Teaching Writing in the Disciplines

Megan Fulwiler, Associate
Professor of English, discussed the history and Theory of Writing in the
disciplines. In the 1980s the Writing Across the Curriculum Movement (WAC)
began as a way to get students to write more professionally. Three functions of
writing were determined: transactional, expressive, and poetic. Expressive
writing is often used to improve transactional writing; which is the most
widely used form. According to Dr. Fulwiler, there were several principles to
the WAC movement. “Writing is the responsibility of the entire academic
community. Writing must be integrated across departmental boundaries” In other
words, it is not just the responsibility of English department. “Writing
instruction must be continuous all four years of undergraduate education,” and
lastly, “writing promotes learning.” While acknowledging these principles it is
also important to remember that “different disciplines value different things.”
So not every discipline will utilize writing in the same way. A final quote
from Dr. Fulwiler’s presentation, “Writing transforms students from passive to
active learners and deepens students’ understanding of a subject matter.”

David Goldschmidt, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, discussed
writing as a form of communication and as a form of communicating ideas with an
emphasis on coding. Coding – like any language – has different nuances or
dialects.  Coding can also have
errors/defects or bug in it just like any piece of text. Again like writing,
the goal is to have as few errors as possible. Dr. Goldschmidt listed the steps
to writing code; which are the same for most forms of writing. The steps are
figuring out the requirements, analysis, design, coding, and finally testing.
The sequence is repeated if the testing reveals defects. For his classes, Dr.
Goldschmidt requires his students to write journals, algorithms, and
requirement documents.

Robert Shane, Assistant
Professor of Art History, discussed Teaching Writing in the Discipline of Art
History. He often uses the technique of free writing in his classroom. Posing a
question and then giving students a few minutes to respond. Dr. Shane usually
bases his question(s) on a particular piece of art; however, this method can
work in any of the disciplines. According to Dr. Shane this form of writing
allows students time to think about how art history is viewed critically and
“ensures students are actively engaged.” Other forms of writing that were
mentioned are cover memos for formal writing assignments and argumentative
scripts. Cover memos allow students to informally write about the formal
writing process. They can share what was difficult or what was easy about the
assignment, or write about the actual process of writing. An argumentative
script involves students comparing and contrasting, thinking critically, and formally
analyzing art in a way that they are comfortable with.

Podcast of the October session.

Links from the Session:

Dr. Shane’s Handout

Dr. Shane’s Argumentative Script Assignment

Dr. Shane’s Presentation

The WAC Clearinghouse at Colorado State

Rehearsing New Roles for Writers

David Russell’s book:
Writing In The Academic Disciplines

“Writing and the Disciplines” by Jonathon Monroe (from Cornell)

Top 10 schools for writing

Michael Carter’s article, “Ways of Knowing,
Doing, and Writing in the Disciplines”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518.” target=”_blank”>Handwriting First

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