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Journal of Basic Writing, Spring2010, Vol. 29 Issue 1

The Future of Basic Writing

by George Otte and Rebecca Williams Mlynarczyk.

abstract from author:

In this article, we assess the status of basic writing early in the twenty-first century. Beginning with a discussion of the attacks on BW that intensified during the 1990s and early 2000s—attacks that originated from such diverse sources as state legislatures, university officials, and BW scholars themselves—we go on to summarize the responses to these attacks in the form of modified BW programs and practices. What does the future hold for basic writing and basic writers? There are no clear answers to this question. But the recent influx of increasing numbers of non-traditional students to the nation’s colleges and universities indicates that the need for basic writing and other compensatory programs will increase substantially in the years to come. And research suggests that, in the long run, providing access to higher education along with appropriate forms of academic support such as basic writing pays off for individuals and for society.

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  • Dominique Zino

Teaching Basic Writing in a Web-Enhanced Environment

by Linda J. Stine.

abstract from author:

Remarkably little has been published on what works or does not work in online basic writing (BW) instruction. Internet-based learning is not a natural fit for BW students, and instructors planning hybrid or distance learning courses face a difficult task, with little theory to guide them. This article reviews current research and advice on three key questions about web-based learning in general: how online learning affects the teaching role, what kinds of assignments are appropriate to this medium, and how teachers can best promote the sort of student self-reflection important to academic success. BW teachers are encouraged to consider carefully how best to translate general Web-based teaching/learning theory into praxis tailored to their specific students and then to share the results, so that their questions, their experiences, and the experiences of their students begin to play a larger role in the online education debate.

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  • Amanda Licastro

Expanding Definitions of Academic Writing: Family History Writing

by Sherry Rankins-Robertson; Lisa Cahill; Duane Roen; Gregory R. Glau.

abstract from author:

Narrow definitions of academic writing often do not serve students well because they ignore the rhetorically situated and social bases for writing and the potential role of writing to span the personal, professional, and civic areas of students’ lives. Broadening school-sponsored writing to include writing about family can help students to see the relevance of writing to their lives outside of school. Further, writing about family can encourage students to reflect critically on their conceptions of family, often coming to see family as a more complex construct. Using the topic of family in writing courses provides opportunities for students to engage in non-threatening primary and secondary research and involves students in writing that is multimodal, cultural, academic, and public. This article describes some activities and assignments that help writers to explore the concept of family.

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Realizing Distributed Gains: How Collaboration with Support Services Transformed a Basic Writing Program for International Students.

by Mutiara Mohamad and Janet Boyd

abstract from author:

As part of a broad, campus-wide Writing Initiative designed to improve student- writing skills, Fairleigh Dickinson University opened a new campus writing center in fall 2006. Concurrently, a separate component of this initiative was launched to replace the English for General Purposes instruction offered in the traditional English as a Second Language program with English for Specific Purposes, which provides non-native English speakers with discipline-specific instruction to improve their English proficiency. The newly appointed directors of these programs-the authors of this article-found themselves in a fortuitous collaboration that organically shaped the services each delivered. This collaboration eventually resulted in a basic writing model permutation that speaks to current trends in the field. This article (1) provides the developmental history of our collaboration, (2) describes the model of basic writing that emerged at our institution, which although specifically designed for students who are non-native English speakers has practical implications for all basic writers; and (3) demonstrates how campus support services provide students with the means for sustainable success beyond the classroom by extending the learning community.

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More Talk about “Basic Writers”: A Category of Rhetorical Value.

by Pamela VanHaitsma

abstract from author:

This article recuperates the notion of “strategic value,” but to new ends: rather than arguing whether or not basic writing should continue, this case study looks to one institution where it does, asking what value the category “basic writer” holds for teachers at this site. On the one hand, they confirm the existing scholarship’s critiques of the category’s strategic limitations. At the same time, they maintain its potential value when leveraged as a tactic to argue for resources for students, attempt to understand students, and articulate a view of teaching as in service of social justice. Given these tensions between problematic and productive uses of the term “basic writer,” debates about basic writing’s existence would be better served if they shifted away from wholesale critique or defense and instead grappled with more rhetorical questions about value for particular institutions or programs at specific moments in time.

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  • Ben Miller