Hearing Ourselves Think: Cognitive Research in the College Writing Classroom

By Barbara M. Sitko; Ann M. Penrose | Go to book overview

Vygotsky L. ( 1978). "Mind in society". Trans. M. Cole & S. Scribner. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wertsch J. & Stone C. A. ( 1985). "The concept of internalization". In J. Wertsch (Ed.), Culture communication and cognition (pp. 162-179). New York: Cambridge University Press.


Appendix I: Handbook Assignment

One goal of the course consists of learning to read like writers, to mine texts in light of your own goals as writers. As you know by now, this type of reading encourages you to attend to important features of the texts you read, so that you can develop a well-defined set of strategies that you can use as writers. Mining texts also means looking at what is not written, reconstructing the choices a writer might have considered in producing a text in a given rhetorical situation. Importantly, we have begun to see that reading like a writer is an action, a series of steps that you can take in writing texts of your own.

The literary journalists help us to see that an impetus for writing -- curiosity, interest, the need to solve a problem or to make people aware of something they need to know about -- leads to a series of actions. They engage in informal talk and conduct interviews, search the stacks in libraries, observe people and events, and take field notes. Yet what happens when writers begin to write? What choices must they make? How do they make their decisions? When do writers make these choices and decisions? For now, I would simply wager the guess that there are certain choice points in the process of writing that force writers to consider their options -- the information they have, the context they want to establish, the most effective organizational pattern for conveying issues and ideas, and the language that is appropriate for a given audience (e.g., disciplinary community). I have suggested that at various choice points writers make decisions like users on a computer select options from a pop-up menu on a screen and then sort through the different options available to them, though this decision-making process may not be altogether conscious:

Context
Historical
Political
Social
Structure
Narrative
Scientific
Report
Language
Discipline
Specific
Academic

During the remainder of the term, I would like you to help me understand the ways we can translate the notion of mining texts into a set of things we can do when we read and write. More precisely, as you read and write in this course and others, I would like you to build your own private set of strategies. By the end of the term, you should have developed a handbook that can serve as a guide, suggesting when mining texts might be most useful and what sorts of options might be most helpful in writing different kinds of papers in different situations. This project will culminate in your final paper, an analysis of your

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