Questions we can ask ourselves based on the differences
between high school and college instructors' responses
Observation #1: Process is valued more by
college instructors than HS instructors expect it will be.
- Do HS instructors assign fewer drafts because they
expect college instructors will not allow multiple drafts?
- Are institutional realities like
pupil-instructor ratios simply too high to sustain truly effective process
pedagogy in most high schools?
Observation #2: College
instructors sometimes seem to expect writing that is both more personal and more
- What place is there for the personal in academic essays?
- Are there ways to write "personally" that don't require
- Does including the personal mean using personal
Observation #3: Some
college instructors rail against the 5-paragraph essay.
- Is the 5-paragraph a useful structure at one point in students’ writing
development? If so, how do we help them move beyond
it? What does "beyond it" mean?
- What pedagogical assumptions lie in the disparagement
of the 5-paragraph essay? In the promotion of it?
In general, HS courses focus on literature; first-year college courses focus on
- What are the institutional and/or pedagogical reasons that HS and college
curricula for writing differ so?
- Should college curricula move in the direction
of HS curricula or vice-versa? Is the progression
from literature to nonfiction developmentally
- Is it possible for a focus on literature
to coexist with a
focus on writing more "academically," that is, to write effective arguments
that rely upon close reading of sources and upon analysis?
If so, what would this work look like at different levels of education?
Observation #5: High school instructors rely far
more on objective tests and timed writing than college instructors do.
- Are college instructors’ perceptions about students’ weak critical and
analytic skills related to the reduced emphasis on grading essays and research
papers in high schools?
- To what extent are evaluation practices in high
schools the result of heavy course and pupil loads? The result of high stakes
(state) testing? The result of differing pedagogical
- Are there ways of teaching that allow students to write
more (in productive ways) that don't require more time with a stack of papers