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April 14

Page history last edited by Jared 9 years, 2 months ago


Engendering Revision


Getting students to revise is perhaps the most difficult part of teaching any writing class. Many still think revision is punishment for not getting it right the first time. Until students actually see the power of revision in their own writing, it’s difficult to get them to fully engage in revision; oftentimes, they will “fix” whatever problems the teacher identifies and neglect to use what they’ve learned to address other problems of the same type. Further, they tend to fix micro-problems but ignore macro-problems in part because the latter requires much more work to fix, but also because they often don’t know how to address the larger problems.


One of the more effective ways to encourage revision is through assignment design, that is, by constructing assignments to engender revision. Although this may seem to be inherently artificial, it’s one way to get students to see the value of revision and to engage in it more independently.



Revision Strategies of Experienced Writers


The preferred terms and definitions for the experienced writers making changes to their papers were both "rewriting" and "revising".  These terms focus on the "global" revisions we want students to use. The main goal of experienced writers in revisions is finding the form and shape of the argument, analysis, or other genre (such as a feasibility study analyzing a problem and evaluating potential solutions, or a proposal arguing a problem and solution).

For experience writers:  “First drafts are usually scattered attempts to define their territory, their objective in the second draft is to begin observing general patterns of development and deciding what should be included and what excluded.”   
  • The Highest revision concern is finding a suitable form (or structure) -- and in technical writing this is usually a goal of finding a suitable structure within sections.
  • The Second highest concern is readership (or making choices that suit or persuade an audience) -- and in technical writing this means making decisions about usability and persuasiveness


Global And Local Concerns In Revision


A key principle for teaching writing:

Research shows that students are often confused by what we—-their writing teachers—-want them to concentrate on in their writing and in their revisions. They may think, for example, that correcting semicolon mistakes is as important as anticipating and addressing counter-arguments or clarifying or strengthening the main points of their papers or reports.


So as we design writing assignments, talk with our students or team-mates about their writing, we need to find ways to communicate clearly with students about different types of revision and about priorities for their writing and revising.

We can help signal priorities if we clearly differentiate between global and local writing concerns. In our assignments, comments, conferences, and evaluation criteria, teachers can help students by focusing first on conceptual- and structural-level planning and revisions before grammatical- and lexical-level revisions. By no means do we advocate that we ignore language problems in our students’ writing. Rather, we urge that we start our assignments, comments, and conferences by focusing on global writing concerns particular to that assignment—so that we and our students don’t overlook those; so that students get clear guidance from us about how to strengthen their ideastheir analyses, and their arguments; and so that students have papers worth editing and polishing. Then we can turn our attention—and our students’—to improving sentences, words, and punctuation.

Global Writing Concerns (GLOCs)

These should be emphasized in the assignment (in composition and tech-writing courses), in the comments we give each other, in discussions between teachers and students, and in the evaluation criteria.  GLOBAL CONCERNS focus first on revising "whole-text issues" such as main ideas in sections, understanding the key elements of a genre, writing an analysis well, the thesis or main claims of a report, suitable structure/organization of paragraphs, clarity of purpose, or awareness of audience .


Asking questions like these can help us find REVISION ideas on this GLOBAL level:


  • Do the writers have something worth saying? Does the topic, and the draft of the project make claims that are appropriately sophisticated (important or interesting) for the assignment and for the level of the course?
  • Does the draft respond specifically and appropriately to the demands of the assignment?  
    • More specifically, does the assignment have smart and suitable goals/purposes?  Are these clear in the introduction?  Are these goals/purposes consistently pursued throughout the report?
    • Is the writer using the right methods?  Are they applying the methods well and thoroughly enough to make an evaluation of a problem, issue, or alternative/solution?
    • Do the authors understand and use key concepts from the course, such as genre, usability, audience, persuasion, criteria, evaluation, collaboration, stasis?  Are these being applied in the process of writing in order to create the most usable and persuasive product?  (<loaded question) 
    • Does the writer demonstrate a good understanding of the readings or texts?  Are these texts well represented in the results section and elsewhere in the report?  (Note:  'texts' can include a range of artifacts including: data, articles, field observations, lab experiments, surveys, arguments, etc.)  
    • Does each section of the draft have clear sub-sections or clear main points?
      • Are points adequately developed, proven and/or explained?
      • Is there appropriate and sufficient evidence to support the main points?


Local Writing Concerns (LOCs)

Then we can focus on more LOCAL concerns at the level of the paragraph, sentence and word choice . . .

  • Are there effective transitions between sections?
  • How can the writing mechanics and style be improved for the following?
    • clarity and concision 
    • text flow (which is three things: 1. style/tone, 2. paragraph coherence, 3. transition words 
    • word choice
    • active voice 
    • formatting consistency
    • formatting and designing images 
    • How can the grammar be corrected?
      • Are there punctuation errors?
      • Spelling? 
  • Are there mistakes with citation integration?
  • Are there mistakes with the works cited? 




Strengths in Our Revision Process


1) We started with The Solid Plan in Project 3A...


2) We Moved on to the Basics of Drafting our Report...


    1. (F2F) Started a wiki page or google doc for your team and added the superstructure for your report
    2. (F2F) Foregrounded all the tips from the "Writer's Guide" in Anderson (Proposal's p. 504-506) (Feasibility Studies p. 558-9). 
    3. Started adding Rough Drafts and "Stubs" for each section. 
    4. We Reviewed the Superstructure and goals of key sections, noting the purpose and audience of each section, and noting some examples
    5. We Introduced some basic goals and requirements of including Graphics and images (of different types)  and using at least one new program


3)  We should now be Concerned this Week Mainly with over a Week's worth of Revision Processes and Editing:..

  1. PROCESS ONE:  face-to-face REVISION
    1. Simple but potentially effective, let's apply Anderson's criteria in the "Writer's Guide" in Anderson (Proposal's p. 504-506) (Feasibility Studies p. 558-9) more thoroughly to create common ground to to run through the state of the current report drafts, with the aims of accomplishing two things today:
      1. in today's class your team should be reviewing relevant sections in Anderson and Asking questions to 'coach' today about one or two sections of your superstructure (probably your evaluation and/or results) and how well you're accomplishing Anderson's checklist criteria, and
      2. in today's class your team should also be planning a longer meeting (in person, or virtually) with me this week to review a draft of two or three other key sections.
    1. As a team today, you should come up with your top 'Global Order concerns' (above) and divide remaining work accordingly to be completed byThursday for Peer Review from another team
  3. PROCESS THREE: Divided and Layered Editing
    1. Use the Writer's Guide to plan Editing.  This is a process involving all members.  You should divide up goals for 'different readings' by different individual readers looking to work on:
      1. editing reasoning (more help to come)
      2. editing prose (more help to come)
      3. editing graphics (more help to come)
      4. editing page design (more help to come)
      5. editing your ethical stance (help in consultation with coach)



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