Alumni as Audience

I really like the idea presented by Cary Moskovitz of Duke University in her Chronicle of Higher Education article “Reader Experts Help Students Bring the Write Stuff.”

Even when an instructor can successfully role-play, students who have rarely composed papers for anyone other than their teachers and professors often struggle to write with any other audience in mind.

…When professors include their courses in the [Thompson Writing Program] project, their students can get comments on drafts of papers from an alumnus or employee who has relevant experience in the field, like the Coast Guard commander or the wildlife expert.

Readers are provided with instructions and examples for giving feedback in which they comment on their reactions to the students’ draft as “consumers” of the text rather than as editors or evaluators.

Nearly 300 alumni and employees have volunteered as readers, and 350 students have participated in more than 40 courses. Several courses have become regulars in the program.

This would be SOOOOO cool! It would take a lot of work to get it off the ground, but I think it would be incredibly helpful to students. I think it would be especially helpful to students at the CC level, because then they could see that their writing will impact their future and their future jobs. But I can see why it would be easier with a strong alumni group like Duke University has.

I’m going to start talking this idea up. I think it could really make a difference, even to developmental writers. Or, perhaps, especially to developmental writers.

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