Passive Voice or Active Voice?: Talking to students about the distinction—and why it matters
Presenters: Lorraine Higgins (HUA) and Ryan Madan (HUA), Communication Across the Curriculum
Students struggle to understand the uses of active and passive voice more than we might expect. This workshop will explore some of those difficulties, pumping nuance back into a deceptively simple choice. What do we really care about when we ask students to choose one voice over the other? What are the range of ways students understand these demands from instructors? Though we’ll share general advice about when and where to use passive/active voice, we’ll ultimately advocate for discussing the issue through a rhetorical (rather than rule-based) framework, providing students with explanations that tie the active/passive choice to questions of the writer’s goals, readers’ needs, and disciplinary conventions. We’ll end the session with strategies you can use to help students self-diagnose their use of active/passive voice, and we’ll survey revision strategies available to writers, including those that move us beyond the either/or choice of passive/active. These strategies aren’t exclusively useful to students; they can help all of us make more purposeful choices when deciding between active and passive voice.
Those who need to leave early for 1pm commitments are still welcome to attend. Interested but have a time conflict? Workshop materials will be posted on the Morgan Center Canvas site.