CFP: [Rhetoric-Composition] Writing as Exploration and Discovery

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Vincent Walsh
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In this paper I describe a novel form of writing pedagogy that encourages
students to select their own topics for papers based on course readings
and class discussion. The purpose behind this approach is to facilitate a
process by which students are enabled to engage in a personal way with
their writing, in effect, to "own" their own writing process. Too often,
students write for the professor, responding to prompts or assigned
topics, assuming that what they produce has to be "what the professor
wants to hear." In effect, they become alientated from what they write,
trying to conform to a standard of evaluation that is outside themselves.
Since students will be doing a great deal of writing beyond
just "academic" papers in their professional lives, no matter what their
field of endeavor, including emails, personal letters, reports, project
analyses, and so on, it seems to me that it is crucial that they begin
their writing careers as college freshmen with a sense of investment in
what they produce, far beyond what is entailed in a desire to receive an
acceptable grade in a particular course. When students are allowed to
choose their topics, and invited to revise according to guidance from an
experienced, supportive teacher, they are far more likely to build the
skill, fluency, and confidence they will need as they move forward in
their professional lives.

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Received on Mon Nov 24 2008 - 22:41:15 EST