ENGLISH 494: Writing and Tutoring

Spring, 2002



Guidelines for Essay #2:
Analysis of Writing Instruction


Overview
Content
Length
Format
Deadlines


Overview. The focus of this assignment is on examining the kind of writing instruction you have experienced as a student (or in some other capacity, for example, on a job). Our purpose in this assignment is to try to explore not only the ways in which writing tends to be taught in schools but also the beliefs about writing that guide writing instruction in schools. This exploration can perhaps provide us with insight into how the students we tutor might think about their writing.

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Content. Like the first assignment, this one is somewhat flexible. You can focus your discussion on a specific experience you had with writing instruction in school--say, a particular teacher or class you had in high school or middle school or college. In such a case, you would need to describe your experience--perhaps in the form of a narrative--and then discuss what you see as the key elements that characterized writing instruction in that instance. Or you might focus on a particular incident or assignment that you think reflects the nature of writing instruction as you experienced it in school. Or you might compare two very different experiences you had with writing instruction (for example, with two different teachers) to examine different ways in which you were taught to write. Whatever approach you take, keep in mind that your focus should be on describing how writing was taught in that instance and on exploring the implications of that method of instruction. What characterized writing instruction as you experienced it? What stands out about that experience for you? What were the effects of that instruction on you and your classmates? What beliefs about writing seemed to inform the writing instruction you experienced?

This essay should be somewhat more analytical than the first essay (though of course you might incorporate elements of narrative and description or structure the essay around a specific event). It should also be a bit more academic in style and form, but don't think of this piece necessarily as a formal academic piece; rather, think of it as a careful examination of your experience, and examination that may be academic in nature but should be accessible to your readers (that is, your classmates and me). In your essay, try to go beyond the surface; probe the ideas about writing and teaching that seemed to inform the instruction you experienced. Help your readers gain insight into the experience and into writing instruction.

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Length. The essay should be approximately 1000 words (or four to five pages) in length.

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Format. All texts for this course (with very few exceptions) should be submitted electronically. You may submit the final version on disk or via email (as an attached file). You may also paste your essay to our WebCT site. Please save your essay as a Microsoft Word file, a Rich Text File (RTF), or a text (ASCII) file. If you submit your essay via email, be sure to let me know in class on the day it is due.

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Deadlines. First drafts of this assignment are due in class on Tuesday, February 19th. (Please bring your draft to class in a form that is readable: either on disk or printed out in hard copy or both.) Final versions are due on Tuesday, March 5th.

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