ENGL 824 Blog Entry #3 Stine

Stine, Linda. “Basically Unheard: Developmental Writers and the Conversation on Online Learning.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 38.2 (2010): 132-148. ERIC. Web. 28 May 2014.

In this article written in response to a gap in literature regarding the teaching of basic writing online, Stine argues combines basic writing pedagogy, adult learning theory, and research into online education to craft an argument that instructor’s must consider student’s technological skill, academic skill, and learning styles when considering teaching basic writing at a distance or in a hybrid course. Stine begins by reviewing what online learning theory hails as the factors that make online learning successful and the ideal student who would benefit from online learning that meets these characteristics. The problem, Stine points out, is that online learning theory assumes a student who is independent, confident, and self-assured regarding learning ability, but even this student needs certain attributes and resources to be successful in an online class. Stine explores the theoretical concept of the adult learner (a mature, independent, motivated student) and contrasts that model with the adult basic writer in an online learning environment. Stine then explains challenges that the adult basic writer faces that should be considered when planning a course: technology issues such as technological access and technological skill of lack thereof, academic issues such as educational level (which may impact their ability to identify or interpret cues), persistence in attempting to overcome difficulties, and their sense of connectedness to their educational community; and personal characteristics such as emotions and learning styles, including the need to feel positive to be successful, students’ personality types and how online teaching may help or hinder them (ie. introverts will likely feel differently about a text-based class than extroverts will), and how cognitive load impacts memory. Stine ends by posing a series of questions to prompt further research into and consideration of the topic. The appendix includes a helpful chart containing three columns exploring how factors that enhance adult learning are applicable to adult basic writers and resulting implications for making the move to the online teaching of adult basic writers.

I chose to review this article by Stine for the very reason that she wrote it: there seems to be a lack of attention to the teaching of developmental writing at a distance despite a good deal of literature focusing on the teaching of writing at a distance. The article is very useful because despite the fact that one can easily locate resources about adult learning, basic writing pedagogy, and online writing pedagogy, it is helpful to have these theories succinctly synthesized in this way. One of the most helpful tools that is included in the article is the chart that briefly applies adult learning theory to basic writing and then poses a question to help consider how these issues are complicated by an online writing environment. This article is unique in that it brings these three disciplines together to discuss the implications of distance education for basic writing students; therefore it’s valuable as a resource for those planning such courses.


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