What Can Students Tell Us about “Skill Building” in Canadian Writing Studies?
This paper comes from narrative research that I did with ten former students who reflected on their experiences with writing both in a first-year writing class and beyond. As the participants and I worked together, it became clear that there was the tension between the way they described process and skill building in writing pedagogy. They emphasized that process and scaffolding were integral to their learning, but they equally emphasized the one-off, skills-oriented components of our work. Many conversations in Canadian writing studies have focused on dismantling or resisting the skills narrative, but the tension in the participants’ responses prompted me to think about this differently. The paper explores the tension between skills and process to argue that perhaps skill building has its place in our contexts, and that we as writing teachers and scholars must think about it differently in order to articulate the value of the work that we do. If we can use the skills-oriented components of our courses to open spaces to discuss the less quantifiable elements of our work that often get overlooked (i.e., scaffolding), then we may put ourselves in a better position to advocate for increased resources and funding.
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