A Stranger in Strange Lands : A College Student Writing Across the Curriculum

  • McCarthy L
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Abstract. This study asks questions about the nature of writing processes in classrooms. As students go from one classroom to another, they are presented with new speech situations, and they must determine what constitutes appropriate ways of speaking and writing in each new territory. How do students, in the course of the semester, figure out what the writing requirements are in that discipline and for that teacher, and how do they go about producing it? In order to answer these questions the researcher followed one college student's writing experiences in one class per semester during his freshman and sophomore years. Follow-up data were collected during his junior year. Four research methods were used: observation, interviews, composing-aloud protocols, and text analysis. Conclusions are drawn from the data about how this student figured out what constituted acceptable writing in each classroom, and how he worked to produce it. Also presented are conclusions about what enhanced or denied his success in communicating competently in unfamiliar academic territories. Affecting his success were unarticulated social aspects of classroom contexts for writing as well as explicitly stated requirements and instructions.

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  • Lucille Parkinson McCarthy

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