Bronwyn T. Williams
No Time Like the Present: The Experiences of Student Writers During the Pandemic
Time and place are inescapable factors in shaping how we write, and how we experience writing. Yet, in teaching writing, students may only get general advice to “leave yourself enough time” and “find a comfortable place” to write. Even so, students’ develop, in their writing processes, habits and preferences around place and time that have significant impacts on how they experience writing and how they construct their literate identities. The disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic were disruptions of place and time, leading students to improvise and remake their processes and places of writing. Exploring students’ affective responses and material adaptations to the unusual conditions of the pandemic, both at home and in the classrooms and public spaces on the university campus, can help highlight the ongoing role of time and place in writing, and have implications for how students approach writing in the future. In this talk I will discuss a research project undertaken during the pandemic in which I conducted a series of interviews with more than 30 US university students between April 2020 to January 2022 about their experiences navigating and adapting to their altered writing and learning situations. I have turned to rhetorics of place, socio-material theories, and psychological research on concepts such as temporal disintegration to explore the ways students experienced the pandemic physically, narratively, and emotionally. Understanding students‘ experiences and practices during the dramatic events of the pandemic offers insights into how they construct their identities as learners and writers, as well as how they perceive their relationships to their instructors and to the university itself. Regardless of how long the pandemic lasts, the practices and perceptions of education developing now will ripple and resonate for years to come.
Bronwyn T. Williams is Endowed Chair of Rhetoric and Composition and Director of the University Writing Center at the University of Louisville. He writes and teaches on issues of literacy, identity, digital media, sustainability, and community engagement. He is currently at work on a book about student experiences during the first two years of the pandemic, titled, Literacies in Times of Disruption: Living and Learning During a Pandemic, His previous books include Literacy Practices and Perceptions of Agency: Composing Identities; New Media Literacies and Participatory Popular Culture Across Borders; Shimmering Literacies: Popular Culture and Reading and Writing Online; Popular Culture And Representations of Literacy; and Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education.
How to mix a ‘Productive Distractini’
The ideal palate cleanser for when time is of the essence but you are stuck on an aspect of your academic writing, let mixing this cocktail of ideas provide a delightful – but also productive – change of perspective.
Take equal measures of content and academic format familiarity
Add a dash of hidden academic practice
Strain through a visual analogy framework
Vigorously stir in creativity to taste
Garnish with a dose of interpretation
Dr Alke Gröppel-Wegener is passionate about Learning and Teaching and particularly explores the links between creative and academic practice. As part of this she has developed a number of visual analogies and creative activities to help students understand ‘hidden’ academic practice, which have been collected in Writing Essays by Pictures, a workbook for students, and two companions: The Boardgame Blueprint (a visual overview of the process of essay writing in the form of a board game) and a series of Visual Soundbites postcards. Alke has explored this work within the theoretical framework of re-genring including experimenting with different ways of dissemination, including the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure format to present an academic article. She is also working on a project that uses the Hero’s Journey storytelling framework within curriculum design. In 2015 she was recognised by the Higher Education Academy and awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. Alke currently works as Associate Professor of Creative Academic Practice at Staffordshire University, a position she is leaving in summer 2023 in order to go on a gap year to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up. She occasionally blogs at www.tactileacademia.com