Interlude #5: How do you respond to disturbing student writing?
This is a question that all college instructors must answer at some point in their careers, especially composition instructors.
Composition instructors find themselves with access to students’ thoughts and feelings about many different subjects. Instructors learn to recognize their students’ “voices”: in addition to favored stylistic/rhetorical maneuvers, students’ ideological and political affiliations also tend to manifest in compositions. There is consistency. A pattern develops. Arguments are strengthened, challenged, changed. The dialogue that develops between instructor and student can be mutually enriching.
But sometimes students write material that can cause discomfort. Perhaps the material is too confessional and personally revealing or perhaps the material expresses negative emotions, bizarre images, and a non-linear thought process.
If one of your students turned in material similar to what Realist has been posting on the Lounge, how would you respond? Would you comment on a lack of citations/supporting evidence, imagery, or a non-linear presentation of ideas? Responses will vary. Some instructors choose not to address such issues in written material. If you would not address such issues, what criteria/theory do you draw upon to make such a choice?
Below are several links from Binghamton University, Adams State University, and University of Colorado that may help all CCC instructors to answer questions about how to identify and respond to disturbing student writing.