Hooks are for fishing: Preparing students for writing across their curriculum
In this research I will be comparing diction and syntax in Cell-Bio/Neurology students’ writing to professional CB/N writing to analyze the semantic differences between them. What knowledge gap is represented, between the professional and student writing and language? What knowledge does the gap suggest is still necessary to reach desired learning outcomes for CB/N students? I am particularly interested in instances of student language use that emulate other disciplines, e.g. English or History, in attempting to write in a specifically CB/N discourse. I am looking for traces of what Anne Beaufort calls negative transfer, instances where writers mis-apply prior learning to new sites of writing where that learning doesn’t transfer well. (For example, when a student learns in one class to avoid passive voice, and attempts to transfer that knowledge to another class where passive voice is the norm). This project builds on undergraduate research previously completed by Medina Culver, using Culver’s data set (a small corpus of course papers from previous CB/N classes provided by Prof. Thom Hughes) for extended analysis. I will re-analyze the corpus for instances of out-of-discipline language use and identify patterns across those instances. I will coordinate with Dr. Downs on methodology for data analysis, which will be based on established practices of discourse-analysis research. Background reading for the research will help determine methods and parameters for the analysis, specifically considering Beaufort’s College Writing and Beyond to assess whether students display transfer of knowledge at all and if it is, in fact, negative transfer.