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The Case for Collaborative Writing: Introduction and Overview The information presented in this document emerged from a faculty development


seminar at the College of William and Mary that was sponsored by the Charles Center, the college’s faculty development center. A total of 10 faculty and staff were involved, representing seven disciplines across campus, including American Studies, Biology, Education, English and Film Studies, History, and Russian Language and Culture. Subsequent to this seminar, an additional faculty member and professional staff became involved in the project. All participants had an interest in examining efforts to infuse collaborative writing in courses at the college. However, our conversations were not always without a level of frustration as we found that some of us had some previous unsuccessful attempts at incorporating collaborative writing into our teaching. A clear benefit from the seminar experience was that we had a platform for sharing our successes and challenges and quickly discovered that we were not alone in our quest for effective and practical strategies to put theory regarding collaborative writing into practice. We have attempted to model the collaborative writing process by writing this document together as a group. The goal was that the final product could serve as a guide for instructors at William and Mary, but would also be relevant for faculty at other colleges and universities in attempts to implement collaborative writing strategies. In coming together as a group, we learned that we shared certain beliefs about


teaching and learning. Namely, we tend to embrace the constructivist perspective of teaching and learning. We see the process of learning occurring as an act of knowledge construction for the student, which implies a more student centered classroom than an instructor centered one.


In order for students to actively construct


their own knowledge (and actively learn), they should have classroom experiences that enable them to consider and reflect upon their assumptions, evaluate and synthesize new information, and critically reconcile this new information with their previously held beliefs and assumptions. Collaborative learning environments in which students are encouraged to inquire, discuss, explore, and evaluate with their peers can foster this process of active knowledge construction. We see collaborative writing as one of the essential tools for supporting a collaborative learning environment.


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