Teaching Grammar Rhetorically

The resources below include studies on the teaching of grammar as well as readings on teaching grammar rhetorically and responding to grammar in context. We also include resources on responding to English language learners, which can be useful for all writers.

An overall review of teaching grammar in context

We recommend reviewing Lunsford’s research and reading Lancaster and Olinger’s introduction to their annotated bibliography, which overviews research focused on whether grammar instruction improves students’ writing.

Lancaster, Zak, & Olinger, Andrea R. (April 2014). Teaching Grammar-In-Context in College Writing Instruction: An Update on the Research Literature, WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies, No. 24. WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies. http://comppile.org/wpa/bibliographies/Bib24/Grammar_in_Context.pdf.

Lunsford, Andrea A., & Lunsford, Karen J. (2008). Mistakes are a fact of life: A national comparative study. College Composition and Communication, 59, 781-806.


The importance of practice, feedback, and revision in learning to write

These readings, which synthesize knowledge from across the field of writing studies, provide an overview of the importance of practice, feedback, and revision in learning to write.

Adler-Kassner, Linda, & Wardle, Elizabeth. (2015). Naming what we know: Threshold concepts of writing studies. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

  • Rose, Shirley. All writers have more to learn. (pp. 59-61)
  • Bazerman, Charles, & Tinberg, Howard. Text is an object outside of oneself that can be improved and developed. (pp. 61-62)
  • Brooke, Collin, & Carr, Allison. Failure can be an important part of writing development. (pp. 62-64).
  • Yancey, Kathleen Blake. Learning to write effectively requires different kinds of practice, time, and effort. (pp. 64-66).
  • Downs, Doug. Revision is central to developing writing. (pp. 66-67).
  • O’Neill, Peggy. Assessment is an essential component of learning to write. (pp. 67-68).
  • Matsuda, Paul Kei. Writing involves the negotiation of language differences. (pp. 68-70).

Working with English language learners

These readings focus on responding to errors in the writing of English language learners.

Bitchener, J., & Ferris, D. R. (2012). Written corrective feedback in second language acquisition and writing. Routledge.

Ferris, D. (2011). Treatment of error in second language student writing. University of Michigan Press.

Ferris, D. R. (2003). Response to student writing: Implications for second language students. Routledge.

Miami’s English Language Learner Writing Center resources for teaching students to self-edit and other resources for teaching and for students.


Rhetorical approaches to grammar

The readings emphasize teaching grammar as stylistic, rhetorical choices rather than as a system of rules to memorize and apply.

Cleary, Michelle Navarre. (2014). The wrong way to teach grammar. The Atlantic Online. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/the-wrong-way-to-teach-grammar/284014/.

Kolln, Martha, & Gray, Loretta S. (2016). Rhetorical grammar: Grammatical choices, rhetorical effects (8th ed.). Pearson.

Micciche, Laura R. (2004). Making a case for rhetorical grammar. College Composition and Communication, 55(4), 716-737.


Teaching proofreading

These readings discuss strategies for teaching proofreading.

Madraso, Jan. (1993). Proofreading: The skill we’ve neglected to teach. The English Journal, 83(2), 32-41.


Minimalist marking approach

These readings discuss one approach to responding to writing that has been successful in a variety of writing courses.

Haswell, Richard. (1983). Minimalist marking. College English, 45(6), 600-604. doi: 10.2307/377147.

McNeilly, Anne. (2014). Minimalist marking: A success story. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5(1). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2014.1.7.


Readings under 10 pages

Ball and Loewe’s edited collection Bad Ideas About Writing provides quick overviews on several aspects of teaching grammar and revision. Each chapter ends with a nod to further reading that you may find useful.

Ball, Cheryl E. & Loewe, Drew M., editors. Bad ideas about writing. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Libraries Digital Publishing Institution, n.d. https://textbooks.lib.wvu.edu/badideas/index.html.

  • Giovanelli, Laura. Strong writing and writers don’t need revision. (pp. 104-108)
  • Lisabeth, Laura. Strunk and White set the standard. (pp. 117-120).
  • Dufour, Monique & Ahern, Dodson, Jennifer. Good writers always follow my rules. (pp. 121-125).
  • Dunn, Patricia. Teaching grammar improves writing. (pp. 144-149).
  • Rule, Hannah J. Good writers must know grammatical terminology. (pp. 150-154).
  • Harris, Muriel. Grammar should be taught separately as rules to learn. (pp. 155-159).