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A National Study of College Writing
In Assignments across the Curriculum, Dan Melzer analyzes the rhetorical features and genres of writing assignments through the writing-to-learn and writing-in-the-disciplines perspectives. Presenting the results of his study of 2,101 writing assignments from undergraduate courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, business, and humanities in 100 postsecondary institutions in the United States, Assignments across the Curriculum is unique in its cross-institutional breadth and its focus on writing assignments.
The results provide a panoramic view of college writing in the United States. Melzer's framework begins with the rhetorical situations of the assignments—the purposes and audiences—and broadens to include the assignments' genres and discourse community contexts. Among his conclusions is that courses connected to a writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) initiative ask students to write more often, in a greater variety of genres, and for a greater variety of purposes and audiences than non-WAC courses do, making a compelling case for the influence of the WAC movement.
Melzer's work also reveals patterns in the rhetorical situations, genres, and discourse communities of college writing in the United States. These larger patterns are of interest to WAC practitioners working with faculty across disciplines, to writing center coordinators and tutors working with students who bring assignments from a variety of fields, to composition program administrators, to first-year writing instructors interested in preparing students for college writing, and to high school teachers attempting to bridge the gap between high school and college writing.
How America Is Failing Our Children
Drawing on the latest research on development among toddlers and preschoolers, At a Loss for Words lays out the importance of getting parents, policy makers, and child care providers to recognize the role of early literacy skills in reducing the achievement gap that begins before three years of age. Readers are guided through home and classroom settings that promote language, contrasting them with the "merely mediocre" child care settings in which more and more young children spend increasing amounts of time. Too many of our young children are not receiving the level of input and practice that will enable them to acquire language skills—the key to success in school and life. Bardige explains how to build better community support systems for children, and better public education, in order to ensure that toddlers learn the power of language from their families and teachers.
How College Sports Corrupted the Academy
The unrivaled amount of cash poured into the college athletic system has made sports programs breeding grounds for corruption while diverting crucial resources from the academic mission of universities. Like money in Washington politics, the influence bought by a complex set of self-interested actors seriously undermines movement toward reform while trapping universities in a cycle of escalating competition. Longtime sport sociologist Howard L. Nixon II approaches the issue from the perspective of college presidents—how they are seduced by prestige or pressured by economics into building programs that move schools toward a commercial model of athletics. Nixon situates his analysis in the context of what he calls “the intercollegiate golden triangle,” a powerful social network of athletic, media, and private corporate commercial interests. This network lures presidents and other university leaders into an athletic arms race with promises of institutional enhancements, increased enrollments, better student morale, improved alumni loyalty, more financial contributions, and higher prestige. These promises can cloud the judgment of college presidents and governing boards, entangling them in an athletic trap that restricts their influence. Unable to control spending, inequalities, and deviance within commercialized athletic programs, universities are ensnared in financial, political, and social obligations that are difficult to sustain—or escape. Nixon clarifies the structure of this trap, describes how higher education institutions fall into it, and explores what it means for institutions and presidents caught in it. This timely analysis also has relevance to the debates about the role of the NCAA and ongoing reform efforts in college sports. The Athletic Trap will be of interest to university presidents, board members, and administrators, sport sociologists concerned with the balance of power between academics and athletics, and anyone else with a serious interest in college sports and its future.
State Policy Leadership in Higher Education
Although the federal government invests substantial resources into student financial aid, states have the primary responsibility for policies that raise overall higher educational attainment and improve equity across groups. The importance of understanding how states may accomplish these goals has never been greater, as educational attainment is increasingly required for economic and social well-being of individuals and society. Drawing on data collected from case studies of the relationship between public policy and higher education performance in five states—Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington—The Attainment Agenda offers a framework for understanding how state public policy can effectively promote educational attainment. Laura W. Perna and Joni E. Finney argue that there is no silver bullet to improve higher education attainment. Instead, achieving the required levels of attainment demands a comprehensive approach. State leaders must consider how performance in one area (such as degree completion) is connected to performance in other areas (such as preparation or affordability), how particular policies interact to produce expected and unexpected outcomes, and how policy approaches must be adapted to reflect their particular context. The authors call for greater attention to the state role in providing policy leadership and steering of higher education in order to advance a cohesive public agenda for higher education and adopting public policies that not only increase the demand for and supply of higher education but also level the playing field for higher educational opportunity. The insights offered in The Attainment Agenda have important implications for public policymakers, college and university leaders, and educational researchers interested in ensuring sustained higher education attainment.
Vol. 1 (2010) to current issue
AUDEM: The International Journal of Higher Education and Democracy grows out of the work of the Alliance of Universities for Democracy (AUDEM). AUDEM focuses on the integration of universities at competitive levels into the world academic communities. With this journal, AUDEM adds another tool in its effort to expand opportunities for international collaboration in higher education and to promote the role of higher education in social and civic development.
The audience—the community of readers who will use the texts a writer produces—must be an important influence on the writer for his or her work to be effective.
Robert Brooke and John Hendricks examine the difficult task of teaching "writing for an audience" in a classroom where students know that the teacher, not the addressed audience, assigns the grade.
The authors describe in detail a particular writing class, taught by Brooke and observed by Hendricks, that attempted to teach writing for an audience. By combining the experiences from their study with student reactions to the class, they draw some conclusions about the dynamics of teaching writing and about learning in general.
The Kentucky Years
Kentucky attracted an amazing variety of would-be settlers in pioneer days, but none with brighter talent than John James Audubon. Although his years in the state came long before publication of the monumental Birds of America, he was already painting the scenes from nature that were to make him famous.
Audubon: The Kentucky Years is the captivating account of Audubon's sojourn in Kentucky from his arrival in in 1807 as a gregarious twenty-two-year-old storekeeper to his departure in 1819, when his failure in business was about to force him to seek a livelihood from his skill as an artist.
An Essay for the English Profession on Potentiality and Singularity
The postmodern conviction that meaning is indeterminate and self is an illusion, though fascinating and defensible in theory, leaves a number of scholarly and pedagogical questions unsatisfied. Authoring—the phenomenological act or felt sense of creating a text—is “a remarkably black box,” say Haswell and Haswell, yet it should be one of the central preoccupations of scholars in English studies. Not only can the study of authoring accommodate the “social turn” since postmodernism, they argue, but it accommodates as well conceptions of, and the lived experience of, personal potentiality and singularity.
Without abandoning the value of postmodern perspectives, Haswell and Haswell use their own perspective of authorial potentiality and singularity to reconsider staple English-studies concerns such as gender, evaluation, voice, character, literacy, feminism, self, interpretation, assessment, signature, and taste. The essay is unique as well in the way that its authors embrace often competing realms of English studies, drawing examples and arguments equally from literary and compositionist research.In the process, the Haswells have created a Big Idea book, and a critique of the field. Their point is clear: the singular person/mysterious black box/author merits deeper consideration than we have given it, and the book’s crafted and woven explorations provide the intellectual tools to move beyond both political divisions and theoretical impasses.
Assimilation and Resistance in U.S. Education
At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States was faced with a new and radically mixed population, one that included freed African Americans, former reservation Indians, and a burgeoning immigrant population. In The Autobiography of Citizenship, Tova Cooper looks at how educators tried to impose unity on this divergent population, and how the new citizens in turn often resisted these efforts, reshaping mainstream U.S. culture and embracing their own view of what it means to be an American.