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BWe Special Issue:

Issue 15.1


Adult Learners and Basic Writing

Sonia Feder-Lewis, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and
Christine Photinos, National University, Guest Editors
Barbara Gleason, BWe Editor
Lynn Reid, Associate Editor, Production


Editors’ Introduction

Sonia Feder-Lewis and Christine Photinos


Not for the Kids: Writing Support that Works for Adult Learners

Michelle Navarre Cleary, Kamilah Cummings, Steffanie Triller Fry, Kenya Grooms, and Nicholas Alexander Hayes


Resources developed with traditional students in mind rarely work as well for adult learners. Starting with the understanding that every writer struggles, we developed five non-course-based initiatives to support our adult student writers. As we describe and assess the impact of these initiatives, we also demonstrate the need for writing support focused on adult learners.

Writing in Context: Adopting a Genre-Based Approach

Ashley Hall and Kim Stephens


This essay presents two case studies of assignments that are redesigned into genre-based writing prompts. The authors describe institutional and programmatic changes including the elimination of all non-credit bearing basic writing courses in favor of an ALP model and explain how these changes, coupled with an increasing focus on adult learners at our university, create an exigence for the work detailed in the case studies. They ground their discussion in scholarship focused on Rhetorical Genre Studies (RGS) and multi-genre assignment design. While the authors ultimately believe that the redesigned assignments presented in case studies are applicable and appealing to many students, they draw from principles of the andragogical model to make an argument for why genre-based assignments are especially relevant to and useful for adult learners who are basic writers.

Counting Backwards Toward the Future of Immigrant Students in Basic Writing: Conceptualizing Generation 1 Learners

Emily Suh


Unlike child immigrants, individuals who immigrate to the U.S. as adults do not attend U.S. K-12 schools. Adult immigrants often first experience U.S. education and language support through adult English as a Second Language (ESL). These programs have linguistic and academic goals distinct from K-12. Although some adult immigrants persist to college, researchers have not examined their transition. Furthermore, the literature that explores the experience of adult immigrant learners transitioning to college lacks a clarifying, non-deficit term to identify the group. Scholars’ failure to establish a unified term for adult immigrant students is indicative of the students’ marginalization within fields of educational scholarship and learning institutions. This article identifies limitations in the existing literature on Generation 1.5, international, and adult students. Drawing from andragogy and sociocultural theories of language acquisition, the paper adds to the academic nomenclature referring to immigrant students by introducing the term “Generation 1 learner” and a theory of Generation 1 learning. Generation 1 learners immigrated as adults and first experienced the U.S. education system in adult ESL before transitioning to college. The article concludes with suggested ways to support Generation 1 learners in basic writing and beyond.

Graduate Writing is (Not) Basic Writing: The Politics of Developing Writing Courses for Graduate English Language Learners

Missy Watson


Abstract: Without offering explicit, basic instruction in writing to graduate students, we up the risks of maintaining the exclusion of the most underserved of adult learners in graduate education, and, thus, perpetuating social and racial hierarchies in professions requiring advanced degrees and in society writ large. This article highlights the ways in which graduate writing intersects with Basic Writing, especially given the politics of remediation facing adult learners in both contexts. It then analyzes one attempt to administer and teach a graduate writing course for English language learners and concludes with a catalog of administrative concerns Basic Writing teachers and administrators may want to consider when developing and teaching similar courses.

Book Review: Lauren Rosenberg’s The Desire for Literacy: Writing in the Lives of Adult Learners

 Marcea K. Seible


Book Review:  Mary Styslinger, Karen Gavigan, and Kendra Albright, editors. Literacy Behind Bars: Successful Reading and Writing Strategies for Use with Incarcerated Youth and Adults

Nadya Pittendrigh


Book Review: Ralf St. Clair, Creating Courses for Adults: Design for Learning

Jessica Kubiak