Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

First Year Research and Writing Convergences

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

First Year Research and Writing Convergences

Article excerpt


This convergence of English Composition and Library faculty instruction theory and practice expands theoretical similarities between two academic fields to enrich student learning. A talk show presentation assignment provides the flame to introduce first year students to basic information competencies. The location, selection, and evaluation of academic resources engage students as they learn to substantiate their rhetorical arguments. Students use these skills to gather information for this assignment and for additional assignments throughout the semester. Objective assessment indicates that students write better essays because of this engagement in the research and writing process.


Our partnership between English Composition and Library faculty improves student performance in research, reading, and writing. Regina Clemens Fox, the English faculty, teaches critical reading and writing skills as first year students construct argumentative essays. Caroline Russom, the library faculty, teaches students techniques and strategies of working with information. Selection and use of information sources are integral components of a well-supported and provocative argument. We identified a common problem in our respective fields, the lack of student involvement, which our partnership successfully addresses. Fox recognizes increased student engagement and subsequent improved academic performance in the first year composition class. We attribute these improvements in student involvement and academic performance to our convergence of English and library expertise.

Although the long history of partnership between librarian and English faculty is beyond the scope of our discussion, it is important to note that many academics have written about their success. The beneficial effects of partnership have been a prevalent topic of discussion among rhetoric and English faculty in recent years. For example, Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede have coined the expression "dialogic collaborative mode" to describe the authorship process as interactive and collaborative instead of individual ("Rhetoric" 240). More recently, Lunsford and Ede address currant issues facing theories of writing programs, noting that collaborative research efforts surpass individual ones ("Some" 35). Librarians have also commented recently on the value of partnership with faculty from many different disciplines. For instance, librarians Connie Jo Ury, Joyce A. Meldrem and Carolyn V. Johnson, discuss the effectiveness of their academic outreach to form partnerships with university faculty. Similarly, high school instructors Lynn Handler and Nancy Niedziela note the benefits of librarian and English faculty relationships at the high school level. These are just a few recent examples of successful faculty/librarian partnerships.

These partnerships reflect a continuing trend of blending instruction across disciplines. As experts within the field of information access, retrieval, and evaluation, librarians have been actively partnered with faculty almost from the beginning of the profession. The extent of that partnership varies from the most insignificant library "tour" to in-depth, active collaboration in the pedagogical process. Larry Hardesty, in his study of teaching and librarian cultures, states that, "faculty must be involved for the success of bibliographic instruction" (33). The need for academics to integrate the access and utilization of information within specific academic disciplines has been increased by rapidly changing technologies and the resulting explosion of available information. Building upon Hardesty's bibliographic instructional approach, we find increased English faculty and librarian involvement helps create a basic instructional framework that enables students to effectively use information throughout their academic career. Within this new information era, how do English and library faculty form effective pedagogical partnerships? …

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