"What Now?" The Processes of Involvement
In 1971 Janet Emig published The Composing Processes of Twelfth Graders, a set of eight case studies in which she asked her adolescent subjects, among other things, to think aloud as they composed two essays, saying everything that was going through their minds as they planned, drafted, revised, and edited their writing. Although not the first research to attend to composing processes, Emig's monograph became the watershed for what is called "the process movement" in composing research and teaching.1 As a pedagogical initiative "process" emphasizes a shift away from a focus on finished texts as objects of analysis and imitation toward the more practical questions of how people do the behind-the-scenes work of writing. Process pedagogy, which puts high value on invention, revision, and peer and teacher response during drafting stages, has changed the character of writing instruction in schools and colleges in the United States.
As a research initiative, the process perspective has led in the past ten years to more systematic investigations of the cognition of writing. Perhaps the most systematic explorations of the mental activity of composing have been undertaken by Linda Flower and John R. Hayes at Carnegie-Mellon University. They have collected scores of oral (think aloud) protocols from experienced and less experienced adult writers. From protocol research, Flower and Hayes have developed a "cognitive process theory of writing" that depicts writing as a goal-directed and highly dynamic thinking process consisting of recursive cycles of planning, drafting, and reviewing. They also have provided portraits of writers-at-work that point up sharp contrasts in the procedures of "experts" and "novices."
Flower and Hayes' project has met with criticism from Marilyn Cooper and Michael Holzman, among others, for its intrusive oral-protocol methodology and for the artificial laboratory conditions of the early experiments.2 The project also has been faulted by Patricia Bizzell in "Cognition, Convention, and Certainty" and, more recently, by Martin Nystrand, among others, for neglecting the role of social context in shaping written discourse. Flower and Hayes' cognitive-process theory treats the individual, isolated writer as the originator of goals and plans
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Publication information: Book title: Literacy as Involvement:The Acts of Writers, Readers, and Texts. Contributors: Deborah Brandt - Author. Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press. Place of publication: Carbondale, IL. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 33.