Monday, July 25, 2011

Content Area Writing


Question: What do we know about writing in the content areas?

Answer: “…current research shows that most content-area teachers require little extended writing but instead rely on form responses and short answers where material is already structured by teacher or text; that extended student writing is generally informative (summary and analysis) rather than personal or imaginative; that the audience is overwhelmingly the teacher-as-examiner.” P. 400.

Comment: I keep looking for accurate descriptions of content-area writing assignments. I wouldn’t expect content-area writing assignments to be “personal or imaginative.” On the other hand, I would expect the audience to be “teacher-as-examiner.” But I would also expect the format of many writing assignments to be in the form of “reports” of various kinds. I’ll keep looking—at least at the college level.

The use of model formats is rampant in business. I remember teaching a class in which an employee of Vanguard, an investment company, showed me the various formats for a variety of situations, requiring only the insertion of numbers and pre-selected key words into the formats, thus avoiding the need to write. A good thing, too. His actual writing was horrendous. RayS.

Title: “The Cooperation Movement: Language Across the Curriculum and Mass Education, 1900-1930.” David R. Russell. Research in the Teaching of English (December 1989), 399-423.

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