kitchen table math, the sequel: from the Chairs Survey at the University of New Hampshire

Friday, October 12, 2012

from the Chairs Survey at the University of New Hampshire

from the report:
3) Disciplinary Disconnect. When asked what the most positive aspect of the UWR [University Writing Requirement] was, one [department] chair from CEPS wrote,
None. Students need technical writing for success and not exploratory writing.
Despite the ambiguity of the term "exploratory writing," one could infer that it points to process-based writing-to-learn procedures such as freewriting, journaling, and drafting. Such techniques tend to delay exactness and preciseness in language, two of the pinnacles of what the respondent above refers to as "technical writing."

Some may disagree with the goals of writing-to-learn and process-writing methodology. However, this comment may point to a wider issue: the disparity between what individual disciplines value as "good writing" and the values espoused by a writing program with roots in composition pedagogy. It is this disparity—what we will refer to as a disciplinary disconnect—that seems prevalent in respondents' perceptions of writing in general and in perceptions of the UWR.

In fact, as some chairs suggested, the genres and forms of writing required in different disciplines—and the way such writing should be taught—vary greatly:
Scientific writing is quite different from composition classes.

[The needs for writing instruction] depend on the specialization of the department.
Spring 2005 Chairs Survey Report
University Writing Program University of New Hampshire

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post was amazing but now the bulk of it is gone! Where did all the stuff about journaling and whatever else go?

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Disciplinary writing is certainly different (in many disciplines) from what is taught in freshman composition classes. I taught tech writing to computer engineers and scientists for a dozen years, and I definitely saw a need that the composition classes were not filling. UCSC now has a "disciplinary communication" requirement in every major.

http://senate.ucsc.edu/committees/cep-committee-on-educational-policy/ge-requirements/disciplinary%20-communication.html

froggie said...

I teach in a technical field. We have to spend time undoing some of the things that our students learn in their composition courses. Technical and scientific writing require a level of precision that is very difficult for our students because they have never been asked to write like that before.

We also have problems with our career center teaching students the wrong way to write resumes.

Anonymous said...

"We also have problems with our career center teaching students the wrong way to write resumes."

Something I've been battling from the hiring side of the interview for quite some time.

-Mark Roulo