Paradigms and Paradigm Shifts

Before you begin to look into “The Major Historical Paradigm Shifts” series of infographs, make sure to review two important concepts.

Paradigm: Certain beliefs, standards, and rules shared by a community, discipline, or people in the same field (i.e. science, education, history, etc.). Paradigms are like trends; they come and they go. Just like trends, paradigms demonstrate what ideas, habits, or conventions are popular, and they only last for a certain amount of time until another paradigm comes in. Paradigms, however, in “The Major Historical Paradigm Shifts discuss trends related to writing that occured from the Harvard Influence in 1930’s to the Post-Process Theory in 21st century.

Paradigm Shifts: Out with the old, in with the new. Just like trends, paradigms move onto new paradigms. Shifts occur due to new problems unsolvable by the previous paradigms. Sometimes people do so much research during a particular paradigm that they eventually find a flaw in it. Ultimately, we move in circles from the conventional to the revolutionary: always finding something new, then the new becomes the old, then we discover or create the new again and again and again.

Got it?

The paradigms and shifts included in the “The Major Historical Paradigm Shifts” series are as follows:

Current-Traditional Rhetoric
(the Harvard Influence in 1930’s)

Transition Period: Process Movement
(continues throughout history until the 21st cent.)


(during the time of peace and love in the 60’s and 70’s)

Cognitive Process
(between the 70’s and 80’s)

Critical/Cultural Paradigm
(during Open Admissions Policy in the 80’s and 90’s)

Post-Process Theory
(the 90’s to present-time)

Each paradigm will discuss its major tenets (important points), purposes (ideologies and beliefs during the time), and pedagogy (how to teach them/what it looks like in the classroom). Additional sources are also added at the bottom of each blog post to provide more information about its corresponding paradigm.

– Maxine Hairston’s “The Winds of Change: Thomas Kuhn and the Reovlution in the Teaching of Writing”

Current-Traditional Rhetoric and Process Movement

Due to the Harvard Influence, Current-Traditional Rhetoric came about; but, as a reaction to the rigid expectations of this paradigm, the process movement gained attention and continued to echo throughout history.

Click on the image below to view the FULL infograph.current-traditional-rhetoricSources:
– Bedford St/Martin’s “A Brief History of Rhetoric and Composition”
– Sharon Crowley’s “Around 1971: Current-Traditional Rhetoric and Process Models of Composing”
– Donald M. Murray’s “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product”

If you’re interested in incorporating Current-Traditional Rhetoric in your classroom, below are some helpful resources to get you started:
– Grammar Exercises (Purdue OWL)
– Five-Paragraph Essay (Capital CC)
– Patterns of Organization (Washington U)


To free the writer, especially during the era of peace and love, Expressivism gave individuals the chance to explore and discover themselves, to find their inner-self, dude.

Click the image below to view the FULL infograph.expressivism

– David Bartholomae’s “Writing with Teachers: A Conversation with Peter Elbow”
– Judy Kirscht, Rhonda Levine, and John Reiff’s “Evolving Paradigms: WAC and the Rhetoric of Inquiry”
– Christine Farris’ “Current Composition: Beyond Process vs. Product” (Subscription to NCTE required)

If you’re interested in incorporating Expressivism in your classroom, below are some helpful resources to get you started:
– Instructions for Freewriting
– Unleash Your Creativity Now
– Grade Specific Writing Topics

Cognitive Process

While people were writing a lot during the Expressivist movement, people wanted to pin-point the thought process involved in writing to improve writing. During this time, people moved on from being concerned with the individual’s expression to the individual’s mind and thoughts.

Click on the image below to view the FULL infograph.
cognitive process.png

– Linda Flower and John R. Hayes’ “A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing”
– Andrea A. Lunsford’s “Cognitive Development and the Basic Writer”

If you’re interested in incorporating Cognitive Process in your classroom, below are some helpful resources to get you started:
– How to Write a Reflection
– Reflective Writing (UNSW)
– Promote Critical Thinking

Critical/Cultural Paradigm

After spending much time in the mind, people realized that there was an entire world outside of an individual that influenced writing! During the time of Open Admissions, when colleges allowed everyone and anyone to attend college, not just the elite, teachers had to accommodate for the diverse influx of entering college students.

Click on the image below to view the FULL infograph.CULTURAL PARADIGM.png

– Naming What We Know: “Concept 3: Writing Enacts and Creates Identities and Ideologies
– Ann George’s “Critical Pedagogy: Dreaming of Democracy”
– Maxine Hairston’s “Diversity, Ideology, and Teaching Writing”
– Bruce McComiskey’s “Postmodern Cultural studies and the Politics of Writing Instruction”

If you’re interested in incorporating the Critical/Cultural Paradigm in your classroom, below are some helpful resources to get you started:
– Culture in the Classroom (Teaching Tolerance)
– Ideology Lesson Plans (Texas U)
– Literary Theories and Criticisms (Purdue OWL)

Post-Process Theory

As people learned that writing is affected by outside, interconnected discourse communities and factors within a writing ecology (writing affected by audience, purpose, prior knowledge, and other situational factors), the effects of technology are taking place in 21st century writing, entering the virtual world and changing the type of reading and writing due to the different mediums (i.e. blogs, videos, memes). As a result, we are moving in a direction that is critiquing process’ relevance or appropriateness for the multimodal approach of writing, composing using different technologies beyond the paper and pencil and into the world wide web.

Click on the image below to view the FULL infograph.POST-PROCESS.png

Sources, and if you’re interested in incorporating a Post-Process approach into your classroom, consider reading the following articles to shape your philosophy of teaching:
– Lee-Ann M. Kastman Breuch’s “Post-Process ‘Pedagogy’: A Philosophical Exercise”
– Sid Dobrin, J.A. Rice, and Michael Vastola’s “Introduction: A New Postprocess Manifesto: A Plea for Writing”
– Marilyn M. Cooper’s “The Ecology of Writing”
– Paul Kei Matsuda’s “Process and Post-Process: A Discursive History”