While Thaiss and Myers Zawacki offer a detailed portrait of the ways writing takes place in diverse majors, they begin their book with three core principles that might help students understand where professors are coming from. In this post I thought I'd present the three principles for reflection and discussion.
Thaiss and Myers Zawacki claim that "regardless of differences among disciplines and individual teachers" (5) professors expect:
- "Clear evidence in writing that the writer(s) have been persistent, open-minded, and disciplined in study" (5).
- "The dominance of reason over emotions or sensual perception" (5).
- "An imagined reader who is coolly rational, reading for information, and intending to formulate a reasoned response" (7).
The first principle relates to how college classes depend on strong reading and careful thinking. As the authors relate, "academics are invariably harsh toward any student or scholar who hasn't done the background reading, who isn't prepared to talk formally or off the cuff about the subject of the writing, and whose writing doesn't show careful attention to the objects of study and reflective thought about them" (5).
In other words, students or scholars need to show that they know the conversations going on in that discipline or subject, and they need take time to distill what it means to them through discussion, writing papers, WebCT posts, etc.
What the second principle connects to, for me at least, is that while students may have strong opinions, they also must support those ideas with evidence, reasoning, examples, and details that make sense to a wider audience. While the authors' own study details a Professor of Nursing who promotes the use of emotions and experiences as a means to understand the challenges of the profession, even then a writer is expected to be "a careful, fair student and analyst of competing positions" (6), which also connects to how the authors detail principle 3 in terms that "all academic writing is 'argumentative' in its perception of a reader who may object or disagree" since "the writer's effort to anticipate and allay these potential objections is also part of a broadly 'argumentative' ethos" (7).
So with all that information related above, what do you think based on your own careful reading and critical thinking? [see principle 1]
Do these principles seem true to you based on your experience as a student and/or a professor?