Podcast: Decentering grammar and grading in academic writing instruction
In this podcast episode we talk to Sophia Brauner about academic writing as a means of communication of ideas and the effects that decentering language correctness and grading can have in the teaching of writing.
In this podcast episode we talk to Sophia Brauner, a former student of ours who is currently completing her graduate studies at Western Washington University in the United States and who teaches academic writing to undergraduate students.
We talk about the notion of academic writing as a means of expression and communication of ideas and how Sophia in her classes uses the creation of podcast projects to teach students be more creative, flexible and willing to take risks in their approach to writing.
Sophia puts forth strong and inspiring criticisms of language correctness and standard grammar as criteria for evaluating student writing – criticisms that are virtually unheard of in our German system. She gives us wonderful insights into how the broader, de-centered notions of what ‘writing’, ‘research’, and ‘knowledge’ can be in her writing classes follow an anti-racist tradition of scholarship and liberate students to find their own voices rather than imitating others.
Lastly, we talk about the ubiquitous problems of grading and how Sophia uses ‘labor contracts’ to grade her students’ work not in terms of ‘merit’ but purely in terms of completion, which functions as another way to encourage creativity and risk in learning instead of reading the teacher’s mind in trying to get everything perfect.
- Sophia’s syllabus for English 101.
- Sophia’s syllabus for English 201.
- Sherri Craig, “Your Contract Grading Ain't It.” Writing Program Administration, Vol. 44, Issue 3, 2021.
- Peter Elbow, “A Unilateral Grading Contract to Improve Learning and Teaching.” College Composition and Communication, Vol. 61, Issue 2, 2009.