Formulaic Writing and the Research Paper


I thoroughly enjoyed the readings that Katherine has chosen for this week. I felt as though they worked so well together as a unit actually because I found myself referring to one article as I read the other. To begin, I would like to the address the article “Why the ‘Research Paper’ isn’t Working” by Barbara Fister. Her criticism of the research paper resonates so closely to my personal thoughts and opinions about the research paper and its uses. One of the most common criticisms of the research paper is that a student cannot be original, but yet it is looked for almost as a requirement in student writing. When one has a great amount of structure imposed upon them all of the time, they become dependent on it and are not able to release themselves from the box that is created. In addition, regarding the commentary given on citation, I feel there is indeed an immense pressure put onto students when it comes to citations and style, and the question of whether it is most important should be raised.

However, I do feel that how much emphasis is being put on citation at a particular stage in the writing process makes all the difference. If one does not wish to stifle student writers, as well as send them mixed messages about writing in general and what it is, then making sure other concerns are adhered to and locked in place first (before citation is a thought) is crucial to their growth as writers. I think that everything has its place, and while there are parts of writing that are absolutely imperative, there’s a time and a place where it should be addressed. Every situation and writing task will not call for impeccable citation as a high order concern, but it shouldn’t be ignored or pushed aside either.

Moving along, the second article “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist) by Mark Wiley was very intriguing. Formulaic writing is an impediment for student writing in so many ways, but I can also see where the advantages are. Jane Schaffer’s Approach, I agree, would be magnificent to implement in ninth and tenth grades and then move beyond the approach by eleventh grade and on. However, if students aren’t making progress in terms of engaging with content and being able to express themselves then how is the Jane Schaffer method really effective? I felt as though Schaffer answered the issue of formulaic writing with a formulaic approach, which doesn’t make sense to me at all. What makes her approach different than the many traditionally influenced approaches that came before hers? The reason that made everyone want to use her approach because it would be “different” is contradictory and renders the approach useless.

While I have so much more to say about the topic, I feel this is a good area to stop and continue in class discussion. I will probably update this blog because it is a topic I found myself very passionate about, which i think has everything to do with my writing background and the my experience as a writing coach.


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