James Moffett Research Paper

  • Length: 4 pages
  • Sources: 4
  • Subject: Teaching
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #49671921
  • Related Topic: Everyday Use, Writing, Drama

Excerpt from Research Paper :

e. The value of sequenced writing assignments).As Moffett was won't to say:

It is stages, not ages that are important for sequence. What holds for different people is the order [of stages] regardless of the timing. (http://www.csun.edu/~rinstitute/Content/instructional_materials/Writing%)

In order to move from 'writer-based prose' to 'reader-based' prose, one has to help students develop their ability to produce, and interact with, increasingly complex modes of cognition and communication, and this was where Moffett's innovation lay: he followed innate cognitive developmental structure, and used that to teach the student how to convey his ideas most effectively in writing.

There are the four ascending levels of communication start6ing from the broadest, prsonal narrative, and proceeding in an ever more refined and demanding ascension through the tiers of drama, and exposition (analysis definition). The entire structure fits into one triangulated form that revolves around I (the speaker / writer), you (the reader / listener), and it (the subject).

Writing itself falls into two categories: ((I) expressive writing, and (ii)poetic or transactional writing.

The communication between the I to the You encompasses 4 tasks, as does the communication involved in the endeavor of precisely expressing the it.

The communication between the I to the You involves the following components:

(a) it is the I addressing an anonymous group -- a remote audience

(b) the I is addressing a known group, i.e. A familiar audience

© the I is addressing another individual -- one on-one; this may be both a stranger or a friend.

(d) finally the I is addressing the self, for instance, in a journal format.

Writing style and outcome differs in all four situations, and Moffett recommends that the writer keep his or her peculiar audience in mind when creating his words and conveying his message.

The route from the I (writer) to the it (expressing his message) also runs through four elements;

(a) the writer is recording what is happening. His mind is in it in a phenomenological sense, and he is trying to convey that immediacy.

(b) the writer is conveying what has happened.

(c)the writer is generalizing what happens (as for instance in a scientific textbook), and,

(d) the writer is generalizing and inferring what may / could / will happen.

Writing tasks should be sequenced on the basis of cognitive complexity as well as on the basis of rhetorical demands (i.e levels of abstraction).

Ever since James Moffett published his treatises on writing, many educators have followed his writing recommendations, particularly those delineated in his "Universe of Discourse' where writing moves from very personal forms, such as from personal narratives to more active that become progressively more reflective and challenging, culminating in theoretical and abstract scientific treatises (for instance).

Working through these different writings, educators have found, also exposes student to different styles that, although Moffett might not want student to think them as such whilst they are writing, they are technically defined as such. Here, students work through description, narration, exposition, and persuasion whilst all the time focusing on their reader and attempting to convey the 'It' to the reader's understanding. Kemper (online) for instance, values this kind of teaching, for, as he remarks, teachers who works with Moffett's "Universe of Discourse' know how to relate to the student on her different level of writing. Those students who struggle with content development could stay, at least of the moment, on the lower levels of the pyramid (still with a narrative prose for instance), whilst a student whose mind may be more cognitively developed (or whose writing skills belong to upper terrains) could progress to more refinede levels of the pyramid involving himself in synthesis and in abstract reasoning. In this manner, Moffett is invaluable to teacher and student alike for he shows teachers how to teach the craft of writing to students on their level in an effective and skillful manner, whilst enabling students to convey their meaning precisely as they intend to. In this way, writing becomes a genuine discipline important in its essence rather than revolving itself around necessary, but obstructive grammatical punctilio.


Kemper, D. Developing a meaningful writing curriculum the open source. http://hmheducation.com/writesource/pdf/Developing_Curr.pdf

McCarter, M.M. (2010). James Moffet and James Croswhite. Associated Content. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2614581/james_moffett_and_james_crosswhite_pg2.html?

Strong's Craft Assignments. Pdf. http://www.csun.edu/~rinstitute/Content/instructional_materials/Writing%20Assignments.pdf

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