The Assignment: Analyze your writing process in a scientific way

This assignment sequence /experiment becomes the building blocks for the first 1301 writing assignment, The Autoethnograpy (see pp. 322-325 in Writing about Writing.)

Key to Success: Using an actual writing assignment from large lecture

Step 1:

Introduce the Writing Process, and frame this on previous reading of Tierney & Pearson in WAW.

  • My large lecture professor discusses Tierney & Pearson in his class as it relates to their first history reading.

Class Plans:

What is the Writing Process?

Refer back to Tierney & Pearson. What are the 5 elements of the "composing model of reading" again??? Let's list them.

  • We examined these stages as readers of the Las Casas article, then switched to the role of being a writer. When you wrote the practice critical essay, which stages did you use? Let's list them. Which stages did you leave out?
  • So, how did this work for you?
  • Let's go over, in detail, the The Writing Process

Step 2:

Sondra Perl

Introduce Perl


  • Re-read the link on my wiki page The Writing Process. This should help reinforce our class discussion, and better prepare you to read Perl's article.
  • Read "The Composing Process of Unskilled College Writers" by Sondra Perl in WAW pp. 191-215. Take notes as you read.
  • Complete a Reading Response in which you respond to questions 2, 3, 4, and 5 on p. 214 of your WAW text. Each response to each question should be in a fully developed paragraph. Here's how to CITE the Perl article.
  • Please bring the following to class on Wednesday:
    • A printed, stapled version of your Reading Response (due at the beginning of class)
    • Your notes on the Perl reading and your WAW text book.
  • It is critical that you have a thorough understanding of the Perl reading, and of her methodology when you arrive in class on Wednesday. Perl's research will form the basis for our first major writing assignment. READ the assignment description if you haven't already: Autoethnography Fall 2012

Step 2:

Discuss Perl/Create a Code

Class Plans:

Class Discussion: Perl

  • What are the main ideas to take away from the reading? Let's list them.
  • What are the implications of studying how someone writes in such a detailed way?
  • How would you feel if you were the subject of such a study? How do you think it would impact your writing?
  • So, what are we going to do with this? Check out the Autoethnography Fall 2012 assignment.
  • Here's a Sample Code thanks to Damaris Georgiadis

Create a Link on Wiki for Writing Project 1

  • Create this link on your Side Bar, underneath your English heading.
  • Inside the Writing Project 1 link, create two more links:
    • My Group's Code
    • WP 1 Proposal

Small Group Brainstorming

Get into groups of 4 or 6 (It will be easier later if there are an even number of people in your group). Assign someone to take notes, then post these on wiki. You'll need this information later!

  • Referring to the article, come up with your own "code" for analyzing your writing process. You'll need to decide:
    • What aspects of the composing process will you code? You may not need to be as detailed as Perl was, but you'll need to identify the important parts of the writing process.
    • Assign a code to each part of the process. You may use some of Perl's, create your own from scratch, or use some sort of combination.
  • You'll also need to discuss and decide:
    • How will you transcribe and evaluate your experiment?
    • How you will set up your experiment (will you record yourself via web cam? Cell phone? Ask someone to vidoe tape you with a cam corder?
  • Make sure someone from your group posts this to wiki. Then, you'll need to copy this onto your own wiki page.

Report your group's methods to the class.


  • You'll be doing a self analysis of your writing process as you draft the next Critical Essay for history, using the code you developed in class today, or a modified version. Plan now for how you'll do this (for example, if you need to borrow someone's computer who has a web cam, etc.). Are you happy with the code your group designed? If not, make your own, or modify the code for your own purposes.
  • Create a link in wiki called, "WP 1 Proposal" and add your initials. Write a proposal for how you will conduct your experiment. Describe how you will videotape yourself, and where you'll conduct your experiment. What about your writing environment do you want to discuss? Include the code you will be using. This should be posted to your wiki page by the beginning of class on Friday and will count as a homework grade.
  • If you haven't already, you need to read your assigned chapter in Contending Voices for the first official Critical Essay in History. You'll need to have this reading completed by Friday in order to complete some assignments we'll be doing in Comp.
    • Sections 240 & 241: "The Price of Patriotism: Jonathan Sewall and John Adams" (Chapter 4)
    • Sections 242 & 243: "Enthusiasm, Authority, and the Great Awakening: James Davenport and Charles Chauncey" (Chapter 3)
  • Don't forget to drop by the CASA Meet and Greet today! 10-3 in the UC ballroom. Free FOOD! Games! Prizes!

Step 3: Test the Code in Class/Conduct the experment

Class Plans:


  • Students need a lot of guidance with this. Most of their transcripts weren't usable on the first submission.
  • This sequence takes a lot of time. It's worth it, because students are actually using data to analyze their writing process.

How Seminar & Large Lecture Can Help

  • Discuss the writing process at any and every opportunity. Talk about your own writing process with the students.
  • Work with comp to find an appropriate writing assignment that works early in the semester so the students have a "real world" writing activity.
  • Seminar can help show videos and discuss how each students' writing process is unique.