Selected Writing across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines and College Writing Development Literature
Anson, Chris. The WAC Casebook: Scenes for Faculty Reflection and Program Development, Oxford UP: 2002. (http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-512775-7)
In this series of short case-studies, Chris Anson allows instructors to play the "what-if" game with a number of issues pertaining to WAC/WID. Readable and challenging, Anson asks us to think about complex issues such as designing writing assignments across courses, negotiating competing goals in an inter-disciplinary course setting and responding effectively to student writing. At the heart of this book, Anson asks teachers interested in WAC to consider what´s important about student writing and how it can best be used to enhance a student´s academic experience.
For example, in the case titled "Showdown at Midwestern U.," a lively email exchange occurs between two professors with competing ideologies about the purpose of general education writing courses. Bob, a department chair of the economics department, comes to Sherry, the director of the Office of Campus Writing, arguing the purpose a first-year writing class should be to teach students how to construct arguments based on a synthesis of other literary texts. Sherry counters by arguing that since so much writing done in an academic setting is discipline-specific, developing a student´s ability to write about literature would serve only to make them more adept at writing about literature.
At the end of this and other case-studies in the book, Anson provides a set of open-ended questions for readers to consider. These grand questions about writing´s different purposes across disciplines are what make this book a fine entry-point for those interested in familiarizing themselves with the ongoing conversations at work in WAC/WID.
Anson, Chris M., John E. Schwiebert, and Michael M. Williamson. Writing across the Curriculum: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.
This annotated bibliography of all things WAC is divided into two parts: Anson devotes the first third of the text to the theoretical framework behind the sub-genre and the rest of the book to discipline-specific texts about incorporating writing into the curriculum. A two-sentence description follows each entry.
Bazerman, Charles, and David R. Russell, eds. Landmark Essays on Writing across the Curriculum. Davis, CA: Hermagoras Press, 1994.
This collection consists of articles representing the range of WAC work over time. Pieces in the first section trace the history of the WAC movement from the first literacy crisis in the 1870´s in order to explain the reasons for the movement´s success and staying power. The second section explores programmatic and institutional projects ranging from studying student learning in individual courses to Fulwiler´s suggestions about how to make WAC initiatives work and Kinneavy´s description of the kinds of ways institutions approach WAC. The section ends with Maimon´s essay about the second stage of WAC, how we go about growing and nurturing WAC programs that are well established. Janet Emig´s oft cited article introduces the third section, which looks at WAC in the classroom. She explores why writing is such a unique way of learning in any context. Other studies examine what it is like for students to learn to write in different disciplinary classrooms.
Bazerman, Charles, Joseph Little, Lisa Bethel, Teri Chavkin, Danielle Fouquette, and Janet Garufis, eds. Reference Guide to Writing Across the Curriculum. West Lafayette, Indiana: Parlor Press and The WAC Clearinghouse, 2005.
The first part of the book is an overview of key terms and historical moments relevant to the Writing Across the Curriculum movement. Bazerman defines the difference b/w WAC and WID in terms of literacies, pedagogies and curricular initiatives. The second part of the book outlines 3 major approaches to theory and research in WAC: classroom writing practices, writing to learn, and rhetoric of inquiry. In higher education, students often do not see the personal or professional relevance of the goals of writing in disciplinary courses. Across studies students seem to share the "struggle to come to discover what it is they know, what it is they are committed to, and how those perceptions and commitments can be enacted in professional and academic ways" (47) suggesting that writing in any discipline needs to be made relevant to students" lives. The book suggests new directions for the WAC movement including writing intensive courses, Writing Center and peer tutor initiatives, interdisciplinary learning communities, service learning, and electronic communication across the disciplines. Finally, the book addresses the challenges educators and administrators face in assessing and evaluating student work and WAC programs. Offers further resources by discipline.
Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor´s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
"A pragmatic, nuts-and-bolts guide" for busy college professors across the disciplines, Engaging Ideas is designed to help teachers engage students in activities that support critical thinking and active learning. Divided into four sections, the book can be read linearly from front to back or can be easily searched depending on the needs of the reader. Grounded in the principles of Writing Across the Curriculum, sections take up the connection between thinking and writing, the creation of problem-based writing assignments, designing reading, writing and thinking activities for active learning in the classroom, and responding to student writing. Bean provides classroom examples from a range of courses with different formats, subject matter, learning goals and departmental circumstances. With suggestions that are easily adapted to particular learning situations, Bean´s is an incredibly useful hands-on resource.
Carroll, Lee Ann. Rehearsing New Roles: How College Students Develop as Writers. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2002.
Carroll presents a longitudinal study of college students throughout their college experience. Her findings suggest that first-year writing courses are useful, but not sufficient, in terms of supporting students" development as writers. Rather, she argues that faculty in the disciplines can and should develop strategies to support students" growth, proposing ways for instructors in specialized disciplines to build on the rhetorical skills and sensibilities students begin developing in first- year composition courses. She outlines six recommendations including "redesigning the literacy environment" of students´ majors so they work on complex literacy tasks over sequenced courses; providing "scaffolding" for development by explicitly teaching discipline specific genres and research strategies; and carefully designing projects that will challenge a range of students by emphasizing the process rather than only the product of writing assignments (129-410).
Carter, Michael. "Ways of Knowing, Doing, and Writing in the Disciplines." CCC 58.3 385-418.
This article responds to the common assertion that disciplines teach specialized knowledge while writing is a generalizable skill. To the contrary, Carter argues that ways of knowing in a particular discipline are closely tied to ways of doing in that discipline. Moreover, writing should be considered a vital way of doing that is best conceptualized and taught by experts in the discipline. In other words, disciplinary instructors have a responsibility, according to Carter, to use writing as a "means of teaching and evaluating" what students should be able to do and know in their major disciplines (409).
Fulwiler, Toby , Art Young, eds. Language Connections: Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 1982. http://wac.colostate.edu/books/language_connections/.
Composed of essays authored by fourteen faculty members at Michigan Technological University, this collection argues teachers across the disciplines should use James Britton’s concept of "expressive" utterances as a frame for understanding and valuing students processes of coming to know. The contributors suggest in varying ways that teachers in all disciplines value students’ ideas in process as well as those ideas as represented in final products. Discussing students as developing readers and writers, the essays propose that in addition to activities encouraging students to write to learn, listening as well as small and large group discussion activities facilitate students’ engagement with language, therefore enhancing students’ understanding of course material.
Cohen, Samuel. "Tinkering toward WAC Utopia." Journal of Basic Writing 21.2 (2002): 56−72.
The article is intended for faculty and administrators involved in the early stages of implementing a Writing Across the Curriculum program as well as those in the process of rethinking the goals of an existing initiative. The author suggests Writing Across the Curriculum programs can and should serve as sites of educational reform. While faculty and leaders need to focus on teaching discipline−specific writing practices, students should also be made conscious of the social construction and history of disciplinary norms, thus making critical thinking skills central to the teaching of writing. Cohen argues faculty and administrators must work together from within existing disciplinary structures to develop shared goals for teaching students not only to use disciplinary discourses, but to critique them as well.
Herrington, Anne, and Charles Moran, eds. Writing, Teaching, and Learning in the Disciplines. New York: MLA, 1992.
The collection is made up of five sections. The first, "Historical Perspectives" describes the British and American origins of WAC. The second, "Disciplinary and Predisciplinary Theory" asks if we should focus on disciplinary knowledge or more general issues of teaching and learning that go beyond disciplines (45). Britton´s piece investigates how students use structures and tools they have developed in other experiences to make sense of new concepts and ideas. Bazerman, in "From Cultural Criticism to Disciplinary Participation: Living with Powerful Words" argues that we must make visible the historical, shifting, multivoiced make up of the disciplines so students see the social consequences of their work in these disciplines. Judith Langer explores the difference between making content or the rules of discourse the subject matter of our courses as opposed to making ways of inquiring and thinking central to the work of teaching and learning. In response to the call for teachers to develop more accurate language for talking about discipline-specific thinking and writing with students, Odell looks at patterns of thinking that influence how disciplinary instructors evaluate good writing. The final section examines the epistemological and ideological aspects of the disciplines and implications for writing, teaching and learning.
Herrington, Anne and Marcia Curtis. Persons in Process. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 2000.
Herrington and Curtis follow four college students over a period of their years of university study and theorize from their development as writers in several courses across disciplines. Drawing from Kohut´s "self-in-relationship to objects" psychoanalytic theory of personal development, they demonstrate that writing in all contexts is a more than merely an act of self expression and is rather a self-constituting act, one that is always carried out in relationship with others such as ones audience. Herrington and Curtis contend that because students" writing development is closely tied to identity development, teachers across the disciplines must learn to be empathetic, respectful and understanding listeners, responders and analysts as much of the personal contact students have with teacher is through writing. Furthermore, they argue students continue to develop as writers throughout their academic careers when writing is infused into the currriculum and therefore writing should be a part of courses across the disciplines. The authors offer specific examples.
Hult, Christine A. Researching and Writing: Across the Curriculum. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995.
This text, designed primarily for students writing research papers in a variety of disciplines, gives a number of helpful examples of successful research papers that highlight the differences in conventions for each field of study. Hult recognizes the importance of giving discipline−specific guidance to the writing academic papers and includes work from fields such as business, social sciences and biology. Also included in this reader is a complete reference guide for the variety of citation formats students may encounter throughout their coursework.
Kiefer, Kate. "Integrating Writing Into Any Course: Starting Points." AcademicWriting (2000) http://wac.colostate.edu/aw/teaching/kiefer2000.htm.
In this article Kiefer offers concrete suggestions for faculty who desire to incorporate writing into their curriculum but may not know where to start. The author suggests teachers begin by articulating their goals for students and integrating writing by designing writing assignments that are meaningful and further their stated goals. Kiefer provides detailed strategies to help teachers to design meaningful research paper assignments, informal "writing−to−learn" assignments, as well as specific "writing in the disciplines" tasks. Finally, the author gives tips for assessing student writing.
Light, Richard J. Making the Most of College. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2001.
At the heart of Light´s book is the premise that in order to foster significant learning experiences for students, we first need to provide students opportunities to voice their opinions, to fully listen to those opinions, and finally to include those voices in our campus development efforts if we hope to successfully increase active student engagement across the campus. Light interviews college students asking them a variety of questions about learning experiences in all areas of campus life. Specifically concerning writing, Light notes that student respondents reported wanting more discipline-specific writing instruction in their upper division courses and students reported that writing instruction was most effective when writing was incorporated throughout the semester in their courses. Additionally, Light notes that academic development and personal development are tied"as students learn and process their coursework they learn and change as individuals and subjects. Students find meaningful learning experiences when their academic coursework extends and connects with their lives outside of school.
McLeod, Susan, and Margot Soven, eds. Writing across the Curriculum: A Guide to Developing Programs. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992.
This collection of essays offers faculty and administrators advice, models and examples of Writing Across the Curriculum initiatives. The articles range from suggestions for institutional consultants involved in the beginning stages of implementing WAC/WID to models for faculty dialogue across the disciplines concerning WAC/WID programs. Additionally, essays include resources for faculty to assist in developing and sustaining writing intensive courses and offer tools for supporting WAC/WID. The collection offers a list of further reading for those interested in starting WAC/WID initiatives.
Monroe, Jonathan. Writing and Revising the Disciplines. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002.
This collection includes essays from distinguished professors in nine different disciplines and provides analyses of various disciplinary discourses as well as writing strategies commonly employed in the respective disciplines. The collection functions as a useful tool for teachers and researchers across disciplines to identify disciplinary practices and read across these practices in order to come to a deeper understanding of how language is valued and used in the disciplines.
Moss, A., and C. Holder. Improving Student Writing: A Guidebook for Faculty in All Disciplines. Dubugue, IA: Kendall Hunt, 1988.
Moss and Holder argue for a collaborative approach to student writing within the disciplines. They assert student writing will improve the most through group projects that approximate real−life working situations and outline methods for faculty to enact these scenarios. In this guide, intended for faculty, the authors present strategies for assigning writing in the classroom, designing effective assignments and writing−based tests, and evaluating student writing.
Orr, John C. "Instant Assessment: Using One−Minute Papers in Lower−Level Classes." Pedagogy 5.1 (2005): 108−111.
In this article Orr describes his successful use of the "one−minute paper"—an exercise in student reflection and teacher assessment proposed by Richard Light. At the end of each class, Orr has his students write for one minute about what they learned and what they still do not understand. The author offers examples of how the technique allows him to gauge his students’ learning on a daily basis and assists him in planning future classes that are responsive to the needs of the majority of his students. He ultimately suggests that the technique is especially successful in lower−level courses where students are the most likely to be hesitant to voice concerns and raise questions.
Palsberg, J., Baxter, S. J. "Teaching reviewing to graduate students." Communications of the ACM 45.12 (2002): 22−24.
In this article Palsberg and Baxter describe the design of a graduate course in which the teaching of review writing, an important genre for a new Ph.D. to be able to master but one that is rarely a part of a Ph.D. education, is a primary goal. The authors demonstrate how practicing writing in this new genre facilitated the improvement of students’ writing and reading skills in other areas. The authors reflect on the benefits and limitations of such a course and offer suggestions for faculty interested in developing similar courses.
Reiss, Donna, Dickie Selfe, and Art Young, eds. Electronic Communication across the Curriculum. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1998.
"Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum is an edited collection in which teachers and program heads throughout the United States present adaptable models of computer-supported communication using the pedagogies of writing for learning and writing with computers -- including science, math, history, philosophy, technical writing, accounting, literature, and marketing." The WAC Clearinghouse (http://wac.colostate.edu/bib/index.cfm?category=1)
Reiss, Donna, Dickie Selfe, and Art Young, eds. Electronic Communication across the Curriculum. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1998.
This collection centers on the possibilities technology offers to enhance writing instruction and provides educators models of a wide−range of electronic communication tools that facilitate the teaching of writing across the disciplines.
Ronald, Kate. "‘Befriending’ Other Teachers: Communities of Teaching and the Ethos of Curricular Leadership." Pedagogy 1.2 (2001): 317−326.
Drawing on the work of Gregory Marshal, Ronald articulates the importance of community among teachers when working toward curricular change. Ronald illustrates connections between her experience developing and communicating to new teachers a revised curriculum for first year writing at Miami University and her work creating "a culture of writing" among Business faculty and students. The relationship between teaching and curriculum is vital, she argues, and it takes impassioned, honest, energetic teachers (and teachers of teachers) to productively motivate that relationship.
Roost, Alisa. "Writing Intensive Courses in Theatre." Theatre Topics 13.2 (2003): 225−233.
Roost outlines some qualities of students working in artistic majors, like Theatre, that might make them particularly resistant to the writing process and suggests ways teachers can respond to students’ needs by incorporating "low stakes" assignments in their courses. "Low stakes" activities do not influence students’ grades and ask students to explore ideas or experiment with genre, form and writing strategies and might lead students to reflect on creative processes or think critically about course concepts. Roost offers examples of both "low stakes" and "high stakes" assignments along with ideas (including peer review groups and cover letters from the writer) for making grading and responding to student writing manageable.
Russell, David R. Writing in the Academic Disciplines, 1870−1990: A Curricular History. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1991.
A review of David Russell´s book contends a discipline grows up when someone writes about its history and argues for its merit. If this is true, than Writing in the Academic Disciplines serves as the WAC/WID movement´s first car. Russell provides an exhaustive history of how writing has traditionally been conceptualized in academic settings and argues Writing Across the Curriculum is not merely a passing fad or a new way of talking about an already failed experiment. Instead, Russell demonstrates how WAC work has been a cornerstone of American intellectual life since Harvard´s founding in the 17th Century.
While other histories of composition in the United States make for a more engaging read (think James Berlin´s Rhetoric for example), the conclusions pertinent to WAC/WID interests he comes to at the end of the book make it worthwhile. He contends one of the most important virtues of the current WAC/WID movement that similar ones lacked is a common language. He makes the case for structured spaces within institutions for both practical and scholarly WAC/WID work that will sustain and legitimize the movement.
Sargent, M. Elizabeth. "Peer Response to Low Stakes Writing in a WAC Literature Classroom." New Directions For Teaching and Learning 69 (1997): 41−52.
Sargent recounts her experience using peer response activities to help students in various literature courses engage more productively with difficult course readings in order to illustrate how peer response to low stakes writing in any course can become a productive way to manage the time it takes for a professor to respond regularly to writing assignments, as well as a useful framework for helping students learn from one another as they wrestle with complex course concepts. She shares strategies for modeling peer response for students and ideas for handling peer response in large introductory as well as smaller upper level courses. Ultimately, she explains, peer response allows her to get a sense of how students are interacting with the assigned readings; to design her lectures in response to students’ questions and interests; to model for students the developmental nature of literary interpretation; and help students practice writing to learn.
Segall, Mary and Robert A. Smart. Direct from the Disciplines: Writing Across the Curriculum. Portsmouth NH: Heinemann Boynton/Cook, 2005.
This practical book outlines core principles guiding WAC work, provides a case study of what one university´s WAC program looks like and gives a number of sample assignments from a variety of disciplines. Nine different academic disciplines are represented in the book and each articulates how the WAC principles outlined in the introduction are implemented in a specific kind of class. For example, a professor in computer science shows how he teaches the basic structure of computer programming by showing how similar writing code can be to organization in standard writing.
Most chapters in the book begin with a professor´s rationale for why they chose to incorporate WAC/WID into their course design, then move to exactly what this looks like in practice through detailed course objectives and sample writing assignments. Also helpful are examples of student work interspersed throughout most of these narratives. Even though it´s easy to imagine someone picking up this book for what it can illuminate about teaching WAC/WID in their own specific discipline, the theoretical framework interspersed throughout the collection can be universally applied in most cases.
Sternglass, Marilyn. Time to Know Them: A Longitudinal Study of Writing and Learning at the College Level. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997.
In this longitudinal study of student writing, Sternglass examines the multiple facets of inquiry involved with students learning to write. She discusses their individual histories, their progress as students, as people, and as respondents to high−stakes writing assessment. The larger logic of Sternglass’ argument contends de−contextualized forms of assessment inhibit the progress of all students as writers, but is especially burdensome for students deemed remedial.
Thaiss, Chris and Terry Myers Zawacki. Engaged Writers and Dynamic Disciplines. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 2006.
Thaiss and Zawacki conduct a study at George Mason in which they interview professors from a variety of disciplines about how they write, how they teach writing and how they think about "alternative discourses," defined either as resistance against disciplinary norms or as alternate but acceptable forms. They interview students from across disciplines as well and find that students go through three stages as writers: 1) They believe they know what all teachers want because they have a sense of the "generic" standards most disciplines share; 2) They recognize differences in expectations as idiosyncratic; 3) They recognize differences as discipline and context specific. Students might not reach the final stage because "they do not become sufficiently invested in the discipline´s academic discourses, developing instead a greater connection to nonacademic audiences and exigencies" (110). The final chapter about pedagogical implications recommends ways to facilitate students" development into the third stage, and includes suggestions for faculty across the disciplines, composition program administrators and faculty development programs. The authors propose excellent ideas for assignments that help students develop awareness of themselves within and across disciplinary contexts.
Walvoord, Barbara. Helping Students Write Well: A Guide for Teachers in All Disciplines. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1982.
While students do learn transferable skills in composition courses, argues Walvoord, they must continue to write across the curriculum in order to learn how to apply what they learn in composition class to thinking, learning and communicating in the disciplines. Positioning teachers in all disciplines as coaches of writing, Walvoord describes ways to make writing meaningful to the course and discipline-specific subject matter; how to respond to student writing and guide students to respond to their own and their peers" writing; how to address particular challenges students face as writers; and how to help students become better writers while using writing to learn in all disciplines (5).
Walvoord, Barbara, Linda Lawrence Hunt, H. Fil Dowling, and Jean McMahon. In the Long Run. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1997.
Walvoord and her fellow researchers study teachers at three post-secondary institutions in order to determine their expectations for Writing Across the Curriculum programs; how the teachers interpreted their WAC experiences; and how WAC experiences influenced teachers" philosophies and pedagogies of teaching; and how WAC experiences effected the career patterns of participating teachers. While chapter seven explores successful and not-so-successful WAC teaching strategies by way of annotated assignment sheets and interviews with faculty, findings from the study suggest that one of the most important thing teachers took away from WAC experiences was the desire and ability to alter their teaching philosophies and the confidence to experiment in order to develop strategies appropriate to those philosophies.
Young, Art. Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum, Third Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997/1999. http://wac.colostate.edu/aw/teaching/kiefer2000.htm.
In the opening pages of his short book, Young takes readers through a process of reading student writing modeled after Writing Across the Curriculum workshops he’s facilitated with faculty. His goal is to illustrate the difference between assignments that ask students to use writing to learn course material and assignments that require them to use writing to communicate what they have learned. Each type of assignment requires that teachers read and respond to student writing differently. Young elaborates on the pedagogical purposes of writing to learn and writing to communicate, offering teaching strategies and classroom activities for each.
Zerbe, Michael. Composition and the Rhetoric of Science: Engaging the Dominant Discourse. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.
Zerbe argues that scientific discourse is the major discourse of our time. Compositionists cannot claim to help our students develop the skills and mentalities needed for meaningful civic participation, a goal often strived for by rhetoric and composition programs, if we do not teach them to understand and engage the complexity of scientific discourse. Not only should students and teachers in composition classrooms work toward a more sophisticated "scientific literacy," but instructors in scientific disciplines need to help students become conscious of the rhetorical, historical, economic, social, ethical and personal aspects of the discourse in which they are learning to communicate. Zerbe offers concrete scenarios and suggests specific ways teachers from composition and scientific disciplines can help students develop this vital literacy.
Discipline Specific Resources
Connolly, P., & Vilardi, T. Writing to Learn Mathematics and Science. New York: Teachers College Press, 1989.
Connolly and Vilardi outline the ways in which language affects the math classroom. They argue the use of writing and an emphasis on language may help traditionally under−represented student populations improve their performance in the math classroom. This book is divided into six sections ranging from the practical application of using language to solve math problems to aligning programmatic outcomes with Writing Across the Curriculum.
Countryman, J. Writing to Learn Mathematics: Strategies that Work. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992.
This book argues using writing in a mathematics classroom allows students to see math as something other than a set of pre−arranged formulas to memorize and gives them ownership over the subject matter. Practically, Countryman posits ways in which the classroom teacher can use various forms of writing like journal articles, autobiographies and learning logs to enhance students’ ability to understand mathematical concepts. Countryman provides examples of student writing from across grade levels to underscore her argument.
Coker, F.H., & Scarboro, A. "Writing to Learn in Upper−Division Sociology Courses: Two Case Studies." Teaching Sociology. 18 (2): 218−222.
In this short journal article, the authors at a small liberal arts college outline how emphasizing writing in their advanced sociology courses helps make students better learners as well as better sociologists.
Hancock, Elise. Ideas into Words: Mastering the Craft of Science Writing. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2003.
In this relatively short book, Hancock covers what it means to become immersed in scientific scholarly conversations. Taking a step−by−step approach, Hancock discusses how to formulate research questions, conduct interviews and structure a scientific essay’s story in compelling ways. She also provides examples of scientific writing that maintains scientific rigor without an over−reliance on technical jargon.
Locke, D.M. Science as Writing. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
As a former chemist−turned−English teacher, Locke attempts to alleviate the perception that science writing is a hyper−specialized repetitious event. He devotes a chapter to the rhetorical effect of science writing and compares the humorless, expressionless style of writing valued in certain publications with Barbara McClintock’s passionate rendering of the genome. He goes on to argue for the importance of story−telling when conveying a novel scientific worldview, using Einstein’s presentation of his relativity theory and others as examples.