ENG 1020 ~ Ecological Model of Writing

In the two years that I served on the Composition Research Committee (AY 17-18 and AY 18-19), I worked with a team of instructors investigating the correlations between reflection and writing performance. This work revealed that there is indeed a positive correlation between students who reflect in increasingly sophisticated ways about their writing processes, and the quality of their writing overall. My own scholarship developing an ecological model of writing[1]. and my commitment to teaching rhetorical flexibility in a supportive classroom community, led me to develop an ENG 1020 course that prompts students to be both highly reflective and rhetorically agile. Students focus on their own writing ecologies, mapping them to “see” how they can and do transfer[2] between discourse communities[3] and flexibly accomplish their rhetorical purposes in various writing situations across the assignment sequence. My purpose in developing ENG 1020 in this way was to better support students at our research-intensive university in effectively composing for the various discourse communities they will encounter as scholars and in their careers. The assignment sequence in my classes includes a visual map of students’ writing ecologies, which they develop across the semester, an image-based “translation” of their researched argument for a non-academic audience, a multi-modal presentation in a community setting, and a portfolio that reflects on students’ growth as writers and their rhetorical awareness.

[1] Based on Marilyn Cooper’s “The Ecology of Writing” published in College English and Urie Bronfenbrenner’s The Ecology of Human Development

[2] Adler-Kassner, Linda, John Majewski, and Damian Koshnick. “The Value of Troublesome Knowledge: Transfer and Threshold Concepts in Writing and History.” In Composition Forum, vol. 26. Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition, 2012.

[3] Swales, John. “Reflections on the Concept of a Discourse Community.” In Composition Forum, vol. 37, Fall 2017.