Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition
Although compositionists recognize that student talk plays an important role in learning to write, there is limited understanding of how students use conversational moves to collaboratively build knowledge about writing across contexts. This article reports on a study of focus group conversations involving first-year students in a cohort program. Our analysis identified two patterns of group conversation among students: “co-telling” and “co-constructing,” with the latter leading to more complex writing knowledge. We also used Beaufort’s domains of writing knowledge to examine how co-constructing conversations supported students in abstracting knowledge beyond a single classroom context and in negotiating local constraints. Our findings suggest that co-constructing is a valuable process that invites students to do the necessary work of remaking their knowledge for local use. Ultimately, our analysis of the role of student conversation in the construction of writing knowledge contributes to our understanding of the myriad activities that surround transfer of learning.
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