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

Transcript

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    I'm Ryan McCarty, I'm a PhD candidate
    in the joint program in English and

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    Education at the University of Michigan.

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    For me, what this chapter really
    emphasized is that students aren't here

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    for one purpose.

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    They're not here just to learn this one
    thing and to get better in this one way.

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    They're interested in being good at
    whatever it is that they're choosing

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    to do.

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    But they're also looking to
    be more well rounded humans,

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    I think, or to to learn a lot of things.

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    Or just to find some kind of connection
    between the things that they are learning.

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    Because we want to make sense of
    all the stuff that we are doing.

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    And they come to class and
    they are writing what seems like weird

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    disjuncture or sort of a strange choice,
    rather than marking it as such and

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    saying this is something that you could
    fit into this one kind of writing better.

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    To, as an instructor, ask them about this
    choice that they're making because they

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    are possibly bringing something
    in that's radically different.

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    And that's sort of a little moment of
    translation that you're seeing in there.

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    The number one thing that I think is that
    it would be really great to have somebody

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    ask students the questions that we were
    asking these research participants.

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    So that they were able to make
    explicit these connections.

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    I think just asking students about
    what they're writing in other places,

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    what they're reading in other places,

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    how you think about answering
    questions in other places.

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    And then drawing all of that together and
    making that the subject of your work or

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    contrasting that with
    what you're gonna do.

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    It could help students really build
    an awareness of how they're writing

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    differently for different contexts, which
    is always good for students to learn.

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    I think that the little bit of linguistic
    analysis that I do pointing at text and

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    saying look, you can see that Jonah or

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    Chris are writing like
    scientists right here.

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    Or look, you can see the residues
    of science writing here in Jonah's

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    writing for the World of Warcraft blog.

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    If you could teach students
    to do a little bit of that,

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    to begin to identify
    at the sentence level,

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    at the linguistic level what it is that
    they're doing in one case or another.

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    That kind of gives them a little bit
    more control over the choices that

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    they're making.

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    I think some of the big research
    agendas in composition and

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    writing studies, and
    maybe in education more broadly,

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    is around developing disciplinary
    abilities in a specific context.

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    And we're also thinking
    a lot about transfer.

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    How do we teach students to do something,
    right here,

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    right now, so that they'll be able to
    do it in new contexts, in new ways?

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    Either to directly transport it,
    which is a little shaky, but

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    to recontextualize it or to reshape it or
    remix it, for new situations.

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    Well, I think there's a lot of great
    phenomenal things happening in

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    the transfer field.

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    The developmental scale that we're dealing
    with lets us see that students are picking

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    up something over here and
    they don't know why they're picking it up.

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    They're gonna end up using it over there
    down the line and we can see it, and

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    that's where the linguistic
    analysis is really useful, right?

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    Because you can say, this thing, I can see
    actual language residue of it over there.

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    I think this is just adding another layer
    to transfer research more broadly so

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    that we can see that it's
    a big lifespan type of work.

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    And I know that transfer's moving in
    that direction too and this, I think,

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    helps contribute to that.

Interview with Ryan McCarty: For Instructors

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

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