Composition Class Observation Essay

ENGL 377
Fall 2013
Composition Class Observation Essay
“The work is waiting for us. And so irrevocable now is the tide that brings the new students into the nation’s college
classrooms that it is no longer within our power…to refuse to accept them into the community of the educable. They
are here. DIVING IN is simply deciding that teaching them to write well is not only suitable but challenging work
for those would be teachers and scholars in a democracy.”
–Mina P. Shaughnessy, “Diving In”
“To teach writing is to argue for a version of reality and the best way of knowing and communicating it.”
--James Berlin, “Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories”
So far this semester, you’ve written about your initial observations of the writing center and
about your observation of an individual writer. Your next paper assignment asks you to take a
look at another key player in composition studies and the challenges you will face as tutors. Each
of you will visit a composition class currently being taught at Shepherd. Just as with your visit to
the Academic Support Center, you’ll simply be visitors (and thus on your best behavior—no
talking, sleeping, texting, etc.). Just as with your first two papers, you’ll need to take lots of notes
and reflect on what stands out in those notes. If the instructor is willing, you can ask to see
specific assignments the students are working on or the course syllabus.
After you gather your data, begin drafting your essay with an eye towards an eventual thesis
about how what you observe in this classroom might translate into the work a tutor does in the
Academic Support Center. You paper can be about more than this, but do make sure you argue
for some connection to tutoring. The specific sections/topics you concern yourself with are
entirely up to you. See where you observation takes you and run with it.
Your paper should include/demonstrate:
 A clear thesis statement early in the paper laying out your argument about how what you
saw in this class might affect what tutors are asked to do (or need to do) in the ASC;
 Good topic sentences and transitions for each paragraph;
 An introduction and a conclusion;
 Evidence from your notes to support your points. Quote from dialogue you overhear,
point out specific important details, etc.;
 References (direct quotations and/or paraphrases) cited correctly in the text according to
MLA conventions from at least three texts we’ve read so far. (Try to use some sources
you haven’t used before.) You’ll also need a works cited page;
 Appropriate length and formatting: At least 4 full pages, typed; double-spaced; typed in a
reasonable font (Times New Roman 12 pt. or Arial 11 pt.); one-inch margins all around;
stapled; no extra spaces between paragraphs; your name, the course title, the instructor’s
name, and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page; after page one, page
numbers should appear on the upper right-hand corner of each page.
Important dates for this assignment:
Monday, October 14: Workshop papers in class; bring two copies of a draft to class
Wednesday, October 16: Papers due in class; copies due on before class begins