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Anokye, Akua Duku. "Oral Connections to Literacy: The Narrative." Journal of Basic Writing 13 (Fall 1994): 46–60.
Oral narratives can help students appreciate their classmates' cultural and racial diversity and generate a variety of themes for writing. Class discussion of the secrets of storytelling and the ways that tales are told in different cultures is a preliminary to an assignment to tell a familiar folk tale that represents some strongly held value. Folk tales reveal both common themes and cultural differences, oral presentation makes students aware of the need to adapt to the audience, and the stories lead to self-awareness as well as cross-cultural understanding. A second assignment is to tell a family story that goes as far back in history as possible, and a third is to tell a personal life narrative. These assignments generate exciting class discussion about cultures and about composition—anticipating questions and confusion, choosing language both for comprehension and effect, clarifying central ideas, and choosing rhetorical forms. Moving to journal and essay writing, students write the stories themselves, or reflect on cultural difference, stereotypes, customs, or history. Discussions also generate criteria for peer-group response. Such assignments help us fulfill our obligation to open windows on the world for our students.
Bartholomae, David. "The Study of Error." CCC 31 (October 1980): 253–69. Rpt. in Corbett, Myers, and Tate .
"Basic writing" is not a simplified course for the cognitively or linguistically deficient, but a kind of writing produced by an adult who is, in effect, learning a second language called formal written discourse. While learning the new language, the writer produces a personal version of it, an "interlanguage." More research is needed to discover how students produce their interlanguages. One research technique is to ask students to read their work aloud: students will often orally correct written errors without noticing the difference between written and spoken versions. The researcher can point this out and discuss the reasons for the error. Bartholomae uses error analysis and miscue analysis procedures developed by English as a Second Language (ESL) and reading instructors. Braddock Award winner.
Bartholomae, David. "The Tidy House: Basic Writing in the American Curriculum." Journal of Basic Writing 12 (Spring 1993): 4–21.
Basic writing cannot be a course in which students are taught skills preparatory to reading and writing: it must be a course that engages them in the difficult materials the academy regards as its best possessions and should treat their writing seriously as texts in the course. Even a basic writing course that strives for these laudable goals risks patronizing basic writers as recipients of liberal outreach—and worse, ensuring that the category "basic writer" will remain marked and filled—if the course asks students to shape their writing under a single controlling idea, to produce linear arguments, and to exclude the tangential. Such writing makes it impossible to acknowledge the very specifics of race, gender, and class that have contributed to their status as basic writers. Basic writing should adopt the arts of the contact zone (see Pratt ), in which unequal cultures struggle and, in so doing, produce texts of uncertain genre. At the same time, we must remember that students need to become more accomplished at controlling their writing to bring in their history and culture; we should not see all nonstandard features as deliberately unconventional. Basic writing, which once served the strategic purpose of making us change the way we talked about students and curriculum, has tended to become fixed. That status must be questioned.
Bizzell, Patricia. "What Happens When Basic Writers Come to College?" CCC 37 (October 1986): 294–301. Rpt. in Bizzell .
When basic writers begin to learn academic discourse, they are acquiring not only a new dialect (Standard English) and new genres but also a new worldview. Their difficulties may often stem more from conflicts between this new worldview and their home worldviews than from purely linguistic differences. Therefore, to understand and help them, writing teachers should learn more about both the worldviews basic writers bring to college and the academic worldview. The final position in William Perry's scheme of college-level intellectual development can be taken as a model of the academic worldview. We should be cautious about applying models from orality-literacy theory or European class-based analyses of educational differences to American basic writers; still, we might explore whether the relativism described by Perry is especially off-putting to basic writers from communities that cohere around traditional authorities. Even so, there are some grounds for hope that basic writers can become bicultural in their own and the academic worldviews.
Brodkey, Linda. "On the Subjects of Class and Gender in 'The Literacy Letters.' " CE 51 (February 1989): 125–41. Rpt. in Graves .
In the postmodern view, the self is constructed in discourse along ideological lines that determine who can create a privileged position and who will be denied such "authority." Basic writers' resistance to academic discourse may be construed as their rejection of the vulnerable subject position this discourse offers them. Academic discourse, therefore, was eschewed for the sake of encouraging fluency in the "Literacy Letters"—personal letters exchanged between six teachers taking a graduate course in teaching composition and six adult students in a basic writing class. The teachers did not correct the letters they received, and the students did not ask for corrections. Still, the teachers asserted their authority to control the discourse by refusing to respond to passages that suggested social-class or gender differences between teacher and student. The teachers maintained the image of classless and sexless academic writing. To authorize basic writers, class, race, and gender issues that affect them must be acknowledged as classroom realities, even if such acknowledgment threatens the teacher's privileged position.
Brooks, Charlotte K., ed. Tapping Potential: English and Language Arts for the Black Learner. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1985.
Produced by the NCTE Black Caucus, this collection of forty-three essays on teaching reading, writing, and literature at levels K through 16 includes Clara Alexander, "Black English Dialect and the Classroom Teacher"; Darwin Turner, "Black Students, Language, and Classroom Teachers" and "Black Experience, Black Literature, Black Students, and the English Classroom"; Geneva Smitherman, " 'What Go Round Come Round': King in Perspective" (see ); Miriam Chaplin, "Implications in Personal Construct Theory for Teaching Reading to Black Students"; Robert Fowler, "The Composing Processes of Black Student Writers"; Vivian Davis, "Teachers as Editors: The Student Conference"; William Cook, "The Afro-American Griot"; and Mildred Hill-Lubin, "Putting Africa into the Curriculum through African Literature."
Cooper, Marilyn M., and Michael Holzman. Writing as Social Action. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1989.
Fifteen essays, eight previously published, by the authors separately and collaboratively, focusing on literacy education, include "The Ecology of Writing" , "Women's Ways of Writing," and "Why Are We Talking about Discourse Communities? or, Foundationalism Rears Its Ugly Head Once More" (all by Cooper); "A Post-Freirean Model for Adult Literacy Education"  and "The Social Context of Literacy Education" (both by Holzman); and "Talking about Protocols" (by Cooper and Holzman).
Dean, Terry. "Multicultural Classrooms, Monocultural Teachers." CCC 40 (February 1989): 23–37. Rpt. in Corbett, Myers, and Tate .
The greater the distance between a student's home culture and American academic culture, the greater the likelihood that the student will not succeed in school. This problem can be addressed by including the home culture in the curriculum, involving people from the home culture in the school, allowing students to shape some learning tasks according to their own interests and needs, and encouraging teachers to be advocates who will prevent culture-conflict "problems" from being blamed on the students. If the negotiation between home and school culture is studied sensitively in class, students can become comfortably bicultural. Students can write about cultural similarities and contrasts that they have observed, about their own cultural identities, and about their experiences in language learning. Monocultural teachers should avoid making assumptions about how students view their cultural identities and the transition to school culture.
See: Sarah D'Eloia, "The Uses—and Limits—of Grammar" .
Delpit, Lisa D. "The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children." Harvard Educational Review 58 (August 1988): 280–98.
A set of practices or rules for getting, maintaining, and exercising power operates in the classroom as in society at large. Those without power (people of color) benefit from being told what the rules are, but those with power (white people) are often unaware of the existence of the rules or are at least very reluctant to acknowledge them. Indeed, one rule for exercising power is not to acknowledge that you have it. White middle-class teachers must listen to teachers of color who tell them to be more directive and explicit about the rules with students of color, even if doing so violates the whites' liberal sensibilities. Being more directive may mean being explicit, not only about general rules of conduct in the negotiation of power but also about specific rules for writing powerfully and correctly.
See: Anne DiPardo, A Kind of Passport .
Enos, Theresa, ed. A Sourcebook for Basic Writing Teachers. New York: Random House, 1987.
Forty-two essays and parts of books and three bibliographies, some previously published. Included are Walter J. Ong, S.J., "Literacy and Orality in Our Times" ; Mike Rose, "Remedial Writing Courses: A Critique and a Proposal" ; E. D. Hirsch, Jr., "Cultural Literacy"; Paulo Freire, "The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom"; David Bartholomae and Anthony R. Petrosky, "Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts: A Basic Reading and Writing Course for the College Curriculum" ; Patrick Hartwell, "Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar" ; Sarah D'Eloia, "The Uses—and Limits—of Grammar" ; Ira Shor, "Reinventing Daily Life: Self-Study and the Theme of 'Work' "; Mina P. Shaughnessy, "Vocabulary" and "Beyond the Sentence" ; Nancy Sommers, "Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers" ; Ann E. Berthoff, "Recognition, Representation, and Revision"; and Kenneth A. Bruffee, "Writing and Reading as Collaborative or Social Acts." This collection is an excellent introduction to the field of composition studies as a whole.
Fiore, Kyle, and Nan Elsasser. " 'Strangers No More': A Liberatory Literacy Curriculum." CE 44 (February 1982): 115–28. Rpt. in Kintgen, Kroll, and Rose .
Paulo Freire's "generative themes"  help a college writing class of adult Bahamian women move from personal reflections on their families to social analysis of marriage in the Bahamas, thus developing their critical thinking and writing abilities at the same time.
Fox, Tom. Defending Access: A Critique of Standards in Higher Education. Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook, 1999.
Lack of access remains the most crucial problem in higher education—not a crisis of standards—and we must, accordingly, abandon the notion that skills alone provide access. A brief account of literacy learning among African Americans provides a dramatic contrast to the institutional history of composition and illuminates the ideologies of access and exclusion. John Ogbu's theory of oppositional culture explains, in part, why initiation doesn't work as a curricular strategy. What is needed are constant critiques of the ideologies that reduce writing courses to service and skills. Efforts to transform the structures that work against access can begin by imagining writing program administration as a set of coordinated actions. Similarly, standards for teaching writing are part of coordinated political action, where standards are in a critical relationship with social and political change.
Giannasi, Jenefer M. "Language Varieties and Composition." In Teaching Composition: Twelve Bibliographic Essays. Ed. Gary Tate .
This bibliographic essay discusses works on dialectal varieties of American English, including Black English; differences between spoken and written dialects; social and cultural factors affecting dialect variation and choice (sociolinguistics); and usage.
Gilyard, Keith. Voices of the Self: A Study of Language Competence. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1991.
Native Black English speakers in an urban public school environment can acquire Standard English language skills and "sociolinguistic competence" if they are encouraged to see their experience according to a transactional model that emphasizes their ability to negotiate and manipulate school language expectations in response to their own belief systems and personal traits. Gilyard surveys research on code-switching, bidialectalism, and the sociopolitical dimensions of schooling, interspersing these scholarly discussions with narratives of his own experience as one such urban Black English speaker making his way through school.
Gunner, Jeanne. "Iconic Discourse: The Troubling Legacy of Mina Shaughnessy." JBW 17.2 (Spring 1998): 25–42.
Examining the constraining discursive rules that are the legacy of Mina Shaughnessy (in the iconic sense) helps to understand the nature of the conflicts in the field of basic writing. Two primary discourses—iconic and critical—have shaped discussions in basic writing over the last twenty years and operate as systems of linguistic constraint. Iconic discourse reproduces the field according to certain laws while critical discourse is transgressive. Iconic discourse makes it impossible within the discourse to reconceptualize without seeming at once to betray and dehistoricize; it also constructs an idealized identity for the basic writing teacher, a heroic teacher-figure that remains as the central value in the academic enterprise. Iconic discourse contextualizes and thus constrains its subject(s), evident by the degree of resistance met by authors who engage in critical discourse, which constructs no heroes and is highly theoretical and political. Speaking outside of established discursive parameters, critical discourse is perceived as betrayal.
Harris, Joseph. "Negotiating the Contact Zone." Journal of Basic Writing 41.1 (1995): 27–42.
Metaphors of growth and initiation dominated discussions of teaching writing until the late 1980s, when the idea of struggle or conflict became popular, largely through Mary Louise Pratt's "contact zones." Pratt imports difference into her classroom (through her choices of texts) but does not engage with differences among students or offer strategies for students to communicate about and across differences. Pratt's conceptualization of the contact zone is problematic because of the superficiality of the engagement with otherness. When students retreat to "safe houses," for example, difference is valorized but the conflict remains. Working on how differences get negotiated promises a more expansive view of intellectual life.
See: Muriel Harris and Katherine E. Rowan, "Explaining Grammatical Concepts" .
Haswell, Richard. Gaining Ground in College Writing: Tales of Development and Interpretation. Dallas: Southern Methodist Univ. Press, 1991.
New information about development and new theory about human change invites a new study into how students' writing changes during college based on a model that sees writing development as three-dimensional—an educational lifework, including growth and maturation yet firmly embedded in culture. An assortment of interpretive frames causes clashes between developmental and nondevelopmental tales of interpretation, many of which compromise the engagement between teacher and student. Writing teachers should conceive of pedagogical tasks—evaluation, models, diagnosis, curriculum—as narrative. Evaluation and course content should be based not on the growth but on the maturing of students, when maturing is defined as generative change towards cultural standards. The transformative approach offers idiographic frames of action for individuals to try rather than nomothetic categories—general interpretations rather than explanatory laws. The paradoxical bind between writing instruction and writing style cannot be entirely overcome, but the transformative offers a guide for such issues as solecisms, rate of production, sentence sense, organization, and remediality. An instrumental perspective generates a distinct understanding of pedagogical sequencing; however, a lifework tale of sequence has teachers joining students in some work, not imitating educational disciplines. Similarly, lifework developmental perspectives should inform curriculum and (true) diagnosis. Parts of this book are informed by empirical data from a study analyzing first-week diagnostic essays, end-of-course essays, and similar essays written by college graduates employed in business, government, and industry.
Holzman, Michael. "A Post-Freirean Model for Adult Literacy Education." CE 50 (February 1988): 177–89. Rpt. in Cooper and Holzman .
In economically underdeveloped countries, many literacy educators use Paulo Freire's  methods with adult students. Here, an "animator" helps students develop literacy materials from their experience that foster insight into the politically oppressive conditions of their lives and the determination to change these conditions. In being so ideologically directive, though, Freirean pedagogy risks appropriating learners' responsibility for their own literacy goals. A post-Freirean model urges the teacher to wait for local initiative and to help student groups organize for whatever educational purposes—including literacy—they feel necessary.
See: Bruce Horner, "Rethinking the 'Sociality' of Error: Teaching Editing as Negotiation" .
Horner, Bruce, and Min-Zhan Lu. Representing the "Other": Basic Writers and the Teaching of Basic Writing. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1999.
An analysis of the dominant discourse on basic writing begins by situating basic writing socially and historically and by examining representations of basic writers. Key terms and assumptions work to privilege some practices and marginalize others; these cultural materialist readings address a range of research and teaching practices. Essays include four by Horner—"The 'Birth' of Basic Writing"; "Mapping Errors and Expectations for Basic Writing: From the 'Frontier Field' to 'Border Country' "; "Rethinking the 'Sociality' of Error: Teaching Editing as Negotiation"; and "Some Afterwords: Intersections and Divergences"—and four by Lu—"Conflict and Struggle: The Enemies or Preconditions of Basic Writing?"; "Importing 'Science': Neutralizing Basic Writing"; "Redefining the Legacy of Mina Shaughnessy: A Critique of the Politics of Linguistic Innocence"; and "Professing Multiculturalism: The Politics of Style in the Contact Zone."
Kells, Michelle Hall, and Valerie Balester, eds. Attending to the Margins: Writing, Researching, and Teaching on the Front Lines. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1999.
So-called nontraditional students, including those whose native language is not English, whose home culture is not derived from northern Europe, and/or whose social class is disadvantaged, now make up the majority of students in many classrooms. The so-called marginalized have come to the center of the educational enterprise in the schools where the ten contributors to this volume teach. These students need to learn traditional academic discourse, but in order to learn, they need to draw on the cultural resources they bring to the classroom. Specific suggestions on pedagogies to help these students do so can be found in Donna Dunbar-Odom, "Speaking Back with Authority: Students as Ethnographers in the Research Writing Class"; Caroline Pari, "Developing Critical Pedagogy for Basic Writing at a CUNY Community College"; Mike Palmquist, Donna LeCourt, and Kate Kiefer, "Talking across Differences: Building Student/Teacher Dialogue through Instruction in Computer-Supported Writing Classrooms"; Randall Popken, "Adult Writers, Interdiscursive Linking, and Academic Survival"; Maureen Neal, "Abdominal Conditions and Other Cretins of Habit: Hyperfluency and the Acquisition of Academic Discourse"; Barbara Gleason, "Something of Great Constancy: Storytelling, Story Writing, and Academic Literacy"; Margaret A. McLaughlin and Eleanor Agnew, "Teacher Attitudes Toward African American Language Patterns: A Close Look at Attrition Rates"; Michelle Hall Kells, "Leveling the Linguistic Playing Field in First-Year Composition"; Alan Hirvela, "Teaching Immigrant Students in the College Writing Classroom"; and Sharon Dean and Barbara Wenner, with Rosalyn Haugabrook, "Skin Deep: Toward an Equality of Disclosure." Sections of the book are introduced by Kells and Balester, Ira Shor, Victor Villanueva, and Akua Duku Anokye.
Labov, William. The Study of Nonstandard English. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1970.
Nonstandard dialects of English, such as Black English, should not be seen as error-ridden deviations from the standard form—but neither should they be seen as separate languages. Comparative studies reveal that nonstandard forms express many of the same logical relations among elements in a sentence that the standard form does, in different yet regular ways. Almost all native speakers of English can use more than one dialect of the language, and almost all have at least some acquaintance with the standard form. Social class tends to determine which dialect a person feels most comfortable using. Nonstandard dialects tend to be socially stigmatized, even by those who feel most comfortable using them. Teachers must be aware of the grammatical structures and conventions governing social use of dialects to mediate between the dialects and Standard English. Some in-class speaking, reading, and writing in the students' dialects may help them to learn the standard form more quickly with less damage to their self-esteem.
Lu, Min-Zhan. "Conflict and Struggle: The Enemies or Preconditions of Basic Writing?" CE 54 (December 1992): 887–913.
When students from marginalized cultures enter the academy, they experience the pain of learning to live with multiple, conflicting points of view, but also the exhilarating creativity and insight that their borderland consciousness makes possible. Early work in basic-writing pedagogy sought to alleviate this pain, ignoring the accompanying benefits. Thomas Farrell and Kenneth Bruffee proposed acculturation as the cure, welcoming students into the intellectually superior academic community. This approach calmed colleagues who feared that basic writers would bring destructive change to the academy. Mina Shaughnessy, in contrast, offered accommodation, promising that students could accept the academic worldview without abandoning home allegiances. This approach also spared the academy from change. But the real task of the basic writer is neither to conform to nor abandon a monolithic discourse community, but to find innovative discursive strategies for negotiating the boundaries. Basic writers are complex selves, not to be essentialized as products of a single cultural group. The academy must adjust to these border-crossers' new discursive forms.
Lu, Min-Zhan. "From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle." CE 49 (April 1987): 437–48. Rpt. in Perl .
Lu describes her experiences in negotiating among different worlds: her early schooling in Maoist China, her parents' Western education, her graduate work in Pittsburgh. Dealing with the often painful conflicts among these worlds, Lu attests, helped her grow as a thinker and writer. She concludes that writing teachers should avoid making only one kind of discourse acceptable in their classrooms. Students, however, should not be led to believe that they can move freely among the discourses they know and at the same time keep each discourse pure. Instead, the conflict of discourses—in the classroom and in one's head—should be a topic of reflection.
Lunsford, Andrea A. "The Content of Basic Writers' Essays." CCC 31 (October 1980): 278–90.
A sample of five hundred entrance exams suggests that basic writers focus on personal experience, using it as conclusive evidence or evaluating abstract questions solely in terms of personal effects; rely on clichéd maxims in place of generalizations; see themselves as passive victims of authority; and use stylistic features (such as personal pronouns) that reflect these content characteristics. All of this suggests that basic writers are arrested in what Piaget and Vygotsky call the "egocentric stage" of cognitive development. A similar study by Susan Miller suggests that they are also stuck in what Kohlberg calls the "conventional" stage of moral development. Basic writers might be helped, therefore, by a curriculum that asks them to solve increasingly abstract cognitive problems.
McNenny, Gerri and Sallyanne H. Fitzgerald, eds. Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001.
Recent challenges posed to basic writing instruction demand alternative configurations that attempt to do justice to both students' needs and administrative constraints. Twelve chapters, including the following, address a wide representation on the issue of mainstreaming basic writers at the college level: Gerri McNenny, "Writing Instruction and the Post-Remedial University: Setting the Scene for the Mainstreaming Debate in Basic Writing"; Ira Shor, "Errors and Economics: Inequality Breeds Remediation"; Mary Soliday, "Ideologies of Access and the Politics of Agency"; Eleanor Agnew and Margaret McLaughlin, "Those Crazy Gates and How They Swing: Tracking the System That Tracks African-American Students"; Barbara Gleason, "Returning Adults to the Mainstream: Toward a Curriculum for Diverse Student Writers"; Mark Wiley, "Mainstreaming and Other Experiments in a Learning Community"; Trudy Smoke, "Mainstreaming Writing: What Does This Mean for ESL Students?"
Moran, Michael G., and Martin J. Jacobi, eds. Research in Basic Writing: A Bibliographic Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990.
Ten extensive bibliographic essays: Andrea Lunsford and Patricia Sullivan, "Who Are Basic Writers?"; Donn Haisty Winchell, "Developmental Psychology and Basic Writers"; Mariolina Salvatori and Glynda Hull, "Literacy Theory and Basic Writing"; Ronald Lunsford, "Modern Grammar and Basic Writers"; Michael Montgomery, "Dialects and Basic Writers"; Sue Render, "TESL Research and Basic Writing"; Michael Hood, "Basic Writing Courses and Programs"; Stephen Bernhardt and Patricia Wojahn, "Computers and Writing Instruction"; Donna Beth Nelson, "Writing Laboratories and Basic Writing"; and Richard Filloy, "Preparing Teachers of Basic Writing."
See: Marie Nelson, At the Point of Need .
Rose, Mike. "The Language of Exclusion: Writing Instruction at the University." CE 47 (April 1985): 341–59.
The language used to describe and defend writing programs contributes to the attitude that writing is a secondary part of the university curriculum. "Error" was a convenient object of study for behaviorists, who then recommended drilling as a remedy. Their positivistic defense of writing instruction lingers on, despite its limitations and its degrading connotations. The once-effective defense of writing as a "skill" now relegates it to second-class intellectual status. "Remediation" suggests medical deficiency, or that material should have been learned before and is therefore inappropriate to the college curriculum. "Illiteracy" oversimplifies a complex problem and stigmatizes both students and teachers. Finally, the myth that remediation leads to a final cure persists, despite historical evidence, and further marginalizes writing programs and their students as merely temporary phenomena. We must contest the assumptions of such language and offer instead a more cognitively, historically, and culturally accurate description of writing.
Rose, Mike. Lives on the Boundary: The Struggles and Achievements of America's Underprepared. New York: Free Press, 1989.
"Deprived" and "deficient" elementary school children, "vocational-track" high-school students, and "remedial" college students have all been judged negatively by teachers, by parents, and often by themselves on the basis of their inability to perform a very small set of intellectual activities. But these students possess knowledge and mental capacities fully representative of the richness of human creativity. Their difficulties should be understood in terms of the intellectual and, especially, the affective dissonances evoked by their experiences of crossing boundaries into school from relatively marginalized social positions. Rose offers poignantly detailed anecdotes from his own life as an "underprepared" student and as a teacher of such students, illustrating how teachers, parents, students, and others can sensitively acknowledge the boundary-crossing experience and avoid treating the boundaries as unbreachable walls. Winner of the Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize and the CCCC Outstanding Book Award.
Rose, Mike. "Narrowing the Mind and the Page: Remedial Writers and Cognitive Reductionism." CCC 39 (October 1988): 267–302.
The misguided effort to find a single cognitive explanation for complex and varied student problems—cognitive reductionism—has many avatars: studies of cognitive style characterize people as field-dependent or field-independent, brain research uses hemisphericity to account for logical and verbal abilities, the work of Piaget offers stages of cognitive development and logical thinking, and orality-literacy theorists connect literacy to logic and thinking ability. Applying these theories to student writers is problematic because they tend to level differences between individuals, they describe mental processes that can be linked only inferentially to writing, they deflect attention from student writers' immediate social contexts, and they often reproduce cultural stereotypes that should themselves be questioned—as the overrepresentation of socially marginal students at the low end of every scale suggests. Cognition is too complex to be captured in such schemes.
The remedial writing course should not assign simple, personal topics so that errors can be more easily isolated. Rather, it should emphasize connections with other college work by challenging students with academic reading and writing and by focusing on strategies for coping with these tasks as part of the composing process.
Schwalm, David E. "Degree of Difficulty in Basic Writing Courses: Insights from the Oral Proficiency Interview Testing Program." CE 47 (October 1985): 629–40.
The Foreign Service Institute's Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) rates adults' conversational competence in a second language according to "function," or ability to interact at an appropriate level of formality; "context/content," or mastery of vocabulary suited to the topic; and "accuracy," or ability to speak correctly and intelligibly. On the six-level OPI scale, movement from level 2 to level 3 is most significant because here the speaker becomes able to explain and argue rather than simply narrate or describe, to employ more abstract and formal vocabulary and demonstrate broad cultural awareness, and to use more complex grammatical structures. The linguistic resources on which basic writers draw in written communication correspond to the characteristics of OPI level 2. Basic writing curricula should be designed specifically to move students into writing tasks requiring the equivalent of OPI level-3 abilities.
Shaughnessy, Mina P. "Basic Writing." Teaching Composition: Twelve Bibliographic Essays. Ed. Gary Tate .
Little work on college-level basic writing had been done when this bibliographic essay was written in 1976. It cites work on remedial education in general, Black English, social and cultural factors in educational success, Standard English grammar, philosophy of language, and composition pedagogy. All are selected according to Shaughnessy's sense of what might be useful to the basic-writing teacher. The essay thus provides an interesting picture of the development of her thought.
Shaughnessy, Mina P. Errors and Expectations: A Guide for the Teacher of Basic Writing. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1977.
Basic writers' errors in Standard English fall into patterns derived from systematic gaps in students' knowledge of the written form and from students' own idiosyncratic but regular plans for using unfamiliar writing conventions. Chapters 1 to 5 catalog students' problems with handwriting, punctuation, syntax, and spelling. Chapters 6 to 8 show that basic writers are unfamiliar with the concepts and argument forms that are customary in academic writing. To help these students learn Standard English and academic discourse, teachers should not rely on atomized drills. They should instead discuss the grammatical and argumentative principles that inform academic writing. Teachers should remember that basic writers are intelligent adults. This book has had enormous influence on the study of basic writing, not primarily for its ideas on classroom practice, but for its way of understanding the writing that basic writers produce.
Smitherman, Geneva. Talkin' and Testifyin'. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.
Black English takes many grammar rules and pronunciation patterns from West African languages. In America, the use of Black English is associated with a culture that values several forms of oral display, such as church oratory, and that holds a worldview different from that associated with Standard English, for example, in its preference for logical structures that are hierarchical or cyclical rather than linear. This book focuses less on Black English than on black culture, which it describes in detail. Smitherman strongly opposes requiring Standard English forms and culture for Black English speakers. For her comments on a court case mandating bilingual instruction for Black English speakers, see " 'What Go Round Come Round': King in Perspective," Harvard Education Review 51.1 (February 1981), rpt. in Brooks .
Soliday, Mary. "From the Margins to the Mainstream: Reconceiving Remediation." CCC 47.1 (February 1996): 85–100.
Within a volatile atmosphere for remedial writing programs, FIPSE funded the Enrichment Approach at City College, featuring a two-course, six-credit sequence that bypassed test scores and mainstreamed students into a well-supported curriculum centered on language variety and cultural differences. A close reading of one student's portfolio illustrates the effectiveness of the mainstreamed curriculum. For example, in learning to approximate academic discourse, "Derek" begins to formulate generalizations more sophisticated than simple agreement or disagreement with a topic and uses both subordination and metalanguage. This student's portfolio illustrates "the promise of responsible mainstreaming" when the curriculum emphasizes linguistic self-consciousness, the study of language and culture, and social interactions with readers; however, what remains is to account for the complex institutional politics of remediation.
Soliday, Mary. The Politics of Remediation: Institutional and Student Needs in Higher Education. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 2002.
Remediation at the college level exists to serve institutional needs and to resolve social conflicts and cannot be attributed to students' backgrounds or socioeconomic status. A crisis management tool aimed at what are perceived as singular crises in student preparation, remedial English appeared not as a response to student skill levels but only as the dividing lines between institutions—college, university, academy, public high school—were firmly fixed. Historical analyses of remedial English are needed, rather than studies of individual students and classroom pedagogy, to explode the assumption of today's students as anomalous or "always new," to examine the underpinnings of a discourse of student need, and to distinguish the politics of representation from the politics of access. We must challenge the rhetoric of needs that assumes remediation is a "special" need of nontraditional students, and we must disentangle curricular reforms from institutional ones with, for example, translation theory. City University of New York and City College of New York are used throughout to illustrate the broader dynamics of institutional growth in American higher education: how institutions adopt new standards as a management strategy or use remediation to stratify higher education.
Soliday, Mary. "Towards a Consciousness of Language: A Language Pedagogy for Multicultural Classrooms." Journal of Basic Writing 16.2 (Fall 1997): 62–73.
The Language Research Project was designed as a year-long course to increase students' understanding of the nature of human language and to move them beyond the view that language (merely) conveys information. Beginning with a literacy narrative, students described a language group and kept a field notebook of language samples; they also wrote weekly self-assessments, analytical and interpretive drafts, and a final research paper. The emphasis on the sociolinguistic nature of language asked students to investigate the relationship between their private and public languages and encouraged them to develop a literate attitude toward language.
Sternglass, Marilyn S. Time to Know Them: A Longitudinal Study of Writing and Learning at the College Level. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997.
In this first longitudinal study dedicated to tracing the same students through their entire college experience, extensive data for nine students at City College provide a full picture of writing development in a multicultural urban population. Interviews and student writing demonstrate the effect of complex social histories on academic performance, but students also showed metacognitive awareness of the relationship between writing and learning, suggesting that engagement with writing moves students to reflect more deeply on materials and ideas. Chapter 4 illustrates the crucial but also limited role that composition instruction has in the development of writing abilities, especially if the instructor ignores content or relies on generic commentary. Other chapters examine institutional testing, instructional settings, case studies of how the writing process changes over time, and implications for instruction and research. Informed by research in basic writing, ESL, feminist pedagogy, and sociocognitive theories, this in-depth study presents "the true complexity of writing development." Winner of the NCTE Outstanding Book Award.
Stygall, Gail. "Resisting Privilege: Basic Writing and Foucault's Author Function." CCC 45 (1994): 320–41.
Just as Foucault's author function organizes the curriculum in English studies and defines its proper object for study, the teaching of basic writing, too, is formulated around the educational discursive practices necessary to keep the author function dominant. Designed to increase consciousness of how teachers and institutional practices participate in constructing basic writers, a "letters" project—exchanges between graduate students enrolled in a seminar designed to study basic writing and basic writing students at two other universities—highlighted claims of neutrality, constructions of educational identities, and attempts to resist privilege. Differences in length between the two sets of letters, for example, placed graduate students firmly in the author category and served to reinscribe the basic writers' positions. Reflection on the "success" of the project is included with recommended changes in basic writing pedagogy.
Stygall, Gail. "Unraveling at Both Ends: Anti-Undergraduate Education, Anti-Affirmative Action, and Basic Writing at Research Schools." Journal of Basic Writing 18.2 (1999): 4–12.
While they remain an important facet of work and thought in issues of basic writing, when pressed financially, Research 1 universities cut courses deemed less central to their mission. At the same time, recent successful anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives make diverse student populations less likely. These two intertwined movements—cutting courses and shutting doors—foreground the need for rhetoric and composition specialists to act as public intellectuals and to participate in the forums available for debate. In particular, we should analyze public documents on education, administrative reports as well as newspaper stories. For example, just as predictions are made that future growth in the college population is likely to be from underrepresented groups, university "master plans" position all lower division writing courses as remedial or superfluous in an "efficient" system. Ideologies of fairness and quantification, pervasive in education, undercut commitments to diversity yet are the most difficult to counter among the public. The use of critical discourse analysis—with its attention to agency, action, stakes, absence and presence—helps to explain how underrepresented students can be both welcomed and rejected, among other contradictions.
Williams, Joseph M. "The Phenomenology of Error." CCC 32 (May 1981): 152–68.
When we read student papers, we define "errors" as discrete entities found on the page. But "error" has a more important, social dimension. Our perception of error on the page signals a flawed social transaction between us and the writer, similar to a breach of etiquette. When we read the work of professional writers, we do not expect to find errors because our social relation to these writers is different from our relation to students. Many highly respected essays on writing breach their own rules, but we tend not to see these errors, although we always find errors when we look for them—in student papers. In guiding students away from error, then, we should redefine it not as structurally deviant but as socially inappropriate in writing situations.