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Saturday, August 27, 2005

“I’m On My Own Now”: Causes of Apathy, Its Affect on Learning, and Ways to Counteract It

My father often speaks about the one-room school he attended. Dad took me to where the Stafford School once stood; now just the stairs remain. I could picture the building sitting at its odd angle from the road on the flat top of a rise. The trees and undergrowth disappeared and the white schoolhouse came to life; children were playing red rover and relaxing in the grass, enjoying their break from the reader and slate.

Sitting on those abandoned stairs Dad told me about inkwells, and the old recess bell. The boys in the school had to cut wood and keep the fire going in winter. The students walked to school or enjoyed the luxury of a horse drawn "bus." Spring "vacation" was the time for planting; when they were done in the fields, while the seeds were sprouting and needed little attention, they would finish out school year for the summer. Not that many years ago but it seems like another world when I compare it to school as I knew it at the K-12 level.

"Big, better, best" is the mentality that governed the world and influenced schools during the mid-1980 through the 1990’s. We always knew that we were supposed to be competing as though our lives depended on it. The tests we took seemed to be a big part of this competition. Everyone in my generation has filled in enough little circles and ovals for ten lifetimes. I can’t say I ever understood what we were supposed to be working so hard for or what those tests really meant. When I scored a 12.5 grade equivalency did that mean that I should already be done with school? There was possibly a mention of the Japanese and occasionally we were informed of the Chinese doppelganger who was preparing to come to the United States to take our rightful place in the world.

So when Dad talked about school as a place where you weren’t constantly on the offense in some imaginary war, I was intrigued. Dad explained how the older children helped the younger children. Yes, Johnny was a little "slow" but they all pitched in to help him understand. My Dad’s eyes twinkled as he told the stories, a few happy memories from an otherwise difficult and hard childhood. I could only imagine being able to work with my classmates in an environment that was anything other than competitive.

Teaching at the high school level, there is no way to avoid the consequences of this misguided practice. Students enter my classroom having been thoroughly measured, weighed, and labeled. The "C" student expects to get an average grade and he resents having to work very hard for it; oddly enough the "A" student has the same attitude. The "F" student has already decided that he is a "loser for life." When he does show up you have no idea what to do with him.

At some point, students quit competing. This is where the competition, reward, punishment system breaks down. They no longer run the race; it takes less effort to just let the long established order stand. The kids take to heart the messages about individuality that are so common today. However, they see a prescribed intellectual level as part of that individuality. "I’m just stupid. Why should I try?" "I’m a straight A student. Don’t ruin my record with a B!"

We might call this particular phenomenon "apathy." Some might add this to the list of examples of "irresponsible" behavior that today’s adolescents demonstrate. The children we are talking about are apathetic about the world and do not take responsibility for their role in the world; this expectation of mediocrity hurts students at all levels. Undeserved contentment has been incorporated into the collective self-concept (to adapt a term from David Sousa). Wiggins and McTighe summarize the problem well: "many students come to school somewhat unwilling (and not expecting) to work very hard" (118). The causes and effects of this attitude are just as important to be aware of as the possible solutions. Like many of the problems the world faces today, there is no single cause, effect, or solution.

A complete list of all of the causes of student apathy would be impossible to compile. It is possible, however, to briefly explore some of the most relevant and most immediate of those causes. It is also important to remember that we exist in a hierarchical world. We are world citizens, citizens of a country, members of a community, part of a family unit, and individuals; we are either trying to balance our obligations to these various groups or being influence by them consciously or unconsciously. American culture, for example is a powerful influence on all of our lives. Contemporary American culture is affected by many different inputs. As I present these issues and concerns remember that these are all generalizations; there are many parents, schools, and students that do not, thankfully, fit into these descriptions. However, for me, I need to have some understanding of where these problems start from before I can make the connections between appropriate actions and desired outcomes. One of the most troubling and pervasive concerns is that of the psychological health of our society.

Fear is now used by many facets of our culture. News media keeps us afraid of everything from killer bees to the ever-present anonymous, black, male, perpetrator (Bowling…). The current administration keeps us in a state of constant paranoia because of the "potential" for terrorist attacks; changes in the color-coded terror alert levels are almost daily occurrences. Popular media feeds us a constant diet of "beauty" as they define it; so, we are afraid that we will not measure up and therefore lose out. Large corporations convince us that we need the latest fashion, the latest prescription, and the latest gadget or we will fall behind the rest of the pack.

Students experience these same pressures and are ultimately more vulnerable to them. David Sousa gives us the key to understanding the impact this has: "before students will turn their attention to cognitive learning (the curriculum), they must feel physically safe and emotionally secure" (43). Sousa is not making a generalization based on observation or hyperbole. Studies of the brain’s ability to process data under various circumstances have proven that emotionally or physically stressful situations greatly reduce the brain’s ability to learn. Anyone even paying half attention to the media would find it difficult to have a mind functioning at its best. Sousa also points out (citing a study by Sowell, et al.) that students are particularly affected by emotional states because they do not have a fully developed ability to regulate emotion (20). This emotional interference with cognitive function is not a phenomenon limited to students.

Teachers come to school after watching the same morning news. For example, anyone who witnessed the media’s handling of the attack at Columbine High School certainly has been deeply and permanently affected. In the narration of his documentary Michael Moore reminds us of this day and also touches on the emotions teenagers deal with on a daily basis. "I guess we’ll never know why they did it. But one thing adults should never forget, it still sucks being a teenager and it really sucks going to school" (Bowling…). Many teachers’ attitudes about school after that day quickly became just as grim. An unidentified school official sums up that attitude best, "There’re little time bombs out there ticking, waiting to go off, and there are many of them in every community" (Bowling…). Certainly, today we have gotten past some of these feelings. But we will never get rid of them entirely. This event and the way the media handled it has reinforced the us-versus-them (teachers versus students) mentality that probably goes back to when the first school bell rang. One of the earliest expressions of this idea in the popular media was the film Blackboard Jungle (1955).

Maintaining a state of constant fear is possible cause of the American tendency to quantify quality of life and measure success externally. During and after times of extreme stress it is not uncommon for people to focus on acquiring both the necessities and comforts of life; think about the food hoarding that occurred after World War II. Now these attitudes and actions are pervasive and constant. Americans "pursue human salvation through science and technology. We find redemption through consumerism, through things that are wondrous, useful, ingenious, and economically profitable, but which do nothing to satisfy the needs of the inner life" (Lear). Not only is it taboo in many settings to discuss our feelings, emotions, beliefs, and spirit life, it is also very difficult to get students to participate in such discussions.
I have a deep concern about an unhealthy reticence—in our culture generally, and in education in particular—to discuss what may be our most distinctive trait—our mysterious inner life, and the fertile, invisible realm that is the wellspring for the creativity and morality of our species. It is that portion of ourselves that impels us to create art and literature, and study ethics, philosophy, and history…This is the spiritual life of our species. (Lear)
If we really want to affect the thinking process and long term learning of our students, we need to have access to the internal world of our students. As Lear points out, it is the spirit that gives us "our sense of awe and wonder and longing for truth beauty and a higher order of meaning." This is especially true since we now know that the emotional system plays such an important part in long-term remembering (Sousa 19). The difficulty in cracking into this repository of the spirit is caused by some deeply rooted cultural beliefs.

So many students come to school with very few tools for managing and understanding their emotions, fears, and beliefs. Teachers can be part of the solution.
Human problems, especially those of children and adolescents, are best dealt with through intense and continuous one-on-one communication and through healthy interactions that enable adults to become positive role models and guides. (Martin-Kniep 7)
I envision this process being a natural part of the classroom activities; journaling and class discussion for example can be valuable diagnostic tools for other skills in they classroom as well as key tools for encouraging student exploration of what they really believe and feel. Of course, the only way students will share these discoveries and learn from them is if you can maintain a safe environment for this type of exploration; establishing this open communication is often very difficult with students who already have their defenses in place at school.

The second aspect of American culture that causes increased concerns for schools is a disvaluing of discipline and dedication. "Much of American society glamorizes easy success and the fast life. This cultural fashion has reached such a dangerous point that American children readily challenge authority and disdain intellectual development and achievement" (Hwang 486). Many students have little ability to look into the future, see a goal, and plan appropriate steps for getting there. If the reward is not immediate, it is not real. Far from simply repeating a complaint all too often stated, bringing up this behavior ties together the above ideas. If we are afraid there won’t be a tomorrow, why should we plan for it? Moreover, the lack of ability and opportunity to communicate with adults about feelings and beliefs tells students that those aspects of their person are unimportant.

Lack of discipline and emotional pressure also relate to students’ unrealistic attitudes about cheating. Howard Gardner found that 75% of students admitted to cheating at least once on a test while 84% agree that cheating harms a person’s character (Bracey 412). The obvious question then is if they believe it to be harmful why do they do it? Some of this discrepancy might be explained by the responses Gardner received when he interviewed students for this study on cheating. He heard many of them say, "When I get to be famous, I’ll set a wonderful moral example. But for now reality precludes that" (Bracey 412). I have seen many students buy into this "fame" myth. The culture around students shows them that the only people who have any impact on the world are people who have gained a certain amount of fame. A gruesome example of this is the death of Princess Diana. The whole world wept and rightfully so; she was a very good person who tried to do many good things. However, we barely even pause when a "normal" person is killed in a drunk driving incident. Death and effort only count when they are backed by fame.

Current brain research provides another possible explanation for our current obsession with short term rewards. Sousa discusses the brain’s preexisting preference for novelty. The brain filters information by its uniqueness and potential impact on the person. In everyday life this affects everything from learning styles to safely driving a car. This pursuit of unique and memorable experiences can also be a detriment:
Some adolescents who perceive little novelty in their environment may turn to mind-altering drugs, such as ecstasy and amphetamines for stimulation. This drug dependence can further enhance the brain’s demand for novelty to the point that it becomes unbalanced and resorts to extremes-oriented behavior. (Sousa 29 citing Laviola et al.)
Certainly it is easy to see how students with drug addictions and who use mind altering drugs are affected in a school setting. This phenomenon also has an impact on students without drug problems. When novelty seeking and our current culture (which is essentially a novelty buffet) get together, schools suffer. In the past "there were few other distractions, school was an important influence in a child’s life and the primary source of information" (Sousa 28). This is of course not true anymore. So teachers need to consciously work to increase the amount of novel experiences for students.

All of these factors become condensed when we focus on families and schools. Family is the first group most people belong to. These early experiences with attitudes, emotions, and learning affect children for a lifetime. Today we have a wonderfully diverse collection of family types and constructions. Many point to this diversity as a source of problems. However, I don’t believe that anyone type of family structure holds any intrinsic superiority. Both the benefits and problems of the family are universal.

One of the major issues with families today is that the adults in the family who traditionally supported children in their growth and learning no longer take as active of a role. Educational systems were founded on the belief that "parents are an extension of the school and vice versa. This is not a valid assumption in modern day America." (Hwang 487). For various reasons parents no longer have the same impact on their children’s lives. "Parents are so busy divorcing, working ,feeding their own addictions, and searching for personal fulfillment that there is no time left to make children’s education priority" (Hwang 487). This lack of support for children is particularly troubling when it is taken to the extreme. After giving an assignment to a college prep writing class, I had an 11th grade student come to me and say, "Mr. Lentz I don’t know when I’ll get this assignment done. I had to move out of my mom’s home because her new boyfriend wouldn’t leave me alone. Mom chose him over me. I’m on my own now." I almost called it quits right there; I said to myself, "That’s it, no more teaching; I can’t afford the emotional turmoil." I couldn’t fathom how I could compete with such a trying emotional situation. I am happy to say that I didn’t give up. And that particular student wound up growing in her writing ability. I encouraged the students to write about their real lives. She took that opportunity. But not all students take those opportunities to grow and heal when presented.

When things go wrong and a student fails we sometimes see another particularly troubling aspect of the modern family. Parents who have not taken responsibility or given their children the guidance to be responsible look for someone to blame. Yong Hwan summarizes the situation very well; he says that American parents:
have invented a very peculiar form of logic in dealing with low student achievement. If a child fails, society is at fault, poverty is at fault, teachers are at fault. Everybody responsible except the student who failed and parents themselves who failed to motivate the learner. It is the age of the all purpose victim: the individual or group whose plight, condition or even academic achievement is not a matter that needs to be solved by individual effort but constitutes a social problem in itself. (488)Certainly there are many cases where "individual effort" is not enough to solve the problem. It is, however, a very common attitude among students that the teacher and the school are supposed to "make" them learn. This is related to the incorrect thinking of students who ask, "What grade are you going to give me?" When you reply with, "The grade that you earn," they become confused and defiant. Their attitude suggests (and sometimes they even say): "I cannot earn anything; this means I will fail."

The structure and methods in many schools and classrooms certainly affect students in a negative way as well. First and foremost is the continued and increasing focus on norm referenced testing. It is easy to see that "the school’s evaluation system is more brutal than the real world. Few in the work force are subjected to the humiliation of norm-referenced evaluation" (Raffini 54). One of the problems with this system is that it expects everyone to fit within a particular pattern of expected ability. It makes no difference how skilled or knowledgeable a particular student is. "We often assume that only the dull, lazy, or unambitious are below average, in reality, it’s a fixed percentage of the population – regardless of achievement" (Raffini 53). This test produces statistical data that reports on a very narrow spectrum of ability and is then used to determine the experience all students have with school. Students "quickly discover that they must compete with each other for a limited number of rewards. During this competition, the system teaches students that effort is less important than ability" (Raffini 54). This relates back to my experience of school, competition for limited rewards with no real reason given for the competition.

The culture that this form of competition creates in schools is counter to all of the things we know about how the brain works best. As noted earlier, Sousa cautions that long-term memory is dependent on stress level. James Raffini points out that many students might simply be unwilling to accept mediocrity (53). Self protection and preservation are important traits. Richard Stiggins summarizes how this mechanism works:
Psychologists who study motivation tell us that students can fall into a classification that they call "failure acceptors" (Covington, 1992). Typically, these students have experienced sufficient failure in the classroom to infer either that they are too dumb to get it or that getting it is just not worth the effort. They took the risk of trying to learn early in their academic lives, did not succeed, were punished for it, lost confidence, and do not want to risk such pain again. (210)
I believe that as teachers we have all encountered greatly gifted students who this applies to. As an English teacher, I get more than my share of these students. When students have early encounters with English classes and find out that they are about memorizing grammar rules, and relearning (in more abstract ways) things that they already know instinctively, they are turned off to the subject.

I had a student taking an after school credit recovery class because she had failed an English class. It was evident to me that she was motivated, skilled, determined, and creative. I couldn’t fathom why she hadn’t passed the class she had been in (which is taught by one of the best teachers I know). Through conversations with this student I found out that her grade was an F for that class because she could not complete journal entries. Some encounter with that activity in her past prevented her from finishing the task.

Another common practice in schools that causes problems for students is the insistence upon rote learning. "When faced with constant repetition, we become bored—and we become unmotivated" (Silver 45). We all know this to be true. Yet, when we are in front of the class it is difficult to keep from exposing students to the same torturous situations we experienced as students. "Schoolwork is often needlessly boring, especially when composed of mind-numbing skill worksheets or excessive passive listening – all of it divorced from interesting problems and realistic performance challenges" (Wiggins 119). Silver, Wiggins, Sousa and many others all recognize the impact of this type of learning. Gardner even suggests that boring learning activities and pressure to succeed are the primary causes of cheating (Bracey 412). If along the way I hadn’t had a teacher show me that English was something other than grammar and spelling, I would never have become an English teacher. I wouldn’t have been interested enough or believed that I had the skills to do the job.

All of these problems suggest some very direct solutions. My methods, attitudes, and practices can be altered in order to reach more students. One of the first changes I can work toward is becoming aware of each student as a whole person. I have always been aware of the power of this concept. I did not, however, have a real grasp of how to conceptualize the impact of this on my classroom. Students thrive when they are under self imposed desires to succeed (good stress, a.k.a. "level of concern") (Sousa 67). Especially when they are working on something that challenges them at an appropriate level. Here I can look to popular media for some ideas. Video games are addictive and allow for a learning experience because they challenge players at their individual ability level. "Cognitive psychologists call this the ‘regime of competence’ principle…As players progress, puzzles become more complex, enemies swifter and more numerous, underlying patterns more subtle" (Johnson 40). This is an idea that was repeated in many different texts. Wiggins and McTighe write about "designing learning that confronts students with the limits of their ideas and the promise of new ones" (Wiggins 175). If you can challenge students within a familiar framework and in close proximity to their existing abilities, you increase the likelihood of student learning. In the classroom this concept can be employed many ways. One example would be giving the students writing assignments that are within in their current comfort level and then continuously pushing them to take one step at a time closer to utilizing all of the concepts of good writing. If the students are allowed to write about topics that they really care about, the likelihood of interest and success is increased as well.

Much of what I have been learning this summer about assessment and instruction relates to this concept as well. "By reinforcing a student’s understanding of what she knows and can do, it can motivate her to change and to replace vague hope with realistic goal setting" (Schmitz 21). But this is about more than simply looking at skill level. Students are also predisposed to various ways of exploring the world and various ways of being part of the world.
Teachers need to create a classroom environment that allows students to process information the way they do in the world outside of school. Outside school, children tend to rely on their natural ways of learning. In school, however, we often ask students to process in only one or two ways. (Silver 47) So I need to be more aware of both what I ask students to do and the ways I allow them to explore the material and demonstrate understanding.

A particularly important aspect of student ability is the rate at which students process information. Sousa discusses this problem and suggests a simple solution; set curricular priorities in order to allow students to have the necessary time to achieve the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (262). Certainly this creates problems when you are required cover certain material over the course of a class; the reality is (as several of the resources note), however, that covering the material does not mean learning is occurring. We need to decide if covering all of the material or promoting true learning (complex understanding that allows transfer) is more important. One of the techniques I can use is essential questions. As noted in several texts this gives the teachers and students a way to prioritize and focus instruction.

The unrealistic goal of plowing through the text book in the class time allowed negatively affects the amount of effort students are willing to put into learning. Several of the texts point out that instead of focusing on text book ordered learning it is beneficial to have a standard that relates to the subject as it is used in the professional world. "Only when grades are based on standards of absolute performance of clearly stated objectives, and differences in student ability are viewed primarily as differences in the amount of time students require to master these objectives, will it be possible for effort to result in success" (Raffini 55). This of course touches on another major area of improvement I can make. Basing my judgments of performance on clearly articulated and public criteria drawn from standards is a major way I can improve student motivation, demonstrate accountability, and provide a more focused and effective curriculum (noted in several resources).

One final area for me to address as a teacher is emotional impact. I’ve noted how Sousa describes the impact of emotions on learning. He indicates that "teachers should strive to bond positive feelings to new learnings so that students feel competent and can enjoy the process" (Sousa 145). At this point I feel that many of my lessons were not negative in the emotional realm. Mostly they were neutral. This created no benefit for the students and it made the daily classroom experience rather dull as well. I care about what I’m doing so it should be well within reason to invest some emotional energy into it. Emphasizing the positive aspects of a performance or product, and presenting improvement suggestions with a "soft" touch and with a focus on real world reasons for the suggestion should be a priority.

I have always tried to encourage student interest, motivation, and growth. I believed that this was the best source for positive feelings about a class. Of course, this was often unsuccessful. I now understand that students approach an activity and quickly decide if it is something they should be concerned about. "Self-motivation on the part of students can be expected only if students have opportunities to focus on topics and activities that interest them" (Silver 45). Wiggins and McTighe repeat the sentiment more succinctly. The "work must be purposeful from the student’s point of view" (Wiggins 117). The goal of emotional impact, student interest, and real-life relevance can be addressed in one concept, the human spirit. "Preparing the next generation for the world we live in means teaching it to look deeper into itself, to that place where humans, from the beginning of time, have shared the same sense of awe and wonder as they groped for meaning" (Lear). Too often we run rampant with our ability to analyze. We need to maintain our ability (and recognize the necessity) of stepping back and taking a look at the whole student. A very important part of that "whole" cannot be easily separated out from the whole. Classroom activities should provide outlets for spiritual/creative/emotional ideas and opportunities for exploration of this realm.

Of course there are many other changes I want to make. For example, I want to work on incorporating more appropriate humor (Sousa 63). In general, I want to improve my attitudes about school and students. In the past, the individual failures became a greater focus than multiple successes. There is potential in all students. I can do many things to encourage that potential and give students a reason to care. But I cannot make it happen for them. I can and should show them the possibility of success, provide the tools, give encouragement, and then let them decide for themselves. They need to see the wisdom of making good choices because they will never completely believe it if they only have my word to go on. If I have done my best to help and encourage the students I encounter, I should be able to accept that many students will not learn about the hardships I am warning them about unless they experience them for themselves. I found a helpful little list of reminders that I plan to hold onto for a long time. The following presents nine ways to deal with unresponsive students. It was printed in a Salt Lake City School District newsletter:
1. Avoid taking it personally. The problem has to do with the student, not you.

2. Avoid getting angry. It’s sad when a student doesn’t care. The student needs kindness and understanding, not hostility.

3. Try to determine if the indifference is only school-related. Perhaps there are problems outside of school.

4. Tell the student you’re not going to give up on her--even if she has given up on herself. Refuse to accept the student’s rejection of your efforts.

5. Avoid embarrassing the student. When he doesn’t respond to a question, provide some answers to choose from.

6. Give the student lots of opportunities for involvement.

7. Search for areas and activities that will interest her.

8. Minimize the chances for failure. Shorten assignments. Make the goal of each assignment clearer and more immediately achievable.

9. Notice and reward changes in behavior.
Some days the only thing you can do is accept the reality around you and plan for the time you have the opportunity to change that reality.

Compared to the world my father lived in with the one-room schoolhouse, students today live in a very artificial world. "Reality" is something a child is rarely exposed to until he is on his own. Like the school building that is no longer there, kids are shown the steps but they never see the purpose for climbing them. My job is to show them, tell them, and let them create their own world on top of those stairs.

Works Cited

Bowling for Columbine, Special Edition. DVD. Dir. Michael Moore. documentary. United Artists and Alliance Atlantis, 2002.

Bracey, Gerald W. "A Nation of Cheats." Phi Delta Kappan. Jan. 2005: 412-413. EBSCO Host. Kilbourn Library, Wisconsin Dells, WI. 31 July 2005. http://www.ebscohost.com.

Hwang, Yong G. "Student Apathy, Lack of Self-Responsibility and False Self-Esteem are Failing American Schools." Education 115.4 (1995): 484-490. EBSCO Host. Kilbourn Library, Wisconsin Dells, WI. 31 July 2005. .

Johnson, Steven. "Your Brain on Video Games: Could They Actually be Good for You?" Discover 26.7 (2005): 38-43.

Lear, Norman. "Education for the Human Spirit." Education Digest March 56.7 (1991): 33-35. EBSCO Host. Kilbourn Library, Wisconsin Dells, WI. 26 July 2005. .

Martin-Kniep, Aiselle O. Becoming a Better Teacher: Eight Innovations That Work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2000.

"Nine Responses to Unresponsive Students." Curriculum Review 40.3 (2000): 6. EBSCO Host. Kilbourn Library, Wisconsin Dells, WI. 31 July 2005. .

Raffini, James P. "Student Apathy: A Motivational Dilemma." Educational Leadership 44.1 (1986): 53-55. EBSCO Host. Kilbourn Library, Wisconsin Dells, WI. 31 July 2005. .

Schmitz, Jo Ann ed. and Alverno College Faculty. Student Assessment-as-Learning at Alverno College. Milwaukee: Alverno College, 1994.

Silver, Harvey F., Richard W. Strong, Matthew J. Perini. So Each May Learn: Integrating Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2000.

Sousa, David A. How the Brain Learns, Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2001.

Stiggins, Richard J. Student-Involved Assessment FOR Learning. Columbus, Ohio: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall, 2005.

Wiggins, Grant and McTighe, Jay. Understanding by Design. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill Prentice Hall, 1998.

Writing Study Group of the NCTE of the Executive Committee. "NCTE Beliefs About the Teaching of Writing." Nov. 2004. National Council of Teachers of English. 8 July 2005 .

Resources (Not Cited)

Brown, Waln K. "Turning Your Life Around: Tips From an Ex-Juvenile Delinquent." Reclaiming Children and Youth 13.4 (2005): 218-223. EBSCO Host. Kilbourn Library, Wisconsin Dells, WI. 8 July 2005. .

Hassel, Holly and Lourey, Jessica. "The Dea(r)th of Student Responsibility." College Teaching 53.1 (2005): 2-12. EBSCO Host. Kilbourn Library, Wisconsin Dells, WI. 8 July 2005. http://www.ebscohost.com.

The National Commission on Writing. Writing: A Powerful Message From State Government. College Board, 2005.

Schmitz, Jo Ann ed. and Alverno College Faculty. Student Assessment-as-Learning at Alverno College. Milwaukee: Alverno College, 1994.

Shepard, Lorrie A. "The Role of Assessment in a Learning Culture." Educational Researcher 29.7 (2000): 4-14.

Townsend, Jane S. "Silent Voices: What Happens to Quiet Students During Classroom Discussions?" English Journal Feb. 1998: 72-80.

Wolf, Dennie, Janet Bixby, John Glenn III, Howard Gardner. "Chapter 2: To Use Their Minds Well: Investigation New Forms of Student Assessment." Review of Research in Education, 17. Ed. Gerald Grant. Washington, DC: The American Educational Research Association, 1991. 31-74.

Writing Study Group of the NCTE of the Executive Committee. "NCTE Beliefs About the Teaching of Writing." Nov. 2004. National Council of Teachers of English. 8 July 2005 http://www.ncte.org/about/over/positions/category/write/118876.htm.

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