• Video interview with Ryan McCarty, author of Developing Writers chapter four, discussing the applications of his chapter for students of writing.

Transcript

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    I'm Ryan McCarty.

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    I'm a PhD candidate in the joint program
    in English and education at the University

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    of Michigan A lot of how

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    we think about development in writing is
    a long the sort of I think of it in terms

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    of like a monologic path, like you're
    learning to do one thing in one way.

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    You're gonna be a chemist or
    you're going to be a business person,

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    or whatever it is that you're gonna do.

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    And part of college is sort
    of developing expertise in

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    the discourse and
    the writing of that one thing.

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    And students were doing that, but

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    I saw them doing something
    a lot more complex,

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    and a lot more mosaic-like, if you will.

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    They were definitely
    developing the ability

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    to write like members of
    a particular discipline,

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    but they were also taking classes.

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    If they were a pre-med student, they
    were also taking classes in English and

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    developing their abilities to be really
    fluid communicators in a very different

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    kind of writing.

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    My two main cases are two really,
    really outstanding students who start

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    out in the STEM fields, and
    then they go two really different ways.

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    So Chris,
    she started out as a struggling writer,

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    she had to take a transitional writing
    course when she came to Michigan.

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    She didn't like writing,
    she didn't feel confident in it.

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    But over the course of her time here,
    she became a very,

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    very, very proficient
    academic science writer.

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    The other one is Jonah who starts out,
    and he is gonna be a pre-med student.

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    He knew that that's was
    he was gonna be for

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    a couple of years before
    he came to Michigan.

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    And he is taking classes
    in English though.

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    And he's deciding to minor in writing.

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    And he's writing a blog
    about World of Warcraft.

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    And all of a sudden he realizes that
    he thinks of himself as a scientist and

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    he's good at writing as a scientist, and

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    we can see lots of bits of
    writing in his lab reports and

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    his research writing that he's becoming
    someone who writes like a scientist.

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    But he all of sudden wants
    to write about video games.

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    And he gets, eventually,
    offered a job, writing for

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    one of the major online gaming producers.

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    And he goes on to do that but
    he still thinks of himself as a scientist.

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    And so he says, well,

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    how do I write like a scientist
    when I'm writing about video games?

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    And he talk about how
    the analytic moves that he has to

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    make in order to make
    things clear to new gamers.

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    What they need to do in this world, or
    this world, or what these stats mean.

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    And he says that that's something
    that he draws explicitly on.

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    This sort of very, very, very clear and

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    concise writing that he
    learned in STEM writing.

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    What this chapter really
    reminds me of is that

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    students aren't here for simple reasons.

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    They're not here to just do one thing
    at the most developmentally rich

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    moment in their lives, right?

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    And so their writing isn't just
    influenced by a desire to do

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    good writing as a psychology major or
    something like that.

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    I think students should look
    at these two great cases.

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    All the students that I survey and all
    the students in the book, but Chris and

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    Jonah specifically, and say these are two
    really successful students who got what

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    they wanted out of college and went on to
    do the things they wanted to do, and felt

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    happy about their time here, and felt like
    they could tie all the pieces together.

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    And so if you can find a way to tie all
    the different things that you're doing

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    together and to see what you can learn
    about the contrasts, and the overlap, and

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    what that means about these different
    places where you're learning and writing,

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    that could be really fruitful as
    I think these cases illustrate.

Interview with Ryan McCarty: For Students

From Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study by Anne Ruggles Gere, Editor

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