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Paper Two: Possibilities and Problems

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In a previous post I examined a student paper from the assignment sequence shared in an earlier post as a way to discuss commenting with an eye for promising moments. I think it might be useful to look at a sample of more solid student work, one that also  shows what can go wrong in an assignment. To refresh your memory, you may want to look at the initial post with the accompanying assignment. And here is the revised version of this paper submitted for a grade . I’ve kept only my end comments in order to share my overall impression of the work. Kedgeree’s paper is a good example of what students can do with these types of assignments. It represents some of the key skills we try to teach in our writing program: an ability to make an argument, to support it by working with quotations and ideas from the texts, and to do so with an organization that makes sense. It’s not perfect, of course, but it shows a good foundation in these skills. The other reason I think Kedgeree’s paper is so useful for this blog, though, is that it points out a problem inherent in the assignment. Many of my students formulated arguments that sounded very, very close to the one Appiah makes in his essay. Only after reading through the set of papers did I realize that it was the assignment and not the students that had a problem. I didn’t do a good enough job presenting it so that students could take a position without standing right where Appiah is standing. The lesson? I need to revise just as much as my students do. How do you handle it when an assignment goes awry?
About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.