The Complexity of Individual Learning

This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education includes an interview with Todd Rose that discusses the complexity of information about individual learning styles.  The article itself is short and moves into discussions of sharing data generated by large-scale learning systems like MOOcs.  But the TED talk embedded there does have relevance for our writing program, as we work to not only individualize and understand individual learning trajectories, but to help students unpack and document their literacy acquisition trajectories.

Confusion is a good thing?

This article, From Inside Higher Ed, might be an important idea for the ways that we teach some of the complicated concepts in our courses.  It talks about the idea that confusion can possibly be an important way to get students to learn:

Program Philosophy

The Illinois State University Writing Program is a progressive organization that works to directly address long-enduring attitudes about writing. With the knowledge that these attitudes are often based on misinformed perceptions of how writing knowledge is actually learned and applied, we hope to constantly question and re-think our goals as students and teachers to create an enduring infrastructure in which the investigation of and research into writing practices is the center of our teaching and learning. Many areas of theory and research—including rhetorical genre studies, systemic functional linguistics, English for Specific Purposes, activity theory, cultural-historical activity theory, actor network theory, theories of community and identity, and writing and cognition—impact our work.

These sections of our Writing Program Instructor’s Guide offer a short overview of the philosophies and concepts that actively shape our pedagogy.

Introduction and Overview:  This document is a basic overview of the courses we teach and our approach to teaching.

Program Philosophies and Concepts: This slightly longer document outlines the important theories, terms and concepts that shape our pedagogy.  It also includes bibliography for further reading.

Within the Writing Program, we strive to meet the following core goals:

  • students learn to produce writing that represents the kind of reflective and critical inquiry necessary to serve responsibly in civic arenas and to succeed in academic and professional contexts;
  • instructors from different areas of English Studies and academic levels prepare to teach writing, continue their education and experience professional growth;
  • members from the local community and the state gain a better understanding of the complex processes and products referred to simply as “writing”;
  • research and creativity thrive;
  • technology is integral, with the Program being the first nationwide to offer all writing classes in computer classrooms;
  • people are friendly and supportive.

White Papers on CHAT and Genre

This page offers links to a variety of documents design to assist instructors in developing a genre studies and cultural-historical activity theory pedagogy for writing instruction.  Some of these documents are designed primarily for instructors to use as they work to better understand and incorporate terms and concepts we use in the program. Others are at least partially designed for students (as handouts) to help them understand or practice important concepts.

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Polling Software

Hi Everyone:

I know that the clickers were a pretty big hit with a lot of you (even if we weren’t totally organized with the questions, yet).  We talked about the fact that this kind of technology might be a useful way to get students to participate more in sharing what they understand, or sharing information about antecedent genres they’ve experienced.

Clickers are expensive if students have to buy them — although apparently you can use cell phones as well (we’re going to check on that and we’ll post a note about it soon).  But below is a link to a polling technology that can use the computers to do the same kind of in-class, real-time response to questions:

If you decide to try it, please share your stories about what you did and how it worked out!


Summer Series: Finding New Genres

If you’re thinking about how to take new and exciting approaches to teaching in a genre studies model in the fall, here’s an article that may catch your attention: A Truly New Genre, at Inside Higher Ed. Alexandra Juhasz’s take on the production of her video-book includes important questions that genre studies scholars should be constantly asking.

And, maybe, this will spark inspiration for a new genre project your students might find productive!