Butch’s Reading Response / 05 April 2007 “Interpreting and Implementing Universal Instructional Design in Basic Writing” by Patrick L. Bruch

While Bruch’s spiel on Contemporary Social Theory appears well rooted Freirian pedagogy of the oppressed set in a superpower nation that is America, advocating for material equality, redistributing (of wealth and education), and recognition is not enough to remove the injustices Bruch notes in academia. I believe that Catherine Prendergast summed it quite adequately when she writes “It will not be simply enough to add women and people of color and stir. Without significant changes to the profession and pedagogy, women and people of color will continue to wind up on the bottom” (167). Although Bruch takes special note of Prendergast not addressing classroom issues and “pointing to the compromises that, within accepted educational discourses, such attention demands” (166), but perhaps if Bruch would have explained what those classroom issue are, I could see his explanation more clearly that how it was presented in this section.

Understanding how a writing assignment is presented to a basic writing class was an important point made by the author and his example buttressed his contention that assignments must viewed through the point of view of the student for complete understanding of what will be expected of them. “. . . by redesigning the way I introduce new assignments to be much more focused on how the student understands the assignment rather than how I understand it” (170).

Finally, I saw the crux of this article contained in one specific quote; “For me, what matters is that students learn to read carefully and to help readers see both how they interpret texts and why they think their interpretations are credible in an academic setting” (172) ‘nuff said.


Melanie Mayer ENGL 5361 Response Apr 5 From TDW, Bruch’s “Interpreting and Implementing Universal Instructional Design…”

The idea of UID was a new and interesting one to me, easy to understand using the architecture model. However, after reading the background I expected much more from the rest of the article. The author’s way of addressing this problem, simply to “[take] five minutes to let students write the assignment in their own words and then share them” (170) was anticlimactic and elementary after the buildup on the need for UID in the basic writing classroom.

I agree with his theory: it is important “to enable more people to participate more fully in defining inequities and better alternatives” (166); and of course we want to foster a general spirit of equity in the classroom. But I was disappointed that the only practical application given was his redefining how he gives assignments and consequent discussion of what constitutes a summary. Although I did learn some new terms to toss around, such as “social justice,” and even a new acronym, which I probably won’t toss around for its similarity to a method of birth control, this article made the least impression on me of all we have read. --mm

Anne Ries

"Seeing universality as a process values participation and discourages those privileges by current structures from ignoring the obligation to listen, learn, and revise" (167).
"In my view, Universal Design offers educators a chance to design curricula from the position of listener rather than all knowing expert" (167).

Ok, doesn't the other just mean critical theory? This article bothered me because it just seemed like a rehashing of critical and libratory theories with a new name. If you mean the same thing, use the same terms, Bruch. You're not Freire, so there. I've read this article before, many times, by many authors. It was uninspired. Sorry.

"UID provides a framework for shifting our attention from literacy as a stable skill that we want to import to a more participatory formulation of writing as a matter of simultaneously doing and shaping in pursuit of equality and difference" (169). In short: UID (libratory learning) is a form of transaction, not transmission. AHHHH. I'm being mean, but seriously. All I want to do to this article is say, "yes, you're right, we need to look beyond the traditional views of literacy to incorporate those more discredited forms of literacy because those forms more traditionally are held by the structurally marginalized in our society." I read Walter Ong and his arguers, thank you. I got your functional literacy right here.

Ok, Anne, quit bitching. The author is just expressing an idealistic view - something you are used to.

"I now include much more student-generated discussion of how they understand what they are being asked to do and how they anticipate getting to work" (170).
This is something I've been doing more and more with my students this semester. My first exit slips stated that my students were confused on a lot of assignments. To combat this confusion, I now set aside a little more time that usual for question and answer sessions in class. I try not to talk a lot during these sessions; instead, I let students ask the class questions so that they can work through something together first. If they cannot answer a question among themselves, then I step in. (Although that rarely happens.) On Tuesday I am having my students come up with their own assignment as a class. They have to do project progress reports this sequence, but I want them to come up with their own rubric together. I will then post the rubric online so that they can all access it.

Sorry I was bored with this article, it just seems redundant. :)

<<<<<<< --- --- Elva Martinez April 5, 2007

Interpreting and Implementing Universal Instructional Design in Basic Writing By Patrick L. Bruch

I do not know what to think about this article. Learning Differences? Yes, we all learn different due to environment, culture and society. He talked about the Universal Instructional Design (UID) “Persons labeled as disabled may still be culturally marginalized, misrecognized, and disrespected” (165). All of the odds are against the disabled person.

He cited Catherine Prendergast the injustices such as White privileges and male privileges (166). That is how society has the order of race. These two issues have always controlled. When will this change?

“UID provides a framework for shifting our attention from literacy as a stable skill that we want to import to a more participatory formulation of writing as a matter of simultaneously doing and shaping in pursuit of equality and difference” (169). This would not because all people are different with different needs.

Bruch mentioned, “One activity that has been very helpful in this regard is simply taking five minutes to let students write the assignment in their own words and then share them” (170). What kind of activities does he have with this UID to share the discussion of the assignment?

I am not sure exactly why, but I had a hard time grasping the concepts outlined in Burch’s article. I think I got a little of it, but I know I must be misunderstanding something. But, here is what I did understand. Being flexible in one’s curricular design is imperative to address the needs of a various types of students. Any one single approach will not benefit all students equally. One must be willing to look back and reflect upon what was done and revise for greater class participation and inclusion. Comp. instructors are in a unique position to do this because of the ability to engage students in the contexts of which they are participating. Bruch’s connections to social justice were hard for me to understand aside from the fact that as a class rewrites and participates in “redesigning” the communication of their selected discourse, they are actively making meaning through their class’s collaboration. This is a practice that is inclusive and is always shaping and reshaping the standards. That’s all I can really say. Like I said, for whatever reason, it was difficult for me to connect and make meaning from this reading. I fear I have lost his main point about universality. Most of what I did understand come from the statement:

“Applying the insights of UID to writing classes, the idea of literacy work defines writing as a reflective and revisionary practice. That is, when one writes one simultaneously accomplishes the immediate concrete goal of communicating in a particular context and at the same time, one expresses ideas about communication in that context” (169).

(I just saw Anne used the same quote---sorry it's about the only thing that I did understand in the article)



I think that Bruch raised important points in his article, but I didn't see the practice that he endorsed in his class to be as strong or as useful as he hoped. He had so much theory and ideas about equality and issues of access, but the way he tried to incorporate those ideas of justice into his classroom just didn't seem to match with the theory. I just don't think that having students discuss how a writing assignment is interpreted or responded to is supportive of UID. But I do think that if we want to practice universality, we have to do more than simply acknowledge the underrepresented--that we need to do more than just "add and stir." Also, I didn't see how race had anything to do with the way a person responded to an assignment. That seems to be more personal than racial, I think...

And then Bruch kept on referring to the way the needs of disabled people are sometimes neglected because of the way buildings are designed, and I think that that's an interesting connection between literal architecture and the design of curricula. Is this saying that minorities are disabled in some way or that we need special treatment or that the curricula for minorities must drastically differ as to provide the extra help so that we arrive at the same understanding as our white counterparts?

Just ideas as I read...