Susan Orr, Margo Blythman and Joan Mullin
There seems to be serious differences in the processes in which students create a piece of writing and a piece of artwork. Research was done in the United States and the United Kingdom to flesh out just what changes and how that affects in the finished product.
One of the first noticeable differences is the level of personal attachment to the piece. With the art and design (A&D) students, they feel intimately connected with their work and able to express their feelings and ideas. When it comes to their writing, however, it seems that words form a barrier between what they are trying to convey and actually reaching their audience.
This carries into their use of peer revision and suggestions. Art students feel comfortable taking polls of outside opinions and perceptions of their work, using these to understand the various ways in which their art can be interpreted. But in their writing exercises, at least in the UK, they may only approach close friends or family members to look at the construction and grammar aspect. In the United States, because of education upbringing, students are more prone to work in group and garner feedback to use to rework their writing.
Additionally, students look at writing as a painful process, in which they have almost no agency in the matter. Forces are conspiring against them and it usually turns into a long and slow process. With artwork, though, there might be pain, but there is some kind of understand or reward that is reached at the end. A puzzle is solved and something hidden has been uncovered.
And, as with an part of student life, there are the inevitable timelines. Writers end up waiting till the last minute, getting stressed and forcing themselves through to the end, whether they are happy with their product or not. The artists are more likely to set aside time to lead up their deadlines, though some seems to like the pressure to produce their best results.
We should consider having our students view their writing as more of the discovery process, like the artwork. In an increasingly visual world, it would appear that students now are more adapt and understanding and analyzing the visual side of communication and if we could just tweak our explanations and descriptions of the writing process, they might be more apt to relate the two, turning it into a less painful process.