"Building an Academic Foundation: Strategies for Teaching Argument" presented by Nancy Sommers

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Nancy Sommers


For students to succeed as academic writers, they must become comfortable with arguing positions and anticipating counterarguments. Academic writing asks students to enter debates, respond to the words and ideas of other writers, and construct arguments supported with evidence. If students are reluctant to take a stance on an issue, confuse opinions with positions, believe that introducing counterarguments will weaken their claims, or come from culture that value different modes of argumentation, they will have difficulty grasping the expectations of academic argument. Nothing is more vital for students’ success as academic writers than becoming comfortable analyzing and constructing arguments. In this Webinar we will explore specific ideas for teaching argument and offer practical classroom activities for helping students succeed as academic writers.


Nancy Sommers, who has taught composition and directed composition programs for thirty years, now teaches writing and mentors new writing teachers at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  She led Harvard’s Expository Writing Program for twenty years, directing the first-year writing program and establishing Harvard’s WAC program. A two-time Braddock Award winner, Sommers is well known for her research and publications on student writing. Her articles "Revision Strategies of Student and Experienced Writers" and "Responding to Student Writing" are two of the most widely read and anthologized articles in the field of composition.  Her recent work involves a longitudinal study of college writing to understand the role writing plays in undergraduate education. Sommers is the lead author on Hacker handbooks, all published by Bedford/St. Martin’s, and is coauthor of Fields of Reading, Tenth Edition (2013).