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Responsible revision

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Title:
Responsible revision
Creator:
Rimmer, Patricia K
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vi, 84 leaves : ; 29 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching ( lcsh )
English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 80-84).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, English.
General Note:
Department of English
Statement of Responsibility:
by Patricia K. Rimmer.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
38372033 ( OCLC )
ocm38372033
Classification:
LD1190.L54 1997m .R56 ( lcc )

Full Text
RESPONSIBLE REVISION
by
Patricia K. Rimmer
B.A., Coe College, 1976
M.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1997
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
English
1997


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Patricia K. Rimmer
has been approved
by


/J_1Y
Date


Rimmer, Patricia K. (M.A. English)
Responsible Revision
Thesis directed by Nancy Burkhalter, Ph.D.
ABSTRACT
Responsible revision is a configuration of behaviors
that teachers can develop in their students to h^lp them
take additional ownership for their writing, and that can
help provide them with an additional response to the
writing of their peers. Three components comprise the
program: teacher response, collaborative learning, and
grammar pedagogy which is an examination and recommenda-
tion of grammar instruction.
I identify and address teacher behavior through his
or her roles as facilitator and evaluator. Both roles
help teachers to respond to student needs. A writing fa-
cilitator establishes helping relationships so that
learners can build trust in their teachers and in their
peers in order to carry out responsibilities of reading,
responding, and revising. The teacher as evaluator com-
municates evaluation procedures and responds both in
writing and speech to student work.
111


I identify student behavior as collaborative learn-
ing. Teachers are responsible for introducing and organ-
izing this classroom configuration of peer learning and
small groups.
Grammar is the subject of classroom pedagogy. In
order to help student writers with grammar concerns, it
is important that teachers develop supportive and indi-
vidualized approaches to grammar instruction.
I approach each component as a part of the classroom
culture that exists to provide student writers with in-
struction and support that they need to become responsi-
ble revisers. Each component is interactive and contrib-
utes a dynamic aspect to the classroom environment.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the
candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication.
IV


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..................................... 1
2. TEACHER RESPONSE................................. 9
Teacher Role as Facilitator................. 10
Teacher Role as Evaluator................... 15
Gender Influences........................... 23
3. COLLABORATIVE LEARNING............................ 31
The Social Nature of Learning.................. 31
Practice.................................... 31
Implementing Collaborative Learning............ 44
Relationships............................... 44
Teacher Responsibilities Before and
During Groups............................... 45
Small Groups................................ 48
v


4. GRAMMAR STUDY................................... 55
Traditional vs. Practical................. 55
Recommended Changes in Grammar Instruction ... 67
5. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION....................... 70
Discussion................................ 70
Training ............................. 72
Implications.............................. 75
The Classroom......................... 75
The Workplace......................... 75
Conclusion................................ 78
WORKS CITED ............................................... 80
vi


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to
serve as a Teaching Assistant in the University of Colo-
rado, Denver, writing program. My experience directly
motivated me to identify responsible revision as my the-
sis topic. I taught one section of a required writing
course called Writing Workshop, a class populated by
mainstream students, many of whom were already beyond
their freshman year, even though the course fulfilled the
freshman writing requirement.
Throughout the semester, I noticed that one of my
students, Lynn, particularly resisted revision of any of
her drafts. My own judgment told me that she was a compe-
tent writer and, as an added complication to motivating
her to revise, her classmates repeatedly gave her peer
responses indicating that her work needed no further de-
velopment or rewriting. Thus, not only was I now respon-
sible for motivating Lynn to revise her work, I was also
responsible for motivating others to read her work more
1


critically so that she could at least experiment with re-
vision.
During conferences with her, Lynn refused to accept
my explanations that professional writers, much like pro-
fessional musicians and performers, must continually re-
vise their work. She had collected evidence from her
peers that there was no justification for revising her
work, and she believed tenaciously that her writing could
not be qualified for improvement before she was ready to
present it to her teacher for a grade.
These problems served as a catalyst for the research
that I present here. I needed to seek out specific types
of responses both in writing and dialogue that would mo-
tivate students like Lynn to revise their writing. I
also needed to turn to the literature to find out about
student-teacher and student-student relationships so that
I could foster a sense of responsibility and readiness
among class members to read their peers' work critically
and fair-mindedly. Finally, I needed to discover what my
beliefs were about editing and the teaching of grammar.
Fearful that my commentary for coherence and organiza-
tional revisions might be ignored, I needed a plan to
help assure myself that, at the least, editing and gram-
mar could be taught in ways that provided learning con-
2


texts and helped students to use editing errors and gram-
mar problems as learning steps.
The literature often states that student writers and
their teachers have very different definitions of revi-
sion (Sommers 121-122; Faigley and Witte 400). For exam-
ple, inexperienced writers have "simple" notions of writ-
ing and revising mainly because they experience writing
as an egocentric experience, typically void of audience
awareness or purpose, two aspects of writing that can
help student writers be successful (Sommers 123). There
is also a strong adherence on the writer's part to make
primarily word- and sentence-level changes; they may make
lexical changes but not semantic changes (123) Finally,
in many cases, inexperienced writers do not include the
term "revision" in their vocabulary (121). Instead, they
"review" or "scratch out and do over again" (121).
From many student writers' points of view,
"revision" is part of a teacher's vocabulary. Writing
teachers may find that they need to work at helping their
learners understand that they are able to revise differ-
ently, meaning, in a teacher's view, to re-see their text
not only at word- or sentence-levels, but at paragraph-,
page-, or chapter-levels, giving due consideration to a
3


text's framework, structure, audience, or purpose, and to
a writer's goals.
Experienced writers, on the other hand, have devel-
oped skills that they use as protocols to help them
write, revise, and improve their compositions. According
to Flower and Hayes, "they solve different problems"
[than the inexperienced writer] (101). They note,
[Experienced writers] respond to all aspects of
the rhetorical problem...[they] create a par-
ticularly rich network of goals for affecting
their reader...[they also] represent the prob-
lem not only in more breadth, but in depth (99-
100) .
It is often the case, though, that many learners,
both experienced and inexperienced writers, provide
thoughtful and focused insights together with surface
readings when they respond to peer writing or to their
own writing for revision purposes. From the teacher's
point of view, surface readings or superficial revisions
are indicative of immature habits that need to change if
the writer wants to improve and become more effective.
These instances require teachers to intervene, to promote
some new kind of communication if they are to help their
students become successful writers. Teachers who attempt
4


to help students improve their revision abilities may,
themselves, find that they perform more effectively if
they understand why students revise the way they do.
One of the most widespread explanations of ineffec-
tive student revision is that students don't receive
enough teacher attention in particular ways. One his-
torical explanation of these beliefs shows that the sci-
entific method was brought to bear on writing instruction
at the turn of the century and promoted what is called a
current-traditional rhetoric. As Berlin explains it,
"The result for writing instruction was unfortunate:
creation of a rhetoric that denied the role of the
writer, reader, and language in arriving at meaning, that
instead placed truth in the external world, existing to
the individual's perception of it" (36). As a result,
teachers can and easily do assume revision responsibili-
ties in a composition classroom. The process of writing
is stressed less than its end product. A positivist tra-
dition emphasizes a teacher as an authoritarian, a belief
which promotes a very high degree of teacher involvement.
However, it is gained at the cost of student participa-
tion, a participation which when allowed for and devel-
oped can help student writers become aware of their writ-
ing habits and processes, an important ingredient if they
5


are to have a better understanding of what it means to
create and own their work and to become responsible for
it (Flower and Hayes 93).
There is plentiful literature that seeks to explain
why students often look outside themselves and their
peers and to their teacher to seek validation of their
writing (Tobin 2-6; Elbow 5; Odell 222-223). The re-
search often shows that the teacher-dependent classroom
dynamic often occurs when student-teacher dialogue does
not put learners in affective, secure, or supported posi-
tions to grow as responsible revisers (Burkhart and Grimm
240-242). When teachers appropriate a text, for example,
the student writer becomes a bystander, watching as the
teacher works and listening as the teacher enumerates
mistakes, changes, etc. The list goes on. Without stu-
dent involvement, sources external to the student writer,
primarily the teacher-authority, can appear to be essen-
tial, while each learner's thinking and performance is
diminished.
There are additional reasons to explain why students
aren't more responsible revisers. The teacher as
authoritarian positions student writers so that they con-
tinually look outside themselves and toward their teach-
ers for correct answers. One who teaches from this posi-
6


tivist stance may omit response groups, a hallmark of the
process writing classroom that has been used quite suc-
cessfully (Hairston 79). Learners may also be uncertain
how to approach revision responsibilities due to a lack
of training (Zhe 494). Finally, as Tobin comments in his
book, Writing Relationships, students may provide surface
readings instead of substantive response to others in or-
der to compete with their peers (15). Given all of these
reasons, then, composition teachers may have their work
cut out for them in order to establish a classroom of
writers who revise responsibly.
When students have a more confident control of revi-
sion, and when their responsibilities are developed, they
become more willing to accept, discuss, and improve their
writing. Classroom activity that is rooted in collabora-
tive learning (i.e., discussion and group writing activi-
ties) gives support to students where otherwise students
may languish, as noted earlier by Burkhart and Grimm.
Even in writing process classrooms, student writers and
their teachers may need to further define and refine
their roles to develop a community of learners rather
than individual learners who look to their teacher as
editor. Again, students who are aware of their habits
and processes have a much better chance of taking respon-
7


sibility for the quality of their work than when the
teacher takes responsibility. Without knowing how to
write and revise well in these senses, students can eas-
ily be at a loss as to how to improve and develop as
writers.
Based on my research, I propose a curriculum that
can help teachers create and maintain a classroom envi-
ronment wherein students become responsible revisers.
The first and most crucial element identifies and exam-
ines teacher behavior. Teacher behavior will be treated
as teacher response, or the dialogue, including facilita-
tion and evaluation, that the teacher establishes with
students. Second, I address classroom management as col-
laborative learning. Collaborative learning recommends
that the teacher establish values and beliefs about the
social nature of learning. The third component I explore
is the pedagogy of grammar. As with classroom manage-
ment, it is necessary that the teacher affirm beliefs
concerning this element. In addition, it is particularly
important to consider traditional and practical ap-
proaches to grammar.
8


CHAPTER 2
TEACHER RESPONSE
In order to develop responsible revision in a class-
room, it is important that the teacher explore the envi-
ronmental factors that are already in place, and to iden-
tify how they may affect the level of revision their stu-
dents perform. For instance, if students seek feedback
from only their teacher and don't follow through with
peer response, the classroom culture or the environment
that the teacher creates for learning needs to change.
To do this, teachers need to present student writers with
new ways of thinking about revision. Teacher roles are
the focus of attention here primarily because they are
necessary to new kinds of dialogue with students both in
speech and in writing.
To begin, teachers need to be concerned about the
thinking and writing culture as it invites students to
rely on themselves and response groups as essential
sources of response instead of or at least to a lesser
degree than the teacher-authority. Carl Rogers, the emi-
nent psychologist, provides a set of conditions in his
9


work, Client-Centered Therapy, from which teachers can
adapt a facilitator role for themselves. The facilitator
title is used here to replace "teacher-authority." As
facilitators, composition teachers need to first estab-
lish what Rogers calls a "helping relationship." Based
on a relationship model of the interaction between client
and therapist, Rogers' values have been identified by
David Taylor in Dynamics of the Writing Conference as ap-
plicable to a student-teacher relationship. His work can
also be readily applied to a writing process classroom.
Teacher Role as Facilitator
As a facilitator, rather than an authoritarian fig-
ure, the teacher can begin to express herself or himself
in different ways, specifically by trying to set condi-
tions for what Rogers calls a "helping relationship"
(Taylor 28). In this grouping, he identifies three nec-
essary conditions. According to Rogers, it is of utmost
importance to create an atmosphere of acceptance and
trust. Taylor notes that "When an atmosphere of trust
has been created, the teacher can make the shift from
authority figure to collaborator" (27). Related to
10


trust, the initial attribute for the helper is empathy.
Helpers also need an understanding of the "reality of
what the student is thinking" (27). With this in place,
Taylor notes that students can develop a "stronger sense
of [being] committed to writing" (27). An additional
condition Taylor includes is that the facilitator provide
"warmth and caring" (27). Specifically in a writing
class, teachers can show they care by concentrating on
the writers and their writing behavior as much as, if not
more than, the product they eventually produce. The fi-
nal condition Rogers explains is "unconditional positive
regard" (27). In an educational setting, a student
should never feel threatened by a teacher's judgment
(27) .
It is essential to also note here that one of the
impacts of the current-traditional paradigm on students
has been to emphasize a product over process and writer.
Unconditional positive regard is essential to the helping
relationship and should not acknowledge the current-
traditional stance toward writing; this aspect of the
helping relationship is essential. Again, Taylor notes,
"There [should] only be the acceptance of the individual
and a willingness to help" (27). Early contacts with
students especially need to convey this message, so that
11


the helping relationship grows. The facilitator promotes
collaborative learning in the environment I have just
discussed so that the facilitator can become familiar
with additional roles.
In Writing Relationships. Tobin discusses the topic
of teacher as evaluator in a somewhat broader approach
than the previous two articles do. He proposes that the
teacher community has not firmly enough established for
itself quite how the facilitator role functions in class-
rooms. Specifically, he indicates that "the teacher-
facilitator role is almost as difficult as giving up the
teacher-as-authority role because it forces [teachers] to
be honest with themselves about biases and limitations
and it forces us to make up a lot as we go along" (21).
Partly stressing self-examination and practicality, Tobin
identifies the student-teacher relationship as central to
a process classroom which creates an affective and sup-
portive environment to help students improve their writ-
ing. Like Rogers' "helper role," Tobin proposes that the
student-teacher relationship is critical if students are
to find success in writing.
In his attempt to point out that students will con-
tinue to identify the teacher as an authority, Tobin in-
sists that teachers continue to be "the center of a de-
12


centered' classroom" (20). He notes, "Until we have a
clearer and more realistic notion of how we shape and in-
fluence student writing and how, in return, that writing
shapes and influences us, we will continue to limit our
students' potential development" (20).
His emphasis leads to another consideration of a
process classroom. Again, like Rogers, he emphasizes
that the student-teacher relationship is built on psycho-
logical values and insists that the written product and
the writing process always exist within the writer and
are always shaped by a particular network of interper-
sonal relationships (14). Tobin suggests that teachers
pay more attention to psychological research, since re-
searchers have found that writing and psycho-therapy have
similarities (29).
He adds, too, that these similarities are criticized
and sometimes considered unimportant (31) as if they ex-
isted in a decontextualized situation and relationship.
In the context of the classroom, however, students seek
to please the teacher. And it is in this context that
the personal relationship begins (31). According to Mur-
Phy,
...psychoanalysis and teaching writing involve
an intensely personal relationship in which two
13


people painstakingly establish trust beyond the
apparent limitations of their institutional
roles, in order that both might learn and one
might achieve a less marginal, more fully ar-
ticulated life (31) .
An additional article also scrutinizes teacher-
student relations. In "A Good Girl Writes Like a Good
Girl," Sperling and Freedman perform a five-week in-depth
case study of one ninth grade writing student, Lisa, and
her English teacher, Mr. Peterson. Teachers may find
this close examination helpful in that it opens questions
about both teacher and student responsibility in a re-
sponsible revising classroom.
Lisa is an achieving student writer who trusts and
understands her teacher's comments, more or less, as di-
rectives. It is in this sense, then, that she writes
like a good girl. Her belief that Mr. Peterson knows
more about writing than she does contributes to her be-
lief that any comment he writes is his attempt to be
helpful (356-357).
Lisa's trusting relationship with her teacher sup-
ports her even when she is confused about what some of
his comments mean (351). She tries to understand his
meaning without asking for clarification. In addition,
14


she allows Mr. Peterson to reword her writing, and, from
time to time, to appropriate her text. She perceives all
of his actions in the same trusting light as mentioned
above: Mr. Peterson is being helpful.
While the authors categorize Lisa as an achieving
student writer, she does at times sacrifice voice and
ownership of her work based on the comments of her
teacher. While Mr. Peterson has obviously established a
productive relationship with her, it may also be the case
that he omits a consideration of her role as an even more
responsible reviser than she is at present by not stress-
ing her responsibility for ownership and asking clarify-
ing questions. Lisa obviously wants to do well, but Mr.
Peterson is responsible, too, for urging her to revise
more on her own and with the aid of peer reviewers. As
an example of a productive relationship, Lisa and Mr. Pe-
terson both need to define their roles.
Teacher Role as Evaluator
According to the research that follows, many compo-
sition teachers find that being an evaluator requires a
balancing of those responsibilities with the facilita-
tor's responsibilities. Many also indicate that their
15


role as a writing evaluator is the most challenging of
the two. One of the most common approaches that facili-
tators take toward this dual role for their students is
to have their students become more active in the process.
Elbow observes in his article, "Ranking, Evaluation,
and Liking," "I have been working on [assessment] not
just because it is interesting and important in itself
but because assessment tends to drive and control teach-
ing. Much of what we do in the classroom is determined
by the assessment structures we work under" (Elbow 187).
Clearly, teachers who want to be effective facilitators
must also be effective evaluators. Much of what Elbow
writes about in his book, Writing Without Teachers, de-
mystifies the writing process for many student writers.
He claims that editing is not the main problem of learn-
ers in schools today, although many of our schools may
try to inform us otherwise. He further states that "the
problem is that editing goes on at the same time as pro-
ducing" (5) and that, without separating the two, stu-
dents learn that writing is a mistake-laden territory and
that they must sacrifice their unique voice and process
in order to be, like many who were instructed with cur-
rent -traditional practices, "obsessed with the mistakes"
(5). According to Elbow, teachers must help their stu-
16


dents by emphasizing that writing is a unique process and
that personal voice can actually help learners to write.
Belanoff's article, "What is a Grade?", also ad-
dresses evaluation. She comments that students need to
take part in the process of grading by discussing stan-
dards with their teachers (186). They may also find it
helpful to discuss their papers before and after grading
in order to be informed of comments and grades. This
dialogue may prove especially helpful to teachers and
students who attempt to understand how a system of grad-
ing is subjective, yet at the same time fair to all in-
volved. The system may be clearer to either party once
they've familiarized themselves with it.
Lees, another writing facilitator, compartmentalizes
her grading responses. She has devised an evaluation
system that consists of seven categories: correcting,
emoting, describing, suggesting, questioning, reminding,
and assigning --or reassigning (Lees 263). She treats
assigning and reassigning as assured ways to put a stu-
dent in a position to revise by way of re-seeing a sub-
ject and discovering new ways of expression. For exam-
ple, a re-assignment may be made to help the writer be
more specific. In this case, the teacher may want to in-
clude a particular audience for whom the learner is to
17


write. Again, Lees stresses the point that students need
to be involved in how their writing processes are evalu-
ated.
Evaluation is also addressed through the topic of
writer intent. It is the subject of various articles and
treated as an avenue to open dialogue between student and
teacher. In this sense, writer intent refers to a
learner's reasons and decisions to revise after an ini-
tial draft.
In "Reading Intention," Katz emphasizes that teacher
response needs to both support and critique student writ-
ing, an act of balancing opposing responsibilities that
may appear difficult to many teachers. Facilitators may
find it helpful, then, to know that his attempt at bal-
ancing these two roles comes by way of an assignment re-
quiring his students to be involved with metacognition,
or a self-awareness of what they intend in their work, in
order to assure their familiarity with the revisions af-
ter an initial draft. The METAs, as he calls them, are
letters written by the student to the teacher explaining
the intent of the writer's current draft (the letter at-
taches to the draft). The letter states the student
writer's intention for the writing assignment and at the
same time works to prevent the teacher from substituting
18


his or her own intention for the piece. The dialogue
that is established here also promotes trust and respect.
An additional article, "Paper Grading and the Rhe-
torical Stance," by the Baumlins also addresses the dual
role of evaluator and facilitator. Although not in ref-
erence to the practices of Carl Rogers, they suggest that
the relationship that is formed between student writer
and teacher needn't focus on a teacher's authoritarian
role, but instead on a "fellow writer" mode so that stu-
dents can have a more focused dialogue with the teacher,
one that especially allows both parties to relate based
on a more equal footing than usual.
Finally, in his article, "The Politics of Reading
Student Papers," Schwegler traces stances that composi-
tion instructors have taken in order to provide response
to student writing. The article may be helpful for writ-
ing facilitators to better understand their beliefs about
writing and how they effect response. Schwegler notes,
During this century, composition teachers have
generally viewed the reading and evaluation of
student papers as, ideally, an objective proc-
ess rather than a subjective one...Objectivity
has been a goal in two informal senses, in
tying evaluation to the features of the text
19


(the object) and not the reader's response to
it, and in trying to create uniformity among
reader's perceptions and judgments (205).
According to Schwegler, the practice of objectivity
prevents peer response, an essential aspect of a process
writing classroom. An alternative to the practice of ob-
jectivity is to allow readers and writers to be contin-
gent upon one another, allowing the writing to become an
"inevitable product of their interaction -- and the qual-
ity of this product becomes the focus of attention"
(221). Adopting a stance that allows a contingency to
take place creates new avenues for both facilitators and
their student writers to pursue. Schwegler notes, "In a
composition class following this paradigm, interchanges
of reader and writer are made accessible to critical ex-
amination and become sites for struggle and change"
(221). This change can indicate writer development in
terms of ownership and responsible revision. Student
writers cannot grow as readily in becoming more responsi-
ble for their writing if the readers attempt to isolate
the text from the writer without initiating dialogue
(i.e. a writing conference, comments and questions).
To summarize, both facilitator and evaluator roles
are essential for teachers to understand and fulfill for
20


their learners' benefit. A facilitator needs to estab-
lish a trusting environment as well as trusting and help-
ful relations with learners. These steps are necessary-
before student writers can take risks to improve their
writing by sharing their writing and responding to it
themselves. As an evaluator, it is important that the
facilitator open dialogue with the student so that he or
she can take a more active role in establishing the qual-
ity of their work.
In a classroom that aims to develop responsible re-
vision, the works of Taylor and Tobin are akin to re-
quired reading. Because they primarily address the na-
ture of the student-teacher relationship, and give much
currency to psychological values that they find in it,
their contribution cannot be minimized. If a writing
process culture is to inhabit a writing classroom, a
teacher needs to reckon with his or her student relation-
ships .
Taylor's work, based on psychological values advo-
cated by Rogers, is especially important because a help-
ing relationship allows for and fosters the process of
writing. A student's trust of a teacher helps to vali-
date teacher response, while empathy promotes a basis for
understanding one another. For example, if a student is
21


having particular difficulty fleshing out a writing
topic, the teacher needs to probe for reasons, trying to
gain insights in order to give helpful suggestions.
The emphasis Tobin places on writing relationships
reveals that teachers need to establish a dialogue with
their professional selves in order to understand how they
actually do affect their students' writing lives. Tobin
is important because he has an honesty that allows him to
look at his own and his students' vulnerabilities as they
might and do occur in a writing classroom. Without at
least some modeling of this from Tobin, teachers may be
at a loss in terms of how to achieve trust and empathy
within the helping relationship.
Additionally, the evaluative stance is a main compo-
nent of a process writing culture. A key to successful
revision, evaluation not only produces a final grade, but
can serve to stimulate writing of quality. This is El-
bow's stand in both his works mentioned here. To evalu-
ate fairly, one must teach judiciously, and promote stu-
dent voice and writing ownership. Rubin, who is pre-
sented next, is also a strong voice for fair-minded
evaluation. Her work suggests that teachers' reading
habits and commentary may actually require self-imposed
scrutiny. Both Elbow and Rubin establish paths that lead
22


to maintaining a type of evaluation that promotes a
writer's interests and skills.
Gender Influences
I have attempted to elaborate the teacher's role
thus far by explaining teacher and student dialogue and
essential teacher roles, hoping to identify them as ele-
ments of a classroom where students learn to be responsi-
ble revisers. Additional research of teacher roles indi-
cates that teacher gender may also be a factor in evalu-
ating student writing. In her book, Gender Influences.
Rubin poses the question: "What are the effects of gender
on the ways teachers read and evaluate texts?" (6).
While the question may seem simple, Rubin treats it very
specifically.
To a large degree, Rubin uses reader response criti-
cism and feminist theory to inform her work. A brief
discussion of each can prove helpful as a preface to her
research. Reader response theory espouses that prior
learning and experience, or specific to this study, the
reader, brings a specific mind set to bear on the reading
of a work. This configuration of prior learning shapes
and develops the response or evaluative commentary.
23


Rubin's application of this to teacher response examines
any gender influences of which the teachers with whom she
works may or may not be aware.
Feminist theory is a second set of beliefs Rubin
uses. Specifically, she works with qualities that are
traditionally labeled masculine and feminine when writing
teachers read texts. For example, extended and empathic
comments are more commonly considered the habits of fe-
male readers while males comment less and make more use
of logic (Rubin 45). Rubin identifies "non-oppositional
feminism," which seeks to unify male and female readings
and evaluative perspectives, as the most appropriate type
of feminism for her research and for the type of response
she wants to encourage (107). The following quote serves
to explain non-oppositional feminism and how she uses it.
Rubin notes,
With their attempt to unite traditional male-
female binary oppositions, Kennard and Cixous
offer us by implication, concrete strategies
for dispelling gender conflicts when we read
student texts. Urging a respect for both as-
pects of one's self, Kennard encourages a
healthy acknowledgment of one's male-female
contraries and maintains that a successful
24


reading deliberately 'allows the polarities to
coexist' (70).
Participating in Rubin's research were 31 writing
teachers drawn from two New England area schools, eleven
male and twenty female. They read and evaluated four
student essays (not written by any of their own stu-
dents) In fact, there was no familiarity between
teacher and students in the project. Gender differences
that researchers find in many reading situations did not
occur in readings and evaluations of three of the four
student essays. Rubin suggests that the research envi-
ronment created a very careful reading context which
pushed the teachers toward the same sorts of behaviors
that they would display toward their own students and
suppressed the gender differences one would expect (36).
One essay, however, indicated significant differ-
ences between the concerns of males and the concerns of
females. Female readers found possibilities in the essay
that men did not seem to support. Remarks such as "This
essay really has potential" or "I'd love to talk with
[the writer] about revising" (40) typify a tendency in
the female instructors to produce a better paper despite
its present weaknesses. Only one man mentioned revision,
but the remark was not positive.
25


Identified as having what Farrell calls "feminine
thought patterns" (42), this essay's structure and voice
led men to recommend the use of logic. Rubin states,
The discrepancies in the two categories
(negative and positive) suggest that, as in
other classifications, the men have more nega-
tive comments than the women because they did
not value a piece of academic discourse pre-
sented in this form (43).
In terms of formulating their responses to all essays,
males distanced themselves when commenting, referred to
the writer in the third person, established no dialogue,
and asked few questions (45). The women formulated re-
sponses directly opposed to those of the men: they at-
tempted to close the distance between teacher and
learner, used first person in written comments, estab-
lished dialogue, and asked many questions (45).
To gather even more specific information about gen-
der and reading texts, Rubin charted a different path.
She decided to "examine teachers' gender-based response
patterns" in greater depth by considering the reactions
and comments of two writing teachers, one female and one
male (63) .
26


Both teachers, Joanne and Peter, established what
Rubin calls "maternal relationships" with their students
(62). They were able to nurture and then let go of their
students to find their own way in the context of writing
responsibilities. However, in the cases of two essays --
one about breastfeeding, the other about drag racing --
the teachers encountered difficulties with grasping how
they wanted to respond. During readings of the paper on
breastfeeding, Peter reacted to an angry tone; in Jo-
anne's case, she didn't think it appropriate for the
author of the drag racing paper to cast herself in her
husband's shadow. Both attempted to find a response that
would convey fairness and support since they were very
much confused about how to start evaluating these papers.
Over time, though, both teachers could articulate their
responses much more clearly. Rubin concluded that both
classic male and female topics were much easier to evalu-
ate when she asked both teachers to read same-sex papers.
The value of this last scenario is that it validates the
need for teachers to be aware of any nascent gender bi-
ases .
In summary, Rubin's work advocates that writing
teachers develop an awareness of any gender bias they
might bring to bear on student writing or on student be-
27


haviors or interchanges in the classroom. This may re-
quire research on the teacher's part or further reading
on the subject. Specifically, Rubin found that reader
response theory and non-oppositional feminism supported
her research, both theories contributing insights into
how we as writing facilitators read and even evaluate
student writing. Finally, Rubin's study concluded that
classic male and female topics are evaluated with more
ease and care when the reader is the same sex as the
writer.
In a similar vein of research on gender and writing,
Richard and Janis Haswell research "if and how peer cri-
tique and teacher critique are affected by readers' know-
ledge of the writers' sex" (225). Their findings are
"both disturbing and problematical" (224). They found a
study of gender to be complex, similar to the reaction
that Rubin had while researching.
Their study involved freshman college students and
teachers who taught freshman composition: sixteen female
and sixteen male students; sixteen male teachers and six-
teen female teachers. Each group of teachers and stu-
dents were to read and evaluate two essays, one by Victo-
ria and one by Kevin (both students of Janis Haswell).
Readers knew the sex of one writer, but not the other.
28


Their protocol was to imagine themselves in a conference
or a peer editing situation with the writer, to identify
a strong point and a weakness of the paper, and then to
comment on revision. Afterward, the readers guessed the
writer's sex and explained any clues they used.
In the study, a phenomenon called "same sex depre-
ciation" occurred (235). This is a bias that happens
when the sex of the author is known to the readers, and
when the same gender is shared by both reader and stu-
dent. In this situation, a reader rates the work lower
than when the gender isn't known or isn't the same as the
reader's. In the Haswells' study, the phenomenon fol-
lowed the same pattern.
The most significant examples of readers misreading
the two essays occurs, however, during "gender tailoring"
(240). This occurs when readers tend to reshape a text
in ways that fit the gender of the writer, whether known
or inferred. In gender tailoring, there's a basic strat-
egy to use culture-wide stereotypes. For example, a fe-
male reading of Kevin's writing noted "caring, honest and
sincere," while a male reading of him noted "lacks focus
and stylistic grace...he repeats himself to a point of
...annoying the reader" (240-241). Victoria's writing
was reviewed in a similar fashion: as a female, she
29


"thinks more about people...is open to emotion," while a
male reading concluded "he hates to be proven wrong"
(241-244) .
Like Rubin, the Haswells promote having an awareness
of reader gender bias. However, they don't promote gen-
derless readings for the important reason that it estab-
lishes too much "ownership of the paper with the reader"
(possibilities include appropriating the text), and
leaves the writers virtually out of any claim to their
writing (251-253).
The research of Rubin and the Haswells is valuable
because each party advocates that evaluators develop an
awareness of not only reading habits but also of any gen-
der biases that they may bring with them into the evalua-
tive process. Without acknowledging the possibility of
gender bias, evaluators may unknowingly penalize a stu-
dent or make assumptions about the writing that are un-
fair.
30


CHAPTER 3
COLLABORATIVE LEARNING
Many of the sources I have discussed so far refer to
the teacher as facilitator and evaluator in a classroom
using responsible revision. The teacher is the one per-
son who can set the new environment in motion while stu-
dents are the recipients. However, in this chapter, both
the teacher and the student's role will be the focus.
What follows in this chapter are sets of suggestions for
implementing a collaborative learning program.
The Social Nature of Learning
Practice
Collaborative learning succeeded on college campuses
in the 1970's when other traditional curricula failed.
In particular, peer tutoring, when teachers reached out
to students by grouping and organizing them to teach one
another, succeeded and led to additional collaborative
methods, such as response groups, editing groups, and
31


consensus groups (Bruffee 637-638). All types of activi-
ties continue to be used today in composition classes.
Students serve as audiences to one another, an important
consideration for both writer- and reader-based writers
to develop and take into account (Martin 22). Writer-
based writers typically do not write for an audience and
often, as a result, include in their work idiosyncrasies
that might confuse a reader. This confusion may stem
from a lack of examples or omissions of important infor-
mation. Reader-based prose, on the other hand, is typi-
cally written for an audience and, as a result, provides
essential information.
Editing groups serve a similar function: students
can also serve as proofreaders. Role playing helps to
bring the writer's imagination into a group dynamic so
that different purposes can be assigned for writing and
for reading. All of these social learning avenues offer
students opportunities beyond mere conversing, although
Bruffee notes that conversing is necessary in and of it-
self (639). Students are able to develop dialogue about
their writing so that they also develop audience aware-
ness, and even a clearer sense of how writing develops in
stages a step toward a better understanding of the
practice of revision. Eventually, these methods gained
32


the name of the same kinds of teaching as in Britain,
collaborative learning.
Teachers trained in facilitation adapted to these
new methods mentioned above and motivated students to use
their social abilities in order to learn. Paul identi-
fies several affective and cognitive strategies for
learners to use to accomplish critical thinking through
social learning. First, critical thinking is important
for responsible revisers because it ensures that student
writers are active learners. One example that Paul in-
cludes is "developing insights into egocentricity or so-
ciocentricity" (309) These insights are important for
students to develop if they are to build trust in one an-
other. Trust develops when students become familiar with
group members, setting up dialogue in order to discuss
writer intent (see Katz, Baumlins). Developing this in-
sight requires self-awareness and even an awareness of
egocentricity in others. Sociocentricity may occur be-
tween and among groups if they find themselves vying to
be right or better than others in the work they produce.
Paul recommends "that students repeatedly discuss why
people think irrationally and act unfairly" (10). Fa-
cilitators can set up discussions of this type of thought
33


regarding how these ways of thinking occur in class or,
even on a larger scale, in society.
Paul identifies further examples of activities in
which students learn from social classroom practices. He
emphasizes that critical thinkers need to "realize that
their feelings [first of all] are their response (but not
the only possible, or necessarily the most reasonable,
response) to a situation" (313) For example, students
who practice peer reading and responding for other stu-
dent writers need to know that personal feelings on cer-
tain (usually controversial) topics may not be fair to
apply to other writers as peer response requires more of
a fair-minded practice. Students can also develop as
peer readers if they "practice thinking precisely about
thinking" (342) and learn to use a critical thinking vo-
cabulary. If teachers assign research papers, for in-
stance, students need to discuss facts, opinions, and
relevance carefully and precisely in order to be thorough
writers, readers, and revisers. Paul's case for social
learning is strong.
In addition to Paul, Moffett urges social learning
avenues. Moffett, who wrote most of his work in the late
1960's, is still applicable today. He is another writing
scholar who emphasizes a writer's context for producing
34


good writing. In this sense, student writers need to
have a social context for their writing. In order for
writers to find and use their social context, Moffett ad-
vocates an abstraction scale for teachers to use as they
plan so that learners can make use of their learning en-
vironment to become better writers and revisers. The
scale is designed to provide students with writing ac-
tivities that engage them in intellectual flexibility and
to give them opportunities to reflect on their own learn-
ing patterns. For example, he recommends activities with
speaker-audience relationships and speaker-subject rela-
tionships in order to not only keep mental functioning
alert, but to also help student writers become familiar
with their inner verbalization and conversations with
others so that they can externalize their thought process
through writing (62) .
Moffett explains some of the activities. For exam-
ple, a writer's context might be found in a "sensory
monologue," a piece of writing based on observation. It
leads a student writer to use and sharpen observation
skills and to use reflection, both during writing and in
subsequent discussion (9). A close reading of the mono-
logue for word choice and tone could even lead to a dis-
cussion of details that reveal voice. The assignment
35


could also be further developed by including an audience
(for example, magazine readers, television news viewers,
etc.). A discussion of audience analysis and its effect
on the writing might be a final step. Again, like Paul,
Moffett urges that students develop a self-awareness in
many activities so that they become more responsible re-
visers .
Bruffee concludes that collaborative learning can be
separated from other traditional modes and methods be-
cause it doesn't so much change what people learn as it
changes the social context in which they learn it (638) .
Like the effects of combining practice and theory in the
composition classroom, Bruffee states that, "Practice and
rationale together have the potential to challenge fairly
deeply the theory and practice of traditional classroom
teaching" (638) .
One theory that Bruffee uses to explain the workings
of collaborative learning comes from a prominent language
theorist, Lev Vygotsky, author of Mind and Society. Us-
ing Vygotsky's research on the social nature of learning,
Bruffee concludes that "we as humans learn 'the skill of
conversation' in an external arena of direct social ex-
change with others. It's only then that we learn to dis-
place our 'skill' in playing silently ourselves, in
36


imagination, the parts of all the participants in the
conversation" (639).
Bruffee continues: "The view that conversation and
thought are causally related assumes not that thought is
an essential attribute of the human mind but that it is
instead an artifact created by social interaction" (640) .
He states,
Any effort to understand how we think requires
us to understand the nature of conversation;
and any effort to understand conversation re-
quires us to understand the nature of community
life that generates and maintains conversa-
tion. ..To think well as individuals we must
learn to think well collectively -- that is, we
must learn to converse well (640).
Furthermore, Bruffee notes that once the first steps
of learning are realized, then we are able to "establish
and maintain the sorts of community life, that foster the
sorts of conversation members of the community value"
(640). This applies to a classroom with responsible re-
vision in that student writers who learn to work together
and for one another are then able to understand and speak
a language that is essential for the classroom culture to
succeed. Bruffee refers to Richard Rorty, author of Phi-
37


losophv and the Mirror of Nature: "We must understand how
knowledge is established and maintained in the normal
discourse communities of knowledgeable peers" (640) The
individual's role expands to be part of a community.
Although I have not specifically discussed consen-
sus-making in the community, the following article by
Trimbur uses this aspect of collaborative learning to
clarify Bruffee's intent for collaborative learning. In
the collaborative learning classroom, consensus-making
could occur within response groups at the classroom level
-- to establish group response to peer writing or as a
decision-making process to establish classroom level re-
sponse .
Perhaps Bruffee's intent for collaborative learning
in the classroom is best understood when critiqued. In
"Consensus and Difference in Collaborative Learning,"
Trimbur acknowledges exceptions to a collaborative learn-
ing approach toward consensus-making. He notes, "The
aim of collaborative learning, its advocates hold, is to
reach consensus through an expanding conversation" (602) .
Trimbur examines the key term, consensus, both because it
is an essential concept of collaborative learning and
also "because the notion of consensus is one of the most
38


controversial and misunderstood aspects of collaborative
learning" (602).
First, critics argue that the use of consensus in
collaborative learning poses an innate threat to creativ-
ity and individual voice because it can suppress differ-
ences and enforce conformity. Johnson, for example,
"believes that consensus is just another name for 'group
think' and conjures images of 1984" (602). Additionally,
Foster argues that Bruffee "overvalue[s] social practices
and thus ... den[ies] the primacy of individual con-
sciousness in creating knowledge" (603).
Fear of conformity is not an uncommon response to
processes and activities that seek to promote social con-
structs of knowledge. However, Trimbur interprets a
definition of consensus to mean something truer to an
educational purpose. Rather than confine the meaning of
consensus to imitate knowledge constructs in society,
which do not expand to reach all voices for a consensus,
but rather shrink to develop and accommodate experts and
specialists, Trimbur concludes that, for instructional
purposes, consensus be used to refer to a utopian or
"genuine" practice (612). Indeed, Trimbur further notes,
"If anything, the prevailing configuration of knowledge
and its institutions prevents the formation of consensus
39


by shrinking the public sphere and excluding the majority
of the population from the conversation" (611).
Trimbur looks to Habermas for a definition of this
"genuine" consensus. "[Consensus is] not... something
that actually happens...but instead [is] the counterfac-
tual anticipation that agreement can be reached without
coercion or systematic distortion" (612). Used in this
sense, consensus-making in a classroom becomes a learning
tool for students to discover and "open gaps in the con-
versation through which differences may emerge" (614).
Trimbur states, "Through a collective investigation of
differences, students can begin to imagine ways to change
the relations of production and to base the conversation
not on consensus but on reciprocity and the mutual recog-
nition of the participants and their differences" (614) .
This context for the use of consensus does not de-
tract from Bruffee's inclusion of it in collaborative
learning. Rather, Trimbur deftly responds to critique so
that its educational purpose is fleshed out and more
readily understandable.
Bruffee offers a plethora of rationale for collabo-
rative learning, much of which does relate to communi-
ties. First, because he determines that language is so-
cially constructed, he notes that learners need to be so-
40


cial at many points during the writing process. He adds,
"The way [students] talk with each other determines the
way they will think and the way they will write. Because
of the configuration of the learning process, students
have opportunities to thrive" (642). With work that is
guided by well-thought out tasks, students can grow in
their awareness that writing is a result of social inter-
action, like the thinking that produces it. Collabora-
tive learning can also prepare student writers for other
types of conversations and other types of communities,
specifically knowledge communities, that they might be a
part of in their responsibilities and roles in the fu-
ture .
In direct relation to Bruffee's emphasis on what may
also be termed job preparation, an article by Pope, "Our
Time Has Come: English for the Twenty-First Century,"
elaborates on the type of adult job responsibilities that
are being identified for the next century, many of which
are related to social learning. For example, she dis-
cusses the following proficiencies: "Workers should be
able to listen, negotiate, and compromise in language
carefully selected to fit a variety of situations and a
variety of audiences. They need to be able to function
in teams to create, develop, and refine ideas, solutions,
41


and products. Strong communication skills will make this
interaction possible" (38). Many of these skills are
practiced through collaborative learning activities. Fa-
cilitators can appreciate strong support like this that
is so germane to what they actually do in the classroom.
To summarize, collaborative learning requires that
writing teachers derive their authority not so much from
traditional sources (i.e., the teacher as giver of all
answers), but from the larger knowledge community in or-
der to honor students' entrances into discourse communi-
ties themselves (649). These knowledge communities rep-
resent professions and peer groups. Teachers, for exam-
ple, belong to committees and professional societies.
Depending on their activity in other related communities,
they may be on boards of trustees to fill other official
duties. Students can begin to learn from example what is
built into their activities and also learn from relation-
ships with their teachers. Teachers can observe talents
during group work and even make suggestions for extra-
curricular activities, for example. The social nature of
learning as theoretical grounding for collaborative
classrooms emphasizes not so much what is learned but how
it is learned. A process writing classroom becomes ef-
42


fective in terms of responsible revision once this trans-
formation occurs.
Bruffee has a fundamental impact on the collabora-
tive learning classroom. By promoting social learning,
he builds a firm foundation for process writing instruc-
tion. Collaborative work is foundational because it is
comprised of relationships that are maintained by dia-
logue. What emerges from the relationships is a process
of writing wherein student writers participate in a
classroom community and prepare for the larger community
that they will join as adults. Thus, the writing process
develops from the foundation of collaboration.
Since social learning may at first appear unwieldy
to some, Bruffee's work may take time to value. Perhaps
his argument for collaboration can be viewed more clearly
if described as a spirit of democratic participation;
Bruffee views the writing classroom as an introductory
venue for active participation and preparation for able
and meaningful conversations that grow in their impor-
tance as students mature.
43


Implementing Collaborative Learning
Relationships
As Bruffee implies with his notion of knowledge com-
munities, implementing a collaborative learning program
requires that relationships between students and teachers
change. Facilitators may know or also be interested in
an additional scholar's views on implementation. Onore's
article, "The Student, the Teacher, and the Text: Negoti-
ating Meanings through Response and Revision" provides
helpful commentary regarding implementation. She remarks
that a fully realized process writing model requires
classroom changes in relationships among students and be-
tween teacher and students (237). She further believes
that implementing a process curriculum may even meet re-
sistance from students who feel particularly secure with
teachers who have in the past allowed them to be passive
learners. In these cases, teachers may need to intervene
and counsel.
Onore's focus throughout the article is on the sig-
nificance of changing relationships. She believes that
student writer development through collaborative learning
44


activities occurs in individuals as they become part of a
group of peers wherein they read one another's writing.
Their development is also influenced by the teacher's re-
configuration in his or her authority and by how much he
or she empowers students to take ownership of their writ-
ing. Finally, Onore emphasizes that the negotiation and
development of trust among peers is essential, especially
so that the most reluctant of revisers can eventually re-
see their texts and become motivated to learn from them.
She firmly believes that the teacher needs to let go of
an authoritarian role so that the facilitator can monitor
the collaborative process. Onore adds a practical empha-
sis here to the thoughts already stated by Rogers, Tay-
lor, and Tobin.
Teacher Responsibilities Before and During Groups
The responsibilities for teachers in the collabora-
tive learning classroom are varied. In "Collaborative
Learning in the Classroom: A Guide to Evaluation," Weiner
elaborates on many responsibilities. Although his intent
is to provide evaluation, for my purposes here, his sys-
tem is used as guidelines for a collaborative learning
facilitator.
45


First, he believes that success in writing will pri-
marily depend on the quality of the initial task students
must perform in groups. A clearly stated and written
task can help to create understanding and can also help
to form student conversation. According to Weiner, ques-
tions need to have more than one answer among group mem-
bers and should avoid subjects that are pedagogical (240-
243). His list of task components follows. The initial
step is to give general instruction about how students
are to collaborate in the activity; they also need a copy
of the text or texts. Questions need to be focused on
specific topics and students need to use critical think-
ing in order to respond. Each group requires a recorder
who may also be given additional responsibilities for
keeping the group productive (240-241). The record needs
to be available at all times during group work for refer-
ence purposes.
The teacher's role at this early point is also im-
portant. He or she is mainly a task-setter. If students
require that teachers guide them in the task, the teacher
is to present it at the beginning of class, including
discussion, questions, and answers. The teacher also
needs to require that comments be specific (240-243) .
Weiner further notes that it is best that the teacher not
46


"sit in" during group work, as he has found that groups
make collaborative advances best when left to themselves
(243) Time limits for work need to be clear and stu-
dents need to be as open-minded as possible in order to
fulfill duties that contribute to the group in a timely
fashion.
Finally, during classroom discussions, the teacher
needs to become a "synthesizer" noting group consensus
and conclusions. The teacher needs to point out simi-
larities and contradictions and arrange information for
all to see (using posters, chalk board, etc.). This is
important as students will be sharing a lot of informa-
tion during this synthesis stage. During this time, the
teacher leads a discussion to consider similarities and
differences (245). Students need to answer questions at
an abstract level, so there may be some training in-
volved. Discussion concepts and topics need to be made
clear to students so that they can experience being a
part of an academic community of which teachers are mem-
bers (244-246) .
While Weiner has found success using these
"guidelines," there will no doubt be other guidelines
that facilitators will discover for themselves; the
guidelines here are not meant to be an exhaustive list.
47


As with any new methods and practices, a period for ex-
perimentation can be helpful so that improvements can be
made. The most striking aspect of Weiner's work is that
teachers foster active roles for their students through
discussion and specific group work like reading and re-
sponding .
Small Groups
Both Bruffee and Weiner seemingly have followers in
the authors of Small Groups in Writing Workshops: Invita-
tions to a Writer's Life. Brooke, Mirtz, and Evans have
written a very informative account of their work with
small groups in writing classes. References to Bruffee
occur throughout, and some of their methods and activi-
ties appear closely related to Weiner's suggestions.
What may also be engaging for teachers to note is that
each of the three authors give personal accounts of their
experiences with writing groups both formal and infor-
mal and describe how the experiences shape the goals
and purposes for small groups in their writing classes.
The initial question that Brooke, Mirtz, and Evans
strive to answer as they construct their curricula is
critical: What does it mean for students to become better
48


writers? In order to ground their courses in a response,
they identify four major principles, all of which add up
to what they call invitations to a writer's life. Like
Bruffee, the authors conclude that it is the experience
or social context for learning that is important. First,
they want to give their students membership in academic
communities. The class itself provides an academic com-
munity. They also want to provide learners with activi-
ties so that the learners become conscious of their own
writing processes and eventually deal well with rhetori-
cal problem solving. Reflective writing and metacogni-
tive activities are essential. Organization and style
concerns also make up what they term writerly behavior.
To augment this behavior, students read authors for style
and are assigned papers of varying lengths. Finally,
Brooke, Mirtz, and Evans believe that writers need to be-
come better at learning about and understanding their
lives and at reflecting upon their learning; much of this
is accomplished by having ongoing discussions with other
writers, their classmates.
Together, the authors then use four characteristics
of a writer's life to ensure that their students receive
related experiences. First, each characteristic ensures
that learners be prepared to regularly devote time to
49


writing outside of class. This could include journaling,
invention, or reflection. The purpose for devoting regu-
lar time to writing is that it become a "habitual instead
of occasional activity" (13). Ownership, an important
characteristic for achieving responsible revision, is es-
sential in terms of the following behaviors: students
generally choose their topics during writing time; they
decide if a piece is worth continuing and decide how to
revise it by working with their peers; and, finally, they
effectively use private journals or other writing to es-
tablish their purposes in their papers.
A third characteristic is receiving and giving re-
sponse about writing. Response "makes writing more than
a solitary act" (13), an important reminder for writers
in terms of giving and receiving support. Finding re-
sponse can bring a writer into a community where writing
is valued, and members hopefully are able to discover the
social value of writing. In a classroom, teachers may
decide to have learners respond verbally, in writing,
formally or informally. Evans, in particular, makes a
case for positive and sensitive response so that readers
establish a genuine relationship with their writers. He
cites the work of Moffett who suggests that students
write as someone who has something important to say to
50


someone else (157). Finally, exposure to the work of
other writers is also important. Students will need to
give themselves regular exposure to other writers and
other people's writing, especially in small and large
classroom groups. Small groups in particular can provide
an ongoing forum for exposure.
While Brooke et al. use small groups for some of the
same reasons, they also note that were it not for their
own experience in writing groups, they may not have com-
mitted themselves to this type of writing instruction.
For example, Mirtz's experience with small writing groups
in college was at first strained, primarily because she
had learned through her youth to achieve as an individ-
ual To achieve in a group took time for her to learn.
As a result, she brings with her a particular empathy for
groups that experience conflict. During instances of
conflict, she either intervenes in order to support un-
heard voices (students who may be shy or feel unaccepted
by a group) or she presents a discussion of the conflict
to the larger group.
Brooke, who was either an initiator or participant
in various writing groups from his youth through college,
emphasizes a goal for his classes to allow students to
explore a writer's life. He structures his class with
51


three types of activities: predictable routines
(activities that include reading, discussion, invention);
goal setting so that students are able to improve spe-
cific writing habits; and portfolio evaluation, which in-
cludes gathering and organizing writing on a regular ba-
sis so that students can receive grades and feedback from
the instructor.
Finally, Evans discovered an important aspect of
writing as a college student when he was required to
write personal responses to literature rather than aca-
demic ones. This discovery led him to especially value
what he calls "student voices" (160, 163) or genuine re-
sponses to writing and to experiences in writing groups.
With a commitment to writing groups, each instructor
has made discoveries about themselves and the nature of
groups. Brooke, for instance, identifies Bormann's re-
search on groups to be particularly helpful. Bormann
notes that groups need "task time and maintenance time
[socializing]" (Brooke 132) in order to be effective.
Related to these group activities are the individual stu-
dents who choose to be or who naturally develop into
leaders: one for tasks and one for socializing. Mirtz
has found that teaching with small groups has changed her
professional life; she may work from educational models
52


when she teaches groups, but finds that all groups are
unique and are even necessarily arbitrary. Evans, rather
than gatekeeping for specific English standards, chooses
to ensure a classroom environment much like Taylor de-
scribes in relation to Rogers' notion of "unconditional
positive regard" (27).
In summary, the book highly emphasizes the value of
small groups in improving writing behaviors. While each
instructor brings different experiences and knowledge to
bear on their classroom groups, the essential goal of
giving students specific and important kinds of writing
experience is key to their students' success. Each in-
structor, as a result, has had to work through the expe-
riences that Tobin mentions in Writing Relationships that
make a de-centered classroom a challenging and sometimes
difficult task. To open communication in a writing proc-
ess classroom requires that teachers become aware of any
biases together with which of their behaviors motivate
their students to write well. While the authors do not
address specific revision concerns, they do address a
multitude of methods and activities for active learning
and essential writing experiences.
Brooke, Mirtz, and Evans strive to be honest about
their own writing experiences in order to give more depth
53


and meaning to the writing experiences of their students.
They appear ready to model not only writerly behavior,
but also what it means to strive for writing that is
genuine or authentic. Like Taylor, Tobin, and Bruffee,
they eschew traditional teacher and student roles in or-
der to achieve active student learning.
54


CHAPTER 4
GRAMMAR STUDY
Traditional vs. Practical
While all teachers no doubt have justified their in-
clusion or exclusion of grammar in a writing curriculum,
it can still be especially helpful to re-examine the con-
texts within which they teach grammar. For example, if
they teach grammar from a text, how do they decide what
to teach and when to teach it?
A very brief look at the history of grammar instruc-
tion and its place in the writing curriculum today may be
helpful. Up until the last century, grammar had been in-
structed as a formal study. However, critics suggested
that traditional grammar instruction was not helping stu-
dents to write well. Today, critics contend that "formal
grammar instruction fails to produce any significant im-
provement in student writing, and worse yet, consumes
valuable classroom hours that could be spent on more
fruitful matters" (Noguchi 1).
55


Especially in terms of revision, grammar is often
labeled as what needs to be "edited" in the writing proc-
ess. Students use subskills in this process and monitor
their writing for surface errors that affect grammar and
spelling. Because of the complexity of grammar issues,
though, student writers may even be responsible for gram-
mar they have studied only minimally and have forgotten -
- a dose of what's good for them. Grammar may even be
reduced to a writing practice -- termed editing, or even
"revision stage" -- that helps students evaluate an as-
signment for one last time before turning it in to the
teacher. These are some of the common scenarios in pres-
ent day schools in which students study and use grammar.
Formal grammar instruction simply does not stand up to
the needs and knowledge of writing students today.
In his book, Grammar and the Teaching of Writing:
Limits and Possibilities. Rei R. Noguchi indicates that
the large majority of formal grammar instruction is anti-
grammar. He cites a particularly careful and comprehen-
sive study by Hillocks, who shares his concern:
...The study of traditional school grammar
(i.e. the definition of parts of speech, the
parsing of sentences, etc.) has no effect on
raising the quality of student writing...Taught
56


in certain ways, grammar and mechanics instruc-
tion has a deleterious effect on student writ-
ing. In some studies, a heavy emphasis on me-
chanics instruction and usage (e.g., marking
every error) resulted in significant losses in
overall quality. School boards, administra-
tors, and teachers who impose the systematic
study of grammar in the name of teaching writ-
ing do them a gross disservice which should not
be tolerated by anyone concerned with the ef-
fective teaching of good writing (3).
We heed to learn how to teach standard usage and mechan-
ics after careful task analysis and with minimum grammar.
Noguchi's writing provides insights into a very strong
and even controversial point of view.
Hillock's statement prompts a question from Noguchi,
who asks what some of the probable causes are for formal
grammar's demise. Noguchi then responds to his own ques-
tion by creating a list of possible causes which I have
included here as aids for teachers planning grammar
strategies. First, grammar, having been viewed as unin-
teresting or too difficult, isn't adequately learned by
students. In addition, formal grammar, even if ade-
quately learned, is not transferable to writing situa-
57


tions (4). Noguchi elaborates each probable cause and,
in the end, concludes that any links grammar may have
with writing are minimal.
Grammar is a complex territory for teachers to
tread. Formal grammar instruction fails when students or
their teachers need a more specific and individualized
type of instruction. There are, after all, few concrete
results from the research on grammar that indicate over-
all writing improvement. It is at this juncture, then,
that the study of grammar becomes practical rather than
traditional.
Noguchi and Shaughnessy (Errors and Expectations)
agree that grammar should be included in a writing cur-
riculum, but not dressed up as formal instruction. Indi-
vidually, each author explores ways in which grammar can
actually be used to improve student writing. Key to
their success are the meaningful patterns they find in
student writing that help them to teach their students
and to recommend options for improving writing. For ex-
ample, a writer may continually construct fragments or
comma splices without realizing that they are incorrect.
Noguchi, in particular, attempts to build on what he
calls "the tacit knowledge of native speakers..." (111).
He holds that grammar instruction needs to be selective,
58


involving fewer, rather than more, topics. This strategy-
results in a grammar program that allows students to be-
come aware of their underlying knowledge of language (as
native speakers and non-native speakers) in order to ap-
ply a basic knowledge of how to correct grammar errors.
Once Noguchi establishes a context for teaching grammar
(typically it is a pattern of writing errors that are
commonly found in the students' own writings), he consid-
ers it time to teach and build on the knowledge that stu-
dents already possess.
As noted above, Noguchi attempts to use the native
speaker's underlying and tacit knowledge to allow learn-
ers to understand that they are capable of making correc-
tions on their own. His definitions of parts of speech,
etc., are defined in the context of the students' writing
and do not seek to decontextualize their meaning for stu-
dents, a process carried out in formal grammar. The
learning of grammar then becomes individualized and also
seeks to serve students with specific and helpful grammar
information.
My hesitation with Noguchi's system of instruction
is with identifying a speaker's underlying and tacit
knowledge of grammar. While I agree that it is important
to utilize this knowledge, he fails to establish how to
59


go about doing this. Just as writing can be diagnosed
for error patterns, it can also be diagnosed for examples
of this kind of knowledge. Noguchi would be more helpful
if he provided some specific examples of diagnosis.
Shaughnessy, noted for her pioneering work, Errors
and Expectations, addresses similar concerns about gram-
mar and basic writing students. In her attempts to find
ways to communicate with her students, she chooses to set
up collaborative learning groups so that writing can be
performed as a social act. Peers can respond to one an-
other's writing and learn much about language from one
another as a result (129). Like Noguchi, Shaughnessy
uses patterns she finds in student writing and errors.
To help the writer to perceive them is a first step in
helping the learner reach reader-based prose. Basic
writers, who are generally unaware of an audience, typi-
cally improve their writing when they understand the con-
cept of audience. She notes that basic writers also
benefit from freewriting and an emphasis on revision
stages that are essential to writing well.
Finally, in offering advice to the basic writing
teacher, Shaughnessy states, "Errors count but not as
much as most English teachers think" (120), an indictment
that rigid teaching and standard-keeping has taken a
60


negative toll on students of writing. Concerning the
practical nature of teaching basic writing, she notes,
"The teacher should keep in mind the cost to himself and
the student of mastering certain forms and be ready to
cut his losses when the investment seems no longer com-
mensurate with the return" (122). Neither writer,
Shaughnessy nor Noguchi, promote any formal instruction
in grammar. What they do promote, though, is the belief
that teachers need to identify a basic grammar curriculum
that can help student writers readily learn and under-
stand good writing and the use of basic grammar skills.
However, it would be short-sighted to discuss the
work of Shaughnessy without visiting the recent work of
Horner, who takes up the subject of basic writers and how
compositionists' conceptions of them affect the work of
teaching writing. An underlying theme in his article,
"Mapping Errors and Expectations for Basic Writing: From
the 'Frontier Field' to 'Border Country'," is that much
research on basic writers since 1975 has begun to look to
different studies and theories (i.e., ethnographic stud-
ies, cognitive development theories) to develop new defi-
nitions or identities of basic writers. The challenge,
therefore, for writing teachers is to not lose sight of
Shaughnessy's work, build from it, and reconsider the mo-
61


tivating factors of more recent research to add dimension
to their students.
One of Horner's first criticisms of Shaughnessy and
other researchers is that their conceptions of basic
writers become problematic. He identifies two different
sets of metaphors for thinking about changes in the stu-
dents' writing and the role of basic writing teachers:
metaphors of "growth" and "initiation" (32). He notes,
If we think of basic writing students as cogni-
tively immature beginners, then "improvements"
in their writing are signs of cognitive growth,
with basic writing teachers fostering such
growth. If we think of basic writing students
as foreigners, then changes in their writing
represent changes in their social or cultural
identities initiated at least in part by writ-
ing courses (32).
Horner finds these lines of thought limiting in that
students who are adults are not cognitively immature and
that "cognitive immaturity" oversimplifies a sound under-
standing of cognitive development. At the same time, he
finds the other metaphor, initiation, to be too much of
an invitation to charges of "cultural imperialism, con-
verting the 'natives' to our native ways by teaching them
62


the rituals and gestures of academic discourse" (33).
Horner fails to establish any middle ground, though, and
does not adequately acknowledge that literacy, which is
what basic writing can be said to be developing, is ac-
quired through the study of writing and the dialogue that
is established among students and between teachers and
students (Ferdman 199) .
He does create a satisfactory metaphor, though, re-
defining the "frontier" of Shaughnessy's work in estab-
lishing basic writing studies as a "borderland" or
"negotiation," where all, both teachers and students,
"must make adjustments, everyone must contribute, trust
is essential" (37).
Particularly in regard to my writing student, Lynn,
described in the Introduction, my understanding of nego-
tiation may have assisted me in helping her articulate
her misgivings about revision. Perhaps it would have
helped if I had understood that, in order for her to make
progress and become more willing to revise, (as Horner
gives credit to Lees for identifying):
a learner not only moves into an interpretive
community but moves out of one as well... [and]
to make such a move at all, it appears the
learner must give up a system, a set of assump-
63


tions, a way of proceeding; one that already
works, or seems to (42).
Perhaps peer responders needed to further acknowledge
that while superficial readings of peers' texts may have
once been acceptable, given the writing class in which
they were currently enrolled, it no longer was. (Later
in this paper, I also address training students in this
type of reading and writing behavior.)
Another grammar scholar also deserves attention at
this point. In his article, "The Rainbow and the Stream:
Grammar As System vs. Language In Use," Edlund primarily
identifies and explains traditional approaches to grammar
instruction, so that writing teachers can find a suitable
compromise in their decisions to teach it in writing
courses. He includes many references to Noguchi (it is
difficult to write about the teaching of grammar without
references to Noguchi) and especially notes that student
writing is typically not improved through grammar study
(89). The primary reason, though, that Edlund may be
considered helpful here is that he shows similar tradi-
tions of grammar study so that writing teachers may move
on to a classroom approach designed for present day stu-
dents, something that takes into consideration writer us-
age (102) .
64


For many writing teachers, the study of grammar may
not affect student writing if it is presented as a de-
scriptive (more or less the study of grammar as a compi-
lation of characteristics, not corrections) and prescrip-
tive (traditional "school" grammar) debate. Noting, too,
that every generation has its "self-appointed language
guardians" (91), he argues that if teachers indeed want
to help their learners, they consider that the nature of
language changes, and that to go against a tide of usage,
represented by their students, may result in less help
rather than more. Like Noguchi, Edlund recommends that
student writers need to know basic underpinnings of gram-
mar, but need to arrive at them from the language know-
ledge they already have in order to make writing improve-
ments .
I don't fully agree with Noguchi and Shaughnessy
that formal grammar be banned from the writing classroom,
although I admit that they argue convincingly against it.
It took me a number of weeks to admit to myself that, in
my own practices, I have included my share of formal and
informal grammar instruction. I have found that writer
patterns of error and usage can offer teachers a way to
diagnose and then teach to rectify those errors. Once I
have begun teaching to rectify errors, I have discovered
65


at the same time that additional related grammar topics
often need to be learned, that a larger picture of the
topic needs to be explained while the errors provide the
context for learning.
In "Grammar for Writers: How Much Is Enough?", Shu-
man adapts a stance toward grammar instruction that is
clearly practical, but inclusive of a rationale for some
formal instruction. He recommends that instruction be
provided for the following topics in a timetable format
prior to or during college: grammatical terminology (so
that teachers and students can discuss writing effi-
ciently and effectively); punctuation that clarifies sen-
tence meaning (i.e., commas, apostrophes); verb tense;
rhetorical grammar, including flagrant errors in the me-
chanics of expression, and in spelling and usage; paral-
lelism and absolutes; sentence making, including sentence
combining; and editing (122) .
This list is particularly helpful because the author
includes suggestions that can individualize instruction
both at the course- and student-level. For instance, he
supports the work of Hairston, recommending that errors
be ranked in terms of a general importance to writing:
"minor or unimportant status markers...[up to] very seri-
ous" (Shuman 118). By offering students this hierarchy,
66


errors become related to a very practical and meaningful
learning context. He reminds teachers that students for-
get, a truism whether it be the parts of speech over the
course of summer, or dangling participles over a course
of years. Finally, and especially useful for a collabo-
rative learning classroom, he urges teachers to tell stu-
dents that:
[i]ncredible amounts of grammatical knowledge
reside in any group of four or five writers.
Sharing this knowledge through discussion and
editing, challenging this knowledge through
healthy debate in peer editing groups, will re-
sult in some sophisticated learning experiences
for those involved" (Shuman 126).
RECOMMENDED CHANGES IN GRAMMAR INSTRUCTION
Although some scholars do not recommend formal gram-
mar instruction for classroom use, many scholars still
explore and pose questions about traditional and practi-
cal instruction. In their article, "Teaching Grammar Af-
fectively: Learning to Like Grammar," Brosnahan and
Neuleib identify "a grammar solution" at the college
67


level, where prospective teachers are trained in teaching
composition, including English grammar.
The authors recommend that incoming English teachers
be taught in the same manner that they will teach their
students: affectively, supporting their student writers
as they learn grammar. Students need to be taught in
ways that they can understand emotionally and ways that
will help motivate them to learn grammar. New teachers
need more affective experiences with grammar themselves
so that they know how to teach grammar in ways that will
help their students to like, use, and understand it.
A recommended avenue for improvement has already
been mentioned and used successfully. Noguchi maintains
that students need to be taught that they already possess
grammatical knowledge as native speakers and non-native
speakers. He also relies on this knowledge, which works
well with his students. Brosnahan and Neuleib believe
students can learn grammar best when they can apply it to
their own writing contexts. They conclude:
...if grammar instruction has been used only to
punish students for their language choices,
then certainly they are right to want to avoid
grammar. This fear of punishment must be re-
placed with an anticipation of success and en-
68


joyment if future teachers are to be successful
in their grammar classrooms. The new methodol-
ogy described [in the article] can change the
nature of grammar instruction. Then perhaps
writing instruction will profit from the posi-
tive effect whether or not students actively
monitor usage choices when composing, revising,
or editing (112).
The instruction of grammar needs to be studied in
order to be effective, to make a positive difference in
the way students use grammar skills in their writing.
Without a close look at the research, teachers may too
often assume that a grammar text and its accompanying ex-
ercises will direct writers to learn how to use it in
their writing. Without providing a writing context and
support, though, grammar instruction fails to identify
the actual instances when writers need to apply learned
grammar skills.
69


CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
Discussion
By attempting to present a wide range of information
on the subject of writing revision, I have no doubt unin-
tentionally left out some important details. What I have
included, though, covers a number of aspects a classroom
culture needs in order to live and thrive. Teachers need
to be responsible not so much for their authoritarian
stance as for their roles as student supporter and writ-
ing evaluator. By welcoming a change from a traditional
teaching role, teachers take on the challenge of helping
their students to learn and meet their own writing re-
sponsibilities. Additionally, when teachers become fa-
cilitators, they have the privilege of taking on a new
kind of role for their students and their work: one that
helps them to be more responsible for their work.
The teacher-student relationship provides a ground-
work with which to help students become responsible re-
visers. In fact, there are many desirable outcomes. In
70


order to be a responsible reviser, learners need to ac-
knowledge first that there are appropriate changes to be
made in their outlooks toward writing. The hope is that,
if they're willing and motivated, they will be comfort-
able with a paradigm of process writing. However, cur-
rent-traditional beliefs may linger and in fact some
parts of that paradigm may still be appropriate.
Not only do student writers need to be presented
with new ways of thinking, but also with a motivation to
make changes. Student-oriented reasons to take risks and
to grow as writers are essential for the success of a
process writing class. Its paradigm provides plentiful
classroom research of student writers. In fact, the
model is much like the student-teacher relationship is to
the process of becoming a responsible reviser. It is
necessary for the writing "health" of its students.
The teacher is a catalyst for the program, estab-
lishing dialogue with students and balancing his or her
advocate and evaluator roles. Components of the class-
room culture evolve as student and teacher grow and be-
come accustomed to new outlooks promoting inter-
dependence and responsibility for learners. The teacher
is a facilitator in order to establish a "helping" stance
for his or her students rather than, or very much less
71


than, the teacher as authority. Evaluation may seem to
detract from being an advocate; nevertheless, a teacher
can find opportunities to practice balancing: attending
writing conferences, planning motivational activities,
offering grade and/or evaluation information to students
that want it, and being clear that revision should happen
frequently throughout their writing and not occur simply
to "edit" or to conclude an assignment. Students also
need trusting relations with peers who will evaluate and
discuss one another's writing. With time, these rela-
tionships can unfold so that writers gain respect for
their own writing and the writing of their peers.
Training. In a collaborative learning classroom,
learners would need to be trained in order to carry out
the work of responsible revision. In fact, training
would be essential; without it, learners might very well
continue the inconsistent peer response mentioned earlier
in this paper, which encourages students like Lynn to
continue their resistance to revision. However, training
responsible revisers would require the use of extra per-
sonnel, colleagues, and former students who would agree
to a brief acting career.
72


The main point about training, though, is that it
would expose collaborative learners to simple and basic
types of communication helpful to revision. In a parallel
experience, I and my fellow students in a Bridge class,
were recently asked to communicate the strengths and
weaknesses of our hands to our partners without actually
bidding. We ended up making comments such as, "Spades
are wonderful. I really like the Spades I have" or "I
don't like Diamonds. They wouldn't work well at all for
my hand." The point of the exercise was that, although
some bidding and bidding conventions may seem sophisti-
cated and complex, underneath is a very basic communica-
tion necessary to succeed: that we either did or didn't
have an adequate point count for a game.
Drawing from this experience, initial training ac-
tivities in a collaborative learning classroom could in-
volve a group of two to four actors who could be given
"hands" in the form of students' written papers to re-
spond to. As in a real revision assignment, peers would
be asked to identify specific traits in the papers that
represent writing strengths and areas for improvement.
The students would need to remember and use with peers
the type of language that they feel best communicates to
73


themselves the quality of their own work (i.e., no exag-
gerated criticism, empty praise).
Students would need to be given opportunities to re-
spond both in conversation and in writing. In this way,
all could be held responsible for giving specific details
to back up more general comments. For example, this
could be modeled with dialogue that offers increasingly
more specific and concrete information.
Once a small group presentation was completed and
understood, the entire class could attempt a trial run
and, at the end, discuss the results. It would be impor-
tant that the instructor ensure that the traits for the
critique also be the traits emphasized for the specific
writing assignment; this consistency would serve to rein-
force the type of writing to be learned.
Critique groups could be chosen or assigned. As I
learned during the semester I taught Lynn, it is impor-
tant for writers to have exposure to different peers.
For example, although Lynn had begun to make a "case" for
staying in the same non-critical response group for the
entire semester, she moved to another group where her
writing was presented to new minds and new scrutiny.
Part of the learning I gained from that semester's expe-
rience also included learning to grade the response group
74


members themselves on their individual participation in
providing meaningful response.
Implications
The Classroom. Strong communication skills are re-
quired for responsible revisers. Responsible revision
implies that students will be able to establish a dia-
logue about their writing so they can articulate their
perceptions of it and also communicate their perceptions
to different audiences -- peers and teachers in particu-
lar. Revisers also need to be self-critics, monitoring
their writing progress and becoming willing participants
in the evaluation of their work, which may include dia-
logue with teachers or writing and revising drafts. In
essence, responsible revisers need to become skilled at
problem solving, whether concerning their own writing or
their peers' work.
In their article, "Seeking Common Ground: Guiding
Assumptions for Writing Courses," David et al. suggest
many guidelines that could serve a collaborative learning
classroom. One of their assumptions is that "[t]he de-
velopment of writing ability and metacognitive awareness
is the primary objective of a writing course" (525).
75


Some reflective writing would need to be assigned to
carry out this guideline and to follow up on peer re-
sponse. In fact, classes could begin or even end with
reflective writing time. In order to ensure that the de-
velopment of writing ability be the primary objective of
the collaborative learning classroom, the authors empha-
size that:
[s]tudents must take responsibility for a posi-
tion, be informed of other positions and hear
the questions of other students and the in-
structor. Students must be authentic partici-
pants, not passive receivers, if they are to
become writers (526).
I would like, at this point, to turn some final at-
tention to my former student, Lynn, in regard to collabo-
rative learning. It may be that she and future students
like her would benefit just as much, if not more, from
not participating in response groups. Students who voice
a preference to learn on their own or whose participative
behavior indicates that they learn better on their own
should have that choice presented to them and honored.
As the work of David et al. proposes, authentic learners
need to be given appropriate credit for the kind of work
76


they do best; if they learn more effectively on their
own, they should be given that opportunity.
The Workplace. A writing classroom with responsible
revision can encompass proficiencies that Pope has iden-
tified as necessary for successfully providing students
with workplace skills once they leave school. In her ar-
ticle, "Our Time Has Come: English for the Twenty-First
Century," Pope identifies four areas of proficiency re-
lated to a responsible revision classroom. They include
"the ability to communicate and work collaboratively; the
ability to work effectively in a multicultural society
and work force; the ability to adapt; and the ability to
think critically" (Pope 38). Responsible revision either
supports or fulfills each of these proficiencies.
Pope notes that the ability to communicate includes
listening, negotiating, and compromising skills, all of
which are necessary for conveying important information
during peer response. Related to this, the second profi-
ciency, working effectively in a multicultural society
and work force, can be supported by the configuration of
groups in the classroom. In order to bridge cultural
differences, responsible revisers need to use their lan-
guage sensitively. Adaptation requires that responsible
77


revisers be able to "re-envision themselves" (39) Espe-
cially for students who are asked to learn new approaches
to revision, their self-identities as writers may become
the focus of that change. Finally, responsible revisers
can become competent critical thinkers on the job based
on their experience analyzing, discussing, and evaluating
their writing and the writing of their peers. Pope
notes, "[Students] need to bring to texts, written or
oral, an inquiring, responsive mind that probes, sees re-
lationships, considers alternatives, predicts, and ana-
lyzes" (3 9) .
Conclusion
A revision process is often given two definitions:
one from writing students and one from their instructors.
I've attempted to complete a survey of revision processes
that are not taken out of a writing context, but that re-
spect and develop learning contexts. Student writers
will need to grow out of their perception of revision as
editing or as a stage at the very end of a paper. Teach-
ers who take on the task of creating a classroom culture
via its practices and through the social nature of learn-
ing need to be dedicated to beliefs about writing and
78


writers. The responsibility, though, rests with both
parties: students and teachers. Teachers will grow into
a facilitator's role by establishing a "helping" stance
and dialogue for their student writers. Students will
need training and discussion in order to be participants
in collaborative learning.
Beliefs are critical for this model of responsible
revising to work. Students may even be pressed into mak-
ing positive observations once they've found a new moti-
vation for their work. If teachers are committed to
their work, they will have a much better opportunity to
motivate their students to work with writing and revision
in new ways. New revision practices, peer review and
owning one's own writing, for example, may even win some
eager "process writing converts."
79


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