Book: The College Writing Toolkit
Chapter: 4. Empowering Basic Writers Through "This I Believe" Essays
Molly Hurley Moran, in “Empowering Basic Writers Through ‘This I Believe’ Essays,” argues in favor of using personal writing as a pathway to academic writing, and discusses the difficulty of finding reading material that engages the interest of novice writers such as those in her first-year developmental classes yet which moves them beyond the narrow confines of five-paragraph essay models. Moran’s solution is to structure her semester-long basic writing course around National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” essays, which are inspirational short pieces written by anyone who wishes to speak about a deeply held belief. Moran recounts how she utilizes the print and audio-based versions of these essays to develop her students’ writing through cycles of reading, journaling with writing prompts, discussion, paper drafting, and feedback from herself and their peers. She discusses improvements that she has made to the course in the light of experience and suggests further applications for student writers at every level of these inspired and inspiring stimuli to writing.