Lucille McCarthy--Some Positive Ideas

"If Dave is understood to be a stranger trying to learn the language in these classroom communities, then his teachers are the native-speaker guides who are training him" (241).  How is a "guide" different from a "guard" or a "cop"?  What would a Writing Center tutor be in such a metaphor?

"[C]ertain social factors in Freshman Composition and Cell Biology appeared to foster Dave's writing success in them . . . (1) the social functions that writing served for Dave in each setting, and (2) the roles that participants and students' texts played there." [ . . . ]  "His focus in Freshman Composition was on textual coherence" and he got B's.  "[I]n poetry . . . his chief concerns were not with coherence, but with the new ways of thinking and writing in that setting" and he got C's and D's.  "His chief concerns in Biology were to accurately understand the scientific terms and concepts in the journal article and to accurately rephrase and connect these in his own text, following the same five-part structure in which the published experiment was reported" (253, 245-6).

"In each course Dave wrote a second draft, which he then typed.  In none of these second drafts did Dave see the task differently or make major changes" (246).

"As Dave composed [the Poetry paper], he appeared to be as tied to the poem as he had been to his outline in Freshman Composition the semester before. He seemed to be almost physically attached to the Norton Anthology [ . . . ]  This domination by the concrete may often characterize newcomers' first steps as they attempt to use language in unfamiliar disciplines" (247-8).

"Mina Shaughnessy (1977) says that such failure to properly coordinate claims and evidence is perhaps the most common source of misunderstanding in academic prose" (250).  "Novices in a field may need the simpler summary assignment that helps them understand the new reading, the new language that they are being asked to learn.  They may then be ready to move to analysis or critique" (251).

Teacher-Writer/Writing Roles: "as if she and they were all writers working together"; "newcomer" and "experienced professional"; "insider" and "outsider" (256).  Fr. Composition = "essays"; Biology = "reviews"; Poetry = "papers," "a low status text" (258).

Seeing the Absent Writing Center: "In his [Freshman Composition] peer writing group Dave, for the first time ever, discussed his writing with others" (255).  "In neither Poetry nor Biology was time built into the class for students to talk with each other about their writing" (257).  "Throughout this study I was amazed at the amount of talk that goes on all the time outside class among students as they work to figure out the writing requirements of various courses" (258).