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Characterizing and Teaching Genre An Ongoing Quest

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Title: Characterizing and Teaching Genre An Ongoing Quest


1
Characterizing and Teaching Genre(An On-going
Quest)
  • Ann M. Johns
  • San Diego State University

2
Genre Bending
3
The Plenary as Genre
4
In the AAAL Context
5
Today's topic Academic Literacy for the Novice
Student
6
Why focus on the novice student?
  • The teaching problem for more advanced academic
    students seems to have been solved for many
    contexts (See Swales and Feak, 2004).

7
We havent answered these questions about
teaching novices
  • Are we qualified to teach an academic curriculum
    that is genre-based?
  • Are we doing an adequate job teaching academic
    literacies to novice L2 students?
  • Why do we continue to rely on formulaic texts,
    the paint by number approach?
  • Can we import texts into the classroom from
    authentic contexts?

8
Problem How do we apply genre theory and
research to the novice classroom in ways that
  • Are theoretically framed, but pedagogically sound
    and sufficiently coherent to be accessible to
    students?
  • Do not ignore the complexity of genres and their
    varied realizations in real world contexts?
  • Promote rhetorical flexibility and genre
    awareness among students, developing abilities to
    assess, and adapt a genre to, a situation?

9
Goals for a Genre Class (Russell Fisher, in
press)
  • Goal 1 Genre acquisition/learning, actually
    acquiring the ability to produce a text in a
    given structure.
  • Goal 2 Genre awareness, developing an
    understanding of the conventions, and variations
    in genres. Learning to research a rhetorical
    context (Johns, 1997).

10
Defining and Contextualizing Genres
  • Genres are both cognitive and social,
    representing mental schemas for appropriate
    textual approaches to situations (Bazerman, 1997
    Grabe Kaplan, 1996).
  • Genres are repeated social actions (Miller,
    1984), purposeful strategies for certain types
    of situations (Coe, 2006).
  • Genres are situated Texts from genres are
    written for, and in, specific situations.

11
Layers of Context (Samraj, 2002)
Academic Institution
Academic Institution
Discipline
Course
Task
Student
Text
12
What else characterizes genres?
  • They are purposeful and/or responsive In most
    cases, students purposes are to successfully
    respond to assignments made by instructors.
  • Genres are named by those in power Naming is a
    controversial and unresolved issue in theory and
    pedagogy.

13
Some Genre Names Related to Purpose (Rose, 2006)
  • Name
  • Exposition
  • Discussion
  • Interpretation
  • Historical recount
  • Historical account
  • Purpose
  • Arguing for a point of view
  • Discussing several points of view
  • Interpreting the message of a text
  • Recounting historical events
  • Explaining historical events

14
Procedural Genres in Relation to National
Training Board Levels in Science-Based Industry
(Rose, 1997, quoted in Martin, 2002)
technicalEnglish
specialisedEnglish
oriented to technology
topographic procedure
conditional procedure
technical procedure
dutystatement
simpleprocedure
oriented to task
co-operativeprocedure
oriented to operators
NTB 1-2
NTB 3
NTB 4
NTB 5
15
Levels of Generic Description (Bhatia, 2004)
Genresidentified in terms ofcommunicative
purpose
achieved through rhetorical/generic values of

RHETORICAL/GENERIC VALUES

evaluation
description
explanation
narration
instruction
giving shape to product like
Promotional Genres
GENRE COLONY


GENRES
advertisements
sales letters
job applications
book reviews
book blurbs
16
Genres are clustered or grouped
  • Genre colonies (Bhatia, 2004), grouped by
    purpose.
  • Families, e.g., service encounter, technical
    procedure (Hasan, 1985).
  • Intertextual systems (Chen Hyon, in press).

17
Genre Conventions Reflect Effective Strategies
for Repeated Social Actions
  • Conventions cover a variety of features
    register (including author stance), content, text
    structure, non-linear text (e.g., graphs
    pictures), fonts, paper quality
  • See work by Schleppergrell Oliveira (2006) and
    Mohan Slater (2006) on the language conventions
    of content domains.

18
However, Genres vary
considerably in terms of prototypicality (Swales,
1990), influenced by the nature of the genre
itself and the centripetal and centrifugal forces
that characterize the situation in which a text
from the genre is written (Berkenkotter Huckin,
1995).
19
Model of Genre Knowledge (Tardy, 2006)
nascent knowledge
Rhetoricalknowledge
Formalknowledge
Subject-matterknowledge
expertise
Proceduralknowledge
nascent knowledge
20
Three Genre Traditions
21
The New Rhetoric
22
In the New Rhetoric
  • Context is central to conceptualizing genres
    Genres predict but do not determine the nature
    of the text that will be produced in a given
    context (Russell, on activity theory, 1997).
  • Genres are ideologically-driven artifacts of a
    discourse community.

23
Analyzing the Genre Scene (Devitt, Reiff,
Bawarshi, 2004)
  • Select and gain access to a scene.
  • Identify and describe the situations of the scene
    (interactions, settings, people, topics).
  • Identify a genre from the scene and collect
    samples.
  • Identify and analyze the patterns in the genre
  • content
  • rhetorical appeals
  • format
  • sentence types
  • diction

24
Consider These Rhetorical Issues (Devitt, Reiff,
and Bawarshi, 2004)
  • Who is invited to participate in the genre and
    who is excluded?
  • What roles of writers and readers are encouraged
    or discouraged?
  • What values, goals, and assumptions are revealed?
  • What actions does the genre make possible?

25
Genre and Invention
26
Genre Awareness the Writing Process Prompt
Analysis
  • 1, What are you supposed to do as a writer when
    you are responding to this prompt? Are you asked
    to make an argument? To inform? To describe or
    list? If your doing word is vague, like
    discuss or describe, what do you think it
    means?
  • 2. What content are you supposed to discuss in
    your response? Is the content related in some
    way?
  • 3. Who are you supposed to be in this prompt? An
    ordinary student or someone else? (Some prompts
    tell writers to speak in the voice of an
    editorial writer, a leader, or.)
  • 4. Is your audience specified? If so, who is
    your audience? What will this mean in terms of
    the language you use or the content you include?

27
Additional questions about a prompt Genre
Awareness and Writing Processes
  • 5. What is this text called? (Its genre name)
    What do you know already about this genre? How
    can you vary it to make it yours?
  • 6. How are you to use sources, if at all? How
    many sources should you use? What kinds? Does the
    prompt specify whether the sources should be
    primary or secondary? What genres are
    appropriate? (Magazine or journal articles?
    Textbooks? Newspapers? Full-length books?)
  • 7. How long should your paper be? What other
    specifications are given? (The referencing style?
    The font size? The margin width?)
  • 8. How will you organize your text? Why? On the
    back of this paper, write a draft plan for your
    response.
  • Johns, A.M. (2007) AVID College Readiness
    Writing from Sources (inspired by Bawarshi,
    2003).

28
English for Specific Purposes
29
Genre, Pedagogy, and English for Specific Purposes
  • Swales moves in article introductions
    (1990). Text structures and functions.
    Textographies (1998).
  • Hyland Writer-reader relationships
    metadiscourse (1999), hedging (1998), stance and
    engagement (2005).
  • Bhatia Genres and the professions (1993), genre
    colonies (2004).
  • Paltridge Pedagogies (2001)Ethnographies in
    contexts (2006).
  • Samraj Advanced students academic texts (2004).

30
Systemic Functional Linguistics "The Sydney
School"
31
SFL Academic Pedagogies(Christie, 1991 Martin,
1993, 1998)
  • Focus upon the novice student indigenous
    children and new adult immigrants, in particular.
  • List key, and varied, academic genres their
    social locations, schematic structures, and
    stages (See Mackin-Horarik, 2002).

32
And Practitioners following SFL
  • Present an accessible teaching-learning cycle
    (See Feez, 1998).
  • Offer a new emphasis upon, and pedagogical plan
    for, the struggling reader (Rose, 2006).

33
Given these possibilities, what can we do to
produce a pedagogy that
  • Is theoretically framed, but sufficiently
    coherent and pedagogically sound to be accessible
    to students?
  • Does not ignore the complexity of genres and
    their varied realizations in real world contexts?
  • Promotes rhetorical flexibility and genre
    awareness, the novice writers ability to
    assess, and perhaps adapt a genre to, a situation?

34
One Possibility
35
An Interdisciplinary Learning Community (Johns,
2001 T. Johns Dudley-Evans, 1980)
  • All students are enrolled in the same literacy
    and introductory content classes (anthropology,
    history, economics, biology).
  • In the literacy class, students study the content
    class as an academic microcosm, frequently
    conducting research into its ways of being, its
    texts, and its disciplinary values.
  • Literacy and content faculty collaborate by
    designing a co-constructed paper, reflecting the
    disciplinary ways of being from the content
    class.
  • Students study the discipline by using the
    content classroom as the research site.

36
Disciplinary Grouping of Written Responses
37
Way 1 Problem-solving/System Generating Response
(Carter, 2007)
  • Identify, define, and analyze the problem,
  • Determine what information and disciplinary
    concepts are appropriate for solving the problem
    and collect data,
  • Offer viable solutions, and evaluate the
    solutions using specific discipline-driven
    criteria.
  • Genres case studies, project reports and
    proposals, business plans.

38
Way 2 A Response Calling for Empirical Inquiry
(IMRD Paper)
  • Ask questions/formulate hypotheses.
  • Test hypotheses (or answer questions) using
    empirical methods.
  • Organize and analyze data for verbal and visual
    summaries.
  • Conclude by explaining the results.
  • Genres lab reports, posters, research report or
    article.

39
Way 3 A Response Calling for Research from
Sources
  • Pose an interesting research question.
  • Locate relevant (often primary) sources for
    investigating the question.
  • Critically evaluate the sources in terms of
    credibility, authenticity, interpretive stance,
    audience, potential biases, and value for
    answering research questions.
  • Marshall evidence to support an argument that
    answers the research question.
  • Genre The quintessential academic genre the
    research paper (MLA style)

40
Way 4 A Response Calling for Performance
  • Learn about the principles, concepts, media, or
    formats appropriate for the discipline.
  • Attempt to master the techniques and approaches.
  • Develop a working knowledge and process.
  • Perform and/or critique the performance.
  • Genres visual artifacts, written compositions,
    portfolios, critiques

41
Creating a Academic Genre-Awareness Pedagogy for
Novice ELL/ESL/EFL and Gen 1.5 Students
  • Establish class objectives related to reading,
    writing and analysis of genres as well as for
    academic vocabulary (e.g. mortar words), grammar
    (for deep learning).
  • Introduce the four ways of knowing, and their
    related disciplines, to students.
  • Draw from students experiences with these ways
    (and the related responses) to build prior
    knowledge.
  • Select two or three of the ways for the
    literacy curriculum, thus encouraging rhetorical
    flexibility.

42
Further steps in a Genre-Awareness Curriculum
  • Select genres that realize the ways chosen.
  • Interview faculty or advanced students about the
    ways how, and why, they are realized in
    certain genres. Collect samples of the genres, if
    possible.
  • Design prompts for each genre and tailored
    scoring rubrics to correspond to the prompts.
    Encourage prompt analysis.
  • Scaffold students in their reading and writing in
    the genres, reminding them of the corresponding
    ways.
  • Encourage student research, self-reflection, and
    self-assessment throughout.

43
Final Remarks
  • Genre is certainly a slippery, if attractive,
    term. We should all use the term with careand
    define it before use.
  • For any curriculum, we need to decide, first of
    all, what we want the students to learn, to
    understand, and to be able to do when they
    complete their classes. Genre acquisition or
    awareness?

44
Final, Final Remarks
  • Considering the slippery nature of the term,
    genre awareness and rhetorical flexibility seem
    to be fully as important as the learning of text
    structures, as novice students experiences with
    the Five Paragraph Essay have demonstrated.
  • But more curriculum design, research, and
    discussion need to take place before we can say
    with any degree of certainty what the best
    approaches might be---and with which groups of
    novices.

45
Thanks!
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