English, Department of


Date of this Version

January 1994


Published in Journal of Advanced Composition 14.1 (1994), pp 131–147. Copyright © 1994 ATAC. Used by permission. Online at http://jac.gsu.edu/


If teachers desire their students to view their own texts as part of an ongoing conversation about difference, then they need to reflect upon and question their own assumptions about collaboration. Teachers need to recognize that, for some students, the value of collaboration is viewed primarily in terms of social interaction and not in the production of text. When evaluating students' collaborative texts, teachers are often not aware of the many negotiations and interactions that may have contributed to the text's formation but are not necessarily inscribed in it. Journals and collaborative evaluations of texts are one means of recovering these processes, but even these forms require students to "fix" ideas that they may not be ready or able to commit to text. Even the production of this essay, a collaborative text itself, has not allowed us to reflect upon or speak to the richness of Beth's students' negotiations, or the negotiations that we have gone through in analyzing such processes. While this essay was born out of the frustration that Beth felt about how her students completed their collaborative papers, the process of reading their texts and group processes has enabled us to re-value the struggles that her students went through to write these papers and to re-envision the ways that we might approach collaborative writing projects in the future.