One wonders if there is any academic field that doesn’t suffer from the way it is portrayed by the media, by politicians, by pundits and other publics. How well scholars in a discipline articulate their own definition can influence not only issues of image but the very success of the discipline in serving students and its other constituencies. The Activist WPA is an effort to address this range of issues for the field of English composition in the age of the Spellings Commission and the No Child Left Behind Act.
Drawing on recent developments in framing theory and the resurgent traditions of progressive organizers, Linda Adler-Kassner calls upon composition teachers and administrators to develop strategic programs of collective action that do justice to composition’s best principles. Adler-Kassner argues that the “story” of college composition can be changed only when writing scholars bring the wonders down, to articulate a theory framework that is pragmatic and intelligible to those outside the field--and then create messages that reference that framework. In The Activist WPA, she makes a case for developing a more integrated vision of outreach, English education, and writing program administration.
Naming What We Know, Classroom Edition examines the core principles of knowledge in the discipline of writing studies, using the lens of “threshold concepts”—concepts that are critical for epistemological participation in a discipline. This edition focuses on the working definitions of thirty-seven threshold concepts that run throughout the research, teaching, assessment, and public work in writing studies. Developed from the highly regarded original edition in response to grassroots demand from teachers in writing programs around the United States and written by some of the field’s most active researchers and teachers, the classroom edition is clear and accessible for an audience of even first-year writing students.
Naming What We Know examines the core principles of knowledge in the discipline of writing studies using the lens of “threshold concepts”—concepts that are critical for epistemological participation in a discipline. The first part of the book defines and describes thirty-seven threshold concepts of the discipline in entries written by some of the field’s most active researchers and teachers, all of whom participated in a collaborative wiki discussion guided by the editors. These entries are clear and accessible, written for an audience of writing scholars, students, and colleagues in other disciplines and policy makers outside the academy. Contributors describe the conceptual background of the field and the principles that run throughout practice, whether in research, teaching, assessment, or public work around writing. Chapters in the second part of the book describe the benefits and challenges of using threshold concepts in specific sites—first-year writing programs, WAC/WID programs, writing centers, writing majors—and for professional development to present this framework in action.
Naming What We Know opens a dialogue about the concepts that writing scholars and teachers agree are critical and about why those concepts should and do matter to people outside the field.
Educators strive to create “assessment cultures” in which they integrate evaluation into teaching and learning and match assessment methods with best instructional practice. But how do teachers and administrators discover and negotiate the values that underlie their evaluations? Bob Broad’s 2003 volume, What We Really Value, introduced dynamic criteria mapping (DCM) as a method for eliciting locally-informed, context-sensitive criteria for writing assessments. The impact of DCM on assessment practice is beginning to emerge as more and more writing departments and programs adopt, adapt, or experiment with DCM approaches.
For the authors of Organic Writing Assessment, the DCM experience provided not only an authentic assessment of their own programs, but a nuanced language through which they can converse in the always vexing, potentially divisive realm of assessment theory and practice. Of equal interest are the adaptations these writers invented for Broad’s original process, to make DCM even more responsive to local needs and exigencies.
Organic Writing Assessment represents an important step in the evolution of writing assessment in higher education. This volume documents the second generation of an assessment model that is regarded as scrupulously consistent with current theory; it shows DCM’s flexibility, and presents an informed discussion of its limits and its potentials.
Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, published in 2015, contributed to a discussion about the relevance of identifying key concepts and ideas of writing studies. (Re)Considering What We Know continues that conversation while simultaneously raising questions about the ideas around threshold concepts. Contributions introduce new concepts, investigate threshold concepts as a framework, and explore their use within and beyond writing.
Part 1 raises questions about the ideologies of consensus that are associated with naming threshold concepts of a discipline. Contributions challenge the idea of consensus and seek to expand both the threshold concepts framework and the concepts themselves. Part 2 focuses on threshold concepts in action and practice, demonstrating the innovative ways threshold concepts and a threshold concepts framework have been used in writing courses and programs. Part 3 shows how a threshold concepts framework can help us engage in conversations beyond writing studies.
(Re)ConsideringWhatWe Know raises new questions and offers new ideas that can help to advance the discussion and use of threshold concepts in the field of writing studies. It will be of great interest to scholars and graduate students in writing studies, especially those who have previously engaged with Naming What We Know.
Marianne Ahokas, Jonathan Alexander, Chris M. Anson, Ian G. Anson, Sarah Ben-Zvi, Jami Blaauw-Hara, Mark Blaauw-Hara, Maggie Black, Dominic Borowiak, Chris Castillo, Chen Chen, Sandra Descourtis, Norbert Elliot, Heidi Estrem, Alison Farrell, Matthew Fogarty, Joanne Baird Giordano, James Hammond, Holly Hassel, Lauren Heap, Jennifer Heinert, Doug Hesse, Jonathan Isaac, Katie Kalish, Páraic Kerrigan, Ann Meejung Kim, Kassia Krzus-Shaw, Saul Lopez, Jennifer Helane Maher, Aishah Mahmood, Aimee Mapes, Kerry Marsden, Susan Miller-Cochran, Deborah Mutnick, Rebecca Nowacek, Sarah O’Brien, Ọlá Ọládipọ̀, Peggy O’Neill, Cassandra Phillips, Mya Poe, Patricia Ratanapraphart, Jacqueline Rhodes, Samitha Senanayake, Susan E. Shadle, Dawn Shepherd, Katherine Stein, Patrick Sullivan, Brenna Swift, Carrie Strand Tebeau, Matt Thul, Nikhil Tiwari, Lisa Tremain, Lisa Velarde, Kate Vieira, Gordon Blaine West, Anne-Marie Womack, Kathleen Blake Yancey, Xiaopei Yang, Madylan Yarc
Adler-Kassner and O'Neill show writing faculty and administrators how to frame discussions of writing assessment so that they accurately represent research-based practices, and promote assessments that are valid, reliable, and discipline-appropriate.
Public discourse about writing instruction is currently driven by ideas of what instructors and programs “need to do,” “should do,” or “are not doing,” and is based on poorly informed concepts of correctness and unfounded claims about a broad decline in educational quality. This discussion needs to be reframed, say Adler-Kassner and O'Neill, to help policymakers understand that the purpose of writing instruction is to help students develop critical thinking, reading, and writing strategies that will form the foundation for their future educations, professional careers, and civic engagement.
Reframing Writing Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning is grounded in the best of writing assessment research, and focuses on how to communicate it effectively to publics beyond academe.