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Book: Language in Action

Chapter: 8. Scaffolding Argument Writing in History: The Evolution of an Interdisciplinary Collaboration

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40633


This chapter reports on a collaboration between two applied linguists and a novice history professor to scaffold student writing of the argument genre in a first-year history course. The collaboration took place at an English-medium branch campus of a US university in the Middle East where the majority of students have English as an additional language. When the history professor arrived at the university, the applied linguists already had a deeply contextualized understanding of the writing demands of the course using an SFL lens. For several years they had researched the content and assignments and delivered writing workshops. While recent research has explored a variety of factors that enable or constrain successful collaborations, few have focused on university classrooms, and fewer still have explored ones with the contextual knowledge imbalance that initially existed in ours. We explore the evolution of our collaboration, focusing on how the history professor's understanding of the language resources of history arguments developed, and how his flexibility and feedback facilitated the refinement of the workshop materials and the development of a new assessment rubric. We conclude with implications for interdisciplinary collaborations.

Chapter Contributors

  • Silvia Pessoa ( - spessoa) 'Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar'
  • Thomas D. Mitchell ( - tdmitchell) 'Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar '
  • Aaron Jacobson ( - ajacobson) 'Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar '