Academic journal article College Composition and Communication

Revision and Reflection: A Study of (Dis)Connections between Writing Knowledge and Writing Practice

Academic journal article College Composition and Communication

Revision and Reflection: A Study of (Dis)Connections between Writing Knowledge and Writing Practice

Article excerpt

If teachers and professionals are right about the nature and power of revision, why are students slow to take advantage of such a good thing? One answer may be that revision requires ability, not just motivation. -Linda Flower, John Hays, Linda Carey, Karen Schriver, and James Stratman, "Detection, Diagnosis, and the Strategies of Revision"

[R]eflection is the metacognitive counterpart to revision. Together, these activities allow writers to stand back and critique their own text (reflection) and, subsequently, to make changes in those texts (revision). -Christy Desmet, Deborah Church Miller, June Griffin, Ron Balthazor, and Robert E. Cummings, "Reflection, Revision, and Assessment in First-Year Composition ePortfolios"

Almost thirty years after Linda Flower, John Hays, Linda Carey, Karen Schriver, and James Stratman inquired about the "nature and power of revision," Douglas Downs identifies it in the 2015 book Naming What We Know as one of the key threshold concepts for student writers. As a "concep[t] critical for continued learning" in the work of writing (Adler-Kassner and Wardle 2), revising is a "sign and function of skilled, mature, and professional writing and craft" (Downs 67). But like many of the threshold concepts important to effective writing, the practice and teaching of revision are a challenge. Scholars in our field have made it clear that revision as a writing practice is a "recursive but largely ineffable process" (Desmet et al. 19); it is "powerful [and] generative," "strategic" and "adaptive," and it "depends on a dynamic interplay of knowledge and intentions" (Flower et al. 16, 18, 20). Teaching students revision is only made more complex due to their understandings of and resistance to it. As writing instructors, we often prompt students toward revisions that are thorough reengagements with their writing and arguments, yet many students see revision as a mandate to fix errors (N. Sommers, "Revision" 383; Richardson 125), a practice only for remedial writers (Downs 67), or a form of punishment (Horning 2). Revision is thus a difficult writing practice to teach due to both instructor expectations that anticipate capacious reencounters with a text and student resistance that interprets revision as editorial or even penal.

As a way to catalyze robust student revisions, scholars and teachers often advocate and enact pedagogies that couple student revision with student reflection (Bower; Taczak; Yancey, Reflection). Reflection is an activity of purposeful meditation on one's experiences (Silver 1; Taczak 78). Kara Taczak argues that reflection, like revision, is an essential threshold concept for student writers, and that "revision, which includes some amount of failure, becomes particularly helpful when writers reflect and learn from these experiences" (79). Reflection can stimulate effective revision because it often prompts metacognition. Given that scholars generally define metacognition as knowledge of one's own thinking processes and choices (Bransford et al.; Flavell; Schraw; Silver; Tinberg), reflection activities in the composition classroom can promote metacognition by enabling students to examine their writing experiences and thereby heighten their awareness of their writing knowledge. When students pair reflection with revision, they can use this metacognitive knowledge to recast their writing in more effective ways. As Christy Desmet et al. note in our epigraph, reflection is "the metacognitive counterpoint to revision" because it allows writers to "stand back and critique" and then move on to revise with those new ideas in mind (19). Nedra Reynolds and Rich Rice likewise assert that if we give students the time and heuristics to reflect on their work, substantive revisions will emerge. They suggest that "[c]ultivating the reflective-learning habit . . . should make students more willing to read and rethink," to carry out the difficult revision practices of "add[ing], delet[ing], or mov[ing] material around" (30). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.