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ERIC Number: EJ917651
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 12
ISSN: ISSN-0098-6291
The "Reverse Commute": Adult Students and the Transition from Professional to Academic Literacy
Michaud, Michael J.
Teaching English in the Two-Year College, v38 n3 p244-258 Mar 2011
The notion of "transporting literacy" across spheres or cultures is a useful way to imagine the transition many of today's adult students make as writers from the literate sphere of the workplace to that of the school--a transition the author refers to in this article as the "reverse commute." By the time such students reach (or rereach) the college classroom, many have already had their literate abilities enlisted by myriad sponsors outside of school and, as a result, have developed a varied range of discursive knowledge and skill. But what happens when these students try to "adapt and amalgamate practices learned in one sphere to meet the new demands of another sphere"? Specifically, what happens to and with professional or workplace discursive knowledge when adult students transition from workplace to classroom--from writing-for-the-boss to writing-for-the-teacher? In this article, the author investigates these questions within the context of the larger question posed by Patricia Connors and by Beverly Moss and Keith Walters--about how teaching writing to adult students is different from working with more traditional-age students. The author reports on his research with adult students making the reverse commute at Northeast State College (NSC), a public, bachelor's-granting college that focuses on adult education and online learning. In particular, the author shares findings from a case study he conducted with Tony, a thirty-nine-year-old emergency medical technician (EMT) and emergency medical services (EMS) educator who enrolled at NSC to pursue a bachelor's degree in applied technology. His research with Tony and the six other adults who participated in the NSC study leads him to suggest that the discursive moves such students make as they attempt to "invent [or re-invent] the university" are often distinctive and may be, as a result of years spent writing on the job, different from those made by traditional-age undergraduates. (Contains 1 note.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A