The Word on College Reading and Writing
Carol Burnell, Clackamas Community College
Susan Pesznecker, Clackamas Community College
Nicole Rosevear, Clackamas Community College
Jaime Wood, Portland State University
Copyright Year: 2017
Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources
Conditions of Use
I don't think that the word "comprehensiveness" is easily applied to subjects as capacious as reading and writing, frankly, but there is a great deal of useful materiel covered here for students new to analyzing and creating college-level texts. A... read more
I don't think that the word "comprehensiveness" is easily applied to subjects as capacious as reading and writing, frankly, but there is a great deal of useful materiel covered here for students new to analyzing and creating college-level texts. A supplementary set of instructor resources (assignments, readings, handouts, etc.) is also partially set up, with the promise of more to come. I am a rhetoric scholar, and wanted more coverage of this field's connection to reading and writing, but one cannot hope to cover everything in one text. Likewise, I would have liked to see more than just MLA citation style covered--so many students will need APA--but overall, a solid introduction to college reading and writing methods.
There are a few content areas that are not as strong as the rest: e.g., the definition of rhetoric in the glossary does not reflect how the word is defined within the field today. I also found the "point of view" section (in the tone and voice section) to be a reductive and inaccurate explanation of how scholars use 1st person, for example. But these are small quibbles: for the most part, the content seems correct.
I found the content to be very up to date, e.g., the information in the citation section on MLA 8th edition requirements. I also think the *quantity* of information offered in each section reflects a thoughtful attention to today's college student demographics that should be mentioned. At the state university where I teach, approximately 80% of our student body works in addition to taking classes, and quite a lot of them work full time. Factor in heavy urban commute times, family or child care, and all the rest, and you have a recipe for students not having much time (or mental energy) to complete long reading assignments. I think the pithiness of these sections is very relevant to their full and challenging lives, myself.
The writing throughout is very clear, as one would hope in a writing textbook, lol. It is quite accessible even for first-gen or ESL students, I believe. I also found that the images of different pre-writing strategies (in the "Strategies for Getting Started" section) added some visual clarity, as well.
The terminology and framework were both quite consistent. Also consistent throughout the text was a tone of respect for the student endeavoring to earn a college degree, which I liked a lot. I loved the section called "Troubleshooting Your Reading," for example, which attempts to take students' frustrations with their college workload seriously, yet still tries to persuade them to commit to the task at every turn.
The units are well laid out, and I could imagine using the smaller sections in various combinations. They are nicely self contained and could be rearranged in many ways.
It is a small point, but I greatly appreciate the focus on how serious reading develops one's skill as a writer, a point the authors make explicitly at the beginning. I think most senior scholars take this point for granted, yet many undergraduate students seem to want to know how to write better without understanding that reading is a necessary part of that development. As for structure and flow, I felt both were smooth throughout.
I read the book on my (smallish) Samsung Galaxy cell phone, just to see what the reading experience would be like on a small screen. For the most part, it worked without any hitch--there was just an occasional (odd-looking) bar that came up at the bottom of the reading pane that didn't seem connected to anything, and it didn't want to go away. It didn't interfere greatly with my reading; I just couldn't figure out what it was or how to make it go away.
The text is clean of the typos and grammatical erors that plague many quickly-written texts, including some of those coming out of traditional publishing houses. This is important for the ethos of a writing textbook, of course.
I saw that another reviewer had commented on this, and perhaps several have, but I do genuinely appreciate the careful and again, respectful tone of the editors' language about gender and pronoun usage in their text. Educators today know that young adults are especially vulnerable at the traditional college age, and some studies have shown that such a simple thing as using a student's preferred name or pronouns can reduce suicidal ideation in teens. So this is not just p.c. terminology from where I stand, but rather, an important point to make up front, which they did. Kudos!
The Word on College Reading and Writing, is heavily skills based and does not seem to be informed (at least not explicitly,) by a larger theoretical framework. This text does a nice job talking about the skills necessary for a beginning writing... read more
The Word on College Reading and Writing, is heavily skills based and does not seem to be informed (at least not explicitly,) by a larger theoretical framework. This text does a nice job talking about the skills necessary for a beginning writing class. The text is split up into two main sections, beginning with a discussion of how students can develop reading skills, something that wouldn’t be appropriate for an upper-level composition course, but provides a nice foundation for students entering the writing classroom on a college campus for the first time. The second section speaks to writing skills and processes. The book includes a short glossary, but does not include all specialized language or terms defined in the text (for example, logos, ethos, and pathos are absent from this list.) There is no section in the textbook that speaks to research in a separate way, but some of the basic concepts of research can be found in other sections within both Part 1: Reading and Part 2: Writing such as “What is Information Literacy?” and “The Paragraph Body: Supporting Your Ideas.” Overall, the text gives students an overview of the writing and reading processes needed for an introductory writing course.
The content of the text appeared to be accurate, error-free, and unbiased. Most of the content included in the text talks broadly about strategies and skills with which to approach writing, and any specific content knowledge included appeared to be accurate and error-free.
Most of the examples given throughout the text seemed to be current. At different points throughout the text, the authors reference cultural examples such as Goldilocks, Sparknotes, Snopes, etc, examples that students would understand and will probably be relevant for at least the next five years. The content also seems to be directed toward reading and writing skills that will continue to be relevant for those reading and writing in college classrooms. Because of the way the book is organized, with each section divided up into chapters and pages with subheadings, it seems like minute changes to keep the information up-to-date would be easy to implement for the publishers.
The text is written with a specific audience in mind, first year college students, and writes in a tone that is appropriate for those students, often addressing the student as “you” and discussing writing in the specific context of a beginning university composition class. As this text doesn’t contain much of a theoretical framework for writing and reading, but rather presents a down-to-earth collection of skills and strategies, there isn’t much jargon or domain-specific language that would need to be defined for the audience.
The text is fairly consistent throughout and makes these consistencies helpful for students by sometimes providing internal links that connect similar or related concepts together throughout the space of the text. There are not many (if any) places where the text contradicts itself or gives information that a student wouldn’t understand in light of the content that precedes it. There are, however, opportunities for bridging connections that could have made the think more effective, especially between the reading and writing sections of the text. For example, in the “Paragraph Analysis” page in Part 1: Reading, the authors describe a paragraph as being made up of three chunks: a topic sentence, several sentences that support and explain the topic sentence, and a sentence that helps transition to the next paragraph. In the section “The Body Paragraph: Supporting Your Ideas” in Part 2: Writing, the authors say that good paragraphs contain four sections, separating the middle section referenced in the Part 1 into evidence and explanation separately. This is a picky observation, but more consistency and connections are helpful when teaching students about being readers who write and writers who read.
The text is divided up in easy sections for students. There are two parts to the book: reading and writing, and each part contains chapters with several titled sections in each chapter. Most of the titled sections are short, but can range anywhere from 200-3,000 words in length. The short nature of the chapter subheadings, and the simple way with which students can navigate through the ebook would make it easy to assign particular chunks of reading to fit with particular course goals and objectives. Longer sections, such as “Finding Quality Texts” which clocks in at over 3,000 words, breaks up the text with headings and bolded key terms and ideas.
The topics presented within the text are done so in a logical way, first discussing reading skills, strategies, and concepts before moving into writing about reading to moving into writing texts as a whole. This mirrors the approach taken within our composition department where the emphasis in the first unit is on close and critical reading and then moves towards the students using these reading skills in order to create a myriad of their own texts.
After using ebooks with horrendous interface systems, I was overjoyed with the simplicity, effectiveness, and straightforwardness of this design. The text has a helpful “contents” bar at the top (or left side) of the screen that allows students to navigate to any chapter and section that they would like to access. The interface also lets students navigate by a forward and back bar at the bottom of the page that lists the titles of the previous and next section along with arrows in their respective directions. The page allows students to choose between two sizes of font to customize their reading experience. The text also includes internal links to other parts of the book (answers to embedded activities, other relevant sections, etc.), external links, and embedded videos, all which seem to work well and give students a more interactive experience with their text.
The text contained no noticeable grammatical errors.
I was pleased to find, in the introduction to this text, a word on the use of pronouns throughout. The authors make a concerted effort, as well as implement including he/she/they pronouns throughout the text in order to make an effort towards inclusion. The text primarily addresses the student reading and their experience with a general “you,” but the authors are careful not to assume all of the students reading share the same college experience. For example, the authors make provision for students who are usually deemed “nontraditional” by their institutions, also using examples of those students who will have children and other outside responsibilities, not just first year college students who are attending within a few years of graduating high school.
The text covers a wide variety of critical reading and writing practices, from general introductions (“what is a text”) to specific strategies (“dialectic note taking) and in-depth appraisals of the components of academic writing (“the paragraph... read more
The text covers a wide variety of critical reading and writing practices, from general introductions (“what is a text”) to specific strategies (“dialectic note taking) and in-depth appraisals of the components of academic writing (“the paragraph body”). In addition to the explanatory material, the text includes appendicies, a glossary, and numerous exercises for students to complete.
The text appears to be devoid of inaccuracies as well as any indications of authorial bias.
The text feels up-to-date and incorporates a variety of textual examples, including many digital resources. The section in “Information Literacy” that provides detailed guidelines for a variety digital literacies, from Creative Commons to BiTorrent, is particularly useful.
The text is approachable and direct, with a clearly student-centered perspective that comes through in both form and content.
Style, tone, and organization are consistent throughout.
Overall, the work lives up to its promise to be a "use it as you need it kind of text." Units are clearly divided into concise sections that can be excerpted and organized according to course requirements and student needs.
The text is logically organized into two parts (“Working with Texts” and “Writing”) with relevant subdivisions within each. I would agree with previous reviewers’ suggestion that the “Information Literacy” subsection might make more sense before rather than after the “Writing About Texts” subsection, but as each unit is self-contained enough to be assigned in any order, it feels like a minor issue.
All links within the text worked when tried, and online interaction was not difficult. There is a nice awareness throughout of all of the different potential mediums for textual interaction, as when graphics using different colors to demonstrate significance come with explanations for those who might be viewing a black-and-white printout of the material.
Text appears well edited, with no obvious grammatical errors.
Beginning in the introduction, where gendered and gender neutral language is explained in clear and concise terms, this text demonstrates admirable sensitivity to issues of inclusivity and representation. Examples used throughout engage with broad spectrums of gender/race/class identities.
This text provides a strong overview of many necessary reading and writing skills. Part 1, which covers Working with Texts, Building Strong Reading Skills, Writing about Texts, and Information Literacy, provides a broad basis upon which students can easily build, and seems particularly useful as an introduction to academic techniques and practices. The definition of an academic text offered in this volume is the clearest and most useful I have ever encountered. Additionally, I find the pragmatic approach the authors take to be refreshing and engaging. Strategies like including both the pros and cons for conventional writing practices such as outlining, or breaking up long reading assignments into sections by dividing the number of pages total with the number of days before the readings are due, when coupled with acknowledgements of the realities of student experience (instead of pretending resources like SparkNotes don’t exist, the authors clearly articulate the limitations of the content they provide, as well as the perceived advantages in using them) help to create a text that feels not just student-oriented, but student-friendly.
This book is very thorough and includes key elements that will help college students strengthen their reading and writing skills. The author concludes each section with engaging activities for the reader to check their understanding of the text... read more
This book is very thorough and includes key elements that will help college students strengthen their reading and writing skills. The author concludes each section with engaging activities for the reader to check their understanding of the text and shares the answers in the appendix as a guide. This is a great way to motivate students to reflect and make meaningful connections to the text.
Information in the text is accurate and free from grammatical errors.
The content of the text is current and includes real-life examples/exercises and other modes of sharing information (such as websites, videos, etc.) that are relatable to college-age students. The reading and writing strategies shared are skills that can be transferrable to other college level courses.
The author has written the text in a way that is clear and easy for the reader to comprehend.
The text is consistent in terms of its tone, terminology, and conversational style of writing.
The sections of the text can be reorganized in any order based upon the course format and student needs.
The text is well organized. The author divides the contents of the text into two distinct parts; the first half focusing on working with texts as a reader and the second half as a writer.
Both the PDF and online interfaces work well.
The text is well written and free from grammatical errors.
Culturally responsive images/photos are used in the exercises/activities of various sections that pertain to ethnicity, gender, age, etc.
Overall, this text would be very useful for an introductory reading and/or writing class for college freshmen.
This book covers all of the main ideas necessary for teaching college writing. I'm looking for a primer of sorts to use to remind my upper-level students of the basics of writing and research for their capstone project. This book has everything... read more
This book covers all of the main ideas necessary for teaching college writing. I'm looking for a primer of sorts to use to remind my upper-level students of the basics of writing and research for their capstone project. This book has everything I am looking for from sentence and paragraph structure to formulating the thesis. I'm particularly impressed with the chapters that are focused on reading. This is an area that my students (even the upper-level students) need to work on. I'm planning on delving into these chapters over the first couple of weeks of class to help them have a better understanding of how to read their research!
I found no inaccuracies in the content and no evidence of bias on the part of the authors.
The content is fresh and not reliant on pop culture references that will be obsolete in a year or two.
I found the book to be a very easy read - the language used is clear and concise and, most importantly to me, there are a lot of examples! Exemplars are so important in writing. There is even a small section on grammar and common mistakes which I am hoping my students will take to heart!
The book is internally consistent - the headings are consistent throughout making it easy to skim through and the text is consistent in tone and voice making it easy to ready.
This is one of the biggest advantages of this book in my mind. It will be very easy to assign certain portions of the text to my students. The sections are often short (which I'm hoping will mean my students will actually do the assigned reading!) and can be used in whatever order I need for the week. They seem to stand alone for the most part so I can assign the one on brainstorming a topic before or after one on reading....
I think the organization worked. I will probably use the chapters out of order though because of my audience (upper-level students) and the assignment (capstone project).
The text is clear and most of the hyperlinks I tried worked. I liked that the authors didn't just rely on hyperlinks though - they also specifically instructed readers on how to search the Internet for a particular item just in case the item didn't work. For example, I clicked on the link for martinlutherking.org and found that it is no longer up. But it also gave me the idea to search "false websites teachers use" which led me to a bunch of other sites that were similar to the MLK one. So I consider that a win - it's a great resource for examples to use in my teaching!
I found one or two errors but nothing major.
The authors did a good job at inclusivity and sensitivity. In the examples, most races, genders, and classes are represented. The discussion on pronouns is current.
I really appreciate the examples in this book. Throughout my plans for the semester I have notes for myself to "find examples of..." Now I don't have to! I plan on using this book to show students examples of paraphrasing versus quoting, writing strong thesis statements, etc. The one addition I would really like to see is a section on APA as that is the citation method we will be using. But well done!
This textbook starts at the very basic level of defining a text and teaching strategies for pre-reading and reading. It moves into annotating and taking notes, and then reflecting on what you've read to discover the author's message. There is a... read more
This textbook starts at the very basic level of defining a text and teaching strategies for pre-reading and reading. It moves into annotating and taking notes, and then reflecting on what you've read to discover the author's message. There is a nice section to help students troubleshoot common reading problems, and then it moves on to a section titled "Writing about Texts." This section covers important skills such as reading critically; using text structures to aid in comprehension; and analyzing rhetoric, sentences, point of view, and word choice. Following this section is an Information Literacy section that covers finding high quality texts and how to avoid plagiarism. The remainder of the textbook gives instruction in writing by explaining why we write, considering audience and purpose in writing, understanding the writing process, and citing sources correctly. Within this section is instruction on developing good writing habits and overcoming obstacles such as writing anxiety and procrastination. The book concludes with a section on grammar and MLA style. The content is comprehensive, but brief in comparison to other textbooks on similar topics. I suspect the brevity is intentional, as the audience for this textbook appears to be those who need a primer to college level reading and writing. Most topics range from just one to three pages long. The Table of Contents is detailed; there is a glossary of important terms; there is no index.
I did not find any errors or signs of author bias in this text.
The content of the textbook is up-to-date. Writers are intentional about using gender neutral language and representing all people equally. There is a website that accompanies this textbook (http://theword4instructors.wordpress.com) that has a section titled "Resources for Class." This has a few helpful resources, but appears to be a work in progress. The authors are aware of how often online links change, so instead of providing links to suggested supplementary resources, they suggest searching for particular titles or key words on the internet. The search terms they provided helped me arrive at the correct materials.
The content is extremely accessible to beginning college learners. Technical terms are always defined and examples are given. "Check Your Understanding" sections are incorporated so learners can pause to determine whether they are grasping the content. "Exercises" are suggested to help students apply the content they've been reading about.
The text has consistent format and a framework that is easy to follow.
The sections are short; many are just 1 to 3 pages long. This makes content easily digestible for those who are still learning foundational reading and writing skills. Subheadings and bulleted lists are used to break up longer sections of text.
The topics are presented in a clear, logical manner that is consistent with similar textbooks commonly used for this subject.
The book uses consistent graphics to accompany features, such as "Exercises," "Pro-Tips," and "Check Your Understanding." Other images integrated into the textbook display properly.
The text appeared to be error-free.
No instances of culturally insensitive or offensive material were found. Images used include a variety of races and ages.
The authors have created a text that is easily comprehensible for adult learners who need to build their reading and writing skills in order to be successful in college. It is user-friendly, easy to understand, and gets the reader engaged in the text. The only suggestion I have is to include an APA section in addition to, or alongside of, the MLA section.
The Word covers all the necessary areas for a first year writing class and beginning writers. This book appealed to our department because our former textbooks were essay anthologies and not a book dedicated solely to writing. We like for students... read more
The Word covers all the necessary areas for a first year writing class and beginning writers. This book appealed to our department because our former textbooks were essay anthologies and not a book dedicated solely to writing. We like for students to read a variety of writing and to study what the authors are doing and how they produce effective writing. The Word contains links to recently published essays about things students might be interested in, such as food and technology. Many of the linked essays appear with lessons on reading and rhetoric while saving short writing examples written by the authors as a way to demonstrate specific writing strategies in the "Responding to Texts" and "Drafting" sections. This is helpful because it allows students to see the different ways the same thing can be written/said. There is a glossary contained in the appendices. There is no index, but the search function makes up for the lack of index. If this were to be downloaded and printed, the lack of index might pose some difficulties when looking for something very specific. But, the table of contents lists every section, so it is pretty easy to find all of the information.
The content in The Word is similar to any other writing textbook or writing website when it comes to the fundamentals of writing (i.e. rhetoric, the writing process, revising, etc.). What makes this text stand out are the first two sections "Working with Texts" and "Writing about Texts," which provide students with clear strategies for becoming better readers and thinkers. There are links to many different articles that help students learn to read and respond to complicated texts. It offers a variety examples rather than templates.
The content appears to be relevant. There aren't references to pop culture that will become dated in a few months or years (such as mentioning fidget spinners or "dabbing"). There are some references to the film "The Hunger Games," which is used to demonstrate different ways to write a thesis, but there are also references to other types of papers students might write for other disciplines, such as art history. Overall, the book should hold up well for several years. I do have a concern about the links to some of the external readings and whether they will hold up. I had issue with one link being broken when I was reviewing the text for adoption, but the link works now, so it appears that the authors check on the text regularly.
It's easy to read and fits the way I teach. There are many short imagined assignment examples to demonstrate various writing techniques, which can help students visualize what they are going to do in their paper. There is a glossary of terms in the appendices, but they authors take care to explain these terms in the chapters, too.
This book is consistent. Despite having several authors, the textbook reads in a single voice.
Many of the chapters are short and make for great mini-lessons that coincide with other writing assignments in the course. It isn't necessary to start with chapter 1. The textbook offers two sections on reading and responding to texts before discussing some of the fundamentals of rhetoric and the writing process. This makes skipping around in the book easy to do. When printed, the book is 185 pages long, so it's pretty easy to get through in a semester. Since this book appears to be written for a first year student, some of the material can even be assigned as a review for most writers coming straight out of high school. Since this book is used at a community college with students of varying ages, from students still in high school to students eligible for AARP membership, this book serves our population well.
The Word flows well and would be a great book for a new instructor to use for a first class. It's a book that can be followed from beginning to end without requiring the instructor add supplemental content. It might surprise some students to see that the first two sections are about reading rather than writing, but most college students are going to be using their writing to respond to what they read. So, it makes sense. There are plenty of exercises and writing assignments throughout the book, which instructors can skip or include. Some of the exercises can be hit or miss. For example, when going over the "Audience" section, there is an exercise where students are to write to a variety of different audiences to ask for $100. It's a great premise, to assign a purpose and an audience, but the audiences are particularly difficult to write for. Many students said they wouldn't ask any one for the money because they felt bad about it. Overall, the content flows well from one section to the next.
The text is easy to read and navigate online through web browsers. There are no problems using it on a Mac with Safari or Firefox on a PC. It is necessary to make sure the window is large enough so the table of contents doesn't overlap the text on the page.
Being a writing textbook, there should be few (if any) errors. I did find one word choice error with the use of "peak" instead of "pique," but I feel comfortable contacting the authors to address this.
This book is culturally sensitive. It does present people of different races, cultures, and sexuality, though I am not sure if it is equally representative of presenting people of different abilities. For instance, the exercise about writing for a purpose and audience (the "give me a $100 letter) includes just about every group imaginable except for people with disabilities. The "Patterns of Organization and Methods of Development of Ideas" chapter has an exercise that asks students to practice opening statements for an imagined writing assignment, which include writing topics about "gender roles", "toxic masculinity", and "race relations" to show that the textbook allows and encourages those types of discussions. I did not see a section on gender neutral or non-sexist language in the book, but the book does provide plenty examples of gender neutral writing. I feel the authors deliberately tried to avoid confrontation of sensitive topics in their reading assignments and writing examples in order to allow the students to focus on the material. This doesn't mean students and instructors can't bring these topics up.
Introduced as “a handy guide” for all college reading and writing assignments, this text thoroughly addresses the vital aspects of reading comprehension and expository writing. It also touches on effective study habits and student success skills.... read more
Introduced as “a handy guide” for all college reading and writing assignments, this text thoroughly addresses the vital aspects of reading comprehension and expository writing. It also touches on effective study habits and student success skills. The text provides clear, concise explanations with helpful examples, illustrations, short discussions, and “check yourself” exercises. The Appendices and the Glossary are useful. The “Resources for Working with MLA” and “Creating a Works Cited Page” appendices offer condensed, clear instructions with easy to understand annotated examples. In the “Grammar and Style” appendix, the authors point out that their text is not a grammar and style handbook, and thus they pare down to the basics with Top Ten Errors. Their list demonstrates the depth of their teaching experience. The Glossary includes current terms such as zine, OER’s, and intellectual property.
The text is free from grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, or any other impediments. The sentences are well-phrased; the information is accurate and up-to-date.
The text uses contemporary resources that appeal to students, such as websites, blogs, and videos. It also cites classical literature, which will always be relevant in college studies. The articles in sources such as the New York Times Magazine and Scientific American blog site address concerns that are timely yet unlikely to become quickly outdated. The skills imparted in the section “Writing about Texts” – such as reading critically, dialectic note-taking, summarizing, and critiquing, are relevant not only to college composition courses but also to writing assignments in other disciplines. The same could be said for the section on “Information Literacy.” The organization and the modularity of this text will facilitate updating and amending.
The writing is clear and exact. I did not find anything vague or confusing. The word choice and the sentence structure add to the feeling of accessibility. The tone and the approach are appropriate for the intended audience. Beginning the section “Tone, Voice, and Point of View” with an example of a greeting, “Yo! Wass up?” illustrates the authors’ skill in engaging students while providing adequate content.
The text is consistent throughout in its tone, vocabulary level, and exposition. The concepts build logically from one to the next. The relaxed, conversational style of writing makes the text feel approachable
The sections of this text do not necessarily need to be followed in the order presented. An instructor could choose or rearrange them to fit his/her course syllabus. The section devoted to reading comprehension skills could be used in a college preparation course or seminar.
Section titles, chapter heads and subheads are all clear and logically arranged. I did wonder about the placement of the section Information Literacy, which might more logically come before “Writing about Texts” instead of interrupting the writing sequence. The text uses two color and occasionally three-color pages effectively.
The many links I tried all worked. I am not aware of any problems with the interface or distortions of graphics. The on-line navigation is trouble-free.
The text is free from grammatical errors,
The text appeals to the broad audience of college freshmen.. Literature and articles cited represent a wide range of writers. The photos of the individuals used in the exercises in the section “Determining your audience” represent diversity in age, career, and ethnicity.
This textbook offers the basic reading, writing, and study skills college freshmen need to master for successful higher education. Much of its material is well suited for developmental reading and writing courses. The text can also be useful throughout one’s college career as a referral resource when writing papers for courses in all disciplines. The authors accurately describe their work as a “use as you need it” text. I am especially happy to see that the section on Building Strong Reading Skills does not emphasize reading speed. Explanations and examples are clear and useful. The description of “Ethos, Pathos, and Logos” is one of the best I’ve come across.
Including and starting with reading is an excellent, much-needed approach to introduce students in how to think critically and write effectively for academic audiences. The portion on writing is comprehensive, clearly organized, and directed to... read more
Including and starting with reading is an excellent, much-needed approach to introduce students in how to think critically and write effectively for academic audiences. The portion on writing is comprehensive, clearly organized, and directed to clear contexts across the curriculum. The reading portion is less comprehensive and focused. I would have liked to see more specific guidance on setting and annotating for different academic purposes, reading rhetorically, and more strategies for reading difficult texts.
Overall, the text makes few errors in content. Though sources are acknowledged, footnotes rather than a Works Cited may have been more appropriate for navigation.
The text seems relevant now and the reading/writing advice seems like it will largely stand. The external links all seem to work. However, exercise directions make good use of externally linked texts so editing more than just updating external links might be needed to keep the text up-to-date.
I appreciated the rationale for many key moves and habits and the explanation of key terms. I also appreciated the accessible, warm but authoritative tone. This tone was especially effective in the writing pages that address anxiety, writer’s block, and writing habits. Purpose and application of some reading pages is unclear, such as sentence-level and paragraph analysis.
Consistently refers to writing as a recursive process driven by purpose and audience, emphasizes revision and feedback in terms of higher order concerns, and refers to texts as not just written/printed work.
Organization of online text into parts, titles, subtitles, and sub-subtitles cuts this text into bite-sized pieces makes the text seem easy to select from and use in various ways.
Having a clear sense of where you are in the organization of the text is a bit tricky. Though each chapter is listed in the drop-down table of contents (for example, there are no pages devoted to the chapter’s title, so you can link to the chapter title. The chapter title is included on each page, but it’s so small compared with the page title that it becomes easy to lose track of the overarching topic.
The online text does a good job of including and suggesting links back to pages that can give relevant advice and/or answer questions, something especially useful to reinforce the point that reading and writing are interrelated, recursive processes. The PDF versions have a lot of empty space in margins with page numbers only for odd numbers, which makes it potentially inefficient or awkward to read in print.
There are occasional typos, but, overall, few mistakes.
Leads with a discussion of gender pronoun use and makes some effort toward diverse representation in examples. However, misses an opportunity to discuss cultural influences on voice and style.
A good introduction to college reading/writing, especially useful for first-year students. While some of the subsections are a bit short, there’s good breadth here. The focus seems to be on what students most need to know and presenting an array... read more
A good introduction to college reading/writing, especially useful for first-year students. While some of the subsections are a bit short, there’s good breadth here. The focus seems to be on what students most need to know and presenting an array of reading/writing strategies rather than going into depth on each one. However, The Word also includes a number of useful strategies and tips I’ve not seen in other, similar texts. There’s no index, and the glossary is quite short. Occasionally the text refers readers to the glossary for further information but no such entry appears.
The text supplies pragmatic strategies most often based on best practices in composition theory, and it does a good job concisely explaining the reasons why reading/writing/info literacy skills are important, as well as the logic behind what can sometimes seem to first-year college students like arbitrary rules. I quibbled with a few minor details, especially in the “Learning About Plagiarism” section, but overall I found this text very accurate.
This text is quite up-to-date. It uses contemporary examples and articles that should be relevant for years to come. The examples of non-credible websites linked to in the “information literacy” section, though, are quite dated--one can tell at first glance that these sites are problematic without having to think too hard about it.
Clarity seems to be a priority here. The style is lucid and truly student-directed. It does an excellent job making terminology from the field (e.g., “rhetoric,” “recursive”) accessible. Paragraphs are typically pretty short, and the text is well-formatted with headings, bullets, etc.
I didn’t notice any issues with consistency. The many internal links from one section to another help unite the text.
The text employs cross-referencing via internal links, but is not overly self-referential. The main sections work well as units, although subsection or “chapter” length in the eBook varies widely--from a few paragraphs to multiple pages’ worth of text. It would be nice if these were a bit more uniform.
The book proceeds logically, beginning with reading strategies, proceeding to information literacy, and finally sections for each part of the writing process. The organization also allows for modular or non-linear reading.
The interface is excellent. Both the online and PDF versions boast a clean, attractive layout. Images, links, and other embedded content such as videos make this an easy read. The eBook interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, with attention to visual accessibility (i.e., an always-present option to increase font size).
As it relies on a conversational style, this text employs sentence fragments throughout--but not so many as to be distracting. I noticed a handful of very small “errors” that either don’t affect comprehension or could actually improve it.
Gender-inclusive language is used throughout. Examples are likewise inclusive of a variety of races and sexual orientations.
Clear, accessible, well-designed, and up-to-date, The Word... is an excellent primer on college reading and writing. I plan to use much of it in my first-year composition classes.
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... 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.
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... 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.
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... 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 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... 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.
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... 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.
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, Instructional Designer in Portland, Oregon
Carol Burnell, Faculty Member in the English department at Clackamas Community College, Oregon City
Susan Pesznecker, Adjunct Instructor in the English department at Clackamas Community College, Oregon City
Nicole Rosevear, Faculty Member in the English department at Clackamas Community College, Oregon City
Jaime Wood, Program Manager for Educational Initiatives at Portland State University, Portland