Public Writing: Bringing Relevance, Transparency, and Transfer into the Composition Classroom

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McMillan, Ryan Gooding
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Middle Tennessee State University
Composition courses frequently are not classes students choose voluntarily; FYC classes, in particular, are usually mandatory. Because of this, students may think of the writing that they do in these classes in about the same way many of us thought of Algebra or Physical Education classes growing up: as little more than a chore. Writing is an active pursuit that allows people to understand and interact with their world, but students who are forced to churn out formulaic essays will find it difficult to believe that writing is anything more than an imposed exercise. Inviting students to experience the active nature of writing through public writing assignments allows students to practice writing that engages with the world. Public writing pedagogy allows instructors to involve students in enacting rhetoric through real rhetorical situations, to demonstrate specific genres that react to common situations, and to prompt students to consider how they may approach future situations through reflection. Surveying a number of platforms for public writing appropriate to varying levels of composition courses, this project provides an aid to instructors who wish to implement public writing pedagogy in their own classrooms.
Composition, Genre, Public Writing, Rhetoric, Student Investment, Transfer