This project began at Carnegie Mellon University in 1986 with the establishment of the Center for the Study of Writing at UC-Berkeley and at Carnegie Mellon. Sponsored by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (U.S. Department of Education), and recently renewed as The Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, the Center is a collaborative research initiative that brings together teachers and researchers from the fields of English, rhetoric, linguistics, computer science, psychology, anthropology, and education.
The Center's dual goal has been to foster "research-sensitive practice" and "practice-sensitive research," a goal that can only be achieved through collaborative interaction between teachers and researchers. The contributors to this volume were part of an early dissemination project for the Center, the Research-for-Teaching Seminar Series at Carnegie Mellon, through which they developed and conducted seminars at local and national writing conferences, state teachers meetings, and at individual colleges and universities nationwide. They currently teach at a variety of universities across the country, where they continue to study writing and reading in new institutional settings, with varied student populations, and in the company of faculty colleagues of diverse interests and backgrounds. They have continued to develop and test their ideas and activities in these new contexts, as well as in print and at national conferences.
The topics and concerns of the seminar series reflected Carnegie Mellon's emphasis on cognitive research on reading and writing processes. In developing this collection, we asked former seminar leaders to reflect on this research from their perspective as teachers -- to examine their own courses and describe the principles and practices that govern their teaching. In short, we wanted them to try to articulate the insights gained through their research experiences and to show us how these insights have influenced their writing classrooms. This occasion for reflection and articulation has been an invaluable opportunity for all of us.