Writing on the Brain: Metacognition and Writing in the Disciplines

Research in Writing Across the Curriculum consistently points to a common problem in teaching writing in disciplinary courses: faculty rely on the same common terms (such as argument, analysis, and clarity) to describe their expectations for writing assignments. However, these terms do not help students to grasp what is unique about writing in anthropology as opposed to political science or biology: they lack specificity. Drawing on results from an interview study with disciplinary writing faculty, I will share some of the disciplinary values faculty articulated about writing and show how those values sometimes fail to come through on writing assignments and syllabi. Then, we will work through a heuristic instructors can use to help students identify disciplinary expectations for writing assignments. This will be an interactive workshop. Participants are encouraged to bring an example of a writing assignment they have used previously. The goal of the workshop will be to leave with a class activity or lesson plan to help students to think more concretely about disciplinary methods, values, and genres.