Themes in English Handbooks.Report as inadecuate

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There has been much discussion of what students need to know to write effectively. An example of criteria is the requirements for the Writing Sample of the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP). Students, unless exempted, must write an essay that meets this standard before they can receive an associate diploma or enroll in junior-level courses in public colleges and universities in Texas. A comparison of the TASP criteria with the contents of more than a dozen recent handbooks for college composition students was made. The instructor's annotated editions of popular handbooks, publishers' bibliographies for teachers and other sources for references to unused approaches and contents that might contribute to the development of students' writing abilities were also examined. For each requirement, a summary was made of: (1) what the handbooks cover, especially new concepts; (2) what relevant research is recognized by the authors but does not appear in the student pages; and (3) what one alternative, modern functional linguistics, could offer if the appropriate pedagogy were developed and teachers were taught how to apply what is already known. A list of the 19 handbooks and textbooks examined is attached. Contains 22 references. (Author)

Descriptors: Comparative Analysis, Essays, Guides, Higher Education, Student Evaluation, Textbook Content, Textbook Research, Textbooks, Writing Evaluation, Writing Instruction, Writing Skills

Author: Hartnett, Carolyn G.


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