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Teachers for a New Era

Teachers for a New Era

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Teachers for a New Era

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  1. Teachers for a New Era Faculty Writing Seminars Modeling Good Writing for Students Alberto Esquinca, Education, aesquinca@utep.edu Kerrie Kephart, Education, kkephart@utep.edu November 16, 2007 University Suite, Union East 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

  2. Overview • What? – An approach to modeling good writing for students that makes the values and concerns of the discipline explicit. • Why? – What constitutes “good writing” is not all the same everywhere. • How? – Two model texts: metallurgy lab report and executive briefing from business • And a caveat…

  3. Lab Report: Functional stages A very formal genre- The author’s communicative purpose is made explicit by the use of headings and sub-headings. • Introduction: It sets the stage, provides background, • Procedure: It discusses how the experiment was carried out • Results: It describes what was observed, no interpretation. It can include tables or other means to summarize the data. • Discussion: It interprets results for the reader. • Conclusion: It states what was determined from the experiment.

  4. Lab report genre • In writing, scientists must • Specify what took place, what materials were used, how those materials were manipulated. • Be clear in order to facilitate replicability of procedures. • At the same time “Avoid personalities and reference to individual human beings and actions” (Lemke, 1990). • It means that • Writers foreground processes and materials and place human actors in the background.

  5. Analysis of Procedures section • Passive voice • Three elements: • Subject • Main verb • Past participle • Crucially-The subject position is not filled by a person who undertakes action or acted on the materials

  6. Subjects • Two samples of Al-2.5% Cu alloy • [They] (x 3) • Sample A • [It] (x 2) • The other sample, Sample B, • It (x 2) • Sample B • [it] • Each sample (x 6) • The samples

  7. Past participles • All but one are verbs of doing, acting. • In everyday language they would be used as a person action on an object. • In science discourse, the human actor is removed. • Replicability is the motivation.

  8. Past participles • made • put (x 2) • melted, remelted • kept (x 2) • taken out • poured into (x 2) • cut down • ground • polished • etched (x 2)

  9. Review • No human actors. Subjects are inanimate objects (“samples”). • Replicability is the guiding principle being enacted in the text. • Anybody should be able do the procedures. References to specific people is avoided.

  10. Compare • Student writing in 4th grade science • Does include references to specific people doing things and acting on objects.

  11. 4th grade science writing • “When we made a circuit… • “When we wrapped a wire.. • “When we made a circuit …”

  12. Discussion section analysis • The student uses linguistic resources to interpret, explain, attribute and, in general, produce a reasonable explanation for observed phenomena.

  13. Causality connectors • Due to (x 6) • Because (x 3) • Therefore (x 4) • since

  14. Causality in nouns • effect • reason • a direct result (x 2) • possibility (x 3)

  15. Causality in a verb • Made • The heat flow outward in all directions around the crucible made the dendrites grow towards the center of the crucible. • Energy --> growth

  16. In sum • The procedure establishes the activities that were carried out in the experiment. • But the emphasis is on the activity, not the person who undertook the actions. • The discussion offers up a reasoned explanation for why what was observed took place. • Causality is mostly done through connectors, but also through nouns and verbs. • Each section of the lab report has different purposes. Words (nouns, verbs, connectors) are used to fulfill the communicative purpose.

  17. Analysis of Executive Briefing:Functional Stages • Introduction – Introduces the issue or problem. Contains the primary recommendation for action, usually within the first paragraph. • Company and Industry Background – Provides just enough information about the source of the issue/problem to set the context for the analysis. (Comes from the case study materials.) • Analysis– Reflects the implementation of tools of strategic analysis (taught in the course). Must lead logically to the primary recommendation. Often presented as a table. • Recommendations – Provides more detailed discussion of the primary recommendation, including any prerequisites, parts, or processes involved in implementing the recommendation. • Conclusion– Briefly reiterates the primary recommendation and justification.

  18. Analysis of Executive Briefing:Valued Features • Brevity, succinctness, and “skimmability” – “Time is money.” • Specificity – recommended actions need to refer clearly to the relevant actors and the entities being acted upon. • Balance – analysis must demonstrate a balanced approach. • Boldness – although alternatives are often presented, analysis must lead logically toward a clear course of action.

  19. Analysis of Executive Briefing:Organization and Content • Introduction – foregrounding of recommendation helps meet time concerns. • Background – Choice of information to include. • Analysis – Use of tables organizes information succinctly, shows relationships among ideas, and leads toward recommendations.

  20. Analysis of Executive Briefing:Word Choice and Grammar • Hedging the analysis – use of “may” in “Barriers to Value Creation.” • Noun phrase for recommendation – makes the major decision sound like a “done deal.” • Use of abbreviations – meets goal of succinctness; demonstrates membership in the “business management” discourse community.

  21. Steps in Explicit Modeling of Texts • Identify the text type/genre that you want students to learn to write. • Choose an exemplar of the genre as a model. • Analyze the major sections or “stages” of the text – identify the functional purposes and content of each stage. • Analyze specific stylistic, vocabulary, and grammar choices that express the purposes of the text. • Keep in mind the values and concerns of the discipline and how these are expressed in the text. • Present the model to students – use slides and discuss it in class, prepare a handout, and/or post the annotated model text in the course website.

  22. Tentative Topics for Spring • Peer-Review and Writing Conferences • Dealing with Plagiarism • Second language learners’ issues • “Have You Tried This?” – faculty across campus share strategies & experiences