I have no "evidence." But teaching writing in large lecture courses
goes against everything I believe and know about teaching writing.
We have come a long way in opposing this kind of regressive
practice--that lets the powers that be in the university say that they
are "doing something" about the "problem" of student writing. For
heaven's sake, let's not give into this corporatist model--even
though "they" may tell us it's not only necessary but useful.
On 14 Feb 00, at 17:01, Rick Coe wrote:
> Does anyone have any evidence that lecturing to students about writing
> produces significant development of their writing abilities? Or, in the
> case of the Brock courses, that this development significantly exceeds what
> they would have learned from just seminars, the writing practice, and
> individual feedback? Last I checked, which was a long time ago, I don't
> believe there was such evidence (just as there is lots of evidence that,
> whatever "common sense" may suggest, grammar drills do not significantly
> reduce "errors" in actual writing). When I teach writing courses, I do
> sometimes "lecture," i.e., talk for 15 minutes straight explaining
> something or other, but I believe my successes turn on running the course
> as a workshop and that the students learn most from writing and getting
> various kinds of feedback (hence the workshop approach).
> One can always argue that something/anything is better than nothing.
> Given the budgetary bias in favour of large and larger classes, I would
> want to see positive evidence that lecturing can significantly improve
> actual writing.
> At 07:33 PM 2/14/2000 -0500, you wrote:
> >What is your assessment of a writing programme offering not one but two
> >terms of lecture-hall-based, introductory-level, general writing instruction?
> >Here's the situation: Two years ago, Brock University created two separate
> >one-term courses -- Introduction to Writing and Academic Writing -- which
> >students are offered in succession. The English department here is very
> >interested in keeping grammar prominent in the first course; the first is a
> >prerequisite for the second. Neither are compulsory for Brock students,
> >though that will change for students in at least one department.
> >On the positive side, both courses offer students two hours of small
> >seminars per week, lead by experienced TAs who have advanced degrees in
> >literature. On the not-so-positive side, there is a one-hour lecture per
> >week to an audience that, next year, may be as high as 200. Is such a
> >situation reasonably within the range of acceptable Canadian practices?
> >I know this list has had a go both at the lecture-hall teaching of writing
> >and at the conflation of writing with grammar. However, I also know there
> >are some one-term lecture-hall courses in Canada that do not have the
> >benefit of two seminar-hours per week with mature, experienced TAs. And,
> >of course, two terms of writing is presumably better than one.
> >The English department here is facing program review in 2000-2001, and
> >writing is a new undertaking at Brock. How would you evaluate this? I
> >would be pleased to pass on your responses to our department chair.
> >All the best,
> >/// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// ///
> >John B. Killoran, PhD
> >Assistant Professor
> >Dept. of English Language and Literature
> >Brock University
> >St. Catharines, Ontario
> >L2S 3A1 Canada
> >(905) 688-5550 ext.3886
> >[log in to unmask]
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Supervisor, Writing Centre
University of New Brunswick, Saint John
P.O. Box 5050
Saint John, NB
Fax: (506) 648-5528
Phone: (506) 648-5502
Email: [log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
[log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
the annual conference, and publications, go to the Inkshed Web site at