Reading Room 10/23- Writing is Hard

Journal: HASTAC

Academia is all about the shared experience of learning between college professors and the students as well.  This is what leads to authentic learning inside the classroom.  However, sometimes an instructor needs to show the students how challenging tasks such as writing can be in the world.  In the article from HASTAC titled Writing is Hard by Cathy Davison, Davison reports on a lab experiment with John Hopkins and the Community College of Baltimore County.  This experiment consisted of 4 individuals at a shared computer screen and the goal was to help improve upon each other’s writing.  These tasks consisted of teaching each other how to construct a strong thesis and develop your voice as a writer by taking a stand.

 

On the other hand, this is where it is completely different.  Some screens included doctoral students creating their chapters and dissertations.  With the opposite screen, instructors were writing their books, grants, and abstracts.  All of this was completely next to each other to demonstrate to the student population how challenging and rigorous writing is for college professors.

 

In fact, one of Davison’s students provided at great lengths constructive feedback on her novel.  All of this goes hand in hand with the concept of professors and students collaborating on the writing process.  For example, Cathy Davison says this about the process, “The novel has been through three thorough rounds of revision and I anticipate three thorough next rounds” (Davison).  All of this is designed for the revision process to be a joint effort with several college professors identifying the complexities of writing itself.

 

I found this article to be very relatable to my experience as a creative writing student because I think writing is so challenging for instructors as well.  I have struggled trying to get my work even published this early on in my writing career.  I have done my best to submit to the creative writing transfer literary magazine, but get rejected in the process.  However, what makes it so promising to me is to hear the tribulations other Creative Writing professors trying to get published.  Writing is such a tough profession to get to into creatively and with academia as well.

 

Furthermore, this article has taught me the importance of collaboration for authentic learning at the college level.  To truly grasp this idea of what college professors go through with their writing and link it to the challenges a student writer has as well.  It is something I possibly would want to investigate further detail because I would want students to understand it is ok to struggle as a writer and that it is not easy for college instructors either.  This is the true importance of feedback in the world of academia.

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2018/08/07/writing-hard

Here is the link to the larger story as well: https://hub.jhu.edu/2018/07/26/ccbc-mellon-summer-humanities-research/

Reading Room 10/16- Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?

Journal:  The Journal of Effective Teaching

Feedback is extremely crucial in the writing process and all writers need noted elements to improve on.  However, there are often times where people may not give the best feedback and it doesn’t constructively respond to authentic learning.  In the Journal of Effective Teaching article “Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?” by Esther Cohen-Sayag, Cohen-Sayag focuses on feedback on quality writing (more than themes and language aspect of writing).  Feedback is very crucial for teachers in their classrooms.  But do many teachers truly practice accurate methods to give/receive feedback?  Cohen-Sayag looks beyond the English teachers in this study and based off of other subjects.  Sayag gives an overview of this study by looking over how feedback changes with writing competency.

Writing down feedback is one of the ways a teacher-student relationship creates a conversation with their work.   In other words, the teacher may give quality notes on how the student could improve their writing or possibly the teacher will give questions for the student to think about on this assignment.  Feedback enables the students to have a chance to put more effort into their work and truly dive into the material.  What seems to be the challenge with receiving feedback on writing is that students want to appease their teacher and not writing based on authentic learning.  The intentions are not clear for students that feedback should be a consistent conversation between a teacher and student to express the writing.

In this article, Cohen-Sayag delves into the complexities with feedback, “The complexity of feedback writing depends on the context of the writing circumstances, teachers’ perceptions and goals and on the writing assignment” (Cohen-Sayag, 6).  The teacher’s goals on this writing assignment shouldn’t be highlighted during the feedback process.  If the goals truly do not match the feedback given by the teacher, the student is not authentically learning.  However, this is where Formative feedback comes in handy for students.  Formative Feedback relies solely on looking at the goals they want with their writing and how could they project their writing to the readers.  They would need to forget about on all the spelling mistakes and everything relating to syntax as well.

The resulting effects of feedback from the teacher in this study found behaviors and methods was very crucial for these student writers.  Second language writers felt feedback on condensed writing qualities was more helpful than non-condensed notes on their writing.  Second language writers found it extremely challenging to find those spelling/grammar mistakes and that their feedback had to be directed at their writing.

Other problems with writing feedback can cause so many challenges for teachers.  This one has to do with teachers look at specific lines they point out in an assignment and ignore the importance of comprehending the writing process each student uses.  The other one has to do with a teacher being extremely critical and do not give too much positive feedback on their writing.  Lastly, teachers are too bogged down on the technicalities of writing and completely disregard the ideas included in the assignment.

The course for teachers to practice accurate feedback and make sure they are ready to give notes for their future teachers.  The feedback should give the teachers to look back at their writing themselves.  However, it gets very tricky when it is strongly stressed this process is very formal.  The teachers should authenticate their learning by giving feedback in order to read the children writing.  All of this will be based on the child’s point of view in the writing.  The teachers need to read the writing aloud the written text with their colleagues so that accurate discussion is met in this course.

I found this article to be relative to my experience as a graduate instructional assistant in the creative writing program because it helps pose questions for me when I give feedback.  I have had creative writing professors tell me to always give positive notes and where they could expand in regards to craft.  However, in my practicum seminar, I hear my peers tell me it is challenging to continue to praise the students’ work all the time because not every paper they turn in will be great the majority of the time. In addition to that, I have to continue to stop myself from giving them formal notes on their writing and look more at their ideas.  How could their ideas be improved on by using craft elements?  To me, that is authentic learning inside the classroom because as an instructor, you are interested in their ideas.  We are taught by our former instructors/teachers that we have had in the past to put emphasis on grammar.  Correct grammar and spelling should be crucial for a student because you do want the writing to follow, but are we too engrossed in that aspect?  Shouldn’t we be fixated on their concepts that work with their writing?  That is something that I learned with this article.  It is something I need to continue to work on as a graduate instructional assistant.