Thoughts on Stevens & Cooper Chapter 1 and More

These authors advocate writing every day and maintaining a journal as such writing will help improve one's writing. I hope this is true. So today after reading this chapter (and even though I have heard others mention this philosophy) I am going to give it a try. Right now I am engaging in a free write - a five minute time period where I am just going to write without regard to my grammar or mechanics. During a free write one is supposed to let the ideas flow, so that is what I am going to try to do.

While reading this chapter, I began to think about a course that I co-teach in the fall. We were quite dismayed by the fact that students often did not read before they came to class. In some ways, who can blame them? The program is quite challenging and sometimes we never even discussed the readings. They confessed in feedback forms that the only way to make them read would be to give them a quiz. I really do not like this idea because I know as a student, I would not want to take a weekly quiz on the readings. Instead, I have really gravitated towards reflective writing. I can remember some of my graduate courses that asked me to write reflectively each week about something that struck me in the readings. I LOVED engaging in this kind of writing - it helped me to process the thoughts in a safe space. Plus, the professor would even write back to me, which made them feel more like a conversation. In another class, we also had to engage in reflective writing but instead of being a journal to the professor, we wrote blog posts, which our peers voted and commented on. The top voted entries for the week became the topics of discussion during class. I ADORED this kind of reflective writing as well. I wonder if it would work with undergraduates (and in some ways I am kind of over confident thinking that it will), so why haven't we used these kinds of techniques with undergraduates? Do we feel that they are not as capable? Do we not want to put in the kind of time and effort? Do we think that they will not put in the effort? I think they will. I am also a HASTAC scholar, and as I have been watching some of the posts, particularly those of Cathy Davidson, several individuals - including her - make a point that if students are not engaged, it is not their fault; it is ours.

On Thursday, I have a planning meeting with my colleagues about our fall course, and I am hoping that we might consider using this kind of social, reflective learning rather than the quizzes. Wow - that five minutes went fast - and in fact, I just wrote for seven! I guess Stevens and Cooper are right - once you start writing, you just keep going. It's no wonder those who engage in this kind of writing are more productive. Now it's time to turn my attention towards (and this kind of writing towards) a chapter that I need to finish.

Until next time (hopefully tomorrow)...