382 CONGER ComPORTION THE COMMUNICATION their writing: that the meaning to be communicated is already there, already finished, already produced,...
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Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 12.16.41 AM.pngScreen Shot 2019-08-21 at 12.16.34 AM.pngthis is from nancy sommers revision strategies of students writers and experienced adults. Are there results that have challenged your preconceived ideas about writing? Why or why not?

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Revision Strategies 383 function to restrict and circumscribe not only the development of their ideas, but also their ability to change the direction of these ideas. Too often as composition teachers we conclude that students do not will- ingly revise. The evidence from my research suggests that it is not that stu- dents are unwilling to revise, but rather that they do what they have been taught to do in a consistently narrow and predictable way. On every occasion when I asked students why they hadn't made any more changes, they essen- tially replied, "I knew something larger was wrong, but I didn't think it would help to move words around." The students have strategies for han- dling words and phrases and their strategies helped them on a word or sen- tence level. What they lack, however, is a set of strategies to help them identify the "something larger" that they sensed was wrong and work from there. The students do not have strategies for handling the whole essay. They lack procedures or heuristics to help them reorder lines of reasoning or ask questions about their purposes and readers. The students view their composi- tions in a linear way as a series of parts. Even such potentially useful concepts as "unity" or "form" are reduced to the rule that a composition, if it is to have form, must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion, or the sum total of the necessary parts. The students decide to stop revising when they decide that they have not violated any of the rules for revising. These rules, such as "Never begin a sentence with a conjunction" or "Never end a sentence with a preposition," are lexically cued and rigidly applied. In general, students will subordinate the demands of the specific problems of their text to the demands of the rules. Changes are made in compliance with abstract rules about the product, rules that quite often do not apply to the specific problems in the text. These revision strategies are teacher-based, directed towards a teacher-reader who expects compliance with rules-with pre-existing "conceptions"-and who will only examine parts of the composition (writing comments about those parts in the margins of their essays) and will cite any violations of rules in those parts. At best the students see their writing altogether passively through the eyes of former teachers or their surrogates, the textbooks, and are bound to the rules which they have been taught.

382 CONGER ComPORTION THE COMMUNICATION their writing: that the meaning to be communicated is already there, already finished, already produced, ready to be communicated, and all that is neces sary is a better word "rightly worded." One student defined revision as "re- doing"; "redoing" meant "just using better words and eliminating words that are not needed." For the students, writing is translating: the thought to the page, the language of speech to the more formal language of prose, the word to its synonym. Whatever is translated, an original text already exists for students, one which need not be discovered or acted upon, but simply com- municared.7 The students list repetition as one of the elements they most worry about. This cue signals to them that they need to eliminate the repetition either by substituting or deleting words or phrases. Repetition occurs, in large part, because student writing imitates-transcribes-speech: attention to repeti- tious words is a manner of cleaning speech. Without a sense of the develop- mental possibilities of revision (and writing in general) students seek, on the authority of many textbooks, simply to clean up their language and prepare to type. What is curious, however, is that students are aware of lexical repeti- tion, but not conceptual repetition. They only notice the repetition if they can "hear" it; they do not diagnose lexical repetition as symptomatic of prob- lems on a deeper level. By rewording their sentences to avoid the lexical repetition, the students solve the immediate problem, but blind themselves to problems on a textual level; although they are using different words, they are sometimes merely restating the same idea with different words. Such blindness, as I discovered with student writers, is the inability to "see" revi- sion as a process: the inability to "re-view" their work again, as it were, with different eyes, and to start over. The revision strategies described above are consistent with the students' understanding of the revision process as requiring lexical changes but not semantic changes. For the students, the extent to which they revise is a func- tion of their level of inspiration. In fact, they use the word inspiration to describe the ease or difficulty with which their essay is written, and the ex- tent to which the essay needs to be revised. If students feel inspired, if the writing comes easily, and if they don't get stuck on individual words or phrases, then they say that they cannot see any reason to revise. Because students do not see revision as an activity in which they modify and develop perspectives and ideas, they feel that if they know what they want to say, then there is little reason for making revisions. The only modification of ideas in the students' essays occurred when they tried out two or three introductory paragraphs. This results, in part, because the students have been taught in another version of the linear model of com- posing to use a thesis statement as a controlling device in their introductory paragraphs. Since they write their introductions and their thesis statements even before they have really discovered what they want to say, their early close attention to the thesis statement, and more generally the linear model,

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