and understands, doesn’t get distracted, can move between genres and text lengths with ease.

Cites Joliffe and Harl (2008): high school students do not read extensively, critically, or sufficiently. Gallagher (2004, 2009, and 2011): secondary students need far more instruction in the processes of reading and writing. Don’t just assign reading, but teach how to read.

Testing culture has produced a narrow view of writing that creates a mismatch between what we expect them to write and what they read. They are required to write very simplistic texts, thanks to standardized testing, so why aren’t their assigned texts simplistic? (acc to students) That is why students say, “Why don’t they just say what we need to know? Why don’t they come out and say it?”

Students often approach texts with an aesthetic expectation. You should always enjoy everything you read, and if you don’t there is something wrong with you–so don’t read it. You’re not supposed to, because clearly that text is not for you.

Reading like a writer can build resilience and give them agency: “It’s OK to give up because it’s going to be hard,” acc to the students. Must fight that.

Writing centers also need training in how to read critically, how to tutor students in reading critically.

Making the struggle of reading a complex texts visible is important. Must choose textbooks that support this work. Require evidence of a reading process: annotations that are turned in, reading checklists/questionnaires/etc.

Disciplinary Reading in the Composition Classroom–Megan Sweeney, U of Nevada Reno

Disciplinary reading should be integrated in composition. Education leading the way right now. Shanahan and Shanahan are the leading scholars in this area.

Sweeney explains how she integrated disciplinary literacy in her classes. Had students read Shanahan and Shanahan’s work and had grad students come in to discuss how reading works in their disciplines. The grad students taught those classes in their own way.

These activities gave them an opportunity to negotiate an identity that was new to them. Guest speakers enjoyed the chance to reflect on their reading, too.

Q and A:

How do these reading strategies affect their writing? Students can now read and implement assignments more critically and reflect on and defend their rhetorical choices in a more informed way.

How do you address turf wars when preparing TAs to teach reading (Ed depts teach reading pedagogy, English writing pedagogy)? It’s really tough. We need to meet with our colleagues in other depts and talk out these issues. Develop courses that you can show don’t deal with the same issues. Think politically and strategically about course titles and descriptions.

What about the reading apprenticeship approach? It’s important to have metacognitive conversations with students about reading and model our own reading strategies. That can be hard for many teachers, because we take our own reading strategies for granted.

Posted in CCCC 2013, Uncategorized

Perspectives on the History and Future of Basic Writing

With inconsistent internet and an overwhelming stream of panels (and textbook parties), I want to do a brief post on what’s freshest in my mind – the wonderful histories presented by Andrea Lunsford, Mary Soliday, Gregory Ott, and Kelly Ritter in “Perspectives on the History and Future of Basic Writing”  — and return later today to the panels on English language learners that I attended yesterday.

Both Andrea Lunsford and George Otte provided overarching, bite-sized histories of “basic writing” and how basic writing has become a contested field of study. Lunsford discussed the recurring Crisis in Literacy that we are once again in the midst of today. She discussed the concern in 1970, with the article “Why Can’t Johnny Write?” that invented the need for “remediation.” She discussed her first 4Cs in 1969 in which the chair, Geneva Smitherman, gave an address called “Black Language is Black Power”; Shaughnessy’s work in Errors and Expectations; and how in 1980 the 4Cs first included “basic writing” and how the field developed in the 1980s. Otte opened his talk discussing how the “definition” of basic writing and basic writers is perpetually unstable and called into question. What makes basic writing is a special kind of attention, according to Otte. He then charted that attention, beginning with Mina Shaugnessy’s attempt to uncover causation in error. He then discussed the cognitive turn from scholars like Lunsford and Mike Rose, and the critique of a purely cognitivist approach from Rose. From there, he discussed David Bartholomae’s critique of the emerging basic writing subject, that “in the name of sympathy and empowerment, we have once again produced the ‘Other.’” Following this would be Ira Shor’s critique of BW as “our apartheid.” While basic writing is constantly contested, Otte suggested that basic writing teachers and scholars need less a united front than a persistence of attention. Lastly, Mary Soliday used archival information from CUNY professors in 1970 evaluating their basic writers. Though there was no established scholarly field for basic writing at the time, she praised the observations of these teachers, such as form drives proficiency (i.e., when a student knows a subject, she/he produces more fluent writing). Soliday suggested that these observations – that “excitement is the hook on which we are engaged in intellectual life” – should continue to guide how we teach basic writers, that we should pursue academic inquiry rather than the modes (get rid of the modes, both she and Kelly Ritter suggested), that our basic writing courses should be more like book clubs, not the acontextual modal approach that is still dominant in basic writing textbooks.

Posted in CCCC 2013, Scholarship of Basic Writing, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing

On “We are Borg: Composing Processes and Identities”

The session “We are Borg: Composing Processes and Identities” dealt with using multimodal composing to break students out of “genre knowledge” that might not be serving them in composition classrooms. The first talk was by Angela Laflen. Her talk was entitled “Charting the New World between Whiteboards and Slides: Composing Online with Prezi.” She demonstrated the ways that Prezi can be used to help students become more aware of the performative aspects of composition as they explore their online identities.

In her talk entitled “Negotiating Metacognition in a Digital Landscape: Multimodal Reflection in the 21st Century Classroom, “Anna Knutson demonstrated the ways that students use video in her classes to make more meaningful reflections about their compositions. The results, and the sample student reflections she shared, seemed really insightful.

Finally, Sara Hillin detailed two assignments that she uses in her writing course: the technoliteracy memoir and the text-to-webtext literacy project. Hillin described the ways that she used Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manfesto” and Katherine Hayles (I think) to frame the assignments. In the text-to-webtext assignment, students repurpose traditional essays into online texts in really interesting ways. In the technoliteracy memoir, students use “infinite canvas style” programs like Prezi to create literacy narratives.

The big take away from this session was that I now have some ideas for how I to integrate some of these assignments into my own writing classroom (or change some of my existing assignments). I’m also motivated to help students think more about identity as a crucial aspect of composing online and everywhere else. ~ Sheri Rysdam, UVU

Posted in CBW 2013, CBW Innovations Award, CCCC 2013, What's New in Basic Writing

2013 Innovations Award

CBW was pleased to award the 2013 Award for Innovations in Basic Writing to the University of Arizona for its Adapted Studio Model. You’ll be able to hear more about this exciting work at next year’s 2014 CBW pre-conference workshop.

20130315-105937.jpg

Aimee Mapes of the University of Arizona, pictured here with CBW Executive Board Member, and Innovations Committee Chair, Greg Glau

Posted in CCCC 2013, History of Basic Writing, Politics of Remediation, Who is Basic Writing?

F.28: The Work of Scholarship: Hermeneutics in Public and Institutional Arguments on Basic Writing

This session, chaired by Hannah Ashley, focused on public and institutional discourses about Basic Writing and Basic Writers. The emphasis was on rewriting the narrative of Basic Writing as part of shaping the public and institutional policies that affect Basic Writing programs, Basic Writers, and faculty and staff.

Karen Uehling presented on “Assessment, Placement, and Access: Framing Arguments from Local and National Histories.” She provided a very comprehensive overview of the history of Basic Writing by examining the trends and history in Basic Writing. I’m going to ask if she’ll share her bibliography for her paper because it’s a treasure trove of the history of trends in Basic Writing and because it was hard for me to keep up with all of the references. [Update: the bibliography appears at the end of this post AND is a separate post on the blog].

Uehling outlined the current language of a “literacy crisis” in our society. She posited that we do not have a literacy crisis. “There was never a golden age when students could write better than they can now,” she asserted.

She then moved to discussing the strand in Basic Writing scholarship of looking at the human costs of the decisions that we (and policy makers and administrators) make about basic writing. “Story is one way that we make sense of the world,” she said, emphasizing the importance of returning to the practice of  including student stories and human narratives into the discussion of Basic Writing. Focusing on numbers and data alone do not paint the picture of what’s at stake, for whom, and why.  As a side note, this has been a trend at CCCC 2013: looking at a return to the importance of narrative & story. I think much of this was influenced by Malea Powell’s address to CCCC 2012 where she dramatically demonstrated the power and importance of story.

William Lalicker explored “Agency through Assessment: Developing a Basic Writing Program Strength Quotient.” He was focused on the question of “How is our work as basic writing professors interpreted, understood and valued?” He suggested that programs engage in a 12 point program strength quotient analysis. It includes questions such as:

  • Does your program use a fair, accurate, and ultimately student-empowering placement system?
  • Does your program employ qualified, theory-savvy instructors who are committed to the value of Basic Writing and its students, and who have the institutional credibility to advocate for their pedagogy and student?
  • Do your Basic Writing courses teach students through research-validated approaches linked to rhetorical principles? That is, are your students encouraged to take a rhetorical stance, have a thesis, write whole essays, develop multiple drafts, make errors and fix errors in their own writing (rather than doing busywork fill-in-the-blank workbook exercises or writing isolated sentences or formulaic paragraphs)?
  • Do your Basic Writing courses get credit as legitimate college courses?
  • Does your Basic Writing program have a viable outcomes assessment regimen?

Each of these questions had a set criteria linked to a point system. For example, question #2 looks at who is teaching Basic Writing. The first criteria is “If your Basic Writing sections, or other learning situations for basic writers, are taught completely by unwilling non-tenure-track instructors assigned due to minimal seniority in the course-choice hierarchy, or by student peers alone, or by lit professors who couldn’t get jobs teaching Chaucer, or other uninspired or unempowered placeholders, assign 0 points.” There are multiple criteria for each question.

Lalicker’s point is that if you assess your writing program, you are able to talk about how you are serving Basic Writers with administrators and stakeholders.

Michael Hill addressed “The Work of Philosophical Argument in an Age of Mechanical Assessment.” Hill began by observing that mechanical grading software is something that perhaps all of us have wished for when facing a stack of papers. An administrator suggested that the college adopt e-Write software because it would solve all of the college’s issues with placement.

Hill focused on the importance of Basic Writing faculty authority. “I am Basic Writing,” he said. As a teacher of basic writing, he understands that it is important to . The data that e-Write is effective, something that influences administrators and politicians, is corporate-funded research. That matters. And, it’s a critical piece of the conversation.

As we think about writing, writing to an audience, and writing for expression, Hill argues that it’s important to remember that writing as an expressive act is transactional: between writer and reader. What happens when that transaction is removed?

Hill suggests that we need to explore and engage in a philosophical argument. Although it’s difficult to get people to listen to ideas, it’s also important to be more persuasive, using our authority and experience as Basic Writing faculty.

e-Write software  changes the communicative paradigm. One cannot be persuasive, one must follow standards that can be quantified in the software. There are also questions about student authorship and authority: who owns the writing, what does it look like?

e-Write and dialectical materialism: Hill invoked Walter Benjamin and the age of mechanical reproduction. e-Write turns Benjamin’s “glee” in mechanical reproduction into something darker. The only power left in the exchange is a voiceless exchange. Writing becomes simply functional. Why are we promoting the deauthorization of writing? e-Write takes authorship and authority away from students. Student writing is voiced into nothing. It becomes a simple number for placement.

e-Write software can also be analyzed through a lens of : it is a failure of a democratic ethic. Robert Dowell claims that democratic society is based on “intrinsic equality.” In e-Write, individual voices are not equal. Instead, they are assessed by a mechanical arbiter of standardization. e-Write fails to participate in democratic education, preparing students to engage in citizenship. e-Write is a tool that is a failure of democracy by erasing a writer’s voice before she is even done writing.

e-Write is a tool for prescription and correction, not for building and guiding student development of voice. This is not the philosophy of Basic Writing, the pedagogical approach to Basic Writing, nor the best practice in the field.

Hill urges us to consider: what are the ramifications of this kind of software? What is the ramification of ANY product that enters the classroom to affect instruction? 

If we do not engage in these discussions and create the scholarship, debate, and policies, then we allow corporations to define Basic Writing, our field, and our philosophy.

Abby Nance presented on “A Tale of Two Classrooms: Practicing Trauma-Sensitive Placement.” Nance began by referencing a previous session (A17) at CCCC when Carla Maroudas asked “How many of your departments use Accuplacer or a similar program for placement?” Most of the room raised their hands. To the second question, “How many of you believe these softwares are accurate?” no hands went up.

Nance focused on a study she did (IRB approved!) about the role of trauma and Basic Writing placement. She was interested in the question of trauma and whether that affected student performance.

She next referenced an ACE Study by the CDC, the work of Jeffery Duncan-Andrade, the work of James Pennebaker, and a 2005 study entitled “Helping Traumatized Children Learn: Supportive School Environments for Children Traumatized by Family Violence” by S. Cole, J.G. O’Brien, G. Gadd, J. Ristuccia, and L. Wallace.  These studies suggest that early childhood trauma leads to serious health problems and a shortened life span.

Nance was interested in exploring if there is a relationship between students’ traumatic experiences prior to enrolling in college and their placement in a college writing classroom and is there a relationship between the acknowledgement and expression of traumatic experiences?

She defined traumatic experiences by: traumatic deaths, family upheaval, traumatic sexual experiences, physical violence, illness/injuries, and other.

She asked students “Prior to this semester, did you experience a death of a very close friend or family member? If yes, how old were you? If yes, how traumatic was this experience?” Students were asked to use a numerical scale.

As she looked at trauma as a whole, there seemed to be very little correlation between trauma and placement.

So, Nance examined the kind of trauma. There are “secret traumas” that are not discussed or publicly acknowledged (e.g. sexual violence in a household versus a death or illness which might be more public).

This data suggests that if there is a relationship between trauma and placement, it’s a complex relationship.

Nance suggested a moderate response to trauma-sensitive placement: by developing sensitivity to these issues.

She also suggested a more radical response: to write and talk about these experiences with students. We know about the healing properties of pomegranates. The healing properties of writing as therapy have been documented and explored. So, how do we engage this and document this and create evidence for this?

Hannah Ashley noted a thread of “seize the discourse” across each of these narratives because it’s critical to establishing our authority, the field all in the service of students and student success.

Resources for this post:

Karen S. Uehling provided this incredibly useful bibliography for her talk on “Assessment, Placement, and Access: Framing Arguments from Local and National Histories” as part of her CCCC presentation March 15, 2013.

Assessment, Placement, and Access: Framing Arguments from Local and National Histories

A Bibliography by Karen S. Uehling

Adams, Peter, Sarah Gearhart, Robert Miller, and Anne Roberts. “The Accelerated Learning Program: Throwing Open the Gates.” Journal of Basic Writing 28.2 (2009): 50–69. Print.

Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Susanmarie Harrington. Basic Writing as a Political Act: Public Conversations about Writing and Literacies. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton P, 2002. Print. [See Chapter 5, “Looking Outward: Basic Writing and Basic Writers in the Mainstream Media,” for information on newspaper coverage of the General College of the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis in 1996 and City University of New York in New York City in 1999.]

Bartholomae, David. “The Tidy House: Basic Writing in the American Curriculum.” Journal of Basic Writing 12.1 (1993): 4–21. Print.

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. 2nd ed. NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958. Print.

Collins, Terence G. “Basic Writing Programs and Access Allies: Finding and Maintaining Your Support Network.” CBW Newsletter 13.3 (1998): 1–6. Print. [Available as a PDF through the CBW archives.]

———. “A Response to Ira Shor’s ‘Our Apartheid: Writing Instruction and Inequality.'” Journal of Basic Writing 16.2 (1997): 95–100. Print.

Glau, Gregory R., and Chitralekha Duttagupta, Eds. The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Basic Writing. 3rd. ed. NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. Print.

Gleason, Barbara. “Evaluating Writing Programs in Real Time: The Politics of Remediation.” College Composition and Communication 51.4 (2000): 560–88. Print.

Greenberg, Karen L. “A Response to Ira Shor’s ‘Our Apartheid: Writing Instruction and Inequality.'” Journal of Basic Writing 16.2 (1997): 90–94. Print.

McNenny, Gerri, Ed. Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access. Mahwah: Erlbaum, 2001. Print.

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