Polydisciplinary Perspectives on Peer Practices, IV

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I imagine that I’ve made things seem pretty sunshine-and-rainbows in these last few posts, as I have shared my discoveries from discussing peer commenting practices in FYC and creative writing with my colleagues.  And while I may have noted some logistical challenges in adapting creative writing workshop practices to the FYC classroom, the truth is that there may be a far more fundamental challenge: student creative writers care about their writing in a way that student FYC writers generally don’t.


I discussed this challenge with both Becka and Papatya.  Both suggested that perhaps a piece of personal writing early in the semester might move towards solving the problem in the FYC classroom.  My experience as a teacher of writing makes me dubious, although Papatya did note that’s precisely how FYC was taught at one of her previous institutions.  I suspect, though, that the required nature of FYC would be the fundamental challenge.  I often feel like students walk into my classroom wanting to be anywhere but there, wanting to take a course that they do care about (which generally means something within their majors).  I work hard at making my classroom fun to counter these feelings and, generally, I think I am successful.  But I don’t know that I can resolve that core issue.


Becka, I think, put it best: “Creative writing students are more invested in their writing because they think it comes out of their souls.”


Of course, I usually want students to produce writing that comes out of their thinking and not out of their souls.  After all, one of the basic things I feel I need to teach in my FYC class is critical thinking.  But surely there is a way to bridge this gap, to help students invest in their critical thinking and the writing that comes from it.


Honestly, though, I don't have an answer today.  But it’s a question I will carry forward as I continue these explorations of peer practices in different disciplines, so you can expect we will be discussing it again.  In the meantime, if you have a way of getting students to care about their writing in your FYC class, please share it in the comments here.

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.