ARRIVING AT A PROCESS PEDAGOGY
FOR TEACHING ARRANGEMENT
Vicky L Trussel
B.A, Bethany College, 1964
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Vicky L Trussel
has been approved for the
Trussel, Vicky L (M.A., English)
Arriving at a Process Pedagogy for Teaching Arrangement
Thesis directed by Professors Richard VanDeWeghe and James
Although current writing theoiy advocates a process-oriented
paradigm for teaching writing evidence indicates current
approaches for teaching arrangement remain predominantly
prescriptive. These teaching approaches continue to use methods
and techniques that focus on helping writers master the aims,
organizational patterns, and developmental patterns for types of
rhetorical models or "modes." Many teachers, guided by their
training or textbooks, present guidelines for writing narrative,
descriptive, argumentative, and expository essays and guidelines for
systems of development, such as comparison / contrast or
cause/effect. For students, these guidelines become prescriptions for
In contrast with these prescriptive approaches, this thesis
formulates a pedagogy for teaching arrangement that describes and
demonstrates for student writers the process of arranging discourse.
In order to develop the pedagogy, the thesis discusses current
thinking about teaching writing specifically how
this thinking is or is not reflected in two (hypothetical) approaches
to teaching arrangement: a modes /pattems-dominant approach and
an heuristic approach. It then discusses existing scholarship about
arrangement and how that scholarship is being translated into
teaching practices. It concludes by proposing a pedagogy that links
theory, methods, and techniques for teaching arrangement. The
first element is the theory, which is composed of principles that
describe the desired learning environment. The principles are
based on concepts drawn from the process paradigm for teaching
writing and the current scholarship on arrangement. The second
element in the pedagogy is a description of methods, that is, the
types of information teachers present and the types of tasks in
which students are involved. The final element in the pedagogy is
a description of the techniques or specific activities, exercises, and
writing strategies teachers may introduce to students. The
document includes an appendix containing step-by-step descriptions
of representative techniques.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's
thesis. I recommend its publication.
INTRODUCTION . . . 1
1. CONTRASTING TWO APPROACHES FOR TEACHING
Modes/ Pattems-Dominant Approach . 9
Heuristic Approach .... 25
2. BUILDING A KNOWLEDGE BASE FOR TEACHING
Surveying the Current Scholarship 38
Sampling Applications to Practice . 41
Creating Texts . .43
Writing process 43
Audience awareness 47
Revising and Editing Texts 52
Reading comprehension .... 52
Text structures . 58
3. BUILDING A PEDAGOGY FOR TEACHING
Theory . 65
Methods . 69
Techniques . 71
Creating Texts ... . 73
Early planning techniques . 74
Text planning strategies . 76
Revising and Editing Texts . 83
First reading 84
Second reading . . 86
APPENDIX . 89
Exhibit A Structural Awareness Activity . . 89
Exhibit B. Guidelines for Arranging . 91
Exhibit C. Topic Paragraph Analysis Activity . 95
REFERENCES . . 98
Despite current writing theory that espouses a process-
oriented paradigm for teaching writing approaches for teaching
arrangement remain predominantly prescriptive. Evidence
indicates current approaches, including methods and techniques,
for teaching arrangement are tied to the modes and patterns that
dominated the teaching of arrangement for most of the twentieth
century (Stewart, 1978; Weaver, 1982; Burhans, 1983; Welch, 1987).
These teaching methods continue to focus on helping writers
master the aims, organizational patterns, and developmental
patterns for types of rhetorical models or "modes." Rather than
describing rhetorical options for writers, many teachers present
guidelines that become formulas for writing narrative, descriptive,
argumentative, and expository essays. Systems of development,
such as comparison/contrast or cause/effect, become prescribed
patterns for arranging material rather than ways to explore a topic.
This thesis seeks to establish a pedagogy for teaching
arrangement that describes and demonstrates for student writers the
process of arranging discourse. I propose that a contemporary
pedagogy for teaching arrangement can be established if we move
from relying on modes/patterns as our primary technique to
integrating multiple heuristic techniquesboth guided activities
and writers' strategies-so as to aid writers in the structuring process.
We can build the pedagogy by using what we know about teaching
writing and by using existing scholarship about arrangement to
establish theoretical principles that, in turn, can be transformed into
application, that is, into methods and techniques.
However, discussing arrangement as a singular concern in
the writing process could present problems. In the current process
paradigm scholars recognize that writing is a recursive mental
We know that when people write, they draw on a variety of
mental operations such as making plans, retrieving ideas
from memory, drawing inferences, creating concepts,
developing an image of the reader, testing what they've
written against that image, and so on. ...The writer must
exercise a number of skills and meet a number of demands-
more or less all at once. (Flower & Hayes, 1980b, p. 33)
Arrangement is entwined with invention and style in the processes
writers go through to realize their purpose or intent. Consequently,
separating arrangement could suggest artificial and misleading
notions about what it is and what teaching it might involve. If,
then, invention, arrangement, and style are intertwined concerns of
the writer, how can we discuss arrangement separately? I think we
do not separate it. Instead, we further define the writing process
itself by more carefully defining its components. As a component of
the writing process arrangement is the process a writer goes
through to arrive at an order or structure, to put ideas into a proper
order or a suitable relationship, adjustment, or sequence. The term
also includes discemable structural devices in the written product.
Choices the writer has made to arrange material and connect ideas
in order to focus the parts of a discourse and give it meaning and
purpose are evident in the product. Therefore, a pedagogy for
teaching arrangement must recognize the recursive nature of the
writing process and include both process and product
To arrive at such a pedagogy, the thesis first looks at
differences in approaches for teaching arrangement. Chapter 1
contrasts two teaching approaches. Each approach takes its name
from the types of techniques (activities and writing strategies)
teachers introduce to assist students in making arrangement
decisions. The first approach, the "modes/pattems-dominant
approach," relies on conventional modes and patterns to teach
arrangement. Although this approach incorporates methods (e.g.,
peer response groups) and techniques (e.g., strategies for invention)
recommended for teaching writing as a process, it relies on a
traditional method and a traditional technique for teaching
arrangement. The method and technique, in turn, dictate the roles
of teachers and students. Teachers instruct students in the proper
formats for traditional modes and patterns. Students practice
writing essays that fit those formats.
TTie second approach, which I call "heuristic," integrates
multiple methods and techniques to help student writers develop a
consciousness of and control over arrangement. Teachers employ
various methods and introduce heuristic activities and writing
strategies aimed at enhancing students' natural faculties for creating
structure. Students take responsibility for making decisions about
the structures most appropriate to their purposes, subjects, and
The heuristic approach suggests teachers have alternatives.
In order to choose among these alternatives, however, teachers
need a knowledge base from which to make informed decisions.
They need practical information about current arrangement theory
and research. Chapter 2 notes difficulties with the current
scholarship about arrangement and the effort by Larson (1987) that
reduces those difficulties. It also discusses ways in which
practitioners are transforming that scholarship into teaching
Larson's overview of arrangement research and discussions
identifies the various perspectives from which scholars are
addressing arrangement. Although Larson (1987) groups scholars by
specialty, I suggest grouping them by process concerns so that
teachers have a systematic way not only to approach the diffuse
scholarship but also to consider its applications to teaching. Using
the process framework, the chapter goes on to cite examples of ways
in which practitioners are both applying the scholarship to process
teaching methods and creating techniques to deepen students'
discernment about arrangement.
Equipped with this information about arrangement and
about teaching methods, how can we construct a pedagogy for
teaching arrangement that will describe and demonstrate for
student writers the process of arranging discourse? Chapter 3
proposes an answer to the question. It describes a process pedagogy
that combines 1) process paradigm thinking 2) current research on
teaching methods and arrangement, and 3) heuristic techniques for
teaching arrangement. The pedagogy proposed is founded on
theory derived from the process paradigm for teaching writing and
from the current scholarship on arrangement. The principles of the
theory describe the characteristics and roles of teachers and learners;
they describe the desired learning environment. The second
element of the proposed pedagogy consists of teaching methods
that describe the types of information teachers present and the types
of tasks in which students are involved. Finally, the pedagogy
includes actual applications. These techniques reflect the current
scholarship on arrangement and suggest specific activities, exercises,
and writing strategies teachers may introduce in the classroom.
CONTRASTING TWO APPROACHES FOR TEACHING
The work of establishing a pedagogy for teaching
arrangement that describes and demonstrates for student writers the
process of arranging discourse may begin by contrasting two
hypothetical approaches-a modes/pattems-dominant approach and
a heuristic approach-to see how each does or does not demonstrate
the assumptions of the process paradigm for teaching writing. In
particular, the assumptions to be addressed are those that represent
the greatest differences between the traditional paradigm and the
process paradigm, that is, differences in the roles of teachers and
students rather than merely differences in course content. For
instance, instruction in the writing process and in invention
techniques can easily be adapted to the traditional paradigm, as
Welch (1987) claims has been accomplished in textbooks (p. 272).
The key features of the process paradigm of concern here are:
1. Teachers act as facilitators, enablers; they describe rather than
prescribe writing strategies; they evaluate writing by how well
it achieves the writer's purpose.
2. Activities are student-centered; students have responsibility
for making rhetorical decisions about occasion, purpose, and
3. Activities involve students in a recursive rather than linear
4. Writing activities are holistic; they employ students' intuitive
as well as rational powers.
The following discussion compares how each of the two
hypothetical approaches puts into practice these features of process
paradigm thinking in an attempt to see how we might begin to
develop a pedagogy responsive to that thinking. The description of
these approaches is limited; it does not represent all of the
imaginative variations that individuals are capable of bringing to
teaching. Instead, it presents marked tendencies of the kind of
teaching that is grounded on modes/pattems on the one hand and
the kind of teaching that is grounded on heuristic strategies on the
other hand. The first kind is strongly influenced by traditional
practices and the second is more responsive to process paradigm
In the prescriptive modes/pattems-dominant approach
discussed here, teachers' primary method for teaching arrangement
is to present traditional genres and structures in advance of the
writing students do. Teachers provide guidelines for modes and
patterns. Teachers focus their lessons on helping writers master
rhetorical models or "modes" such as narration, description,
exposition, and argumentation and on helping them master
traditional patterns for these modes, such as chronologic and spatial
order, deductive and inductive formations, and structures of
classical argument, as well as conventional structures for
developmental models like comparison and cause-effect. Unaware
that the guidelines are generalizations or, as Iindemann (1982)
explains, "elements present in spoken and written
communication" (p. 20), students use the guidelines as formulas to
write; that is, modes and patterns become arrangement strategies for
writers, the models they emulate. Scenario A describes a
prescriptive modes/pattems methodology.
In a prescriptive modes/pattems-dominant approach, teachers assign
a particular type of essay. The type of essay becomes the occasion for
writing. Traditionally the semester begins with narration and
description and moves to more complex modes like exposition and
argumentation. Teachers set out the requirements of the mode, for
example, the form of a good written argument Teachers explain that the
purpose of an argumentative essay is to convince the reader of a position.
Teachers describe the types of information that need to be included: a
good written argument begins with a debatable issue, takes a position or
makes a claim, presents opinions both for and against a position, and
supports the position with evidence (observations, facts, statistics, expert
testimony, or personal examples) that contains appeals to the readers
reason, character, and emotion. Teachers may even dictate in what order
these basic elements must be included: introduction and background,
writer's claim with evidence and appeals, opposing arguments with
evidence and appeals, and conclusion with final appeals. Teachers may
present prewriting or invention exercises like brainstorming cubing or
clustering to get students to examine their topic and determine a focus for
their claim on an issue and to get them to generate material for and
against their claim; teachers may suggest that students begin to structure
their compositions by lining up pros and cons and sketching an outline.
Teachers may ask students to identify some characteristics of an audience
that needs convincing Next teachers ask students to write a draft
following the plan for a good argument. They then ask students to revise
the draft, checking it for the elements and structural qualities of a well-
formed argument. Revision may include peer responses. When teachers
collect final drafts, they evaluate them based on whether the drafts
demonstrate the structural qualities of an argument. The objective of the
assignment is to teach students what a well-structured argumentative
essay should contain.
This scenario presents a teaching approach that on the surface
appears to follow the process paradigm for teaching writing as
Hairston (1982), Knoblach and Brannon (1984), and others describe
that paradigm. The approach takes students through a writing
processinventing, drafting, re vising-which, as Hairston notes,
allows teachers to intervene in students' writing during the process
(p. 24). It teaches strategies for invention (p. 24) because it asks
students to generate ideas about their position through
brainstorming or cubing. The approach also uses conventional
forms to generate information (Coe, 1987, p. 18). For instance, the
elements of the form of an argument-background, claim, and
refutation-provide suggestions of what writers need to include for
the mode. It teaches strategies for arrangement when it presents
guidelines for the mode, when it asks students to list pros and cons,
and when it asks them to write an outline that follows the
traditional pattern, or perhaps a variation if the teacher has time to
explain variations. It includes a variety of writing modes from
expressive to argumentative (Hairston, p. 24). The approach
appears to be rhetorically based: "audience, purpose, and occasion
figure prominently in the assignment of writing tasks" (Hairston, p.
24). It permits peer response during the process (Knoblach &
Brannon, p. 104; McLeod, 1986, p. 17).
The features of the process paradigm for teaching writing that
this modes/pattems approach to teaching arrangement does not
include, however, are important. They are the features that
comprise the energy and substance of the process paradigm, the
qualities that make it a revolutionary change from the traditional
paradigm that had from the beginning of this century guided the
teaching of writing.
Briefly summarized and discussed in more detail next, the
features of this approach that appear more traditional than process
paradigm are four. (1) The approach is teacher-centered. "The
teacher occupies center stage as an emblem of authority" (Knoblach
& Brannon, 1984, p. 100) on proper arrangement. Teachers, as
masters of the subject, prescribe forms for students to apply to their
writing. (2) "Students practice conforming to rules" (p. 100), in this
case, the forms prescribed by the teacher. Students use the forms as
a writing strategy to determine content and organize their material.
(3) They take the writing process step by step: invent ideas; place
ideas in the prescribed form; and revise to be sure form is followed.
(4) They learn formulas for presenting their ideas. Besides failing to
embrace important concepts of the process paradigm, the
modes/pattems approach relies on one teaching method: Teachers
present models for arranging written discourse.
The first feature discussed here is that the approach tends to
be teacher-centered. In the modes/pattems-dominant approach
described in Scenario A, teachers tend not to be facilitators and
collaborators as Knoblach and Brannon (1984) suggest is part of the
process paradigm (p. 104). They tend not to be enablers who help
others do "good works" and extend their already considerable
powers (Macrorie, 1984, pp. xi-xiv). Teachers do not "help students
... discover purpose" (Hairston, 1982, p. 24); rather they assign modes
as the aims. In doing so, they tend toward a directive and
authoritarian role, a feature of the traditional rather than process
paradigm (Knoblach & Brannon, p. 104). Although they may
intervene in student writing during the process, they do so to make
sure the student is executing the mode correctly. Specifically, when
they present forms in advance of the writing, they direct student
thinking. By necessity teachers must limit the length and
complexity of their presentations so that what Kinneavy (1971) calls
the peculiar logic and organizational patterns of each mode (p. 37)
are reduced to a list of some of their elements. However, as
Lindemann (1982) cautions, such reduction ignores "the process
whereby writers make meaning" (p. 20). Because writers don't go
through the full composing process, the opportunity to create
meaning is greatly reduced. That is, in Scenario A, the result of
presenting the aims of modes is that teachers risk making the early
rhetorical decisions for writers. Rather than working through the
complex interrelationships of occasion, purpose, and audience to
find new relationships among ideas-find meaningstudent writers
can allow the aims of the mode to guide their thinking. They may
easily assume that they must use these aims as guidelines for
writing in order to satisfy the teacher.
For instance, when teachers prescribe the mode, they focus
the occasion, which becomes an occasion to learn the mode. The
occasion may not relate to all student-selected subjects or student
perceptions of assigned subjects. It may not provide students with
"the opportunity to define and pursue writing aims that are
important to them" (NCTE Commission on Composition, 1984, p.
612). The occasion does relate to the mode students are to learn.
When teachers determine the mode, they also imply that purpose
in writing belongs to the mode, not to the writer. The mode, not
the writer, affects what readers should do, think, or feel after
reading. If the mode is argumentation, as in the example provided
in the scenario, the mode becomes the purpose; the purpose is to
convince the audience. The pattern presented by the teacher may be
a traditional structure for an argument like that described in the
scenario or a more modem structure like the Rogerian or
nonthreatening argument. If the writing assignment prescribes an
expository mode, the purpose is to explain or inform. The usual
patterns presented by the teacher are deductive or inductive. If the
concentration is narration or description, the purpose, as implied by
teachers, is generally to entertain or to enrich the reader's
perceptions. The pattern presented by teachers is usually
chronologic or spatial, which may have some variations like
flashback. When teachers determine the mode, they also tend to
establish the disposition of the audience In the example in
Scenario A students must see the audience from the perspective of
the argumentative mode, that is, an audience that needs
While even most unimaginative modes/pattems-committed
teachers would not forbid initiative, there is little or no incentive
for the student who wants to write a narrative to convince the
reader to take an action or the student who like Jonathan Swift in
"A Modest Proposal" finds irony a persuasive device. An
innovative student may rise above the prescribed characteristics of a
mode, but most will follow the guidelines established by the teacher
just to be safe and to expedite completion of the assignment.
Because teachers establish the occasion, purpose, and general
audience for the writing, evaluation of the written product is based
on whether it fulfills the aim and structural pattern of the mode as
prescribed by the teacher. Teachers who have expended energy to
relate these elements will have them uppermost in their minds and
cannot help looking for them in the written product. Teachers
won't evaluate the "product by how well it fulfills the writer's
intention and meets the audience's needs," as Hairston states is a
feature of the process paradigm (1982, p. 24). To consider these
qualities in an evaluation, teachers must interpret "writer's
intention" to mean Something like the writer's position on an issue
and "audience's needs" to mean the expectations readers will have
of the mode.
Second, a rigid modes/pattems approach is not student-
centered with the focus on "students' own writing and their
development as writers" as Knoblach and Brannon (1984) suggest is
characteristic of the process paradigm (p. 104). In Scenario A,
teachers prescribe writing devices and set a timetable-e.g7 first
narrative, then description, then exposition, then argumentation-
for student development (Knoblach & Brannon, p. 104). The
approach does not, as Murray (1972) suggests, encourage a student
"to attempt any form of writing which may help him discover and
communicate what he has to say" (p. 14). It forces all students to
learn the same material at the same time. Some students may,
because of their topic, need to attempt argumentation in their first
essay of the semester. Others may find personal narrative a
challenge if they wish to achieve a purpose like enhancing readers'
perceptions by creating convincing images or experimenting with
Third, the prescriptive use of modes and patterns limits
students perceptions of where and how arrangement fits into the
writing process. The prescriptive approach takes students through a
linear process rather than allowing them to go through the
overlapping and intertwining activities, the recursive process, that
writing is understood to be in the process paradigm (Hairston, 1982,
p. 24). It suggests to students that arrangement is only part of a
sequential system of skills to be learned through practice. It suggests
that arrangement is an orderly and controlled process rather than a
sometimes perplexing and mystifying search for a purpose and
structure that respond to writers' interests in their subjects. They
may never experience the search as a problem-solving competence
that they can develop (Knoblach & Brannon,. 1984, p. 104). They
may never experience purpose and meaning as "a function of both
text and reader" (Macrorie, 1984, p. xiv). In addition, because only a
limited number of modes and patterns can be covered in one
semester, students may never experience the rhetorical process of
selecting from a variety of forms and patterns that writers may
imitate or create. They come to see structure as a formulaic process,
one in which the writer fits his or her ideas into a predetermined
structure, into certain acceptable modes and patterns.
Students focus on mastering these prescribed formulas rather
than learning how decisions about arrangement evolve from the
interrelatedness of subject, occasion, purpose, and audience.
Eventually, they are on their own to make the transition from
formulas prescribed in writing classes, to making decisions about
arrangement in the writing they do for other classes and for
audiences outside of school. If the formulas they've learned don't
readily fit the situation, they may be at a loss to structure their ideas
into papers, reports, or proposals that mean something to a reader
other than peers who learn the same formulas or their writing
Fourth, in presenting arrangement as a formulaic matter, a
rigid modes/pattems approach is not holistic as Hairston (1982) uses
that term to describe the process paradigm; it does not view
arrangement "as an activity that involves the intuitive and non-
rational as well as rational faculties" (p. 24). Rather, it suggests to
students that arrangement is a logical function in which writers use
only objective or logical thought to arrange their ideas. For
instance, it implies that arrangement is like a mathematical
formula: writers place their ideas like numbers into the formula to
get the right answer. In this way, the prescriptive approach may de-
emphasize creative and intuitive thinking. In doing so, it
perpetuates one of the characteristics of the traditional paradigm
that has received much criticism (e.g., Stewart, 1978; Berlin &
Inkster,1980; Young, 1982). According to Berlin and Inkster, the
traditional paradigm for teaching writing places arrangement in the
province of logic In this paradigm arrangement is rational, regular,
and certain. It can be taught as and verified by formulas and rules;
whereas, creative or subjective thought is too individualistic and
mysterious to be taught and is not addressed. Teaching that uses
modes and patterns as prescriptions to teach structure presents
arrangement as rational formulas into which writers place their
thoughts (Berlin & Inkster, pp. 3-4). Instead of using heuristic
procedures (an important feature of the process paradigm according
to Young, p. 135) to determine a mode and pattern that best suits a
subject and rhetorical situation, writers find subjects or information
about subjects that will fit the mode or pattern presented by the
Finally, besides failing to fulfill the spirit of the process
paradigm, this approach often fails to respond to research which
shows that teacher presentation of information about writing or of
rules, advice, and models of well-structured writing, is not as
effective as other teaching methods. In a meta-analysis of studies
examining the effectiveness of teaching methods, Hillocks (1986)
found that this presentational method (when used alone) is the
least effective method (p. 248).
Despite ongoing evolution of concepts about the process
paradigm and mounting research evidence, textbooks as well as
college course descriptions indicate that many writing teachers
continue to imply the obligatory or prestigious status of modes and
patterns as guides to arrangement.
Fourteen years ago, in 1978, Stewart reported that despite the
fact that changes in writing instruction were being called for in the
professional journals, these changes were not, according to his
research, being reflected in the composition textbooks of the 1970s.
The textbooks of the seventies contained "narration, description,
exposition, argument, the research paper-in short, all of the
features of the current-traditional paradigm which had its origin in
late nineteenth-century rhetorical theory" (p. 175).
Nor did things change much in the eighties. Weaver (1982)
compiled an annotated bibliography of 121 developmental writing
and freshmen composition textbooks that were either new or
revised for the 1982-83 school year. Her collection of freshmen
composition textbooks showed that the books contained sections on
the writing process but concentrated on traditional paradigm
Burhans' 1983 review of college catalog course descriptions
also indicated that teaching practices were still dominated by a
traditional, prescriptive modes/patterns approach. Burhans study
of writing course descriptions presented in college catalogs showed
that undergraduate writing courses were "largely informed by
current-traditional concepts and methods" (p. 644). More
specifically relevant to a discussion of arrangement, Burhans found
a "widespread emphasis on exposition" (p. 646). According to
Burhans, "Even though exposition sometimes appears in the
company of other rhetorical modes, it more often does not, and it is
clearly the most emphasized element in most general writing
courses" (p. 647). Among Burhans' overall findings, those
pertaining to arrangement indicate it is presented as:
Analysis of models to be imitated.
Communication skills with emphasis on exposition.
Text to be evaluated apart from the process producing it by
correcting errors for students to revise.
A tool for testing what has been learned, not as a vital way of
learning, of generating meaning.
Something divorced from purpose and reader.
Surface skills that are discrete and sequential, (p. 651)
These conditions were in part, Burhans maintained, the result of
teachers of general writing receiving "little experience in writing
and less in relevant theory and research" (p. 651). He found, also
from the catalogs, that few schools provide courses in writing
theory and research (p. 648) and that most courses in teaching
writing follow traditional rather than process concepts (p. 649).
Today, prominent textbooks like The St. Martin's Guide to
Writing 3rd edition (1991), and The Prentice Hall Guide for College
Writers (1989)-to name just two-appear to contain more
expansive treatments of arrangement than Stewart indicated could
be found in textbooks of the 1970s, but they retain a modes format.
For instance, the new rhetorics expand or vary the traditional four
modes of essay to function-based labels like remembering (people,
places, events); explaining; evaluating; taking a position; problem
solving (proposing solutions); arguing; and exploring.
Arrangement discussions for each genre include strategies for
planning; patterns of organization; means for developing details;
and samples of previously, effectively used arrangement patterns.
Despite the expansion of modes, the textbooks present a sequential,
prescribed modes/patterns development plan for writers.
Burhans' finding that emphasis on exposition was
widespread remains true in other prominent contemporary
textbooks like Writing with a Purpose, 9th edition (1988), and Steps
to Writing Well, 4th edition (1990). These textbooks focus on
exposition and argumentation, with advice on how to write an
effective thesis statement and how to arrange a logical critique or
Webb's annotated bibliography of new or revised freshmen
writing textbooks for 1992 indicates that, while some new textbooks
concentrate on the writing process, many continue to put emphasis
on traditional modes or academic writing and conventional
Imaginative teachers may not follow the textbooks, but
scholars claim that the textbooks reflect and may even influence
teaching practices. Stewart (1978) concludes that textbooks reflect
what teachers want and what they know about and practice as
writing instructors. Burhans (1983), too, claims that "in the main
publishers print textbooks based on what the teachers who order
them are doing in the classroom" (p. 651). Welch (1987) offers
another view of the implications of textbook content. She
maintains that "the books act as persuasive places where new
teachers of writing are trained and where experienced ones
reinforce the training" (p. 271). The ideology presented in textbooks
that contain modes and models intimidates student writers and
"leads writing instructors away from composition theory,"
according to Welch (p. 270). Whether textbooks reflect or influence
teaching practices, they suggest that many teachers are still strongly
tied to a traditional, prescriptive modes/pattems approach like that
described in Scenario A
Certainly scholars must continue to expand their perceptions
of form, both their understanding of the traditional forms presented
in textbooks and their understanding of new concepts of form such
as those presented by Weathers (1976) or Podis and Podis (1990).
However, these descriptions of the characteristics of discourse need
not be adapted as modes or patterns for teachers to prescribe to
students. The selection of forms is too vast to cover in a semester of
writing instruction. More important, prescribing forms misdirects
students by implying that writing is a formulaic procedure, and it
prevents students from having "the opportunity to use writing as
an instrument of thought and learning across the curriculum and
in the world beyond school" (NCTE Commission on Composition,
1984, p. 612). Knowledge of effectively used forms is useful for
writing instructors, but its usefulness is that of one resource they
and their students have for developing arrangement acumen. Such
knowledge can inform teaching and learning but it doesn't have to
become the object of writing instruction. It can be balanced with
other strategies, which is what the heuristic approach described in
the following section permits.
The heuristic approach discussed here introduces writers to a
variety of techniques intended to enable them to develop
competence in arranging discourse. The techniques may be
introduced by teachers and applied by writers at various phases in
the writing process. Teachers involve students in activities or
describe optional, not mandated, strategies, so that individuals can
take advantage of techniques that work for them. Writers are
actively involved in the mental and artistic labor of composing;
they are involved in rhetorical decision-making; they are involved
in the full process of finding meaning. Scenario B describes the
In an heuristic approach, teachers ask students to select a subject the
students are interested in writing about. Teachers briefly describe an
invention strategy like brainstorming or freewriting and involve students
immediately in generating ideas about their own subjects. Once students
have some ideas about their subject, teachers describe and demonstrate
two or more heuristic strategies students may use to group and focus those
ideas, to consider purpose and audience, and to order key ideas. The
strategies might involve several phases and include question guides,
color/symbol coding, visualizations, etc Teachers might even present
awareness-heightening design activities before students become involved
in an essay. These activities help students become more aware of what
they intuitively know about design/arrangement. Visualization
strategies employed during composing may also call upon subjective and
intuitive knowledge. Each essay written throughout the semester
permits the introduction of additional heuristic arrangement techniques
to help students become more aware of structure in written discourse and to
help students decide which writing devices best suit their subjects,
purposes, and perceived audiences. Students may choose to use more than
one planning or structuring strategy before they begin writing drafts. Or
they may decide to begin writing and discover a structure as they draft; in
this instance, they may use the arrangement strategies introduced by
teachers to revise or test the comprehensiveness of their drafts. Teachers
provide support and advice on structures during the planning process
through conferences and responses to student queries This support may
include information about traditional modes and patterns, but its nature is
determined by the writer's intentions and perceptions of her subject. In
addition to conferences with teachers, writers share their plans and
drafts with other writers in the class. The structure of final drafts may
be evaluated by teachers or other students on the basis of whether the
writer has demonstrated clear purpose, sharp focus, coherence, and order.
The objective of the writing task is to involve students in the process of
making not just structural decisions but decisions about their meaning
based on their rhetorical purpose and audience.
Like the prescriptive modes/patterns approach, the heuristic
approach incorporates the more obvious features of the process
paradigm. It focuses on the writing process. It teaches strategies for
invention and arrangement. It includes expressive through
argumentative modes. It is rhetorically based; audience, purpose,
and occasion figure prominently in writing assignments. It permits
peer response during the process.
But the approach described in Scenario B goes further. (1)
The approach places the teacher in the facilitative and collaborative
role of guiding students to improve their competence in making
structural decisions. (2) It is student-centered; it requires students to
participate in and take responsibility for the rhetorical decision-
making about occasion, purpose, and audience. (3) The approach
allows students to select arrangement strategies and discover the
recursive nature of discourse problem-solving. (4) It stresses the
holistic nature of composing, of putting ideas together into a new
structure and meaning. Finally, it allows teachers to incorporate
various means and techniques.
First, in this approach, instead of presenting writers with
prescribed forms, teachers are facilitators who describe heuristic
strategies that help writers work through the planning developing
and structuring of discourse. Teachers help writers extend their
abilities by encouraging writers to choose or discover the heuristic
strategies that work best for them to develop the form of a piece of
writing. Teachers allow writers to go through the full process of
composing and, therefore, of finding meaning. As writers go
through the full process of arranging discourse, they find new
relationships between ideas and uncover their meaning and
purpose. Teachers, then, enable writers to learn through experience
that the interrelatedness of writer, subject, occasion, purpose, and
audience influence arrangement decisions. They help writers
determine purpose and discover that, whether the purpose is to
entertain, enhance, inform, or persuade, the writer decides. By
freeing writers to decide which elements of narration, description,
exposition, and logical argument as well as which structures like
chronology or deduction to use, teachers encourage writers to
discover that form follows the purpose the writer decides upon.
Teachers let writers discover that the occasion for writing relates to
focus, that is, the aspect of the subject the writer finds important and
the insight about the subject the writer feels compelled to share
with others. Teachers let writers consider all aspects of audience,
including what readers may need in the way of information; what
structural cues readers may need; and what readers might be
expected to do, think, or feel after reading.
Teacher evaluation of the written product can be based on
how well it fulfills the writer's intention and the audience's needs
because the writer herself makes the substantive decisions about
purpose and structure as well as audience. In writing about a
favorite sport, a student may discover that she wants the reader to
experience the sport and participate in it, and that the dominant
structure she wishes to use is an extended metaphor. She may use a
metaphor to show the sport as challenging and exciting or peaceful
and relaxing. She may work the metaphor into a narrative or let
the metaphor create a series of sensory images. The intention and
perception of audience needs are hers, and readers (teachers or
others) may respond to the effect the piece of writing has on them.
Writers learn from such responses that a combination of their
perceptions of subjects, their intended effects on audiences, and
their conception of audience disposition must guide their
Second, the approach is student-centered. The focus is on the
writer's own writing and development. Writers learn to compare
and contrast and learn effective structures for these development
devices when they need to explain a procedure or a position or
share an experience in ways that let readers understand their
meaning. Once they have made a comparison, the process and their
own writing serve as an example of the device. As writers practice
deciding how the various structures will serve their purposes and
occasions and how audiences may respond to narration, exposition
or argumentation, and as they determine the order their ideas will
take, they become more independent of teachers. As Macrorie
(1984) observes, students remember more and develop more
initiative when they retain responsibility and choice (p. 242).
Third, the heuristic approach promotes writing as a recursive
mental activity, one in which the elements of discourse are
interrelated. That is, it recognizes that writing involves inventing
drafting and revising but that the writer doesn't work through each
of these concerns separately or in a linear fashion. It presents
arrangement strategies writers may use at various stages of the
composing process-in the planning drafting or revising phases.
Fourth, using a heuristic approach allows writers to call "on
logical and nonlogical modes of thought, on reason and
imagination, on thinking and feeling on linearity and holism, on
personal writing as well as expository and persuasive writing"
(D'Angelo, 1975, p. vii). The heuristic approach rejects the notion of
arrangement as only static forms. Because it allows form to grow
with purpose, to blend with it rather than act as the container into
which thoughts must fit (Richards, 1965, p. 12), writers use all of
their faculties, both objective and subjective, to arrive at a form for a
written product (Kinneavy, 1971, p. 263). For instance, question
guides, which may be transformations of the characteristics of
traditional modes and patterns into questions, encourage writers to
use objective or logical thought to meet the expectations of readers
and generate information. Visualization strategies like mapping
and graphs encourage subjective thought which draws on what
writers "know intuitively, simply as part of their language
equipment, part of their being human" (Hartwell, 1979, p. 548).
Irmscher (1979) defines intuitive knowing as "a storing or
programming of selected and related perceptions drawn from
experience, applicable to new situations" (p. 33), and he maintains
that intuition is the basis of our sense of order. It allows writers to
move through the process of ordering and shaping texts without
consciously thinking through the process in separate steps (p. 45).
The heuristic approach follows the process paradigm by attempting
to develop and strengthen nonlogical as well as logical thought (e.g.,
Irmscher, pp. 31-47; Young, 1982, p. 136). It helps writers internalize
concepts of form "that become the intuitive source for shaping
content" (Irmscher, p. 105).
In addition to more completely incorporating features of the
process paradigm, the heuristic approach encourages multiple
methods. Teachers using a heuristic approach are more likely to
combine methods because the focus is on helping students discover
as well as solve a rhetorical problem rather than on helping them
apply standard solutions to pre-established rhetorical problems.
Hillocks (1986) determined from his analysis of research on teaching
methods that combining methods was more effective than using
any one. He identified and contrasted the effectiveness of three
methods of teaching writing. In the one he calls presentational, the
teacher provides information about writing. As stated earlier,
Hillocks found this method, when used alone, was least effective.
Hillocks found the second method, natural process, was more
effective. In this method students write, receive comments from
fellow students and the instructor, and revise based on these
comments. He found the third method, environmental, even
more effective. The principal feature of this method is that teachers
plan and use activities which involve students in problem-solving
activities. The problems students solve are similar to those they
will encounter in composing. In analyzing studies of these
methods, Hillocks found that because each of them showed some
positive results combining them is most effective. That is, effective
teaching includes high levels of student involvement in structured
and purposeful activities, provides ample writing and feedback
opportunities, and provides information about writing as student
need indicates (pp. 248-249).
Hillocks (1986) also determined that the most effective "foci
of instruction" for enhancing student writing were scales, criteria,
and specific questions that students apply to their own and others'
writing and inquiry exercises in which students are involved in
practicing strategies they will use in writing. Again, Hillocks found
that combining techniques rather than having a singular emphasis
was most effective (pp. 248-250).
In the heuristic approach, methods involve students in
discovery, experimental, and problem-solving activities. Class work
is focused on writing, receiving feedback, and revising. Teachers
present models and information about modes and patterns as
writers discover the need for these aids. The heuristic approach also
allows for combining foci of instruction; techniques may include
scales, criteria, questionnaires, and inquiry exercises.
Contrasting two hypothetical approaches to teaching
arrangement does not do justice to the imaginative and inspiring
qualities individual teachers may bring to either approach. The
intention is to illustrate that we have today a number of
alternatives for teaching arrangement and that we need to bring all
alternatives more directly into the process paradigm. However,
simply changing a method or technique does not take advantage of
the resources now available to and the challenge now implied for
teachers. As well as becoming aware of instructional alternatives,
teachers need resources to build their understanding of
arrangement and inform their decisions about what methods to
employ and which heuristics to introduce to their students. They
need practical, applicable information about current arrangement
theory and research. The following chapter looks at one effort that
attempts to make the scholarship about arrangement accessible.
And it illustrates some ways in which practitioners are
transforming that scholarship into teaching practices.
BUILDING A KNOWLEDGE BASE FOR TEACHING
Stewart (1978), Burhans (1983), and Welch (1987), noted in the
previous chapter, maintain that a disparity exists between
contemporary theory and practice in the teaching of writing. They
cite teacher training as well as textbooks as origins of the disparity.
In the area of arrangement, another cause for the disparity between
process-paradigm thinking and teaching practices may be the diffuse
nature of current information about arrangement.
Teachers interested in coming to a better understanding of
arrangement must search diverse fields of literature to find what
theorists and researchers are discovering about form because theory
and research about arrangement are usually components in all
rhetorical, writing process, psychological, and linguistic discussions.
Cognitive psychologists, for example, are concerned with the
mental activities involved in composing discourse. Arranging
ideas is included in the concerns these researchers address; it is part
of mental processing as are inventing ideas and transforming
experience into language. Discussions of applications to practice
(e.g., Elbow, 1973; Flower, 1989) also include arrangement as an issue
but rarely as a focal issue in teaching writing. Rather, contemporary
practitioners see arrangement as an integral part of every phase in
the writing process and every aspect of the rhetorical situation.
Instances in which scholars specifically present a pedagogy for
teaching arrangement are rare (e.g., Hartwell, 1979; Podis,1980; Coe,
In particular, the scholarship about arrangement has not been
united to provide a distinctively process-oriented pedagogy for
teaching. No theoretical base for teaching arrangement such as
what Young (1976) provided for invention has emerged. No
collection of arrangement heuristic strategies akin to those available
for invention (e.g., Simpson, 1990; Trussel, 1990) has surfaced to
offer teachers and student writers a comprehensive set of tools for
dealing with the complex process of structuring discourse.
The time seems right to balance the emphasis on invention
with emphasis on arrangement. The balance would make it
possible for teachers to work from a researched-based theory to
present writers not only with multiple pre-writing/invention
heuristic strategies (e.g., brainstorming, clustering, freewriting) but
with multiple arrangement heuristic strategies as well (e.g.,
summarizing expanding visualizing). In order to establish that
balance, teachers need a readily accessible body of scholarship about
arrangement, one that incorporates theory and practice and, for
writers, nonprescriptive heuristic strategies.
The only significant effort to bring the diversity of theory and
research into a body of knowledge about arrangement is Larson's
"Structure and Form in Non-Narrative Prose" (1987). The
importance of Larson's bibliographical essay is that it provides an
overview of the numerous perspectives on arrangement being
taken by scholars in various disciplines, perspectives that are often,
as Larson notes, "by-products of other kinds of inquiries" (p. 53).
While Larson (1987) provides a comprehensive collection of
contemporary perspectives on arrangement, he maintains that the
scholarship is incomplete in two ways. It needs more research into
the "fundamental topics" writers must explore in deciding about
form. And it needs to provide teachers with applications to practice
Further research into how writers discover structure certainly
will aid the teaching of arrangement, but theory-based applications
to practice are needed now in order to establish a contemporary
pedagogy for teaching arrangement. Larson (1987) says that much
current scholarship on arrangement has not been translated into
practice. However, I suggest that by making some adjustments in
Larson's presentation of the current scholarship, we begin to see
how theory and research can be and are being interpreted for
This chapter provides a brief summary of Larson's article and
proposes some modifications in his presentation of the material on
arrangement in order to make the material more adaptable to
teaching practice. Using the modifications as a macrostructure, the
chapter discusses ways some scholars are applying the theory and
research to teaching practices.
Surveying the Cut rent Scholarship
As in all areas of teaching writing, the teaching of
arrangement is informed by various disciplines (Hairston, 1982, 24).
This variety complicates teachers' searches for information about
arrangement. Diverse specialities or sub-disciplines take different
means to and have different purposes for the study of form. Larson
(1987) reduces the task for individual teachers by presenting a
panorama of theoretical perspectives on arrangement. Briefly, he
presents perspectives on arrangement both chronologically and by
discipline and special interest:
-first rhetorical theoretical reflections before 1975,
-then post-1975 psychological, new rhetorical, linguistic, and
philosophic observations about the structure of whole texts as
well as smaller units, and
-finally, current views on teaching the paragraph.
Larson (1987) maintains cognitive psychologists who are
studying the processes that go on in the minds of readers and of
writers, have contributed most to the theoretical study of structure
in non-literaiy prose (p. 42). One group of cognitivists (e.g,
Kieras,1985; Meyer, 1982) identifies how readers process texts, that
is, how they understand and retain what they read. These
cognitivists describe text structures and test how these structures
promote reading comprehension. Other cognitivists (e.g., Flower &
Hayes, 1981) study the processes writers go through to discover and
Linguists, particularly those in the fields of text linguistics (de
Beaugrande & Dressier, 1981) and psycholinguistics (e.g., Kintsch &
Van Dijk, 1983), study structures in texts in order to determine what
gives a text unity and coherence. They identify recurring
organizational plans that readers use to interpret texts and describe
effects writers achieve with devices such as paragraphs, cohesive
ties, and thematic progressions.
Philosophers such as speech act theorists (e.g., Searle, 1969)
share many concerns with linguists. Speech act theorists also
contribute to our understanding of texts as planned total units.
Additionally, they offer insights on verbal utterances, including
written utterances, as actions performed in reference to an audience,
that is, in a social context.
Rhetoricians, too, enhance contemporary views of
arrangement. For teachers, the important perspectives offered by
rhetoricians include new interpretations of classical oratory,
interpretations in which occasion, purpose, and audience guide
arrangement in written discourse (e.g., Corbett, 1965; Young &
Becker, 1965; Kinneavy, 1971). Other rhetoricians offer insights into
how the strategy for inquiry, or invention, may evolve into a
structure (e.g., D'Angelo, 1975).
Scholars interested in the paragraph examine it both as a
"self-contained unit of writing" and as a "subdivision in a total
discourse," according to Larson (1987, p. 72). In addition to
suggesting new ways of perceiving the structure of paragraphs (e.g.,
Christensen, 1978), scholars examine the paragraph as a structural
device writers use to achieve an effect-tone, pace, emphasis, and
more-in a piece of discourse (e.g., Rodgers, 1966).
Sampling Applications to fractice
Larson's (1987) overview of theory and research is a first step
for building a knowledge base. It assists teachers by compressing the
scholarship about arrangement. However, Larson leaves to others
the second step of transforming that scholarship into a framework
for teaching. In order to partially accomplish the transformation
from research to a process-oriented pedagogy for teaching
arrangement, we need to regroup the scholarship Larson presents.
Larson (1987) groups scholars by discipline and special
interest: rhetorical theorists, psychologists, linguists, philosophers,
and scholars of the paragraph. His interest is in presenting what
various disciplines have to say about arrangement. Contemporary
teachers, however, are concerned with helping students through
the writing process-from generating ideas to evaluating products.
Therefore, a more useful classification for teaching arrangement
may be to distinguish 1) what we know about discovering, refining,
and adjusting form in the process of creating drafts (drafting texts)
from 2) what we know about discovering refining and adjusting
form in drafts (revising/editing texts). These two broad categories
provide a way of seeing the scholarship from a process-oriented
perspective that includes processes for constructing drafts and
processes for evaluating products. They provide teachers with a
framework for assembling techniques that speak to the dual
concerns of process and product:
1) scholarship that addresses arrangement in the planning and
drafting stages of writing, and
2) scholarship that suggests ways for writers to perceive and
evaluate arrangement in texts.
Research results can then be organized within these two categories.
In the first categoiy, research into the composing process and
audience awareness provide insights that teachers may use to help
students plan discourse. From these insights teachers may apply or
develop techniques that enable writers to consciously draw upon
their tacit knowledge of arrangement as they compose. In the
second category, studies in reading comprehension and text
structures can be transformed into techniques that add to writers'
knowledge of and abilities to evaluate effective organizational and
coherence devices. In this category are the techniques that offer
writers substantive ways to revise.
These process-oriented categories provide a theoretical
framework for teaching practices. They suggest the process nature
of arranging discourse. They allow us to explore meaningful ways
of using a heuristic approach for teaching arrangement.
The third step for building a knowledge base from which to
teach arrangement is to review how practitioners are transforming
the theory and research into teaching techniques. Using the
groupings identified above, the following sections present samples
of teaching techniques that illustrate transitions from theory to
practice. The samples do not include all possible applications;
rather, they represent possibilities for applications.
In creating the form of a text, effective writers consciously or
subconsciously consider many variables. Subject, occasion, purpose,
and audience all influence arrangement decisions. To gain some
insight into how writers integrate these variables, teachers may look
to research investigating writing processes and audience awareness
as well as to work that conceptualizes the research as practice.
Writing process. Research into the writing processes of
college freshmen (Pianko, 1979; Perl, 1979, 1980; Flower & Hayes,
1980a, 1980b, 1981; Matsuhashi, 1981) indicates that writers begin
considering arrangement even at the invention phase and move
backward and forward to order and reorder ideas throughout
composing. They may make early decisions about what
information to include and what to leave out, but they also
continue to make these decisions through final editing. Writers
may move quickly to decide upon a beginning for a piece of writing
or to group ideas, but they continue to re-order ideas as they find
new relationships among them. Both skilled and unskilled writers
go through the same processes (which Spivey  describes
succinctly as selecting organizing and connecting). However,
unskilled writers spend less time reflecting on what they've written
and less time planning the next relationships (Pianko, 1979, p. 10).
They have a smaller repertoire of learned arrangement concepts to
help them generate, develop, and revise forms (Flower & Hayes,
1981, p. 381).
Practitioners suggest that teachers let students work through
the recursive act of arranging They do not present arrangement as
a separate act in composing but see writers "exploring" "growing"
or "discovering" form and meaning as they write. Their
interpretations of process theory include contemporary rhetorical
theory as well. Subject, occasion, purpose, and audience figure
prominently in writers' decisions about form.
Murray (1982) maintains that teachers need to give writers
the freedom to experiment. He points out that writers learn how to
arrange discourse by "exploring" their subjects and discovering
relationships among ideas.
The writer experiences form as he feels the irrelevant
becoming relevant, the random assuming pattern, the
apparently pointless unrelated fact point toward meaning.
...the student writer...should be free to toy with his facts, since
the writer may be most disciplined when he is most playful,
teasing meaning out of evidence which once seemed
irrelevant or contradictory.
Once the student has built a form for himself
which stands up to a critical reader he will never be
quite the same again. ...The student writer must make
his own paragraph, poem, report, or story which has
form. He must know the sense of completeness the
writer feels when he has made something which was
not there before, when he has experienced form. (p.
For Murray (1982), experiencing form means carefully
designing discourse so that it has focus, coherence, and order. The
writer constructs a design that gives both the writer and the reader
a sense of completeness (pp. 67,115). In Write to Learn (1984), he
provides beginning writers with strategies to explore their focus and
order. Focusing strategies include establishing a controlling image
and beginning at the end. Ordering strategies include determining
what questions readers will want answered, and outlining.
Speaking to writers in Writing Without Teachers Elbow
(1973) cautions against seeing arrangement as a step that comes
before actual writing. He advises writers to "grow" their meaning
and form. According to Elbow, arriving at form and meaning in
writing is "a developmental process in which you start writing at
the very beginning-before you know your meaning at all-and
encourage your words gradually to change and evolve" (p. 15). He
recommends that writers write freely, sum up frequently, and look
for conflicting ideas in their freewriting in order to find an
organizing principle. "Look at all your material in terms of one
idea or organizing principle and then in terms of the other," Elbow
advises (p. 51). By looking at contradictions in various organizing
principles-that is, in various focuses or controlling ideas-writers
find control, coherence, and meaning (pp. 15, 50).
Similarly, Iindemann (1982) believes writers discover form.
However, she maintains that teachers should present planning
strategies but "encourage students to be flexible about them" (p. 167).
She cautions teachers against allowing students to become slavishly
attached to an outline or prescribed form. "When students adhere
too rigidly to their original intention, they seem less likely to make
choices which might improve the piece" (p. 167). She recommends
students "do enough prewriting to develop sufficient material to
link" (p. 168). Once students have sufficient material, they might
use Comprone's wheel to plan their essays. The wagon wheel is a
visual outline; the main idea or hub of the wheel is developed by
subpoints or spokes that are connected by examples and transitions
noted in the rim. She also suggests that D'Angelo's paradigms,
which incorporate traditional modes and systems of development
(pp. 175-178), may serve as heuristic strategies for form. If the
subdivisions of the paradigm are converted into questions, they
help writers see possible forms as well as generate information.
Most important, Lindemann says, "If we encourage students to find
form in discourse at each stage of the composing process, they will
understand that a paper's organization derives from a range of
choices writers control when they perceive relationships to express"
The perspectives these examples illustrate are, first, that
writers need to experience the full process of composing that they
need to discover form in the process of composing Second,
however, they need practical strategies for enhancing that process.
Audience awareness. Other scholars offer teachers insights
into how writers' awareness of audience influences their
arrangement planning and decisions. According to Rubin (1984),
the research shows that "Both good and poor writers exhibit
concern for readers" (p. 214). Poor writers, however, believe readers
have rigid expectations while expert writers consider themselves
and readers as active agents involved in a transaction. Among all
writers, concern for audiences' needs goes on throughout the
composing process. These considerations influence form as well as
produce new ideas.
Just what role audience plays in writers' decisions about form
and content, however, involves a complex synthesis of perspectives
Ede and Lunsford (1988) call audience addressed, or an actual
audience, and audience invoked, or a writer's created audience.
The authors caution teachers not to emphasize one of the
perspectives over another because "the term audience refers not
just to the intended, actual, or eventual readers of a discourse, but to
all those whose image, ideas, or actions influence a writer during
the process of composition" (p. 182). In addition, a complete view of
audience must include "the intricate relationship of writer and
audience to all elements of the rhetorical situation" (p. 183), the
writer's aim, and the genre the writer chooses, according to Ede and
Lunsford. "It is the writer, who, as writer and reader of his or her
own text, one guided by a sense of purpose and by the particularities
of a specific rhetorical situation, establishes the range of potential
roles an audience may play" (p. 180).
Berkenkotter's (1981) study of the role of audience awareness
in the composing processes of expert writers demonstrates how
audience is integrated with other rhetorical concerns even when
writers have an actual (addressed) audience. She found that more
than previous rhetorical training, two factors play an influential
role in expert writers' sense of audience. The first factor was
writers' perceptions of the writing problem, that is, their purpose in
describing their career or choice of career to an audience of high
school seniors. This self-defined problem determined what land of
discoursenarrative, exposition, or persuasion-writers thought
would be most effective. The second factor was that writers' choices
of discourse in turn determined to what extent they kept focused on
the audience. For instance, if the choice of discourse were
persuasion, writers thought about the audience more often and in
more ways than writers who chose a narrative discourse. Writers
who chose expository discourse fell in the middle of the spectrum.
Berkenkotter concluded that "the ability to create context has an
important heuristic function" (p. 395) for experienced writers. They
make some inferences about their audience then cast around to find
a suitable plan (p. 393). In order to help student writers develop a
sense of context and audience, Berkenkotter claims teaching
methods must challenge writers with different rhetorical situations.
She closes by offering some suggestions of techniques that enable
"writers to 'adjust the transaction' between themselves and their
readers" (p. 397). The techniques she notes are case studies,
audience-based heuristics, and mental or literal interactions with
Flower (1979) offers another way for teachers to perceive the
interaction between audience awareness and the writer's arranging
process. Like Ede and Lunsford (1988), Flower sees the need to help
build students' awareness of audience as a function of purpose and
rhetorical situation (Flower & Hayes, 1977, pp. 458-460). According
to Flower (1979), building audience awareness can be accomplished
by helping students through the process of transforming writer-
based prose into reader-based prose. Some students, whether they
are writing personal experience narratives, analyzing the pros and
cons of an issue, or stating their opinion, have difficulty moving
from writing they do to satisfy themselves or an assignment to
considering what they wish readers to do, think, or feel when they
finish reading a text and what readers need in the way of form or
cues in order to comprehend the text in the way the writer
intended. They must become aware that even a personal experience
narrative, when intended for a reader, must be transformed from
personal thoughts to public, reader-based expression.
Flower (1979) distinguishes between writer-based and reader-
based prose to make the point that "Good writing ... is often the
cognitively demanding transformation of the natural but private
expressions of Writer-Based thought into a structure and style
adapted to a reader" (p. 20). Flower explains that the function of
writer-based prose is to allow writers to record their thoughts for
themselves. The structure of writer-based prose is associative and
narrative, following the writer's train of thought. Writers use
loaded words and shift contexts in ways that have meaning only for
themselves. Reader-based prose, on the other hand, attempts to
communicate something to someone else. Writers must transform
their egocentric thoughts for a reader using shared language,
structures, and contexts (p. 20). Teachers, according to Flower, need
to understand that writer-based prose is a stage in the process. They
can help writers use it to select a focus important both to writer and
reader; to move from details to concepts; and to transform narrative
structure into hierarchical relationships organized around a
purpose (p. 37). Flower's strategies for helping writers make the
transformation are first finding rich bits in invention notes and
nutshelling (1989, pp. 111-117) and moving to miore specific
strategies like organizing for a creative reader and setting up a
shared goal (1989, pp. 157-212).
Audience awareness, then, is not a separate concern of
writers, but an element writers consider along with purpose and
rhetorical situation, according to these scholars and practitioners.
Applications to practice need, therefore, to include activities and
strategies that not only move writers from reflective writing to
reader-oriented prose but that help writers consider the needs of
general as well as specific audiences. These practitioners' views on
teaching audience awareness illustrate that no one strategy can
serve every writing situation. Teachers need to provide a variety of
strategies for freshmen writers to adapt to their specific needs.
Revising and Editing Texts
Determining the effectiveness of a discourse structure
requires that writers become consciously aware of reader
expectations and of structural features. To help raise students'
awareness of text structures and increase their revising and editing
discernment, teachers may find investigations of writers/readers'
comprehension and structuring processes useful. Examples of ways
practitioners are transforming these investigations into teaching
methods and techniques are provided below.
Reading comprehension. Readers' expectations, the
learned "schemata" they bring to a text, and the ways readers
process information are areas of interest to reading
comprehension scholars. Generally, research-supported
theory into reading comprehension indicates that readers
bring existing knowledge about structures (schemata) to texts.
This knowledge aids them to select, organize, store, and
retrieve information. "Comprehension involves the
matching of what the reader already knows to a new
message" (Vacca & Vacca, 1986, p. 15).
Spivey (1990) explains that writers as well as readers
use this prior knowledge to construct meaning in texts:
"Writers construct meaning when they compose texts, and
readers construct meaning when they understand and
interpret texts" (p. 256). Both utilize prior knowledge in a
complex process of organizing, selecting, and connecting to
make meaning (p. 257). The similarities in the process
become apparent when writers compose from resource texts.
In some instances, writers may preserve the organizational
pattern of the source text, which they often do in writing
summaries, according to Spivey (p. 265). In other situations
writers create structures; they recombine, reorder, and
generate different patterns (pp. 267-268), even when they rely
on "source texts for much content to fill the new
configuration" (p. 280). Whether writers follow the source
text structure or create new structures is determined by their
own discourse purposes. Writers' discourse purposes are also
the deciding factor in the content decisions they make.
Writers generate content (such as making connections not
provided in source text content) to fill out a form that
accomplishes their discourse purpose. They "create their
own heuristic spaces as they construct plans for meeting their
discourse goals" (p. 281).
Spivey's (1990) investigations also indicate that better
readers produce "tighter structures." They develop their
ideas, which produces larger "content clusters," and they
introduce and provide more connections between the
content clusters (p. 267). These findings support those of an
earlier study. Kennedy (1985), too, found a connection
between reading ability and writing ability. Kennedy found
that more fluent readers were more assertive in note taking
and in incorporating notes into their texts (pp. 451-452) than
were not-so-fluent readers. More fluent readers also engaged
in more elaborate composing planning processes than did
not-so-fluent readers (p. 452).
One may interpret these findings to suggest that the
structural knowledge writers and readers need in order to
organize, select, and connect information can be strengthened
by teaching traditional forms. Coe (1987) points out that
besides allowing readers to process and understand texts and
serving as a heuristic for writers to generate ideas, forms are
social. They permit communication. According to Coe,
Learning conventional forms, often by a tacit process of
'indwelling,' is a way of learning a community's
discourse, gaining access, communicating with that
community. ...Insofar as form is socially shared, adopting
the form involves adopting, a least to some extent, the
community's attitude, abiding by its expectations....
Writers' abilities to use formal patterns particular
readers will recognize allow them to communicate
accurately and effectively, (p. 19)
However, Coe (1987) maintains that community-
accepted forms should be approached from a process
orientation rather than a static-formulas orientation. That is,
instruction in form is necessary but should be subordinated
to process. According to Coe, form should be placed in "the
context of various processes: creative, communicative,
mental, social, and learning. ...we create a kind of process
approach that encompasses and transforms formalism, rather
than simply opposing it" (p. 26).
One implication we can draw from Spivey (1990),
Kennedy (1985), and Coe (1987) is that writers/readers may
use community-accepted forms more effectively and
efficiently if they become consciously aware of them.
Writers, even fluent writers, may benefit from moving tacit
or unconscious knowledge to the level of focal or conscious
A method for helping writers become more conscious
of structure is to present them with information about
recognized forms. Podis and Podis (1990) make this point
when they suggest that in addition to becoming more
conscious of traditional forms students need to be aware of
forms preferred by particular readers. The authors point out
that "instruction in arrangement has tended to emphasize
patterns that have long been focal: i.e., the conscious use of
the familiar patterns of organization, such as
comparison/contrast, cause/effect, classification, etc" (p. 433).
In addition to these forms, Podis and Podis propose nine
patterns of arrangement preferred by college instructors.
These forms have tended to exist in the tacit domain of
knowledge. The authors' goal is to make more conscious or
public the patterns that professor-readers tend to value.
These patterns include structures like obvious before
remarkable, presentation before refutation, and likely before
speculative. The plans evolved from what the authors
maintain are professor-readers' expectations and their
preferences that student writers should generally choose
more obvious patterns than they themselves or professional
writers might (p. 439). The authors caution teachers who
present these plans to point out to students that no plan is
ultimately fixed, that every plan depends upon the situation.
This caution is included in the arrangement principles
Podis (1980) suggests in another process application. Podis
proposes teaching generally accepted "principles'' of
arrangement, principles writers may use as a foundation for
arranging discourse. He identifies three principles
experienced writers use in arranging expository discourse. As
Podis states the first principle, it comprises three statements
that describe the nature and function of organization:
(1) every paper ought to have a consciously crafted scheme
of arrangement; (2) there is, however, no single correct,
predetermined organizational scheme for any given essay,
but rather there are superior and inferior alternative
arrangements which the writer must first discover and
among which he or she must then discriminate; and (3)
the superior arrangement is that which best highlights the
point or thesis of the paper, (p. 197)
The second principle of organization is "group likes with likes" (p.
199). The third principle is "establish a progression if you can
discover one which usefully advances your thesis" (p. 200). Podis
notes that he uses traditional patterns to teach invention, but he
concentrates on structural principles derived from these patterns to
teach arrangement (p. 201). He maintains that the principles
particularly help students having organizational difficulties to order
their writing (p. 204).
In addition to using forms as heuristics, presenting form
information, and teaching principles, practitioners are also
suggesting ways students may discover forms in model texts.
Irmscher (1979), for instance, suggests an activity similar to the
"strip story" technique recommended for second language courses.
Teachers rearrange the lines of a poem or sentences/paragraphs of
an essay and ask students to put them in the order they think best.
Once they have reordered the text, they can compare it to the
original, to the model, and discuss variations.
Process practitioners, then, are incorporating research on
readers' needs and expectations into their techniques for teaching
arrangement by realigning their views of traditional forms and
adjusting the ways they present the information to students. They
recognize that readers rely on traditional forms to process ideas and
that descriptions of readers' expectations can provide heuristics for
writers struggling with order and focus.
Text structures. Scholars of text linguistics examine the
properties of whole texts. They are concerned with identifying
devices that make texts communicative. These devices include
such finite cohesive tools as conjunctions as well as
macrostructures and text types like the traditional modes (de
Beaugrande & Dressier, 1981).
Although emphasis is primarily on the product, some
applications for process teaching have been posed. For the
most part, practitioners propose using linguistic observations
to develop techniques that help students revise and edit.
They include techniques for examining discourse
macrostructures as well as internal arrangement concerns
like coherence effectiveness.
The editing and revising strategies proposed are often
familiar strategies shifted to other phases in the writing
process. For instance, Connors and Glenn (1989) suggest
using outlines in the editing phase of writing. They
maintain that "outlining before writing can be terribly
inefficient" because writers "often don't know what they are
going to write about until they write" (p. 148). Outlining a
draft in progress, on the other hand, can help student writers
see where changes need to be made (p. 150). This example
suggests that reading aids like Comprone's wheel (noted
earlier as a planning strategy), story maps, and diagrams/trees
may also be used by students as techniques to examine the
arrangements of drafts in progress.
Connors and Glenn (1989) provide another application
of linguistics research. They suggest using Winterowd's
seven transitional relationships to help students edit for
coherence among the paragraphs and parts of an essay. They
provide a list of the relationships and suggest ways for
teachers to introduce them in demonstration exercises and
move students to using them in their own essays. They
maintain, "Winterowd's system, not for generating
arrangements, works well for checking arrangements already
generated" (p. 151). According to Connors and Qenn,
practice with the technique will help students develop "an
intuitive grasp of transitions that will benefit them
throughout the drafting process" (p. 152).
Hartwell (1979) proposes having students discover the
transitional relationships for themselves by first examining
conversations. Using recorded conversations, students look
for patterns of connection between sentences. Once they
have established a list of patterns found in oral discourse,
they move to written discourse. Hartwell notes that the
transitional patterns students identify include Winterowds
list and some additions. The importance of beginning with
conversations and letting students find transitional patterns
themselves, Hartwell claims, is that the process allows them
to build on their natural ability to connect sentences. It lets
students see "the potentials of form in language rather than
close the classroom off from what the student tacitly knows"
From discovering sentence connections, students
move to examining forms in paragraphs. Summarizing
paragraphs and applying Christensen coordination/
subordination analyses to paragraphs are strategies Hartwell
(1979) uses to sharpen students' awareness of structures in
These examples of applications indicate that although
text linguists are predominantly concerned with the written
product they are nonetheless providing insights for process-
oriented instruction. They are providing teachers and writers
with the means for discussing structural /coherence devices
as functional aspects of texts rather than as fixed patterns and
usage or grammar rules. For instance, the objective for
discussing transitional relationships in a text is to involve
writers in considering how choosing connective devices
affects and is affected by purpose, subject, and audience; the .
objective is to help writers reason out those choices and
integrate that reasoning into their writing process.
Larson's (1987) overview of current scholarship gives
teachers some idea of the ways in which psychologists, rhetoricians,
philosophers, and linguists view arrangement. Staying abreast of
this diversity of scholarship is an ongoing challenge. But from the
overview teachers can develop a framework for transforming the
current scholarship into process teaching concerns. And using this
framework, teachers can assemble and give reason to the various
instructional techniques practitioners are suggesting.
What remains is to develop a pedagogy for teaching
arrangement that combines 1) process paradigm thinking, 2) current
research on teaching methods and arrangement, and 3) heuristic
techniques for teaching arrangement. Chapter 3 proposes one
possible pedagogy. It is founded on theory derived from the process
paradigm for teaching writing and from the current scholarship on
arrangement. It suggests teaching methods derived from the
process framework presented in this chapter. And it provides
examples of techniques that reflect the current scholarship on
BUILDING A PEDAGOGY FOR TEACHING ARRANGEMENT
In the history of the process approach to teaching
composition, practitioners have proposed pedagogies for teaching
arrangement. In 1979, Hartwell proposed a pedagogy that began
with recognizing the organizing principles of speech at the level of
sentence connections and moved to larger units of discourse.
Almost a decade later, Coe (1987) proposed a "new rhetorical"
pedagogy for teaching arrangement, a pedagogy that "defines the
place of forms in the [writing] process" (p. 14).
In the new rhetoric, according to Coe (1987), form is created by
and serves the rhetorical situation; form gives meaning to subject
matter. For writers, creating meaning from subject matter requires
working with form in all its variant roles: as organic and
constructed, flexible and rigid, generative and constraining, social
and personal (p. 20). Making meaning is a process of adapting or
creating forms to meet the purpose of the writer and the needs of
the reader. In the process of forming the writer combines form and
subject matter to communicate, to allow readers to interpret
meaning. Since the writer's goal is communication and since
conventional forms aid the writer to adapt structures to subject
matter and the reader to interpret discourse, Coe claims teachers
need to teach conventional forms. He stresses, however, that
teachers also need to explain the particular situation and audiences
for which specific forms are suited, that is, their "functional
rhetorical context" (p. 22). Teachers need to help writers see that
form is guided by "appropriateness and effectiveness" (p. 21).
The pedagogy proposed in this thesis incorporates Coe's
(1987) notion of a pedagogy that teaches form as a process of
adapting subject matter to rhetorical contexts. Its distinguishing
feature, however, is that it is founded on theoretical principles for
teaching principles that guide teaching methods and selection of
activities/strategies. The pedagogy proposed here, then, comprises
an instructional theory, teaching methods, and teaching techniques.
The theory rests on comprehensive and fundamental
principles that state beliefs about learners' and teachers' roles in the
arranging process. These principles help us to identify general ways
to create a powerful learning environment. The principles center
attention on helping students to experience the comprehensive
nature of form and forming. The principles provide a focus for
instruction but allow it to be eclectic: teachers may add new and
innovative methods and techniques. The principles permit
teachers to draw from and balance important concepts and material
from the diverse scholarship on arrangement: teachers may
incorporate rhetorical, psychological, philosophical, and linguistic
theories of form.
To create the learning environment suggested by these
theoretical principles, teaching needs applicable methods. These
methods describe the types of information teachers will present and
the types of tasks in which students will be involved. Finally,
teaching needs actual applications. Techniques, then, describe
specific activities, exercises, and writing strategies teachers introduce
in the classroom.
The teaching theory behind this pedagogy is based on a
humanistic philosophy made up of four principles:
1. Students come to the classroom with an innate faculty for the
analytic thinking required to arrange, order, and connect
ideas to make meaning with language.
2. Planning and arranging discourse involves a network of
interrelated and recurring thought processes that go on
3. Learners are responsible for their learning; teachers are
enablers who draw out learners' planning and arranging
4. Learning is discovering and becoming independent; it goes
beyond the classroom.
The first principle is basically Platonic. It states that students
came to the classroom with an innate faculty for the analytic
thinking required to arrange, order, and connect ideas to make
meaning with language. This principle is supported by current
investigations into the planning processes of young writers.
Bereiter and Scardamalia's (1982) studies of the planning processes
of young writers support the theory that children have the potential
to structure discourse in various ways, but their research indicates
young children need assistance to knowingly use it:
we conclude that children do have structural
knowledge of genres other than narrative and that this
knowledge could potentially be put to conscious use by
them in planning but there are no indications that
they actually do use it consciously. It must function as
implicit knowledge, like their knowledge of sentence
grammar, shaping production but having no role in
conscious planning. ...Perhaps, in order for high-level
intentions to be translated into local decisions, a writer
has to be able to make conscious use of concepts
linking language to function, (p. 32)
The second principle is taken from cognitivist research into
the writing process. It states that planning and arranging discourse
involves a network of interrelated and recurring thought processes
that go on throughout composing These processes combine reason
and intuition; they are recursive, not linear, and experienced, not
instilled; they require writers to consider the needs of subject,
audience, and purpose in shaping their thoughts; and they require
writers to cope with the variant roles of form.
This principle is supported by research into the planning
processes of college writers (Pianko, 1979; Perl, 1979, 1980; Flower &
Hayes, 1980a,1980b, 1981; Matsuhashi, 1981). These studies suggest
that arranging is a recursive activity in which writers use analytic
and intuitive thinking to review where they have been and decide
where they are going with a piece of writing. Experienced freshmen
writers may do some preplaning but as they draft they reread and
rearrange in deciding what idea to start with and what ideas to
include. In the process, they may use learned patterns, but most
structures are the result of generating developing and revising to
find meaning and purpose. They analyze and create to find form
(Flower & Hayes, 1981, p. 373).
Studies of audience awareness also support this principle.
The research suggests that writers' abilities to see their audience as
having views different from their own, that is, see their audience
objectively, coupled with their knowledge of writing strategies,
influence decisions they make about arranging material. In "Social
Cognition and Written Communication," Rubin (1984) provides an
overview of the research into audience awareness, including
studies of writing processes, cognitive development, and social
psychological development. Rubin concludes from the research
that "audience awareness is a significant component at various
levels of the composing processes. It influences mental operations
during writing and results in identifiable discourse features" (pp.
214-215). Writers select organization patterns and systems "for
topicalizing and displaying priorities among bits of information"
based on their sense of audience (p. 213).
The third principle is drawn from the teaching concepts
described by Ken Macrorie in Twenty Teachers (1984). It states that,
within the classroom, learners are responsible for their learning;
teachers are enablers who draw out learners' planning and
arranging capabilities. Teachers encourage, nurture, and challenge
students to utilize and recognize what they know about structuring
discourse; they "help others to do good works and extend their
already considerable powers" (p. xi).
The fourth principle is also drawn from Macrorie's teaching
concepts. It states that learning is discovering and becoming
independent; it goes beyond the classroom. Students discover their
innate capacity for structuring discourse by participating in the
process. They become more consciously aware of their innate
capacity for arranging discourse as they call upon it to compose. The
conscious ability to arrange ideas is what students carry beyond the
writing class to other writing as well as problem-solving situations.
The importance of beginning with these principles is that
teachers' and students' roles become more clear. The teacher, as
Macrorie (1984) suggests, becomes a facilitator whose task is one of
providing an environment that encourages students to develop an
appreciation of form, to activate their capacity for arranging. The
student's role is that of "doer." The student is actively involved in
planning and making decisions about structure.
How then do we go about applying these principles? If we
accept that students come to the classroom with a capacity, however
under- or well-developed, for classifying and arranging ideas as
stated in principle one, our task becomes one of assisting them to
put this ability to conscious use and to extend it in written
discourse. By making the conscious decisions for themas the
traditional method does in presenting form as an empty container
into which they put their ideas-we keep them from becoming
conscious of their own capabilities. Our methodology, instead,
should be to provide activities and heuristics that help writers
become more conscious and critical of the decisions they are making
to plan, develop, and structure discourse.
If we accept that planning and arranging discourse involves a
complex network of thought processes as stated in principle two,
then we must allow students to experiment and to move forward
and backward through their interrelated thoughts and decide how
best to arrange them. We must allow them to be writers. We can,
however, intervene in students' planning processes by listening
observing questioning and challenging them to use and recognize
what they know about structuring discourse. We can discuss
arrangement as students generate ideas about a subject, as they draft
those ideas into a text, as they consider what effect they wish to have
on a reader, and as they reexamine and revise their decisions.
If we want to draw out learners' planning and arranging
capabilities as stated in principle three, we must permit them to be
accountable for the planning decisions they make by allowing them
to see how those decisions affect readers. We must provide
opportunities for students to get reader feedback We must also
provide activities that help students become more conscious of
reader expectations, their own and others.
Finally, if we accept, as stated in principle four, that students
need to discover on their own in order to become independent
thinkers, we must offer numerous strategies from which they
choose what works for them specifically. We must combine three
teaching methods-guided activity (involving students in
arrangement activities); natural process (encouraging students to
discover their own structures), and presentational (involving
students in examining models of well-organized writing)-to assist
students with arrangement decisions.
Integrating the principles and methods into teaching
techniques is the final transformation. Practitioners have proposed
numerous techniques. These include activities or exercises guided
by teachers as well as heuristic strategies used by writers. Selecting
from among techniques proposed by others or creating one's own
are tasks teachers can accomplish by using as guidelines the
principles and methods discussed above.
The examples presented here were selected because singly or
in combination they appear to serve explicitly the principles and
preferred methods described above:
1. They help writers become more aware of what they already
know about structure by promoting exploration of and
experience with structure.
2. They provide experiences that involve students in the
recursive decision-making process that arranging is as well as
provide practical tools teachers may use to question and
challenge students during the process.
3. They include heuristic strategies, tangible devices students can
use independently and return to in other writing situations
or problem-solving situations-without teacher guidance.
These strategies are helpful to individual writers as they
compose their own texts and to writers receiving and giving
feedback on one anothers' texts.
4. Both activities and strategies are varied enough to provide
students with different ways of perceiving structure, so that
they avoid becoming dependent on prescriptions and fixed
Activities or strategies may accomplish more than one
principle or employ more than one method. In addition,
individual teachers' styles, adaptations, or methods will vary.
Therefore, rather than attempting to connect specific techniques to
specific principles or methods, the sample techniques presented in
this section follow a process design. They are first divided into the
two categories discussed in Chapter 2: those used during the process
of creating texts and those used to edit and examine texts. They are
then divided into groups that appear to be most useful during
phases of the process.
As an introduction to structure in written discourse, teachers
may find useful Irmscher's guided activity for finding form in
various settings (1979, p. 105). The activity leads students from
considering form in familiar media like buildings, movies, and
sports events to considering form in the written medium. Other
activities presented by Irmscher involve students in examining
structures in existing texts, including poems and essays (pp. 105-106).
Exhibit A in the Appendix adapts one of Irmscher's text structure
Irmscher's (1979) activities are intended to make students
more aware of structures they know intuitively. They encourage
students 1) to think about the usefulness of structure, 2) to discover
their own structures, and 3) to examine structure in models. The
strategies and activities presented in the following sections address
the thinking processes involved in producing structures in written
Techniques useful in helping writers create texts fall into two
phases of the arranging process: early planning activities/strategies
and text planning activities /strategies. Teacher-guided activities
stimulate writers' innate faculties for arranging and connecting
ideas. They may be problems or tasks teachers devise in order to
involve writers in arrangement decision-making before they
encounter them in their own writing or they may be heuristic
strategies that writers apply in creating their own texts or
responding to others' texts. Teachers may use the heuristic
strategies during intervention conferences at any phase of the
writing process or use them to create response guides for group
Early planning techniques. Early planning techniques help
writers make the transition from invention notes to considering
focus, purpose, and order. Their value is in providing writers with
thinking strategies for examining their interest in and reasons for
writing about a topic and for finding meaning and purpose. In
addition, the strategies help writers begin to move toward structures
needed by readers, to move from what Flower (1979) calls writer-
based prose to reader-based prose.
One aspect of early planning is determining focus. Some of
the more frequently recommended strategies writers may use to
help them discover focus are SUMMARIZING, CONNECTING, and
EXPANDING invention notes. Summarizing invention notes into
one or two sentences that express as many of the notes as possible
can help writers discover an organizing principle or focus around
which to build a piece of writing. Connecting items from
brainstorming lists and mapping or highlighting and summarizing
ideas produced in freewriting can help writers discover
relationships among ideas and establish subtopics. Still another
early planning strategy is expanding on invention notes, which may
help writers determine the value of or devices for supporting a
point. Flower (Flower & Hayes, 1977; Flower, 1989), for example,
suggests expanding and summarizing invention notes as strategies
to help writers move to more explicit planning concerns.
As part of a heuristic strategy for analytic writing Flower
suggests writers use their invention notes to find key words and to
nutshell/teach (Flower & Hayes, 1977, pp. 455-456; Flower, 1989; pp.
112-117). She explains that the strategies are problem-solving
procedures for consciously thinking through the writing process.
Many inexperienced writers, Flower and Hayes maintain, rely on
prescription or inspiration as strategies for writing (1977, p. 451). "A
problem-solving approach to writing offers an alternative strategy
for confronting the thinking process" (p. 452), a thinking strategy
that the writer is consciously aware of. The complete heuristic is
presented in both the 1977 article by Flower and Hayes and in
Flower's textbook Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing 3rd
edition (1989). Arrangement strategies from the heuristic are given
in the Appendix Exhibit B. They have been adapted to serve as a
teacher-guided exercise for in-class writing and to work with
various topics and genres.
Text planning strategies As writers discover focus and
purpose, they can move to more determinate planning strategies.
One possibility is visualization strategies.
To prepare students to use visualization strategies and, more
specifically, to help them organize large quantities of material,
Hashimoto (1983) suggests a series of five problems that challenge
students to visualize more complex comparisons. The problems
contain too much information for students to use simple systems to
make comparisons. They can see comparative features, however, if
they use charts, graphs, diagrams, or continua (pp. 277-287). One
problem, for instance, asks students to compare sales figures for two
different types of tomatoes over a six-month period in two different
years in order to see trends and make projections for future sales
(pp. 279-280). A chart might help students group the information,
but a graph helps them see the relationships between sales of the
two types of tomatoes. In other instances, overlapping circle
diagrams help students display relationships between overlapping
categories of information. Or students may select controversial
topics that require recognizing shades of difference. A strategy for
dealing with shades of difference might be to organize it on linear
or circular continua.
One value of involving students in these types of organizing
activities is that students learn to manipulate large quantities of
data. According to Hashimoto (1983), students often come to college
with only marginal skills in organizing. They can order events
chronologically and they can sort modest amounts of information
into simple categories. But they have "seldom...learned techniques
to help them to sort and display large quantities of information that
cannot be clearly categorized and labeled or developed
chronologically" (p. 287). Rather than expecting students to develop
such strategies by trial and error (only by natural process) or in
"...response to exhortations to be logical,' 'plan,' or 'develop a
thesis,"' Hashimoto provides problems students will encounter in
writing situations and demonstrates strategies for ordering
quantities of information (p. 277). Using these strategies, students
can "discover a least part of what they want to say and some of the
relationships they want to develop before they begin writing" (p.
287). Another benefit is that students discover tangible, pencil-and-
paper, strategies they can use over and over to sort out volumes of
information. Still another benefit is that writers may use the
strategies to solve arrangement problems. The charts and diagrams
can help writers find a focus such as making a projection from
trends; they can help writers discover coherence needs in texts as
they try to explain how data are related, different, or overlapped;
they can help writers order material into groups and discourse
While Hashimoto's (1983) problems may serve as an
introduction to organizing quantities of material, other, simpler,
introductions to visualization strategies may be helpful to freshmen
writers unaccustomed to discovering their own forms or
considering structure apart from outlines of fixed forms. Many
practitioners and textbooks suggest using trees to structure and
develop ideas. The trees may be displayed trunk down or trunk up.
Flower (Flower & Hayes 1977; Flower 1989), for instance,
recommends a trunk down display (1989,117-123). It is a strategy for
putting already generated ideas into a hierarchical order and
discovering where more thinking is needed. Writers first find rich
bits and nutshell/teach their ideas then use the tree to order them
before creating a draft. Exhibit B in the Appendix presents the
strategies in a guided arrangement exercise. The complete exercise
can be accomplished during class, but students also have strategies
they can return to in other writing situations.
Another pencil-and-paper visualization strategy students can
apply in many writing situations is Comprone's wheel. Lindemann
suggests using Comprone's wheel as a planning strategy in writing
(1982, pp. 169-173). She presents four steps writers can follow to
create the wheel. Rather than a top down hierarchical order like
that trees present, the wheel of ideas revolves around a hub or
main idea. Writers begin building the wheel at the hub. The
spokes present subtopics and rhetorical strategies, that is, notes
about how the writer will present the supporting and explanatory
information. The rim contains details and transitional devices the
writer will use to connect each of the spokes. Wheelsas well as
clusters and maps-offer an alternative to linear/ sequential ways of
In addition to visualization strategies, practitioners
recommend QUESTION GUIDES. For example, teachers can create these
heuristic strategies by transforming the characteristics of traditional
modes and patterns into questions. Writers may use the questions
to further explore their topics, to extend their ideas, to find a focus
and purpose, or to structure drafts after they have decided on a
genre. A question guide developed to help writers view a subject
chronologically may help them sort out the pieces and discover a
focus regardless of their topic or the eventual form their discourse
may take. Question guides developed from other traditional
modes/pattems characteristics, however, may be useful only after
the writer has determined the type of essay he will write or the
development devices he will use. Teachers might, therefore, have
these guides available for students and refer to them during
conferences but not take class time to have every student use every
Question guides may also help writers explore particular
audiences. When writers know an actual audience they wish
to address, Pfister and Petrick's (1980) audience heuristic
strategy may be helpful. Briefly, Pfister and Petrick's audience
heuristic model has four parts (p. 214). Parts two through four
build on the knowledge gained in preceding parts. The first
part explores the social, educational, and ethical characteristics
of the audience, what Pfister and Petrick call the environment
of the audience. The second part examines the readers'
knowledge of and values toward the subject. Questions in part
three examine the relationship between the audience and the
writer. Part four explores the relationship between the
audience and form. The writer considers what structural
components will best suit the readers needs and accomplish
As Ede and Lunsford (1988) caution, however, an
audience addressed technique focuses heavily on the reader.
The heuristic model may be useful in situations where the
writer wishes to address a specific audience, but teachers and
students need to be aware that it is one-sided. The heuristic
model oversimplifies the roles of writer and audience in
relation to subject and purpose.
But the heuristic has its uses. If a writer, for example,
determines during inventing and early planning that she
wishes to address high school seniors in order to help them
plan their move to college, the audience heuristic model can
help her consider audience information needs and structural
preferences. By making the strategy available to students and
calling attention to it for those students who need to address a
specific audience, teachers may help writers use the strategy
beneficially. An advantage to the heuristic model is that
students have a tangible resource for considering how to
structure their discourse for a particular audience.
The extended audience activity Lofty (1985)
recommends helps writers examine purpose and structure in
an experiential way. It is similar to case studies and offers
students the opportunity to interact with literal as well as
imagined audiences. The activity has seven stages.
1. Students select a topic related to their work or interests
that they would like to learn more about and, working
in pairs, identify two authorities they wish to interview
about the subject. The pair prepares an abstract of what
they want to leam.
2. Students write a letter to each interviewee explaining
their purpose and the general scope of the questions they
will be asking.
3. Students conduct the interviews. One student actively
interviews the respondent, while the other takes notes
on the interaction. For the second interview, the
students switch roles of interviewer and observer.
4. Students prepare transcripts of the interviews.
5. Each pair of students produces a brief paper for their
classmates. This stage involves determining the needs
of the specific audience; students must take into
consideration technical language as well as appropriate
6. Students prepare a paper for a public audience of their
choosing. This audience might be public officials,
hobbiests, and so on.
7. Students discuss what they have learned about the
influence audience and purpose have on the forms of
talking and of writing, (pp. 349-354)
Students produce four texts during the project and
interact with multiple audiences in different ways. They
consider purpose and audience simultaneously in order to
determine form and content in the four texts. As a result, they
arrive at a sense of an audience's structural expectations
through experience. "The writer's sense of readers and their
world is not as mystifying when students enter through a
series of connected stages," according to Lofty (1985, p. 352).
Although Lofty's (1985) project asks students to structure
discourse for different audiences, the emphasis still seems to be
on the audience-addressed. A variation in the project may
allow students to experiment with structures for an invoked
audience as well as an addressed audience. For instance, rather
than change the audience, the writers' roles may change.
Writers might be asked to write brief papers while assuming
the role of a community official or journalist or concerned
citizen. The topic and imagination of the individual writer
would determine the role. From each stance, writers must
reconsider purpose, focus, order, and coherence.
Revising and Editing Texts
As with techniques for creating texts, techniques for revising
and editing texts fall into phases of the writing process. These
groupings, while they are not intended to suggest a linear process,
may help teachers determine when to introduce which techniques.
The groupings suggest techniques for levels of arrangement
concerns and are designated here as first reading concerns and
second reading concerns.
First reading. The same visualization strategies and
question GUIDES used to plan text structures may also be used to
evaluate macrostructures once a draft has been written. In
particular, teachers may wish to introduce the more detailed
strategies for revision. Strategies that include such finite details as
plans for transitions may better serve revision efforts; they permit
writers to check for focus, overall order, and coherence.
Visualization strategies like Comprone's wheel, when used as a
planning strategy, may ask writers to invest so much time in
building a plan that they become married to it and reluctant to
follow new directions discovered during drafting. Despite teacher
warnings to avoid the trap, writers follow the plan because it has
taken so much of their composing time and energy. Lindemann
suggests a question guide that may serve to help students use the
wheel to test the structures of their texts (1982, p. 175).
Less detailed visualization strategies like maps or trees and
question guides may serve as macrostructure revision strategies as
well. Visualization strategies help writers move back from their
text and see its design. Question guides help writers cheek to be sure
they have included essential information.
Visualizing structures and answering questions may also
help peer responders identify and articulate structural problems
they discover in texts. During conferences, these strategies may help
teachers demonstrate to writers where they have or have not been
successful in focusing ordering and connecting their ideas.
During first readings, OUTLINES and traditional patterns
DIGESTS may help students examine structures. Conventional
forma} outlines or visual outlines (like Comprone's wheel
mentioned above) may help some students examine focus, order,
and coherence. Teachers may also wish to have available digests
describing the features of traditional patterns. These can be made
available in packets and referred to during conferences or group
discussions. Examples of traditional patterns may be enumeration,
time order, comparison-contrast, cause-effect; and problem-
solution. Iindemann (1982) presents a comprehensive outline of
D'Angelo's version of traditional patterns which he calls paradigms
(Lindemann, pp. 175-178). Paradigms as well as outlines can help
students improve text structures, according to Lindemann. "As
papers-in-miniature, outlines and paradigms show students where
organizational tensions occur, where sections are skimpy, where
details could be deleted or rearranged" (p. 190).
Story structures can also be helpful revision tools for writers.
Providing students with information about the characteristics of
well-developed stories-setting, plot, theme-can help them
examine their own narratives. One example is a question guide
that students may apply to narratives. Vacca and Vacca (1986)
present such a guide as a literature teaching aid (p. 40).
In addition to textbooks on teaching writing (e.g.f
Lindemann, 1982; Connors & Qenn, 1989) and textbooks on
teaching reading (e.g., Vacca & Vacca, 1986), teachers may find
student textbooks good resources for compiling traditional pattern
Second reading As students work through their drafts again,
they can examine smaller unit structures and consider the
effectiveness of coherence devices, linguistic analysis strategies
may be helpful.
For example, Christensen's (1978) paragraph analysis strategy
may prove useful. The analysis permits students to look at
coordinate and subordinate relationships among sentences within
topic paragraphs (Appendix, Exhibit C). Employing the paragraph
analysis strategy may also help students recognize that not all of
their paragraphs develop a topic; they may use paragraphs for
transitional purposes or for dramatic effect and so on.
Winterowd's grammar of coherence strategy as applied by
Connors and Glenn (1989, pp. 150-152) can help students check for
and improve coherence among the parts of an essay. Connors and
Glenn suggest teachers first demonstrate transitional relationships
using several paragraphs from sample essays. They recommend
teachers use essay anthologies to find material for demonstration
and practice exercises. Once students can use the transitional terms
confidently, they can go through their own essays to identify how
each paragraph relates to the preceding one.
Strategies for revising and editing arrangement not only
provide students with concrete strategies for evaluating focus, order
and coherence, they also help students understand what is involved
Although teachers may continually vary the activities and
strategies they introduce in their classrooms, the important element
in the above pedagogy is that teachers start with theoretical
principles that guide their selections. Rather than founding their
teaching on particular methods like having students examine
models of well-organized writing or founding them on particular
techniques like sequentially assigning traditional modes and
patterns, teachers begin with instructional principles. These
principles are grounded in current scholarship about teaching
Teaching practitioners may add to, adjust, or argue with the
principles presented here. But beginning by reasoning out
principles in advance of employing particular methods and
techniques, determining where the teaching process is going and
why, helps teachers arrive at some consensus about a pedagogy for
teaching arrangement. In calling for "consensus," I'm suggesting
that teachers can and need to agree to a pedagogy that links theory,
research, and practice. If the pedagogy connects what is known
about the rhetorical nature of arrangement, about the writing
process, and about teaching methods and techniques, both teachers
trying to make some sense of the current scholarship on
arrangement and students moving from one writing teacher to
another through school will have some common ground for
Exhibit A. Sbuclural Awareness Activity
SOURCE: Adapted from two sources:
Irmscher, W. (1979). Teaching expository writing (pp. 105-106).
New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston.
Boyd, M. A. and Boyd, J. R. (1978). Communication strips.
TESOL Newsletter, 12 (4), 3-5.
Application: Introducing structure.
PURPOSE: Make students aware of structure so that they internalize
it; stimulate intuitive knowledge.
METHOD: Involve students in discovering structure.
MATERIALS: Four or five sets of strips, each set comprised of copies
of the same text cut into strips with one line or sentence on a
strip; envelopes to store each set. Copies of the text in its original
order. Copies of questions or display of questions (chalk board or
overhead) or both.
Find or write a poem, short essay, recipe, or other short
text that has a clear beginning, middle, and end as well as
internal coherence. Shakespearean sonnets work well.
Irmscher recommends the following poems as workable texts:
Elizabeth Bishop, "Filling Station"
Wallace Stevens, "Disillusionment at Ten O'clock"
Kenneth Rexroth, "Spring"
Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Bewick Finzer"
Robinson Jeffers, "The Bloody Sire" or "The Coast-Road" (pp.
Type the text so that it can be cut into strips with one
line or sentence on each strip. Before cutting the text into
strips, make enough copies to accommodate the number of
students in the class. Students will be reconstructing the text in
groups. Each student in a group will have one strip; each
group will number however many lines or sentences make up
the text. All groups will work on the same text.
Organize students into groups. Give them a few
minutes to read their strip. Ask them to reconstruct the text by
putting the strips into an order that works. They are to arrive
at the best procedure to accomplish this (i.e. the process is as
much a part of the task as the product). They might ask
themselves the following questions:
Which line/sentence makes the most appropriate
Can the lines/ sentences move from the particular to the
general as well as from the general to the particular?
Is a beginning sentence chosen for dramatic effect?
Which sentence is an appropriate close? Why?
What principles dictate the arrangement of the sentences in
between? Repetition? Structure words? Thematic
connections? Reference words with antecedents in
other lines/sentences? Syntactic patterns? (Irmscher,
Remove yourself to a comer and observe. Work at not
When the groups have decided that they have the best
order for the story, let each group recite and defend their
version. After students compare their own versions with one
another, provide copies of the original. Have them discuss
what the author's specific purpose may have been in selecting
a particular arrangement. You may wish to write these
purposes on the chalkboard, so that students get some practice
reading purpose statements.
Exhibit Bl Guidelines far Arranging
SOURCE: Adapted from three sources:
Flower, L S., & Hayes, J. R (1977, December). Problem-solving
strategies and the writing process. College English, 39, 449-
Flower, L S. (1989). Problem-solving strategies for writing (3rd
ed., pp. 111-121). San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
Perl, S. & Wilson, N. (1986). Through teachers' eyes: Portraits of
writing teachers at work (pp. 265-269). Portsmouth, NH:
Application: Creating texts.
PURPOSE: Enhance innate faculty for ordering and structuring
discourse; provide students with a strategy they can use
independently in future writing.
METHOD: Involve students in problem-solving activities using
their own writing; encourage students to discover their
MATERIALS: Overhead or handout illustration of building a
Students will need some demonstration of how to build
a tree. Figures 1 through 4 in Problem-Solving Strategies
(1989, pp. 118-123) provide an illustration you might use.
Another method may be to use one student's topic and have
the entire class build the tree as you write the material on the
chalk board or an overhead transparency. The demonstration
might be done before the guided exercise or at the point in the
exercise where students are asked to build a tree.
The sentences in parentheses are for teachers and not
part of the exercise. Explain to students that you will be asking
them to push the ideas theyve generated while brainstorming
freewriting or answering heuristic questions. They will be
asked both to expand on those ideas and to summarize them.
Before you begin, ask students not to interrupt you and to hold
questions. Advise them that at the end of the exercise they will
be invited to express their reactions to the exercise and share, if
they wish to, their notes. Ask them to take out all of their
invention notes, plenty of paper, and two or three writing
tools. They can put everything else out of the way.
Mining Key Words
We think in key words because it takes less time than
processing all the components of an idea or the network of
associations a code word stands for in our minds. Key words are
valuable because they are intuitive and the source of original ideas.
They make brainstorming and clustering useful. However, they
need to be explored and examined to yield solid ideas; they need to
be defined and related for readers. If you have not expressed in
language the associations and relationships key words stand for, you
have not yet expressed an idea. Our job as writers is to push key
words or "potential ideas" into "communicable ones," that is, push
the network of associations into language.
Go through your notes and locate some of the key words
or phrases that carry a great deal of meaning for you. Look for
words that feel important or that you know stand at the center
of a whole network of ideas and experiences. Often in the
process of inventing or generating ideas you will find that a
single word, expression, or idea seems particularly important
or that it keeps returning to your mind. By a kind of mental
shorthand, that single expression brings together a whole body
of experiences which are related in your thoughts. These key
words may not convey all you intend to your reader, so ask
yourself "What do I mean by this key word or phrase?" Using
the key word or phrase as a springboard, push that complex
meaning into words. Write quickly and whatever comes to
mind. Don't be critical at this point. Just keep asking yourself,
Does that say it? Have I captured the meaning behind this key
word or phrase?" (Allow 8-10 minutes.)
Next, nutshell your ideas and teach them. In this step
you want to condense and explain the essentials of your
thinking. For the first phase of this step write two or three
sentences thatin a nutshell-lay out the whole substance of
your topic. Be more critical here. You want to make the
relationship between your major ideas very clear, so put the
noisy supporting information aside and focus on the essentials
of what you have to say. (Allow 5-8 minutes.)
Now, take the process a step further: teach your ideas to
someone else. Teaching helps focus ideas because it requires us
to use our intuitive knowledge for dealing with an audience.
Like nutshelling, it forces us to conceptualize our information
and make sure our readers get the point, not just a list of facts.
When you feel overwhelmed by thoughts and information,
teaching in a nutshell can help you put all those ideas in order.
Select a particular person to be your student. Picture that
person sitting before you. Ask yourself, "What do I want this
person to learn or feel or do when I'm through?" While you
imagine this person sitting across from you, write a brief
presentation for him or her. Ask yourself, "How can I teach
these ideas to this person? How can I introduce or organize a
brief presentation so this person will understand and
remember these ideas?" Write the presentation you think will
get results. (Allow 5-8 minutes.)
Building a Tree
Now that you have nutshelled your main ideas, go back
through all the notes you've created and build an upside down tree
of your ideas. Most idea generating or invention strategies require
you to think and write without the crutch or the straightjacket of an
outline. But one of your goals as a writer is to produce an essay
with a clear and useful structure. One way to accomplish that goal
is to puli an outline out of the material you've generated. An idea
tree helps you structure your ideas after you've begun to generate
them, and it shows you where you need to generate more material.
Another advantage of a tree is that it lets you visualize graphically
the hierarchical relationship between your ideas.
(Use transparencies or handouts to demonstrate how a tree
evolves if you have not already done so.)
Review all of your notes from inventing, mining, and
nutshelling. Underline, circle, Or highlight what you now think
are key words. Write these key words in the margin of your notes.
On a clean sheet of paper write a short simple sentence that states
your main idea, theme, or focus. Next, put the key words in a
hierarchically organized tree to show levels of coordinate and
subordinate ideas. If some ideas don't fit neatly onto the tree, you
may have to generate a new concept or category to unify them You
may also need to generate new ideas to develop key words.
Continue to invent and create as you see the need while building
your tree. As you write and think, the tree will keep changing. Let
the tree be flexible; scratch out, add, redirect. Be as messy as you
want, but as you begin to see a structure, use fresh paper to draw a
clean tree and give yourself additional space to think and write. Let
your tree develop as your ideas develop. (Allow 10-15 minutes.)
Now, for the next two or three minutes, review your
notes from the beginning of the exercise and write about what
happened. What was the experience like for you? This piece
of writing will be shared with the class. (Reactions will vary,
but allow students time to express their reactions. The exercise
will work differently for each person each time it's done and
for each topic. If class time permits, students may begin
drafting their essays. In any case, they should be prepared to
write a complete draft and bring it to the next class meeting.)