A Survey of Approaches to Sentence Pedagogies

A Survey of Approaches to Sentence Pedagogies

Clay Walker

23 November 2014

Along with the turn to theory and disciplinary rigor in the field of Composition and Rhetoric during the 1980s came a profound turn away from the generative sentence-level pedagogies that were widely popular and shown to be successful (Connors). While many compositionists flippantly remark something along the lines of “research shows that skill and drill doesn’t work,” little actual research has been done on practice-based sentence exercises. Moreover, sentence-level pedagogies doesn’t have to be mindless drone work! Following in the tradition of Christensen and Corbett who argue for a sentence-level pedagogy that serves as a mode of idea generation for student writers, more recent scholars like Micciche and Howard have argued for a return to the sentence in our teaching. The following blog offers a primer on research addressing sentence-level pedagogies that reads somewhat like an extended annotated bibliography. The first section reviews arguments that the field has mistakenly turned away from sentence-level pedagogies, the second section reviews scholarship arguing for one kind of sentence-level pedagogy or another (though there is some overlap between research reviewed in the first section and the second section), and the final section briefly outlines a couple of assignment models that instructors can fold into their courses.

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