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College Writing and Beyond

A New Framework for University Writing Instruction

Anne Beaufort

Publication Year: 2007

Composition research consistently demonstrates that the social context of writing determines the majority of conventions any writer must observe. Still, most universities organize the required first-year composition course as if there were an intuitive set of general writing "skills" usable across academic and work-world settings.

In College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction, Anne Beaufort reports on a longitudinal study comparing one student’s experience in FYC, in history, in engineering, and in his post-college writing. Her data illuminate the struggle of college students to transfer what they learn about "general writing" from one context to another. Her findings suggest ultimately not that we must abolish FYC, but that we must go beyond even genre theory in reconceiving it.

Accordingly, Beaufort would argue that the FYC course should abandon its hope to teach a sort of general academic discourse, and instead should systematically teach strategies of responding to contextual elements that impinge on the writing situation. Her data urge attention to issues of learning transfer, and to developmentally sound linkages in writing instruction within and across disciplines. Beaufort advocates special attention to discourse community theory, for its power to help students perceive and understand the context of writing.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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p. v-v

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pp. 1-2

Carla, a dedicated, sharp writing lecturer, and Tim, a smart, mature, generous young man, are the stars of this work. Without them, there would be no lines, no entrance or exit points, no script. And for this writer, no subject matter. For Carla and Tim to expose themselves to a researcher’s scrutiny was an act of trust and graciousness and courage. I ...

List of Tables and Figures

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p. 3-3

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1 The Question of University Writing Instruction

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pp. 5-27

Anne: What’s your sense of yourself as a writer now, compared to four Tim: Uh, well, shoot. Four years ago I would have said, you know, I’ve got . . . I don’t know . . . Four years ago, before taking classes here, I would have said, well that’s not really writing . . . realizing that . . . it’s not like a particular genre that qualifies as writing. ...

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2 The Dilemmas of Freshman Writing

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pp. 28-58

Like the playwright who gives stage directions so that the reader can imagine a living, breathing experience, or the composer who begins an opus with a prelude, I begin this chapter with excerpts of field notes and other documents gathered at the site of this case study—an English department at a prestigious private university in the South. These bits ...

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3 Freshman Writing and First Year History Courses

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pp. 59-68

In history courses students acquire skills that should be of value in many occupations and endeavors: how to think critically, evaluate evi-Write an essay of 1,000 words. Discuss the film in light of the readings and discussion to date. . . . The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that you have read the materials and can apply them to thinking about ...

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4 Learning To Write History

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pp. 69-105

You get good at taking a situation that’s extremely diffuse and . . . infinitely variable. With so many variables you would have to write a huge linear equation to describe [it]. It’s not even linear. You get good at saying okay, really casting out what’s not relevant . . . reduce it to one or two or three variables so you can kind of see what’s going on . . . if ...

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5 Switching Gears: From History Writing to Engineering

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pp. 106-141

I never used to have patience with techies who would turn up their noses at fuzzy classes but I’m starting to sense why they do. I’m starting The first few classes that I took, they were “weeder” classes, so they just cleaned my clock. In response, I just kind of lowered my standard and also kind of held on to history as my, “I don’t need that while I have ...

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6 New Directions for University Writing Instruction

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pp. 142-158

As I begin this final chapter, I wish first to honor the acts of courage and integrity of all of Tim’s teachers to teach him well, as well as Tim’s own dedication to learning and to making a meaningful contribution to society. I am privileged that these individuals have allowed me to get to know them and to try, through this research, to provide suggestions for how ...

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Epilogue: Ten Years Later

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pp. 159-176

I sweated through the work of this research project alone. But I always knew I must go back to Carla, Tim’s freshman writing teacher, for two reasons: Her read of the manuscript would be another means to triangulate the data, and I owed her the right to comment on my analyses and interpretations of her courses. So I sent her the manuscript when it ...

Appendix A: From Research to Practice: Some Ideas for Writing Instruction

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pp. 177-206

Appendix B: Samples of Tim’s Essays

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pp. 207-214

Appendix C: The Research Methodology

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pp. 215-222


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pp. 223-229


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pp. 230-239

Index, About the Author

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pp. 240-243

E-ISBN-13: 9780874216639
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874216592

Publication Year: 2007