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Reflecting on the Past, Reconstructing the Future: Faculty Members’ Threshold Concepts for Teaching Writing in the Disciplines

Author

Basgier, Christopher
Simpson, Amber

Publisher

WAC Clearinghouse

Abstract

A growing body of scholarship in writing studies has started exploring threshold concepts for writing, providing a synoptic view of the transformations students undergo as they learn about writing. However, the field has not yet undertaken a systematic investigation of threshold concepts for the teaching of writing. A distinction between threshold concepts for writing and threshold concepts for the teaching of writing is especially important for WAC initiatives that work with faculty in the disciplines who may not have extensive training in writing pedagogy. Research into threshold concepts for the teaching of writing in the disciplines can help WAC professionals better understand the conceptual transformations these faculty experience as they participate in our programs. In this article, we present three threshold concepts for the teaching of writing in the disciplines that we identified: effective writing pedagogy involves iterative, multifaceted change; students’ development as writers can be supported through scaffolded interventions; and genres can be taught as actions, not (just) as forms. To illustrate these concepts, we share faculty narratives from a survey and focus groups, which we analyze using a narrative framework for identifying threshold concepts derived from phenomenographic analysis. We conclude by suggesting additional candidates for threshold concepts for the teaching of writing in the disciplines, and commenting on the value of narrative for promoting faculty reflection and assessing WAC faculty development.