ERIC Number: ED349573
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
When Worlds Collide: Negotiating between Academic and Professional Discourse in a Graduate Social Work Program.
Koncel, Mary A.; Carney, Debra
This paper describes a writing program designed for graduate students at the Smith College School for Social Work, and also a research project undertaken to identify and analyze the distinctive writing needs of this graduate school population. A major finding was that, although faculty understand the importance of argument and identify it as the skill most lacking in students, many students do not understand argumentation's central role in this discourse world. The curriculum in social work at Smith College is writing intensive, requiring a large number of papers each year along with a Master's thesis, making writing performance an acute need. The writing program includes numerous workshops and plentiful opportunities for individual conferences on drafts. For the study, questionnaires were sent to 120 randomly selected members of the School of Social Work community divided into 3 groups consisting of: (1) 60 social work students from the classes of 1933 and 1992 respectively; (2) 30 social work alumnae from the classes of 1990 and 1991; and (3) 30 full- and part-time faculty members. A 25% response rate was received from each group. Results showed that students who used the writing service did so for a variety of reasons, including lack of confidence. Faculty identified elements of argument, including a clear thesis supported by documented evidence, but only one student noted argument as important. Three of four students felt that writing counseling improved their work. Faculty showed a mixed response about whether course work prepares students for their professional careers. The important fact that students seem to be unaware of the need for clear argumentative skills should be addressed by educators. Workshops for faculty can stress the value of teaching argument in both their assignments and their responses to student writing. (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Smith College MA; Writing Contexts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).