Adapting and Creating Knowledge

Quite the title, I understand, but I had a meeting to discuss my Freshmen Comp transfer theory influenced curriculum project THEN I read this article on OER’s. What I really want to discuss is the connections I drew in my head, despite the lack of connection between the two.

The intention with our Freshmen Comp course design is not to use OER’s in the strict open access textbook sense, but to use a more inexpensive textbook with published articles. I really like the way the article frames the use of OER’s as a way of teaching knowledge as non-fixed, ever changing. Since book publishing can take a while, OERs allow for new knowledge to be included more quickly – with significantly less costs to the student than newly published books.

So, the connection to my curriculum……..

My co-author and I met with a colleague today to ‘pitch’ our new curriculum. We’re working through departmental buy-in and support of our project, so if successful the ideas will be supported throughout the department, hopefully in other composition courses. While talking about our curriculum we mentioned the goal to include a theme’d approach. My colleague mentioned using a few different themes in previous semesters, then requiring students to select a final paper topic influenced in some way by the theme of the course. I love this idea!

For students to recognize the need to transfer, the need to use background knowledge, they need to be aware of what they know. In a composition course we’re also trying to teach them to recognize where knowledge and ongoing conversation exists. Similar to the discussion of OERs we’re trying to show students that knowledge is not fixed – that searching for and developing knowledge is the important task of thinking, writing and education (especially life-long education).

For all this to work, reflection is a key first start! As I was reflecting on how to develop the final paper so students would feel encouraged to select a topic based on their experiences with the theme of the course. To not only recognize their learning, but to recognize the cognitive connections they’re making reflection is the key. Having students develop a reflection what about the theme influenced their topic selection, what are the connections they’re making? What about these connections demonstrate approaches to exploring ongoing conversations?

The next step will be using this reflection to help students expand their theory of writing – enriching their own understanding of writing, ongoing conversation, and the complexities of knowledge.

As a first step to practicing exploring theories of writing through reflection, of developing connections between readings, of developing new topic ideas roughly based on the theme (in this case a meeting and an OER article) – this is a bit of a ramble. I’m still working out the details for how to help students better shape their reflections on how they select topics influenced by readings!


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