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Spring 2013 Course Descriptions

English 5011   Basic Writing Pedagogy

Section 001       CRN 31658
Basic Writing Pedagogy   1900-2130 W

In this seminar we will explore the history of basic writing courses at two-year and four-year colleges and the pedagogical practices germane to them. Part of the course will undertake defining basic and developmental writing with respect to institutional structures, and we will analyze the status and future of basic writing in the profession and higher education.

We will attempt to understand the societal, cultural, and socio-economic forces that influence these “remedial” courses and the students who take them, so we will examine the socially constructed nature of basic writing, especially in light of scholars’ historical research about basic writing programs at Yale, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley.

In addition to discussing the “othered” status of basic writing in higher education, we will also study these important issues and concerns:

  • Types of basic writing programs
  • Ways students are placed into basic writing and college composition courses
  • Assessment practices
  • Evaluation of student writing in general
  • Common and problematic approaches to grammar instruction in these courses

In this seminar, you will not only learn about the history and pedagogical practices of basic writing, but you will also develop curricula as if you were a member of an English or a Writing Studies department. Students who enroll in this course will craft documents that will prepare them to teach basic writing courses. For example, one major assignment is a group project/simulation game where three or four people work as a developmental writing curriculum committee. Each group will create a basic writing course that details learning objectives, learning outcomes, placement procedures, required textbooks, a common syllabi, and assessment activities for the course.

Requirements: Weekly response/analysis memos for assigned readings, active participation in discussion, small group work, student-initiated research and leading of discussion on articles about developmental and basic writing, lesson plans, a group developmental writing curriculum project, and an individual seminar project.