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Beach, Richard. "Demonstrating Techniques for Assessing Writing in the Writing Conference." CCC 37 (February 1986): 56–65.
Some students need instruction in assessing writing beyond either reader-based feedback or the teacher's identification of problems in the text. Such instruction can be offered in a conference in which the teacher first demonstrates describing, judging, and selecting appropriate revisions, then describes the rhetorical context of purpose and audience used as criteria for assessment, and finally asks the student to practice this technique. When writers describe their goals in rhetorical terms, they articulate the bases for making judgments, which leads to revision strategies. Students can be given an assessment form before the conference, asking them to describe goals and audience, identify problems, and suggest changes. In conference, the teacher can then focus on the students' difficulties with these categories, helping them see the nature of rhetorical goals, sensing dissonance between goals and the text, and so on.
See: John D. Beard, Jone Rymer, and David L. Williams, "An Assessment System for Collaborative Writing Groups: Theory and Empirical Evaluation" .
Brooke, Robert. Writing and Sense of Self: Identity Negotiation in Writing Workshops. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1991.
Learning to write requires seeing oneself as a person who uses writing to solve problems and accomplish purposes in many areas of one's life, not only in school. To foster this vision, the writing class should encourage students to try on various social roles in their writing and to negotiate a writer's identity for themselves. The teacher should coach apprentices and offer instruction about writing (writing processes, formal rules, etc.) only as needed to help students write what they want. This approach also encourages students to use writing to address public problems beyond the classroom.
Brooke, Robert, Ruth Mirtz, and Rick Evans. Small Groups in Writing Workshops. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1994.
Writing groups facilitate four elements that are essential to a writer's life: time for writing, ownership of the uses of writing, a community of responders, and exposure to other people's writing. Groups are complex communities, with social and emotional challenges for students. Such challenges are opportunities for learning to deal with differences of many kinds. Teachers are challenged, too, to see themselves as writers in communities and to formulate successful pedagogies. Teachers must, for example, facilitate student role experimentation in groups, design writing activities, provide rules for response, adjust rules as needed, monitor group dynamics, and evaluate group work. The authors give specific, detailed advice about teaching courses with small group workshops.
Bruffee, Kenneth A. "The Brooklyn Plan: Attaining Intellectual Growth through Peer-Group Tutoring." Liberal Education 64 (December 1978): 447–69.
Student tutors are sometimes more effective than teachers in helping other students gain confidence and ability in writing because the students are engaged socially and intellectually at once. In the Brooklyn Plan, tutors who have been trained in an advanced composition course help other students in expository composition. The tutors gain, too, by becoming more committed to quality in their own writing. Bruffee describes the tutor-training program.
See: Kenneth Bruffee, "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind' " .
Bruffee, Kenneth A. Collaborative Learning: Higher Education, Interdependence, and the Authority of Knowledge. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1993.
Collaborative learning embodies a nonfoundational conception of knowledge as communal consensus achieved by conversation. A foundational or cognitive conception that knowledge is a transferable entity now dominates university teaching. This view maintains the authority of knowledge and the authority of the teacher, challenged by collaboration and its assumption that knowledge is socially constructed. In college, students must enter new communities and cultures. Collaborative learning is the most effective way to gain such acculturation because it works as cultures really do, through social interaction. Conversation allows people to cross boundaries, to become more like others and learn a new discourse. Not only is collaboration more effective than top-down learning, it creates more critical acuity as well. Collaborative teachers use different teaching procedures: setting group tasks, managing the groups, and keeping time. The process teaches interdependence, vital in our interdependent world, while helping students understand the nature of knowledge and its creation.
See: Gregory Clark, Dialogue, Dialectic, and Conversation .
Elbow, Peter. Writing without Teachers. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973.
Many writers have been trained to think that good writing proceeds from an organized outline through a near-perfect rough draft to an error-free final draft. This view is wrong for many writers, for it assumes that writers know exactly what they want to say before they begin writing. For those who don't (most of us), a better way to begin is "freewriting," deliberately unfocused but sustained written brainstorming from which a "center of gravity" for an organized essay can emerge. Working on drafts is then a process of "growing," or allowing the organization to remain flexible at first while you generate as many ideas as possible on your subject, and "cooking," or submitting your draft to constructive critical interaction with the demands of fellow writers, literary genres, or your own expectations. A group of people committed to working on their writing in this way can form a teacherless class. They can work on academic writing, too, if they understand that academic work is carried on by the interplay of the "doubting game"—radical skepticism about another's work—and the "believing game"—fully entering another's worldview.
See: Stephen M. Fishman and Lucille McCarthy, John Dewey and the Challenge of Classroom Practice .
Forman, Janis, ed. New Visions of Collaborative Writing. Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook, 1992.
Nine essays extend the theory and practice of collaborative writing, including Anne Ruggles Gere and Laura Jane Roop, "For Profit and Pleasure: Collaboration in Nineteenth Century Women's Literary Clubs"; John Trimbur and Lundy Braun, "Laboratory Life and the Determination of Authorship"; Mary Lay, "The Androgynous Collaborator: The Impact of Gender Studies on Collaboration"; John Schilb, "The Sociological Imagination and the Ethics of Collaboration"; and Cynthia Selfe, "Computer-Based Conversations and the Changing Nature of Collaboration."
Gere, Anne Ruggles. Writing Groups: History, Theory, and Implications. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1987.
Since the eighteenth century, American college students have formed literary clubs—essentially writing groups—to coach one another on writing and speaking. Literary clubs that featured formal presentation and critique of papers were also popular among adults, at least until the twentieth century, and offered intellectual opportunities that were especially important to women. Writing groups work against alienation and the solo-performer view of the author. Vygotsky's theory that language development is socially conditioned, along with recent revisionist work on literacy as a communal phenomenon, partly explains why group work helps students write better. Groups work best when all members have agreed on clearly defined tasks and on ways to evaluate their performance on these tasks. Includes an extensive annotated bibliography.
See: Karen Burke LeFevre, Invention as a Social Act .
Lunsford, Andrea, and Lisa Ede. Singular Texts/Plural Authors: Perspectives on Collaborative Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1990.
Despite the dominant trope of writing as a solitary act, the results of two surveys and follow-up interviews demonstrate that collaborative writing is a fact of life for many professionals, as it is for the authors. Descriptions of several writers and scenes of writing act as snapshots of "everyday, commonsense collaboration" and provide insights into the social process and contexts for collaborative writing for members of several academic disciplines. A history of the concept of authorship illustrates the complex role of the author in our culture; for example, destabilized by contemporary theories, concepts of individual authorship have nevertheless persisted in composition studies, alongside a developing pedagogy of collaboration. Because hierarchical modes of collaboration are dominant, dialogical modes often serve a subversive purpose by including a plurality of voices. Further studies of authorship and collaboration need to acknowledge material changes in technology and copyright laws in order to interrogate both theory and practice for social writing processes. Appendices include copies of the questionnaires, summaries of responses, and collaborative writing assignments.
See: Joan Mullin and Ray Wallace, Intersections .
Spear, Karen. Sharing Writing: Peer Response Groups in English Classes. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1988.
Peer-response groups must first learn how groups work. Peer interaction needs to be seen as part of the composing process, and students need instruction in how to read each other's drafts to overcome confusion about sharing writing. Students' tendency to stand in for the teacher should be replaced by real collaborative behavior. The teacher's role is to recognize successful group work and foster it. Spear offers detailed advice on running a class with groups, focusing on interpersonal relationships.
Trimbur, John. "Consensus and Difference in Collaborative Learning." CE 51 (October 1989): 602–16.
The purpose of collaborative learning as described by Bruffee  and Wiener  is to help students experience the process of negotiating and reaching consensus. This goal has been attacked on the ground that it subjects individual students to leveling peer pressure. But since individuals must face peer pressure as part of living in society, collaborative learning can help them learn how to deal with it. Moreover, the collaborative approach can teach students how to deflect control by authorities to which they might be subject as isolated individuals. Some critics of collaborative learning caution that consensus may actually be acquiescence to prevailing social attitudes; consensus would thus reproduce the oppressions of a nonegalitarian social structure. Richard Rorty, whose views are called upon to support collaborative learning, seems to exacerbate that danger by presenting consensus as a seamless conversational web that can be ruptured only occasionally by individuals. But, contrary to Rorty's thinking, most people participate in a variety of overlapping discourses that often come into conflict. Thus, a collaborative classroom would treat "dissensus," however muted, as the normal state of affairs in most discourse communities and would teach students to think of genuine consensus, following Habermas, not as something achievable but as a commitment to engage in polyvocal conversations as free from relations of domination as possible.
Wiener, Harvey S. "Collaborative Learning in the Classroom: A Guide to Evaluation." CE 48 (January 1986): 52–61. Rpt. in Corbett, Myers, and Tate .
In a collaborative classroom, students work in small groups on a task designed by the teacher. Each group reports its results to the whole class while the teacher mediates differences and highlights important features of the task. The teacher can bs of the task. The teacher can b a task-setter who must design problems that involve students in complex negotiations and provide guidelines for reaching consensus; as a classroom manager who must organize groups efficiently; as a facilitator who must help all students to participate while intervening minimally; and as a synthesizer who must help the class compare the groups' results and lead them to appreciate the intellectual purposes of the task rather than simply to seek the right answers.