Sommers and Saltz on Writing the First Year

Longitudinal studies of student writers offer a broader perspective on the principles and practices of the Thinking and Writing course at Keene State College. Many of our experiences with student writers, and our approaches to the teaching of college-level writing, are echoed in the most recent research into student learning and cognitive development. One example comes out of the Harvard Writing Project. You can catch a glimpse of this ongoing work by reading Nancy Sommers, former Director of Expository Writing, and Laura Saltz’s essay “The Novice as Expert: Writing the Freshman Year.” The abstract for the essay reads as follows:

Why do some students prosper as college writers, moving forward with their writing, while others lose interest? In this essay we explore some of the paradoxes of writing development by focusing on the central role the freshman year plays in this development. We argue that students who make the greatest gains as writers throughout college (1) initially accept their status as novices and (2) see in writing a larger purpose than fulfilling an assignment. Based on the evidence of our longitudinal study, we conclude that the story of the freshman year is not one of dramatic changes on paper; it is the story of changes within the writers themselves.

To read more, log in to a campus computer and access the JStor archive for the complete essay at The Novice as Expert: Writing the Freshman Year

Sommers, Nancy and Laura Saltz, “The Novice as Expert: Writing the Freshman Year” College Composition and Communication. 56.1 (2004): 124-149.)

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