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ERIC Number: EJ773396
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 27
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 21
ISSN: ISSN-0147-1635
The Synergy Program: Reframing Critical Reading and Writing for At-Risk Students
Heaney, April
Journal of Basic Writing (CUNY), v25 n1 p26-52 Spr 2006
In this description of a learning community for "at-risk" and basic writing students at the University of Wyoming, I outline the reasons our students resist academic writing prior to their entry into college--reasons largely unrelated to typical perceptions of at-risk students as "lazy" or intellectually less capable. For students who come from family or community cultures that are far removed from academic discourses and hierarchies, accepting a new form of writing--and therefore thinking--is akin to widening a rift between them and their home cultures. Because of this tension, faculty in the Synergy Program approach basic writing not as a deficiency in writing structure or mechanics, but as a deeply held attitude of uninvestment in the writing process. In an attempt to help students overcome this attitude of uninvestment, particularly toward writing projects involving research and clear thesis structures, Synergy faculty in the Composition and Critical Thinking courses collaborated in melding two courses that give students room to develop not only writing, but also reading and critical thinking literacies in a context that does not presuppose their investment in the process. The Synergy Program includes three courses in the fall and one course in the spring. In addition, students attend a one-day, six-hour summer orientation during which they gain an in-depth introduction to the program and form initial connections with faculty and peers. This article presents a learning community model for encouraging academic literacies that foregrounds students' anxieties about acculturation into academic modes of thinking and inspires ownership of course projects through ethnographic research and a capstone web portfolio. (Contains 1 table.)
Kingsborough Community College City University of New York. Available from: Boyd Printing Company, Inc. 49 Sheridan Avenue, Albany, NY 12210. Tel: 800-877-2693; Tel: 518-436-9686; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wyoming