College writing offers you the opportunity to develop skills, such as supporting arguments with evidence, writing effective thesis statements, and using transitions well, but it also gives you the opportunity to develop habits. Successful college students develop certain habits of mind, a way of approaching learning that leads to success.
In 2011, the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the National Writing Project (NWP) identified eight habits of mind that successful college students adopt.
In class on Monday, we began an exercise in written reflection focusing on four of the eight habits of mind. (The 9:15 class wrote on the first four; the 10:40 class wrote on the second four.) Later in class today, we will begin writing about the four that you did not address in your writing on Monday. The paragraphs that follow include the descriptions of the habits that you examined (and the ones you will examine today), as well as the questions that you answered in writing (and the ones you will answer in writing today).
Are you the kind of person who always wants to know more? This habit of mind will serve you well in courses in which your curiosity about issues, problems, people, or policies can form the backbone of a writing project.
WRITING ACTIVITY: What are you most curious to learn about? What experiences have you had in which your curiosity has led you to an interesting discovery or to more questions?
Some people are more open than others to new ideas and experiences and new ways of thinking about the world. Being open to other perspectives and positions can help you to frame sound arguments and counterarguments and solve other college writing challenges in thoughtful ways.
WRITING ACTIVITY: In the family or the part of the world in which you grew up, did people tend to be very open, not open at all, or somewhere in the middle? Thinking about your own level of open-mindedness, reflect on how much or how little your own attitude toward a quality like openness is the result of the attitudes of the people around you.
Successful college writers are involved in their own learning process. Students who are engaged put effort into their classes, knowing that they’ll get something out of their classes—something other than a grade. They participate in their own learning by planning, seeking feedback when they need to, and communicating with peers and professors to create their own success. Write about a few of the ways you try (or plan to try) to be involved in your own learning. What does engagement look like to you?
WRITING ACTIVITY: Write about a few of the ways you try (or plan to try) to be involved in your own learning. What does engagement look like to you?
You may be thinking that you have to be an artist, poet, or musician to display creativity. Not so. Scientists use creativity every day in coming up with ways to investigate questions in their field. Engineers and technicians approach problem solving in creative ways. Retail managers use creativity in displaying merchandise and motivating their employees.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Think about the field you plan to enter. What forms might creativity take in that field?
You are probably used to juggling long-term and short-term commitments—both in school and in your everyday life. Paying attention to your commitments and being persistent enough to see them through, even when the commitments are challenging, are good indicators that you will be successful in college.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Describe a time when you faced and overcame an obstacle in an academic setting. What did you learn from that experience?
College will require you to be responsible in way you may not have had to be before. Two responsibilities you will face as an academic writer are to represent the ideas of others fairly and to give credit to writers whose ideas and language you borrow for your own purposes.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Why do you think academic responsibility is important? What kind of experience have you already had with this kind of responsibility?
Would your friends say you are the kind of person who can just “go with the flow”? Do you adapt easily to changing situations? If so, you will find college easier, especially college writing. When you find, for example, that you’ve written a draft that doesn’t address the right audience or that your peer review group doesn’t understand at all, you will be able to adapt. Being flexible enough to adapt to the demands of different writing projects is an important habit of mind.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Describe a situation in which you’ve had to make changes based on a situation you couldn’t control. Did you do so easily or with difficulty?
As a learner, you have probably been asked to think back on a learning experience and comment on what went well or not well, what you learned or what you wished you had learned, or what decisions you made or didn’t make. Writers who reflect on their own processes and decisions are better able to transfer writing skills to future assignments.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Reflect on your many experiences as a writer. What was your most satisfying experience as a writer? What made it so?
Friday marks the first Wordplay Day of the semester. To prepare for class, review the Scrabble Ground Rules posted in Blackboard, as well as the Tips and Tools pages on the Scrabble website. Also, look for a Scrabble tips post on my blog. Some weeks, not every week, I will publish a post devoted to Scrabble strategies.