Exploratory discourse and academic writing: A study of the teaching of advanced composition in a writing-across-the-curriculum program
One of the more cherished, and consequently unexamined, beliefs of composition teachers is that the thinking required for academic discourse is best exemplified in the traditional thesis essay. The writing-across-the-curriculum project developed by content teachers in the Honors Program at the Community College of Philadelphia, though, was designed to encourage a different genre (exploratory writing), which the faculty view as more typical of high level academic discourse in the humanities and the social sciences. This study examines the ways in which the Honors Program writing project differs from standard writing pedagogy and the effects this deviation from standard practice has on faculty-student interactions. The data consisted of five writing assignments, audiotapes of ten faculty led writing groups, selected student commentaries on a fellow student's paper, and one student's first and last essays in the Honors Program. The results show that student and faculty presuppositions about writing are so different that it is possible to analyze faculty interactions with students in terms of a conflict between two intellectual cultures. Students have internalized the thesis essay to such an extent, it is difficult for them to conceive of any other genre of academic discourse. Thus, while the writing assignments and faculty comments are designed to move students away from the thesis essay as the only model of academic discourse, students consistently translate the assignments and comments back into the language of the thesis essay. The faculty's attempt to bring students into high level academic discourse by widening the student intellectual culture can be shown to have its roots in speech act theory's critique of the limitations of a positivist theory of language.
Berger, Jeffrey, "Exploratory discourse and academic writing: A study of the teaching of advanced composition in a writing-across-the-curriculum program" (1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9125591.