Writing in Transit with Readings

Comer, Denise K. Fountainhead Press, 2017.

“Gaining acumen with writing transfer will facilitate your growth as a writer, thinker, and global citizen and empower you to contribute ideas to ongoing conversations, advance knowledge, achieve your goals, and make a meaningful difference in the world around you.”

-Comer, p. 3

Keywords
  • transfer
  • habits of mind
  • writing in disciplines [disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary]
  • writing occasions
  • discourse community/conventions
Strengths
  • In the first chapter, Comer clearly defines transfer and advocates for why writing transfer is important. She defines writing transfer as something that customizes the students “knowledge, practices, and approaches to learning and writing from one writing occasion to other writing occasions”(3).
  • Comer argues for transfer across discourse communities and illustrates how writing navigates us through the complexities of discourse conventions.
  • The book is addressed to both students and teachers. She speaks directly to students and appeals to the student’s academic orientation, which guides their mindset for usable writing strategies and approaches that will transfer into their discipline of interest.  This is a pitch for why writing is important for all majors.
  • Throughout the chapters, the textbook constantly asks students to practice their writing. At the beginning, middle, and end of each chapter Comer provides writing prompts.
    • In addition, some of these prompts are interactive. You are welcome to post on the website and/or read other responses.
      • See fountainheadpress.com/transferhub
  • Each chapter begins with a new archaeological site in order to show how writing can connect across disciplines like science, history, and/or architecture. These examples ask students to move from what they learned about the archaeological site and write something relevant to their campus or interest. The prompts engage writing practice by asking students to reflect on their own writing.
    • For example: First, students learn that archaeologists read texts for their research. Then, the writing prompt asks students to consider the following question: What texts do you read and what might you learn from reading different texts to understand your campus? (p. 127)
  • At the end of each chapter, Comer includes suggested readings with writing prompts. Prompts usually ask students to reflect on transfer or the methods they are using that can transfer.
Weaknesses
  • This book presents information in a conventional textbook format. It is organized and structured in the same way as a chemistry or history textbook. It presents information and then asks students to respond to specific questions/writing prompts. If a student is not interested in archaeology, they will struggle to respond to this text.
  • If we are asking students to develop a more sophisticated writing practice, one that goes beyond what they learned in high school, then we should be moving beyond the same high school structure in which they are accustomed.
  • Not only is this book limiting in content, it is rigid in format and design. The large blocks of text make this difficult to approach and intimidating to enter.  It feels like a degrading and un-fun way to teach writing.  
  • One of the goals of this text is to be interactive (i.e. the website hub linked above). However, there are no posts on the website from other people interacting with the text. The book is two years old so is no one using the interactive feature?
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