Writer's WebInterview Transcript, High School to College: The Transition
Content by Astoria Aviles and Gabrielle Pound, Site by Megan Venable

Interview: Dr. Joyce MacAllister
Interviewed by: Gabrielle Pound

Question One:

Dr. MacAllister, you have had a lot of experience with first year students
and first year writing. Could you briefly explain some of your expectations you have for a
first year writer and what you generally see in the structure of the first year writer’s


Okay. This is before instruction? Yes, yes. I think a lot of them have written
reflective papers, personal responses, opinion things, and so it’s one thing that I need to
work on (or get them to work on) is spending time thinking about their ideas, doing a lot
of prewriting, exploring, and then getting themselves a tentative thesis, a statement.
I know some people don’t like thesis driven papers, but as I explain to students a
thesis is the statement of your main point, in other words we don’t want pointless writing.
And it’s very hard for them to understand too, that that’s important both to help them
look where they need to get research and evidence but also when, in the final draft, when
it’s been changed a lot, it’s a map for the reader to know where the paper’s going.
In turn, I also have trouble getting them to see that they need to use what they
have. When they state a thesis, I want them to go through and circle the key ideas which
on the writer’s web, on the thesis website, they call them “code words”. So look at those
things, can you limit them further? Can they be used as major sections of the paper?
I think first year students get nervous because they’ve memorized formulas. “I
have an introduction of so many sentences and then I have three body paragraphs and
then a conclusion” and I think that we have to work on this formula. We have to work on
overall points and tighten it up, getting more specific than they are inclined to do, and
then using that as the map for them to write the paper and for the reader to follow the

Back to "High School to College: The Transition" or the First-Year Writing main page.
Copyright Info