2016 CCCC Annual Convention
April 6-9, 2016, Houston, Texas
Writing Strategies for Action
For over five decades, writing researchers and teachers have explored the many things that writing is, the many things that writing does, and the many roles that it plays for individuals and groups. From these efforts, some broad points of consensus have emerged from our research and practices. For example: writing is an activity that can be used for a range of purposes—to help writers develop their identities, facilitate thinking, express ideas, demonstrate knowledge and understanding. Writing is also a subject of study that fosters people’s abilities to identify expectations within and across boundaries and make conscious decisions based on those expectations, developing the kind of flexibility that leads to the production of “good” or “successful’ communicative products.
From this research- and practice-based knowledge, the field has contributed to ways of understanding and acting upon ideas about writing that can be seen in curriculum, majors, minors, graduate programs, collaborations with colleagues in other disciplines and with communities. At the same time, though, debates about what writing is, does, and can do sometimes don’t reflect this knowledge. A few recent examples illustrate the point: Basic writing courses and programs are being marginalized or eliminated. State legislatures are establishing writing standards. Policy actors are contending that if secondary education reforms are successful, first year writing may become a “remedial” course. There are signs that the open access movement that brought diverse students and diverse voices into the academy, a movement that has contributed in important ways to our ethos and identity as a discipline, seems to be moving in reverse.
Each of these actions suggest potential consequences for different students and institutions. They point to the need for strategic action. This action requires that we continue to articulate—for ourselves and to and with others—what writing is and does. It also entails research- and experience-based discussion with one another, with colleagues at our institutions, with members of the communities in which we live about why understandings of writing matter, about where and how writing development occurs in postsecondary education, and about the implications of research-based understandings about writing as an activity and a subject of study.
University of California, Santa Barbara
2016 Program Chair