Re: grading ourselves to death

Jeffrey R Galin (galin+@PITT.EDU)
Thu, 5 Sep 1996 15:22:03 -0400

Actaully, by mass quantities of information, I am referring more
to 50 to 60 e-mail message a day, foraging through a host of websites
before finding a usable site, searching through mamouth databases for
specific information, and making something coherent out of it all. I
personally have a particular aversion to the institutional research paper
because it is pretty much an institutional animal that does not exist in
most places outside of the academy: investment banking, professional
reviews of literature, and certain investigative reporting positions are
notable exceptions.

I'm with you on the collaborative work in your classes, which can
take all kinds of shapes (some much more productive than others).

Transference of ability is a highly complex issue about which
technical writing research has much to say. I don't pretend to have
resolved these issue myself, as my most recent Basic Reading and Writing
course used a form of research paper. But I am still working at it.


On Thu, 5 Sep 1996, Darlene Sybert wrote:

> Jeffrey Galin wrote:
> > > bet that students will need to be effective information processors,
> > > manage large volumes of inforamation and find what they need quickly.
> > > I'll bet they will still need strong communications skills, collaborative
> > > work experience, and the ability to consciously transfer effective writing
> > > practices from one context to another.
> Eric Crump wrote:>
> > ...but I don't think most writing curricula (er, my *impression* of most
> > writing curricula) contribute too damn much to any of those skills.
> > College, in general, doesn't. Those are characteristics you'll find in
> >
> Perhaps I don't understand what Jeffrey is saying here because I
> believe that the students in my composition classes learn
> most of these things and, also, learn ways to keep improving in these
> areas after the class is over. Do they keep practicing? I don't know,
> but it's just like being a parent or a cowboy (you can lead a horse to
> water, but you can't make it drink).
> 1) Manage large volumes of information? they do a review of literature
> for their research papers that includes 10 sources (which means they have
> to work with many more sources than that); an interview and an
> internet source have to be added later. It amounts to "volumes of
> information" compared to what they have been working with, but what's more
> important, they are required to work with it as if it were a larger
> volume. Although they write a five page research page, they are required
> to observe all the "niceties" that would be necessary if it were 20 pages,
> like outlines, abstracts, note taking, etc.
> 2) Much of the work that is done in my class is collaborative. Besides
> dividing into small groups to discuss the reading, students divide up the
> reading for two papers they write; work together to devise thesis
> statements; to gather information, to rewrite at least one draft; final
> product; etc.
> 3) Transferring writing practices from one context to another? Yes, from
> journals to abstracts to rough drafts to general interest papers to
> letters to the editor to writing within their disciplines: at every
> step, the same practices are required...
> Did I misunderstand?
> Ms. Darlene Sybert 882-3461 884-6902
> English Dept - University of Missouri, Columbia
> Office - Tate Hall 6/16 TuTh 12-1:30 or by appt.
> ******************************************************************************
> Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than the arguments
> of its opposers. -William Penn
> ******************************************************************************

\ Jeffrey R. Galin
_/ Department of English
o// University of Pittsburgh
/-/ Pittsburgh, PA 15260
/\/ (412) 624-6506 (W)
|/ (412) 521-1472 (H)
o |\
|< \ (print/digital publishing)
_____/_\__/ (subscribe WebRights-L <name>)
_/ \___________________________________________________ . . .