LIT 501 – Week 6 – Rhetorical Precis

Hairston, Maxine. “On Not Being a Composition Slave.” Training the New Teacher of College Composition. 1986. 117-124.

In the academic journal article, “On Not Being a Composition Slave” Maxine Hairston (1986) challenges the conventional wisdom that teachers “have known what they were doing” (117).  Hairston develops her argument through a light literature review and drawing on her own experiences in the classroom. Hairston writes this essay in order to challenge what is being done in classrooms so that teachers and students can grow going forward; grading and writing should not be something teacher and student dread doing.  Creating better processes for both will benefit everybody.  Hairston’s argument is primarily for teachers, pointing out that many in academia have had no formal training and acknowledging that fact to create awareness of the gaps in pedagogical knowledge each person carries to the classroom. I appreciated how candid this essay was.  It confirmed that academia is making up best practices as we go along and adding to that list of best practices the necessity to acknowledge holes and to appreciate that what might have worked could be improved upon, or might not be working anymore (or ever worked in the first place).

Koerber, Amy, Still, Brian. “Listening to Students: A Usability Evaluation of Instructor Commentary.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Vol. 24, No. 2. 2010. 207-233.

IN the academic journal article, “Listening to Students: A Usability Evaluation of Instructor Commentary,” Amy Koerber and Brian Still reports on a variety of usability methods and how they can be detrimental or beneficial for the end user, both student and teachers.  The authors develop their argument through human subjects with various tests of different UI methods for the delivery of instructor commentary. Koerber and Still explore this topic in order to clarify the most effective and efficient way to communicate commentary for both instructor and student. The technical depth that Koerber and Still delve into lends itself toward teachers, but I think that anybody can benefit from learning the “why” of how something works, from learning to how we communicate what we’d like to be learning.  This was a great article with a very different approach from what we’ve read so far. I appreciated the analyses the authors provided. It gave a very different look at something integral to teaching, which allowed me to appreciate another way of looking and writing about a topic.

Sommers, Nancy. “Responding to Student Writing.” College Composition and Communication, Vol. 33, No. 2. 1982. 148-156.

In the academic journal article, “Responding to Student Writing,” Nancy Sommers (1982) explores the purpose and impact a teacher’s comment can have upon the writing of their students. Sommers and her colleagues researched the comments of thirty-five teachers on first and second draft assignments. Sommers research is in order to find the impact different commenting styles have upon student drafts, and how to more encourage and enable a student to retain their own style and learn more effective communication in the process. This is a very compelling exploration of the grading process.  I particularly appreciated the numerous student writing samples presented with examples of comments made, and the reception of the student afterward.  This research is a way to challenge the “overwhelming similarity in the generalities and abstract commands given to students” (153). I have marked this article as one to come back to when I have a question on the how-to and whys of grading a student’s papers.

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