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Composing Honors Students. Carol Denise Bork Barbara Hamilton American Honors Conference Denver, CO July 26, 2014. WhO are we?. Barbara Hamilton Ph.D. Comparative Literature, Rutgers Former Coordinator, Rutgers Writing Program - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Composing Honors Students

Carol Denise Bork Barbara HamiltonAmerican Honors Conference Denver, COJuly 26, 2014

Composing Honors Students

Carol Denise BorkPh. D. English, RutgersFormer Coordinator, Rutgers Writing ProgramFounding Coordinator, Mercer Honors ProgramMercer Prof. of English -- courses: Composition, Intro to the Novel, Women in Literature

Barbara HamiltonPh.D. Comparative Literature, RutgersFormer Coordinator, Rutgers Writing Program Mercer Asst. Prof. of English courses: Composition, Intro. to Drama, World Literature I and II

WhO are we?

In 10 seconds,WHO Are you?

- Name- Where You teach- What you Teach (Or what you do)

History of Mercer Honors

What we have done and the basics of how we do it

Exercise 1: Start by doing (Not listening)


Strategic help in achieving what they need to move on

How might they differ from traditional community college students?

In general, they have had some measure of success in high school Englisha supportive relationship with a former instructor they feel close to.

WHAT ARE YOUR STUDENTS LIKE? The Big Talker --- opinionated but text - averse

The Anxious Perfectionist

may hand in work late (or not at all)

The Free Spirit

Praised fororiginality anduniqueness

may balk at revision or challengeThe A-or-Nothing Type: prioritizes point values and grades over course content

Some typical personalities

Our students: know what has worked well for them in the past,assume that we will enable them to succeed in the same way they are accustomed to, often anticipate a close working relationship with us,and cant really imagine how college-level work differs from high school work.

Common expectations

Our challenge: getting them to construct knowledge by talking to each other rather than just listening to or talking to us. WHAT WE expect of our students --

Entry into the messy, exhilarating, and fundamentally necessary world of intellectual engagement, public discourse, and social action

OUR APPROACH Supportive Disruption

He had this teachers gift, the ability to find the edge of a students capacity, and to wait there for him to leap. ~ Kenji Yoshino, CoveringYoshino, Kenji. Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights. NY: Random House, 2007.

Facilitating the disruption: the Inside-out writing process(Not having a thesis is difficult for students used to formulaic writing.)

(They resist work with a minimal point value until they see the strategic benefit for their final drafts.)Inside-out writing =

- Writing without a thesis

- mining the text low-stakes but intensive discovery work

- challenging rather than simply praising = Always raising the bar

- delaying return of one essay until they have drafted another

(This is unsettling for those who need the comfort of faculty validation and attention to their ideas.)Circumventing the prize student beloved teacher paradigm =

- redirecting the conversation and questions to other students

- encouraging group work and collaboration (Flipped classes)

- setting up revolving student discussion leadership

- mandating directed peer review and post-draft revision

Providing the support1. Building an honors community:

students supporting each other

What works:

Seminar-style classrooms and small class size,Changing student groups for draft workshops and discussion-leading so that all voices contribute,Multi-section conversations and draft workshops,Cross-section discussion forums, Honors social media networking,Dedicated Honors study/lounge space. How do you encourage students to work together and form a community? (but not in the way they expect)

2. faculty support and encouragement for honors students:

being there in every way

What works:

Paying attention: listening, remembering details and using them,Building student input into the course, Choosing whole text readings so that students spend time with writers and watch how their ideas develop,Modeling connections: circling back to previous ideas and other courses,What works for you? What works:

Responding quickly to emails and requests; encouraging office visits, Commenting carefully on oral and written work to point out the promising and encourage development,Treating them as less-experienced colleagues and fellow scholars,Trusting them to think for themselves.

How would you comment on these two passages to both disrupt unhelpful norms and support students in revision?

Exercise 2: disruptive and supportive commenting

Final Discussion


Contact info:

Carol Denise Bork: [email protected] Hamilton: [email protected]

Thanks for sharing your ideas!