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The Writing Transfer Project: Rhetorical Pedagogy and the Promotion of Transfer - Carol Hayes

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1 The Writing Transfer Project: Rhetorical Pedagogy and the Promotion of Transfer - Carol Hayes

2 The Writing Transfer Project Three of the four participating universities (OU, WSU, SHU) followed a Writing About Writing curriculum. Three of the four participating universities (OU, WSU, SHU) followed a Writing About Writing curriculum. GWU did not use a Writing About Writing pedagogy GWU did not use a Writing About Writing pedagogy

3 GW’s Faculty Aren’t Going to Convert to a WAW Approach Full-Time Faculty in the University Writing Program: Full-Time Faculty in the University Writing Program: English Ph.D.’s (11 people) English Ph.D.’s (11 people) Creative Writing (2 people) Creative Writing (2 people) Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. (1 person) Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. (1 person) Classical Rhetoric (1 person) Classical Rhetoric (1 person) Law (JD) (1 person) Law (JD) (1 person) Philosophy (1 person) Philosophy (1 person) American Studies (1 person) American Studies (1 person) History (1 person) History (1 person) Women’s Studies (1 person) Women’s Studies (1 person) Education (1 person) Education (1 person)

4 Borrowing from WAW: Rhetorical Pedagogy Downs and Wardle, 2007 “Rhetorical pedagogy” is a strong pedagogical focus on the rhetorical situation—who is speaking, to whom, for what purpose, using which genre conventions. At GW, we saw rhetorical pedagogy as demonstrating that writing is context specific rather than governed by universal context specific rather than governed by universal rules—thus [students] learn that within each new rules—thus [students] learn that within each new disciplinary course they will need to pay close disciplinary course they will need to pay close attention to what counts as appropriate for that attention to what counts as appropriate for that discourse community. (Downs & Wardle, 2007, p. discourse community. (Downs & Wardle, 2007, p. 559) 559)

5 GW’s Rhetorical Pedagogy Study 11 faculty volunteered to participate 11 faculty volunteered to participate 2 self-identified as “rarely” requiring students to analyze the rhetorical situation of … 2 self-identified as “rarely” requiring students to analyze the rhetorical situation of … Course readings* Course readings* Their own writing Their own writing Peers’ writing Peers’ writing 4 self-identified as “frequently” requiring students to analyze the rhetorical situation of… 4 self-identified as “frequently” requiring students to analyze the rhetorical situation of… Course readings Course readings Their own writing Their own writing Peers’ writing Peers’ writing

6 George Washington University’s Y1 Research Question Would students whose faculty frequently required them to analyze the rhetorical situation (audience, genre, purpose) in course readings, their own writing, and their peers’ writing, show different gains over the course of the semester than students whose faculty rarely required such analysis? Possible Gain: Pre- to post-semester papers Strong gains in both groups (“frequent” vs “rare” rhetorical analysis) Strong gains in both groups (“frequent” vs “rare” rhetorical analysis) BUT, the data sets were too small (23 and 17) to make definitive claims about one group outperforming the other. BUT, the data sets were too small (23 and 17) to make definitive claims about one group outperforming the other.

7 Y1 Reflections: Hypothesis Even without following a WAW curriculum, the repeated practice of analyzing the rhetorical situation will result in greater familiarity with terms associated with audience, purpose, and genre, and hence more (and more sophisticated) reflections on those concepts.

8 Y1 Results: Audience Frequent Rhetorical Analysis = 26 students (normalized to 19) Rare Rhetorical Analysis = 19 students

9 Y1 Results: Genre Frequent Rhetorical Analysis = 26 students (normalized to 19) Rare Rhetorical Analysis = 19 students

10 Y1 Results: Purpose Frequent Rhetorical Analysis = 26 students (normalized to 19) Rare Rhetorical Analysis = 19 students

11 Y1 Reflections: Discussion Students whose professors “frequently” required analysis of the rhetorical situation in… Students whose professors “frequently” required analysis of the rhetorical situation in… Course readings Course readings Their own writing Their own writing Their peers’ writing Their peers’ writing …showed a pattern of more frequent references (sometimes marginally so) to audience and genre, but particularly more frequent advanced understandings of the concepts.

12 Audience, Cross-Institutionally Y1 Reflections

13 Genre, Cross-Institutionally Y1 Reflections

14 Change in Perception of Genre, Cross-Institutionally (Y1)

15 Rhetorical Pedagogy and Transfer Doug Grant (2012), in his study of writing transfer from college to the work place, wrote: Doug Grant (2012), in his study of writing transfer from college to the work place, wrote: an understanding of how to extract genre features from models, how to analyze an audience, and how to use genre knowledge to interpret information will help students develop rhetorical knowledge that they can transform when thrown in the deep end of new rhetorical environments. In addition, if we can help them become more conscious about what to observe and what questions to ask in a new rhetorical environment, we will have gone a long way toward helping them transform, if not simply transfer, this knowledge. (p. 590) an understanding of how to extract genre features from models, how to analyze an audience, and how to use genre knowledge to interpret information will help students develop rhetorical knowledge that they can transform when thrown in the deep end of new rhetorical environments. In addition, if we can help them become more conscious about what to observe and what questions to ask in a new rhetorical environment, we will have gone a long way toward helping them transform, if not simply transfer, this knowledge. (p. 590)

16 Select Bibliography Downs, D. & Wardle, E. (2007). “Teaching about writing, righting misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning ‘first-year composition’ as ‘introduction to writing studies’.” College Composition and Communication, 58(4), Grant, D. Crossing boundaries: Co-op students relearning to write. CCC 63(4), Perkins, D.N., & Saloman, G. (Jan-Feb. 1989). Are cognitive skills context-bound? Educational Researcher 18(1), Educational Researcher 18(1), Reiff, M.J. & Bawarshi, A. (2011). Tracing discursive resources: How students use prior genre knowledge to negotiate new writing contexts in first-year writing. Written Communication 28 (3), Wardle, E. (2007). Understanding ‘transfer’ from FYC: Preliminary results of a longitudinal study. WPA: Writing Program Administration 31(1-2), longitudinal study. WPA: Writing Program Administration 31(1-2), Wardle, E. (2009). "Mutt genres" and the goal of FYC: Can we help students write the genres of the university? College Composition and Communication, 60(4),


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