Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Winning the 'Write' War: Breaking Down the Barrier of Silence in Small Group Discussions




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



When working with developmental writers in small groups, breaking down the barrier of silence presents a tremendous challenge. If I want students to engage in genuine dialogue about their writing, then I need to empower them so that they can share freely in groups without the menace of ridicule. This semester, I strategized, designed a tactic, and marched into my classrooms with a mission to battle the awkward silence. However, I found myself on the receiving end, humbly learning a great deal about group communication and my shortfalls. Facilitating rich academic dialogue amongst developmental writers required me to closely log observations about group dynamics, open a clearer line of communication with writing consultants, and most arduous: admit defeat with some activities and adjust my pedagogy accordingly. Out of sixteen writing groups, eighty-five percent have successfully developed "safe zones" where students dialogue and share their writing willingly. As I continue this venture with my eyes and ears wide open, I realize that letting my students teach me how to combat the silence and facilitate genuine small group discussion is a battle worth winning.

Conference Name

115th Michigan Academy of Science Arts and Letters Annual Conference

Conference Location

Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw, Michigan

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