The Word on College Reading and Writing
Monique Babin, Clackamas Community College
Carol Burnell, Clackamas Community College
Susan Pesznecker, Portland State University
Pub Date: 2017
Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources
Conditions of Use
Succinctly and with adequate explanations/exercises/examples, this text covers all the basics. I like that it keeps a tight focus on these basics, read more
Succinctly and with adequate explanations/exercises/examples, this text covers all the basics. I like that it keeps a tight focus on these basics, and doesn't try to do everything (ie, it doesn't get deeply into research writing or argumentative writing).
The text reads as very accurate, professional, and error-free.
The rhetorical content is pretty timeless, while the examples like links to external websites for reading or exercises are contemporary--but would be easy to update.
This text is written in precise and clear language, but still maintains an approachable tone that I think would be very welcoming for a freshman composition student.
Tone, vocabulary, and approach are consistent.
I'm not used to thinking about a textbook in this way, but yes, I think a teacher could easily excerpt parts as they fit into her syllabus, or re-arrange sections, without losing the integrity of the text.
The order of topics made sense to me, starting with reading, moving to writing about reading, and then digging into the more complex topics of sustained writing projects. I also like the way the "Back Matter" is organized, and what topics the authors chose to put there, rather than in the body of the text.
I did not encounter any interface issues or errors and all the links to external websites were functional and up-to-date.
I did not find any errors or typos.
I was pleased to see a discussion of pronouns right at the beginning-well done on that front!
The external links are an interesting way to expand the reach of the text, and I thought they were all well-chosen. The websites used in discussing how to evaluate a source were hilarious and very effective ways to facilitate that discussion (the Di-hydrogen Monoxide one, in particular). I will seriously consider using this text in my freshman composition class.
The book covers all of the important features of the reading and writing process, including a few sections, like the one on information Literacy and read more
The book covers all of the important features of the reading and writing process, including a few sections, like the one on information Literacy and Giving and Receiving Feedback, which are important to how many of us teach writing but are not often explicitly addressed in such handbooks. There is no index, though the table of contents gives a pretty clear idea of the structure of the book and the content of each section. There is a glossary with some key terms defined, though it could be more comprehensive. Personally, I would prefer a more extensive section on grammar than the brief overview provided here, because then I could use this book exclusively.
The content is accurate based on current trends and best practices in the field. Though there are some points and pieces of advice I would disagree with, they are a matter of opinion and debate among writing instructors, and the textbook often acknowledges areas where some instructors may not share the same approach, emphasizing at several points that if students have questions they should consult their instructor.
The content provides relevant examples using articles on current issues or cultural references that would be familiar to students, but none of these will be quickly obsolete and more importantly, the main content does not rely on these examples, so it is easy to swap out one article or example for another.
The book is written in accessible language that students can easily understand, and uses a more casual tone than the typical textbook, in an attempt to seem less formidable to students. There are also attempts at humor which the students will appreciate even if they find it a bit cheesy.
The book is highly consistent and includes many links or references to other sections which will enable students to cross-reference and consult other sections for more detail on a particular point.
The units are broken down in such a way as to be easily presented independently, while at the same time, references to other sections are made, allowing students to read in more depth if they choose to. The only comment I have here is that sometimes, especially in the first half on reading, the sections seemed a bit too condensed. A point would be made, followed by an example, and then the section ends, without any further explanation of how that example supports the point. I appreciate brevity but sometimes my students are not that good at making these kinds of inferences.
It is very well-organized and easy to read while still going into enough detail on most topics.
The interface worked perfectly on my laptop. When I read it on my mobile phone (as many of my students will do) some of the pages presented with the text extending beyond the edge of the screen, so that I had to shrink the size of the page so that the text fit the screen, which made the text quite small and difficult to read. This only happened sporadically, so it seems to be a technical glitch. It would be wonderful to have a way to make notes on a page or bookmark it so that students can identify key sections they will refer back to.
There were no grammatical errors that I noticed. There were a few paragraphs missing a period at the end.
I did not notice any instances of cultural insensitivity or offensiveness. I thought that the examples were fairly neutral, though the book didn't necessarily go out of its way to be inclusive.
I think it is a great textbook which I plan to use in my upcoming composition course.
This text provides a solid introduction to both the reading and writing skills that students would need as they begin their university studies. It read more
This text provides a solid introduction to both the reading and writing skills that students would need as they begin their university studies. It has a helpful glossary, and while there is no index, the table of contents is sufficiently detailed for ease of textbook use.
The book is largely accurate, and the content seems to be presented in an appropriately unbiased way.
I think that this book will continue to be relevant with little need for updating for the foreseeable future. Because the book primarily focuses on the development of skills rather than content, it would be relatively easy to implement.
The text is largely accessible to the average incoming college student. It provides clear context and explanations for the student without utilizing too much jargon or specialized terminology. It is a bit text-heavy, which might be intimidating for a student with weaker reading skills.
Vocabulary is used consistently throughout. The chapter layouts are also consistent, which helps to contribute to the easy of using this textbook.
One of the strengths of this book is that it would work equally well as a complete text or divided into smaller units. While the chapters build on themselves, they're also very useful as standalone products. This book could easily be used in a variety of contexts with a great deal of success.
The topics for each chapter are logically organized and coherent, The book has achieved an appropriate balance between providing enough information to support the readers while also not losing sight of the big picture.
The book's display is overall very pleasing. The images and graphics used add to the professional presentation and interest of the book; they aren't a distraction. The .pdf version of the file seems to have a small problem with pagination, but overall it is visually very pleasing.
The text contains no known grammatical errors.
The textbook is not culturally insensitive or offensive. The example readings used are largely homogeneous, so someone teaching with this textbook would likely want to bring in examples from more diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
THE WORD ON COLLEGE READING AND WRITING provides a strong overview of the reading and writing process for, in particular, a target audience of read more
THE WORD ON COLLEGE READING AND WRITING provides a strong overview of the reading and writing process for, in particular, a target audience of freshman- and sophomore-level college students or those attending a community college. The text is divided into two main sections. Part I gives advice on building strong reading skills, provides methods of effectively writing about texts, and notes the importance of information literacy in the modern workplace. Part II begins by establishing the rationale for devloping strong written communication skills and then provides logical coverge of standard ideas surrounding the importance of determining audience and purpose for writing. This is followed by sections exploring methods of generating ideas (freewriting, brainstorming, clustering and the like), drafting and revising, and editing. Part II goes on to cover the eesentials of using sources correctly and concludes with good advice on overcoming obstacles to writing (such a writer's block and anxiety) and generating good writing habits. Back matter includes sections on grammar and style, working with MLA format (the textbook focuses almost exclusively on MLA), and includes a helpful glossary.
The textbook appears error-free and up-to-date with its advice, even in the area of contemporary MLA source citation using the "core elements" approach in construction of Works Cited entries.
Much of this textbook presents time-honored rhetorical information on reading and writing strategies that will change little despite the influence of technology on information delivery. While the textbook does focus on new methods of information exchange, it does not focus heavily on information-sharing via personal websites, blogs, video poduction and other forms of electronic, internet-based communication on the student writer's part. The focus is squarely on the production of classic essays for the college undergraduate classroom.
I particularly found this textbook admirable for its straightforward, conversational delivery of information. I could easily imagine the tone employed effectively connecting with entry-level college students. As an example: "Common communication models present a sender (e.g. a writer) and a receiver (e.g. a reader) and different concepts of what happens as information is shared between them. But sometimes the purpose for writing isn’t at all about sending information to some “other” receiver or reader. Sometimes, your purpose for writing might simply be to explore an idea or even just to figure out what you think." And the following example illustrates this tone employed in describing a common rhetorical pattern of organization: "The comparison-and-contrast method of development is particularly useful in extending a definition, or anywhere you need to show how a subject is like or unlike another subject. For example, the statement is often made that drug abuse is a medical problem instead of a criminal justice issue. An author might attempt to prove this point by comparing drug addiction to AIDS, cancer, or heart disease to redefine the term “addiction” as a medical problem. A statement in opposition to this idea could just as easily establish contrast by explaining all the ways that addiction is different from what we traditionally understand as an illness." The Glossary provides definitions of those few terms ("Empiric disciplines," "Intellectual property" and the like) the target-level student might require.
THE WORD ON COLLEGE READING AND WRITING uses a conversational style carried consistently throughout. The impression is that of a coach offering his listener sound advice in a friendly, helpful, nonjudgmental demeanor. And potentially confusing terminology is clearly explained in easy-to-understand language. As an example: "Pathos is the fastest way to get your audience’s attention. People tend to have emotional responses before their brains kick in and tell them to knock it off. Be careful though. Too much pathos can make your audience feel emotionally manipulated or angry because they’re also looking for the facts to support whatever emotional claims you might be making so they know they can trust you."
As the writers themselves state, this is a "use-it-as-you-need" kind of text. And they're right. This text could easily serve as a handbook for an introduction to college writing class or as the core text itself. Its divisional strategy would make it ideal for focusing on specific writing tasks or to troubleshoot specific areas for improvement. Indeed, one of its most attractive qualities would be its adaptability. The text is logically organized with ample divisional headings and navigational cues, as well as appropriate graphic accompaniments, illustrations and photos. It's visually appealing and simple to digest.
Opening with an emphasis on the essential relationship between reading and writing and on the importance of building strong reading skills, the book proceeds in a logical order to cover the rationale for writing about texts in a college environment (and, subsequently, the workplace) and then provides strategies for doing so, definitely geared to an entry-level college student.
The text is simple to navigate and even rewards skimming for a casual reader simply interested in improving as a writer. I particulalry liked the manner in which the book uses links to articles and outside source materials external to the textbook itself that students can access immediately, as in the following example: "Here’s an example article from the New York Times, “Monks Embrace Web to Reach Recruits,” that highlights an unexpected approach by a group of Benedictine monks in Rhode Island; they’ve turned to social media to grow their dwindling membership. Monks on Facebook? Who knew?" The textbook makes frequent use of external contemporary sources such as this to illustrate rhetorical points. Of course, the potential drawback surrounding such online source material might be the reliability of its availability into the future.
My reading came across just a few editorial typos in the book. ("Th New York times," for example.)
While the main focus of the book is not that of a multicultural reader, it does draw some examples from a diverse perspective, as in the following: "Here’s an example article from the New York Times: “Who Wants to Shop in a Big Box Store, Anyway?” The author explores some interesting differences between the average American and average Indian consumer to contemplate the potential success of big box stores in India and also to contemplate why these giant big box corporations, like Walmart or Target, might have to rethink their business model." The book is in no way culturally insensitive or offensive, though its major focus is not on issues of ethnicity or diverse background. The target student reader here is somewhat generic.
I was impressed by this book and feel it would work well in many freshmen-level writing classrooms. One gets the feeling that it was written by instructors with considerable practical experience in dealing realistically with novice college student writers. I particularly enjoyed the various links the text uses to illustrate its concepts, and often the links are employed across several concurrent actiities to effectivly illustrate a writing process. (In fact, I would even like to see more of this tactic used.) An example: "Using the same article as in the “Paraphrasing” section (see the section just before this one), written by Sarah Boxer and published online in The Atlantic, I’m going to quote just the third sentence of the passage we looked at in the paraphrasing activity: “Because not everyone who wants the experience actually gets the experience, these works, even if their intentions and messages are democratic, tend to become exclusive affairs.” Which of these uses of that sentence would be a correct way to use it as a quote in my own essay?" The text then provides several options to choose from. I did notice that many of the examples in the opening section (Part I) of the textbook are literary, and many were somewhat older fictional references (Hemingway, Salinger, Ray Bradbury...). My initial impression was that this might be a good textbook to use for a class focused on literary analysis or the like. But the literary focus was not as predominant in Part II. Overall, I am impressed by this book,and will definitely consider using this it in a future first-year writing class.
Not only does this book provide a comprehensive coverage of the entire subject of the differences between high school and college reading and read more
Not only does this book provide a comprehensive coverage of the entire subject of the differences between high school and college reading and writing, it also gives examples, short discussion questions, and quizzes to check comprehension. It is split into distinct reading and writing categories, which each include subtopics underneath and all are appropriately and adequately addressed.
I found no content to be biased, and it all appeared error-free. It appears as though the author has conducted extensive research in order to give many different examples on the same topic.
I think the content does a nice job of staying up to date while still discussing past practices that are relevant today. I do not feel like it will become obsolete any time soon. If it were to, it would be easy enough to add updates, without completely altering any part of it.
Perhaps this is one of the best features of the book because all of the content is discussed in a way that a student could easily understand on their own, while
The formatting, terminology, and content is all consistent throughout the entire textbook. As a reader, and teacher, it is easy to understand what is coming next, and to scaffold from one idea to the next.
The text does a great job of this by using multiple chapter titles, and then headings and subheadings underneath that. Each section is differentiated with consistent formatting that allow the user to know they are transitioning to a new section. In terms of technical writing, this book does a stellar job. There are also helpful “check your understanding” questions/discussions at the end of each section, which would prove useful if assigning small parts for homework or added discussion.
Not only does the modularity of this book work, but the organization does as well because each idea seems to build onto another. They start out discussing titles, before going into notetaking at a further point in the book. It is in the order that a student would be analyzing any text they encounter, and this organization would prove useful to teacher and student.
I was actually surprised at how well the interface is setup for this being an online book. Sometimes with the open book library I am afraid of students scrolling too fast, or not going far enough, and missing important content. However, the navigation of this book seems to be one of its strengths because it’s not afraid to leave white space, which helps signal a new topic is up ahead, compared to some other online texts that try to group too many topics onto one page.
While simplistic at times, they are accurate in terms of grammar. I enjoyed the simplicity of different parts of this book because I felt like it could reach even the most basic of audiences, while still holding them to a high academic standard in terms of content.
I had some of my students and coworkers skim over different sections I picked out to try to remain as unbiased and impartial as I could for this section. We all agreed that the examples given could be applicable to multiple different students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or background.
Overall, this is one of the most engaging, easy to access open textbooks that I have encountered thus far. I’m excited to start including even more of it in my classrooms.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Working with Texts
- What is a Text?
Building Strong Reading Skills
- Read Effectively
- Create an Optimal Setting for Reading
- Use Pre-reading Strategies
- Read Efficiently
- Annotate and Take Notes
- Do Quick Research
- Discover What a Text is Trying to Say
- Explore the Ways the Text Affects You
- Troubleshoot Your Reading
Writing about Texts
- Reading Critically
- Exploring the Structure of a Text
- Dialectic Note-taking
- Analyzing Content and Rhetoric
- Sentence-Level Analysis
- Point of View
- Word Choice
- Paragraph Analysis
- Summarizing a Text
- Critiquing a Text
- Drawing Conclusions, Synthesizing, and Reflecting
What is Information Literacy?
- Why is Information Literacy Important?
- Finding Quality Texts
- Learning About Plagiarism and Guidelines for Using Information
Part 2: Writing
- About This Section
- Self-Exploration and Self-Enrichment
- Comprehension and Academic Performance
- Professional Opportunities
- Effective Communication and Persuasion
Determining Your Audience and Purpose
- Appealing to Your Audience
- Tone, Voice, and Point of View
- Selecting and Narrowing a Topic
- Strategies for Getting Started
- Imagining Your Audience’s Needs
- Organizing Your Ideas and Looking for Connections
- Finding the Thesis
- Writing a First Draft
- Writing Paragraphs
- The Paragraph Body: Supporting Your Ideas
- Developing Relationships between Ideas
- Patterns of Organization and Methods of Development
- Writing Introductions
- Writing Conclusions
- Writing Summaries
Using Sources Correctly
- Crediting and Citing Your Sources
- Citing: Identifying In-Text Sources
- Citing or Identifying Images in Your Writing
- Handling Titles
- Proofreading Your Work with Sources
- Using Citation Generators
Dealing with Obstacles and Developing Good Habits
- Overcoming Writing Anxiety and Writer's Block
- Good Writing Habits
- Higher vs. Lower Order Concerns
- Reverse Outlining
- Document Format, Documentation Style, and Proofreading
- Giving and Receiving Feedback
- What's Next?
Grammar and Style
Resources for Working with MLA
Creating a Works Cited Page
Results for the "Check Your Understanding" Activities
Glossary of Terms
Works Cited in This Text
About the Book
Written by five college reading and writing instructors, this interactive, multimedia text draws from decades of experience teaching students who are entering the college reading and writing environment for the very first time. It includes examples, exercises, and definitions for just about every reading- and writing-related topic students will encounter in their college courses.
About the Contributors
Monique Babin is a Professor in the Sociology department at Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, OR
Carol Burnell is a Professor in the Writing department at Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, OR
Susan Pesznecker is a Professor in the Writing department at Portland State University, Portland, OR