Teaching how to write: a shared responsibility among teachers in all subjects




Boyer, Priscilla

While no one would dream of questioning the practice of teaching discipline-specific knowledge in college courses—which would be absurd—the situation appears more problematic in the case of language skills. It is often when administering tests that teachers from all disciplines are confronted with wide discrepancies in their students’ writing skills. This raises the delicate issue of whether to test for this skill, too often reduced to the single aspect of correct spelling. Teachers have a responsibility, however, to act before the test, because shortcomings in students’ writing not only undermine their results but also create barriers to learning subjects and compromise the development of other skills. It therefore is essential to understand the interconnection between thinking and means of expression, between ideas and text. By supporting the development of their students’ language skills, teachers also promote development of their thought processes and appropriation of a writing culture specific to a discipline at the postsecondary level. How can this be achieved without placing an additional workload on teachers? The author of this article describes fairly simple approaches, highlighting written language practices that structure disciplines in a way that identifies the knowledge requiring specific attention as specialists in the subject matter.

Article available in French only.

The AQPC acknowledges the financial support, in 2014-2015, of the Government of Canada through Canadian Heritage, Canada Periodical Fund, Business Innovation component.

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