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Central Standard

New Approaches to Teaching Postsecondary Writing


First up on Thursday's Central Standard, a look at new approaches to helping students write at a postsecondary level. We discuss a new framework that fosters what’s called “habits of mind” and is gaining wider use, even in light of the current teach-to-the-test mentality in school systems across the nation. We're joined by Professor Linda Adler-Kassner, President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators and Director of Writing Program at UC-Santa Barbara.

She was involved in the publication of this framework in March 2011, which resulted from a group of composition leaders on a listserv who together realized a need to change how students were being taught to write. It was developed collaboratively with representatives from the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project. For more information, you can download the full pdf version of the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing, or review the Executive Summary they've provided for us here.

Executive Summary

The concept of “college readiness” is increasingly important in discussions about students’ preparation for postsecondary education. This Framework describes the rhetorical and twenty-first-century skills as well as habits of mind and experiences that are critical for college success. Based in current research in writing and writing pedagogy, the Framework was written and reviewed by two- and four-year college and high school writing faculty nationwide and is endorsed by the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project. Habits of mind refers to ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical and that will support students’ success in a variety of fields and disciplines. The Framework identifies eight habits of mind essential for success in college writing: ·     Curiosity – the desire to know more about the world. ·     Openness – the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world. ·     Engagement – a sense of investment and involvement in learning. ·     Creativity – the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas. ·     Persistence – the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects. ·     Responsibility – the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others. ·     Flexibility – the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands. ·    Metacognition – the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge. The Framework then explains how teachers can foster these habits of mind through writing, reading, and critical analysis experiences.  These experiences aim to develop students’ ·     Rhetorical knowledge – the ability to analyze and act on understandings of audiences, purposes, and contexts in creating and comprehending texts; ·     Critical thinking – the ability to analyze a situation or text and make thoughtful decisions based on that analysis, through writing, reading, and research; ·     Writing processes – multiple strategies to approach and undertake writing and research; ·     Knowledge of conventions – the formal and informal guidelines that define what is considered to be correct and appropriate, or incorrect and inappropriate, in a piece of writing; and ·     Abilities to compose in multiple environments – from using traditional pen and paper to electronic technologies.


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As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.