Writing Beyond the University: Future Directions for Writing Transfer Research and Practice
Council of Writing Program Administrators 2019 Conference | Baltimore, MD | July 26, 2019 | 9:20-10:20 AM
- Julia Bleakney, Director of the Writing Center and Assistant Professor of English, Elon University
- Heather Lindenmann, Coordinator of ENG 110 and Assistant Professor of English, Elon University
- Jessie L. Moore, Director of the Center for Engaged Learning and Professor of English, Elon University
- Paula Rosinski, Director of Writing Across the University and Professor of English, Elon University
What writing has been excluded from research on writing transfer? What would happen to our understanding of writing transfer if we radically expanded its focus to prioritize writing beyond the university?
Elon University’s 2011-2013 Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer research seminar fostered exponential growth in studies about transfer of writing knowledge and practice, resulting in dozens of participant publications. Scholars have examined students’ and faculty perceptions of writing transfer (Bergmann & Zepernick; Driscoll), critical transitions within the university (Boyd; Goldschmidt; Gorzelsky, et al.; Hayes, Ferris, & Whithaus; Wardle & Mercer Clement), and teaching for transfer (Yancey, Robertson, & Taczak). Few scholars, though, have focused on transfer beyond the university (Brent; Dilger & Baird) or simply beyond the formal curricular structure (Rosinski), despite a compelling need for more research in these contexts.
We open the session with a concise overview of scholarship about writing transfer beyond the university, including research from fields outside of writing studies.
Next, we share findings from our own recent study of writing transfer. This two-part survey-based study (n=513 and n=396) examines the post-graduation writing experiences of older alumni (2000-2013 graduates) and more recent alumni (2014-2018 graduates). We share the survey design; the types of writing that alumni report composing most frequently in professional, personal, and civic contexts; their biggest self-reported professional writing challenges; and the academic experiences which helped prepare them for their professional writing lives.
Finally, we reflect on gaps in what the field knows about preparing students to transfer writing knowledge and skills to contexts beyond the university and propose research methods that can help scholars study these transitions. Throughout, we engage the audience in activities and discussion to consider how their programmatic practices support transferring prior writing knowledge to writing beyond the university.