PWPA Spring 2017 Conference Features Joseph Bizup and “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary to Teach Research-Based Writing”

PWPA Co-Chair Bill Fitgerald of Rutgers-Camden, along with The Writing Program, including the Writing and Design Lab, welcomed all to the PWPA Spring Meeting and started the day with a tour of their beautiful new Writer’s House.

The morning session featured Joe Bizup of Boston University and his research on “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary to Teach Research Based Writing.”  His BEAM method encourages students to adopt a rhetorical perspective toward research-based writing by characterizing products of research in terms of how writers use them in their texts. Joe argues that the standard approach to treating sources as primary, secondary, and tertiary is antirhetorical and proposes an alternative: BEAM–Background, Exhibits, Arguments, Methods or Theory–which categorizes sources and data in terms of how writers uses them.

After lunch, participants formed into groups that explored how best to include research in writing courses. Topics included

  • Is research necessary in comp?
  • How can students see writing and research as something people do all the time? Also, who are the readers?
  • How do we make research a natural activity?
  • How do we teach inquiry and curiosity?
  • How to utilize Discipline, Inquiry,Theme, Topic, and/or Discipline based courses?
  • What research methods do we give out students? Data collection? Field work?
  • Utilizing Lens reading to provide a simulated experience of research and give students only what they need


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