Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note

Susanne Hall

    California Institute of Technology

January 4, 2019

    Submitted, 12/3/2018; Accepted, 12/3/2018.

It is my pleasure to share issue 3.1 of Prompt with you. I hope the six writers who offer their assignments and pedagogical insights in this issue inspire and excite you, as they have done for me.

David Abrahamson’s “Scaffolded Daily Writing Assignments Introducing the Writing of Mathematical Proofs” should be of broad interest to math professors. His essay shares the story of how he reworked the way he was teaching proof writing, offering details about a thoughtful, practical set of linked assignments. His incremental approach is smart and sensible and could be easily adopted into a wide array of math courses that assign proofs.

Two authors in this issue consider the ways that assignments on scholarly discourse can enhance students’ understanding of a field of study. Phillip Troutman’s “Cross-disciplinary Concision and Clarity: Writing Social Science Abstracts in the Humanities” focuses on the abstracts written in the humanities. In his classroom, critical reading and revising of scholarly abstracts gives students insights into the methods and approach of a humanistic field of study. At the same time, this assignment challenges students to practice key writing moves, such as concisely and accurately summarizing another writer’s work. Troutman’s assignment could be adapted into a very wide variety of courses in varied fields. R. Mark Hall’s “Analyze a Published Research Study: An Assignment to Scaffold Reading Challenging Academic Texts” presents a writing-to-learn assignment from a course on research methods in writing studies. This essay shares a detailed method for acquainting students with published RAD (replicable, aggregable, and data-supported) research (as defined by Haswell, 2005). This assignment sets students up for later work in the course in which they design their own research studies based on RAD principles.

The three remaining assignments and essays in this issue offer rich consideration of pedagogical approaches to professional writing. All three of these pieces note the limits of simply teaching students the formal qualities of a professional genre of writing. Kelly Whitney’s “Bridging Rhetorical Genre Studies and Ethics of Representation in Meeting Minutes” presents an assignment in which students tackle the genre of meeting minutes, trying on varied approaches to taking minutes of class meetings, which are shared with the group. Kathryn Gindlesparger’s assignment in “Writing for Nonprofits in a Professionally-Oriented Institution: Using Rhetorical Genre Studies to Teach Flexibility” asks students to reflect on their individual professional values and analyze how those values influence their work as writers in varied non-profit genres. The assignment presented in Hilary Sarat-St. Peter’s “‘The One Who Knows the Tricks Wins the Day’: Cultivating Mētis in an Undergraduate, Mixed-Major Professional Writing Course” teaches students to practice mētis, “a flexible and adaptive way of thinking,” in writing varied job-related genres for arts and media careers. A shared feature of all these assignments is a focus on reflection as a means of spurring critical and creative thought in students’ approaches to professional writing. Each piece offers unique insights and assignments that could be utilized in a wide variety of contexts; read together, they model an enriched approach to teaching professional writing that is mindful of rhetorical contexts in fresh, exciting ways.

The editorial team that put this issue together contains several new members, and I want to welcome them. Aimee Mapes and Jamie White-Farnham have joined our team as Associate Editors, and Michael Carlozzi is our new Associate Technical Editor. I am grateful for their contributions to this issue and look forward with great excitement to our continued work together.


Haswell, R. H. (2005). NCTE/CCCC’s recent war on scholarship. Written Communication, 22(2), 198–223. http://doi.org/10.1177/0741088305275367

Copyright (c) 2019 Susanne Hall

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