A Genre Analysis of Graduate-Level Reading Response Blogs Essays

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As a community, academics are increasingly accepting the use of public, online, journal style writings known as weblogs (blogs) as a valid pedagogy for the classroom. The attraction of using blogs within a classroom setting stems mainly from the discursive possibilities that the new technology offers: namely, that blogs allow for a discussion of nearly any topic in a socially moderated medium that encourages participants to compare, expand upon, and modify their understanding of that topic in relation to the ideas of their peers. While these discourses may serve any variety of purposes, one growing use of the medium is as a format for reading responses—a somewhat traditional pedagogical approach within Composition Studies,
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Second, because they are written by students seeking advanced degrees, their language, sophistication, and features are likely in sharp contrast to blogs written by undergraduate and K-12 students. Finally, they do not appear to follow any special criteria for classroom blogs, although (as will become evident in the following analysis) they do display a few moderating characteristics that show evidence of conformity to a common set of discursive moves and practices.

The value of the academic blog, both in general and in its many sub-genres, is that it allows students to write for an audience broader than the teacher (who inevitably becomes the “real” audience for most graded assignments) and yet narrower and more specific than the often described “general academic audience;” in other words, by writing for and often responding to their peers, students are able to develop a rhetorical awareness of audience that they are rarely afforded in more traditional assignments

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