• Excerpts from video interviews with Anne Gere and Naomi Silver about key findings and takeaways for policy makers

Transcript

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    So I'm Anne Ruggles Gere and I am Director
    of the Sweetland Center for Writing.

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    I have been Director since 2008, and

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    I bring a background of
    a career in writing studies.

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    I've been a professor for around 40 years,

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    and all of that has been in
    the area of rhetoric and composition,

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    more commonly now called writing studies.

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    And I'm Naomi Silver.

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    I am the Associate Director
    of the Sweetland Center for

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    Writing, and
    I've been in that role since 2007, and

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    I bring a background in teaching for
    a while now.

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    So, when I became director of
    the center we were in a position where

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    we could do some pretty exciting
    things in the area of research,

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    and I had this idea from the very
    beginning, I remember talking

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    with the dean who hired me saying,
    we really need to be able to say

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    something about the kind of difference
    that college writing makes.

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    And that was really the big picture for
    me thinking about how we could,

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    with a longitudinal study,
    point to the difference that a career

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    of undergraduate writing makes in
    the lives of our individual students.

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    I think this study became a way
    to also think about how our students

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    entering the world as writers
    build on that research and

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    see how students are really
    conceiving of themselves as writers.

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    In terms of the empirical dimension
    I think we can show that college

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    writing does make a difference
    in what students are able to do.

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    I mean, we've always sort of assumed that,
    and we've made claims for

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    it, but we can show you cases of
    students whose writing has changed quite

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    dramatically over the four years
    of their undergraduate education.

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    Well I suppose at the top of the list I
    would put the fact that college education

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    really does make a difference, and
    we need to be much more thoughtful about

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    assuring that students have opportunities
    to learn to write well. That that is

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    something that they benefit from,
    and our society benefits from.

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    If there's one thing that
    most people will say,

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    if you talk to future employers,
    we need people who can write well,

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    and we have documentation
    that a curriculum and

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    attention to student writing can
    make this enormous difference,

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    but it is not a cheap, easy fix,
    and policymakers need to

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    understand that paying more at
    this level yields big benefits,

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    big dividends if you will,
    on down the line.

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    Yeah, I think going along with that,
    one thing we heard a lot

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    from students is the importance
    of genuine audience and

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    of thinking of their writing
    as genuine communication.

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    And of the significance of
    the interactions they had,

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    both with other peers and
    with faculty, with instructors,

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    on their writing, so
    making it possible for

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    teachers of writing to offer
    personal responses to writing,

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    and to be real audiences, and
    to be able to innovate curriculum

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    in a way that give students
    a sense that they have a voice and

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    are empowered to find their own purposes.

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    I'd like to see more funding for
    writing instruction.

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    I'd like to see instructors pay
    more attention to assignments and

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    the quality of those assignments.

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    I'd like to see a kind of
    ongoing discussion and

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    thinking about the relation
    between writing development and

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    development of writers in
    a particular discipline,

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    because I think that's a place we need
    further conversation and I'd really

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    like to see more attention to sentence
    level approaches to writing instruction.

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    And I think one thing that's unique about this

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    publication is these multiple
    layers that we have.

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    In those cases, I would hope that more
    broadly, readers think differently

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    about what it means to write, and
    what it means to develop as a writer,

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    and that being a good writer is not
    only you're writing clearly, or

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    being concise, being brief, but
    that writing involves a lot more in what

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    people are doing on a daily basis,
    texting, and using Facebook or

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    whatever. That that is a form of writing,
    and that they are engaged in writing.

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    And that they might also find
    perhaps ways of talking about or

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    thinking about their own experiences
    that they've named in various ways.

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    So I'm hoping maybe that engagement,
    especially with our website,

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    might give writers other ways,
    other vocabulary, other concepts for

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    thinking about what they're already doing.

Key findings and takeaways of the study for policy makers

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

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