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Durham University

Research & business

Research lectures, seminars and events

The events listed in this area are research seminars, workshops and lectures hosted by Durham University departments and research institutes. If you are not a member of the University, but  wish to enquire about attending one of the events please contact the organiser or host department.


Research Seminar: Choice, voice and process: how writing should be taught in the 21st century

20th November 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, ED134, Professor Dominic Wyse, Prof of Early Childhood & Primary Education, University College London (UCL), Institute of Education

Traditional skills-and-drills teaching was challenged in the 1980s by a new pedagogy called ‘the process approach to writing’. The process approach was particularly attributed to “one of the most seductive writers in the history of writing pedagogy”, Donald Graves, whose ideas became popular in Australia, New Zealand, USA and the UK. At the heart of the process approach was learner choice, and the development of the writers’ voice, enacted in a publication process in the classroom. However Graves was criticised for an alleged lack of research base underpinning his ideas. In more that 30 years of research since then we have the opportunity to re-evaluate Graves’ ideas.

Research evidence from experimental trials reveals new evidence of relevance to the process approach. The story of the process approach also reveals significant insights into how practitioner enquiry is perceived, and reactions to key figures and trends in popular educational ideas. This talk examines research, theory, and practice in order to understand what is optimal in the teaching of writing. It reports selected findings from a four year multidisciplinary study, How Writing Works: From the invention of the alphabet to the rise of social media. The implications for the teaching of writing and for curriculum policy are considered.

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