Imitation and Adaptability in the First-Year Composition Classroom: A Pedagogical Study


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Virginia Tech


The use of imitation exercises—writing activities employing model texts and the modeling of writing-process behaviors—in the First Year composition classroom can have many benefits for both student writers and teachers, and offers practical solutions to some of the problems facing student writers in today's colleges. First Year writing students are often unaware that they are part of a larger academic community. They often lack exposure to and understanding of academic standards. They don't understand that "good" writing is not a blanket-concept but is determined on a situational basis, and they are frustrated by the vaguely expressed expectations of their writing teachers. These problems are interconnected and so are all addressed in this study, but because they offer so many potential avenues for discussion, the focus of this project will be limited to the benefits of clear expectations that the use of modeling activities in the classroom can bring about for both students and teachers. An in-depth look at the materials, methods, and results of student participation in the activities of a single semester of English 1105, the first course in Virginia Tech's First Year Writing Program will be the dominant component of the project; it will be supplemented by a review of literature and a contextual discussion of what Stephen M. North calls the "Practitioner" mode of inquiry—the gathering of pedagogical information through the active classroom application of educational theories and practices.



curriculum, translation, pedagogy, paraphrase, Modeling, Freshman English, imitation, Freshman Composition, composition, First-Year Composition, classroom instruction, adaptability, English 1105, Department of English