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Each year at the Writing Center, we work with thousands of students at all skill levels and from all disciplines. We’ve learned a lot about how their conceptions of academic writing can inform their responses to an instructor’s assignments, advice, or guidelines. Carolina students have had twelve years or more to accumulate conceptions about what writing in school and for teachers requires. That felt experience is a powerful, although sometimes ill-founded or misdirected, guide. Thus it may be helpful for instructors to have a sense of the range of starting points from which students may approach a writing task.
What follows is a broad range of possibilities, based on our conversations with Carolina students. It doesn’t describe all student writers. It does provide an overview of some of the points of view that may exist in any one classroom at any one time. Strategies for finding more about the writing experiences and attitudes of students in a particular course can be found at the end of the page.
If you are curious about students’ writing experience in a particular course or how they might respond to a particular assignment, ask them about their writing lives. Here are some quick and easy ways to gather their conceptions about writing. Ask your students to:
For more information about student writing or to talk with someone about your writing assignments, contact Kimberly Abels firstname.lastname@example.org at the Writing Center.