Writing Beyond the University: Fostering Writers’ Lifelong Learning and Agency seminar leaders – Julia Bleakney, Paula Rosinski, and Jessie L. Moore – asked seminar participants each to share citations and brief annotations for two texts (e.g., articles, chapters, books, etc.) that have been important to their understanding and exploration of writing beyond the university. We are sharing the compiled list as a resource for other researchers.

You’ll note that some texts were listed (and annotated) by multiple participants and that, even with repeated selections, the overall list reflects a rich range of questions, research methods, and contexts.

Adler-Kassner, Linda and Wardle, Elizabeth, eds. 2016. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. Logan: Utah State University Press.

Adler-Kassner and Wardle’s publication captures and curates what many of us think we know about writing, and indeed might easily recognize, but equally what we might have trouble defining.  The classroom edition of Naming What We Know is designed to provide ‘a quick entry point to some of the often unstated beliefs about writing that [the] field has come to agree on after decades of research and theory’ (xiii). The book presents its thirty-six threshold concepts, organized under five ‘overarching’ concepts and which are underpinned with one metaconcept. The final threshold concepts have been distilled from a larger number of ideas submitted by colleagues (experts) across the field and the threshold concepts in the collection are written by some of these colleagues so many voices are included in the work. The collection is a collaboration from the field ‘to attempt to collectively define threshold concepts of [the] discipline’ (xii). The text could be used to create a shared understanding of writing and to open up conversations between writing discipline experts, writers, and those who support/sponsor writing within and beyond higher education.

Keywords: threshold concepts, liminality, writing studies, pedagogy

Anson, Chris M., and L. Lee Forsberg. 1990. “Moving Beyond the Academic Community: Transitional Stages in Professional Writing.” Written Communication 7, no. 2: 200–231.

Annotation 1: This article takes a closer look at how writers can move from the academic setting into more professional communities. This study was conducted looking at 6 university seniors undertaking a “writing internship course.” The methods that took place included ethnographic data, observations, journals, transcriptions and a final retrospective analysis of each intern’s writing. Results indicated how writing is social, and influenced by the surrounding community, and that each participant went through a pattern of expectation, frustration and finally accommodation. 

Annotation 2: This qualitative study examined the transitions that writers make when moving from academic to professional discourse communities. Subjects were six university seniors enrolled in a special “writing internship course” in which they discussed and analyzed the writing they were doing in 12-week professional internships at corporations, small businesses, and public service agencies. Results showed a remarkably consistent pattern of expectation, frustration, and accommodation as the interns adjusted to their new writing communities. The results have important implications for the lateral and vertical transfer of writing skills across different communicative contexts.

Annotation 3: This qualitative study documents the various influences on a group of 6 undergraduates as they transit from being able to write fairly proficiently in an academic context to be able to write in a professional context while on their 12-week internships. Anson and Forsberg observed their participants, examined all the draft and final copies of the writing produced by the interns, kept a log of group discussions as well as interviewed the interns to obtain their data. The writers emphasize the importance of social interaction between supervisors and interns as well as the interns’ ability to ‘read’ a context in order to write well in a professional context.

Annotation 4: This article traces the transitional steps taken by students as they move from academic to workplace contexts of writing. The qualitative study focused on the experiences of 6 university students as they discussed the writing they were doing as they undertook internships at different work stations. Data were obtained through participant observation and an analysis of the written work of the students during their internships. This included the comments and suggested revisions by their mentors at the workplaces. The results indicated a consistent pattern of experiences among the students which included frustration as they adjusted to workplace writing. The authors recommend that further studies be done to bridge the gap between academic and workplace writing for further development of teaching methods.

Annotation 5: Anson and Forsberg are interested in the transition writers make when moving from academic to professional settings. To help them learn more about this transition, they engage in teacher-research, studying the experiences of six university seniors in a writing internship course. They found that each intern experienced a consistent pattern (expectation, disorientation, and resolution), though interns experienced each stage for different lengths of time. Examining how each intern achieved resolution, Anson and Forsberg argue that expert writers are effective “readers” of context, which makes me wonder how writing curricula, and internships in particular, can foster such reading.

Annotation 6: This qualitative study examines six college seniors as they transitioned from a university writing context to their professional writing internships. Analyzing the writing that interns produced, interns’ reflection logs, transcripts of discourse-based and general interviews with interns, and interns’ written retrospective analyses of their experiences writing in the workplace, Anson and Forsberg identify three stages of transition that writers experienced as they attempted to assess and adapt to unfamiliar professional writing contexts—namely, expectation, disorientation, and transition and resolution. Findings from this study raise important considerations about how writing is learned in professional settings and call attention to the relational and adaptive nature of learning to write in nonacademic contexts.     

Keywords: Transitions, writing, academic, workplace, internship, professional, strategies for social and intellectual adaptation to different professional communities, Bridge the gap in academic and workplace writing, Transition, Disorientation, transitional learning, adaptation, lateral and vertical transfer, initiative, self-concept, roles, stages 

Baird, Neil, and Bradley Dilger. 2017. “How students perceive transitions: Dispositions and transfer in internships.” College Composition and Communication 68, no. 4: 684-712.

This article examines how student dispositions impact transfer in internships and concludes with “two tentative implications for curricular interventions and internship design,” (707) making this a valuable resource for those interested in examining transfer between academic and “work-to-learn” experiences like internships. Baird and Dilger conducted a longitudinal study of 16 students with 14 different majors over 1-3 years. Using an activity theory framework, they collected data about both writers and “the multiple contexts in which they learned” (690) and conducted interviews using Roozen’s process-tracing approach and discourse-based techniques. In the first year, each student was interviewed at least 7 times and then periodically in later years. After providing a concise review of the transfer scholarship relevant to their study the authors share their rich case studies of two students.

Keywords: internships, work-to-learn, longitudinal study, activity theory

Bass, Randy. 2012. “Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education.” EDUCAUSE Review 47, no. 2 (March).

Bass’s article discusses how to redesign courses to have a better impact on learning, and thus transfer, by reframing what we think of as formal curriculum based on multiple interconnected high-impact practices. To do this, we must “disrupt” ourselves and the way we approach education to include “boundary-crossing, integrative, and socially networked experiences” to connect in-the-classroom to out-of-the-classroom.           

Keywords: high-impact practice, disruption, reflection

Bazerman, Charles, Arthur N. Applebee, Virginia W. Berninger, Deborah Brandt, Steve Graham, Jill V. Jeffery, Paul K. Matsuda, Sandra Murphy, Deborah Wells Rowe, Mary Schleppegrell, and Kristen Campbell Wilcox. 2018. The lifespan of writing development. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Annotation 1: I am particularly drawn to Deb Brandt’s chapter that re-reads her data from the recent (and brilliant) Rise of Writing book, which itself could be an entry on this annotated bib. She didn’t set out to study transfer when she interviewed sixty(?) Americans who consider writing a central part of their work, but when she analyzed those interviews for themes–she found that the “residue of writing” was a powerful phenomenon.  Not only does Brandt argue that “writing orientations developed through workplace practice [get] incorporated into a person’s more general dispositions towards life” (266), she also tracks ways in which early childhood experiences are “creatively transformed into productive orientations to writing” (265). Such findings, she argues, “force an expansion of what is considered transfer in writing” (265). 

Annotation 2: This edited collection asks us to consider writing studies from a lifespan perspective, both before and after university settings.  The eight principles that are presented at the beginning of the text offer opportunity for expanded study in various directions. Within the text, multiple studies offer us snapshots from linguistics, literacy, writing studies, and interdisciplinary approaches to understanding writing across the lifespan.

Annotation 3: This collection addresses our field’s gap in understanding “how writing develops before, during, and after schooling.” It strives to create a lifespan perspective on writing development through a collaboration of scholars from diverse fields, including psychology, education, neuroscience, English, linguistics, second language studies, disabilities studies, and others. Scholars used different methodologies and theoretical perspectives to study populations of writers across lifespan stages and educational and workplace contexts. The collection offers a multitheoretical, multidisciplinary, and multiage approach with the goal of constructing a rich description of writing development to inform teaching, scholarship, curriculum, policy, and assessment; foundational to this description are eight principles that support a research-based account of writing development.          

Keywords: lifespan research, literacy; dispositions; residue of writing; writing development, lifespan, writing ability, literacy, curriculum, writing research

Bazerman, Charles, Arthur Applebee, Virginia Berninger, Deborah Brandt, Steve Graham, Paul Kei Matsuda, Sandra Murphy, Deborah Wells Rowe, and Mary Schleppegrell. 2017. “Taking the Long View on Writing Development.” Research in the Teaching of English 51, no. 3: 351-60.

“With support of the Spencer Foundation, the coauthors have met since 2012 to share perspectives on how writing develops across the lifespan. Their brief report in RTE about their work offers eight principles and overall implications for continued work in this area. Each of the nine authors approach the study of writing from different theoretical and methodological perspectives; their RTE piece does not draw on a single approach but is a summation of their findings from their various theoretical and methodological perspectives. A key point that I return to is as follows: “ Trajectories of writing development are intertwined with trajectories of intellectual, professional, and personal development, such that writing development contributes to personal uniqueness” (353).

Keywords: lifespan; writing development; curriculum; policy

Beaufort, Anne. 2007. College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction. Logan, UT: Utah State Univ. Press.

Annotation 1: This book reports a major study with serious implications for the university writing program and for writing-across-the-curriculum efforts. The researcher reports a longitudinal study of one student’s experience in first-year composition, in history, in engineering, and in his post-college writing. The data highlights the difficulties that students face in transferring the skills of “general writing” from one context to another. Her findings suggest that we must go beyond even genre theory in reformulating the first-year composition courses.

Annotation 2: Beaufort documents one writer’s movement across disciplines throughout his college career as well as in the workplace post-graduation and poses that writers need to develop several kinds of writing related knowledge to grow in writing proficiency (subject matter knowledge, writing process knowledge, rhetorical knowledge, genre knowledge and discourse community knowledge). The overarching research questions of this study have to do with whether first-year composition classes can prepare students for other writing contexts. Beaufort uses a longitudinal case study methodology, studying one student over several year, drawing data from interviews with the subject and instructors and also looks at the subject’s writing.  This study found that the subject had difficulty transferring writing knowledge across disciplines (from first-year composition to history and from history to engineering) in part because he needed to acquire the ways of making meaning within each discipline, including subject matter knowledge.

Annotation 3: Beaufort’s text focuses on a longitudinal study of one student’s (Tim) experience in first-year composition (fyc), in history, in engineering, and in his post-college writing. This groundbreaking study showcased college students inability to successfully transfer learning and knowledge from fyc to other writing contexts. She advocates for having fyc use her 5 knowledge domains (subject matter, genre, discourse community, rhetorical, and writing process) as a way to support learning transfer.      

Keywords: Writing Across Curriculum, WPAs,  Writing Center, First-year Composition, Writing-related knowledge, writing across the curriculum, writing beyond the curriculum, transfer, first-year composition, learning transfer, knowledge domains, genre   

Beaufort, Anne. 2000. “Learning the Trade: A Social Apprenticeship Model for Gaining Writing Expertise.” Written Communication 17, no. 2: 185-223.

This quasi-ethnographic study of two novice writers’ socialization into a new community of practice in a non-profit found that successful writing practice entailed the writers playing multiple roles of the 13 identified, some of them collaborative and some simultaneous, as they gradually assumed responsibility for more sophisticated tasks: Observer; Reader/researcher; Clerical assistant; Document designer; Proofreader; Grammarian; Editor; Ghostwriter; Coauthor/low-status texts; Author/low-status texts; Coauthor/high-status texts; Author/high-status texts Inventor; Coach; and Negotiator. Based on the data, Beaufort outlines five domains of local knowledge, in addition to more general composing knowledge, that a successful composer manages: rhetorical knowledge; discourse community knowledge; genre knowledge; content knowledge; and procedural [composing] knowledge. Research methods included weekly interviews with the two subjects, interviews with other workplace employees, collection of writing samples, and observations of the workplace. Inductive data analysis included multiple documents: interview transcripts; field notes; and writing samples; analysis was triangulated. Takeaways include the ideas (1) that writing in this workplace is communal and rhetorical rather than expressive and that (2) social apprenticeships–in which writers work on multiple tasks concurrently, observe others, work from models, and commit to learning that is as much tacit as explicit—are critical for writing development on the job.  

Keywords: novice, expert, socialization, social apprenticeships, general composing knowledge, local composing knowledge, rhetorical knowledge, discourse community knowledge, genre knowledge, content knowledge, procedural [composing] knowledge

Beaufort, Anne. 1997. “Operationalizing the Concept of Discourse Community: A Case Study of One Institutional Site of Composing.” Research in the Teaching of English 31, no. 4: 486-529.

In this text, Beaufort explores how real-world writing at a non-profit organization and how the framework of discourse community can help us understand and frame real world writing.  The study site was JRC, a non-profit job resource center. At this site, Beaufort used ethnographic methods to understand now novice writers entered the site. This piece, thus, shows how discourse community theory can be successfully applied to research beyond the university.      

Keywords: discourse community, non-profit writing

Blakeslee, Ann M. 2001. “Bridging the Workplace and the Academy: Teaching Professional Genres through Classroom-Workplace Collaborations.” Technical Communication Quarterly 10, no. 2: 169-92.

This article looks at incorporating classroom-workplace collaborations within the classroom and how these workplace type activities can enhance student learning, and students’ understanding on professional workplace opportunities. The research was conducted through the lens of two case studies over two universities which involved interviews, questionnaires, and all documents the students produced as in their coursework and placements. Results indicated the benefits of classroom-workplace collaborations were valuable in order to help students in their future work cultures, and while improving their workplace writing with the guidance and support from experts and peers.

Keywords: Workplace writing, academic collaborations

Blythe, Stuart. 2016. “Attending to the Subject in Writing Transfer and Adaptation.” In Critical transitions: Writing and the question of transfer, edited by Chris M. Anson & Jessie L. Moore, 49-68. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/books/ansonmoore/chapter2.pdf

Stuart Blythe argues that activity and rhetorical genre theories are inadequate for understanding the (student) writing subject, and that cognitive theories are inadequate for understanding context. He therefore proposes that we meld the study of subject and context and offers two approaches: (1) by integrating these “sets of terminology” and (2) by taking an ecological approach to the study of writing transfer and adaptation. Adopting an ecological approach to the study of writing transfer and adaptation recognizes interdependence as a primary term, “one that places subject and context in relationship to one another” (65). Blythe updates Beaufort’s 2007 model of writing expertise by including “a sense of an individual subject acting within the five domains of knowledge” (56). He concludes that this updated model may help researchers “construct a more detailed understanding of how subjects adapt to new writing situations,” (56) for example, by student attempts to construe and reconcile new writing situations (60-62), to “consciously monitor their responses and self-correct as they go,” (62-63), to rely upon social affordances (63-65).

Keywords: writing subjects; context; activity theory; rhetorical genre theory; interdependence; adaptability; social affordances

Bowen, Lauren Marshall. 2011. “Resisting age bias in digital literacy research.” College Composition and Communication 62, no. 4: 586-607.

This text examines the complex literate life of one older writer, Beverly. Beverly is in her 80s, and engages in a wide range of texts in order to keep herself involved with networks of actors, family and otherwise. Bowen uses a literacy narrative approach tied to a close study of Beverly’s writing space in order to develop an account of Beverly’s literate action that contrasts with contemporary conceptions of aging and older writers.          

Keywords: Older writers; curriculum of aging         

Brandt, Deborah. 2015. The Rise of Writing: Redefining Mass Literacy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Annotation 1: The Rise of Writing argues that writing has overtaken reading as the most common literacy practice in people’s lives. Brandt examines the experiences of people who “write for pay” in the public and private sectors and the ethical challenges related to authoring texts that the writers don’t “own.” She also profiles many young adults who write prolifically. The study is based on interviews with 90 people (adults and young adults) over a 7-year period.

Annotation 2: “For perhaps the first time in the history of mass literacy, writing seems to be eclipsing reading as the literate experience of consequence” (Brandt 2015, 3). The book explores ‘how an intensifying use of writing for work might affect how people experience and value their literacy … What does day-in-day-out writing do for  – and to – the people who carry it out’ (7). Interviews over a period of seven years of 90 people – 30 private sector employees, 30 public sector employees, 30 young people. ‘…the rise of writing presents its greatest challenge to the educational enterprise, which is growing increasingly out of step with the wider world…. What kinds of writers we are capable of being will matter to the kind of nation we can have … the writing imperative only deepens’ (166).

Keywords: mass literacy, ghostwriting, government writing, young adult writers, interviews, vocational writing, writing – economic and social power 

Brent, Doug. 2012. “Crossing Boundaries: Co-op Students Relearning to Write.” College Composition and Communication 63, no. 4 (June): 558-592.

Drawing on interviews with six Canadian college students enrolled in a work co-op program (working every other semester in an internship as novice professionals while enrolled in college), Brent found that although students seldom transferred isolated skills from academic contexts into professional contexts, they drew upon and (in Smart and Brown’s terms) “transformed” general knowledge learned throughout their undergraduate experience in these new professional contexts. Brent periodically interviewed six University of Calgary students from a range of academic backgrounds and co-op work placements in their first four-month work term in a co-operative education program. He asked participants to explain their writing processes as well as connections between contexts of writing, both academic and professional. Brent’s work suggests that the challenge of locating transfer may be related to issues with theoretical constructs and assumptions, and he describes participants’ ability to “draw… on a large repertoire of mental schema and apply… them in a variety of situations” as “learning transformation” (p. 589).”

Keywords: professional writing, learning transfer, rhetorical knowledge, general knowledge

Burning Glass Technologies and Strada Institute for the Future of Work. 2018. The Permanent Detour: Underemployment’s Long-term Effects on the Careers of College Grads. Boston. Burning Glass Technologies. https://www.burning-glass.com/research-project/underemployment/

This report looks at underemployment as a growing problem for college graduates, particularly as those underemployed when first hired after college tend to remain underemployed five or ten years out, thus negatively impacting lifelong earning potential. Mined from the report publisher’s database of over 800 million job postings, as well as millions of resumes, and federal surveys and administrative data sets, this report analyzed the skills, career paths, and career outcomes of millions of American workers. The report highlights its findings of majors more prone to underemployment, the ways in which relevant and meaningful work experience can help, and the skills to develop to try to avoid the pitfall of underemployment while still in college. Offering a three-pronged strategy, this report suggests ways to prepare students to beat this trend of underemployment.    

Keywords: underemployment, career outcomes, occupational shift

Clark, Irene Clark, and Andrea Hernandez. 2011. “Genre Awareness, Academic Argument, and Transferability.” The WAC Journal 22: 65-78.

This article revealed the results of a study intended to help students develop genre awareness. The authors had students in a first-year writing course complete two surveys, one at the beginning of the course and one at the end. The surveys were designed to inquire as to the students’ developing genre awareness and transfer. The results suggest that students do not develop transferable genre awareness such that, when they try to learn genre outside of the genre’s context, they will rely heavily on structural elements rather than rhetorical features     

Keywords: Genre awareness

D’Annunzio-Green, Norma, and Paul Barron. “Learning whilst working: Perceptions on barriers and enablers to transfer of learning amongst part-time students on a professional MSc programme.” Education+ Training 61, no. 2 (2019): 187-200.

The purpose of this paper is to examine student learner perceptions of benefits, barriers and enablers in learning whilst working, specifically focusing, on learning transfer from a university M.S. in human resource management to students’ professional roles as human resource practitioners. The study used in-depth semi-structured interviews with alumni of the program who had graduated between one to three years previously. The study found benefits (increased self-confidence, credibility and networking skills) as well as unanticipated challenges relating to individual learner characteristics, organisational culture and work-related support that hindered learning transfer.

Keywords: graduate students, transfer of learning, workplace performance, post graduation

Defeo, Dayna Jean, and Fawn Caparas. 2014. “Tutoring as Transformative Work: A Phenomenological Case Study of Tutors’ Experiences.” Journal of College Reading and Learning 44, no. 2: 141-163.

Defeo and Caparas surveyed eight participants who were tutor alumni, who had been employed as writing center tutors at the same public university writing center for at least one year. The researchers’ survey, based on Seidman’s phenomenological interview method, attempts to connect participants ideas about tutoring before they started tutoring and during their time tutoring to how the skills they developed affected their professional lives beyond writing center tutoring. The study demonstrates that, at the specific research site, writing center tutors overwhelming chose the work because of obligation: participants had been graduate students who viewed writing tutoring as a stepping stone to classroom teachings. After at least one year tutoring in the writing center, however, these same participants “identified professional applications and made direct connections between their tutoring experiences and their later work” (Defeo and Caparas 2014, 154).

Keywords: Writing centers, tutoring, professionalization, phenomenology

Dias, Patrick, Aviva Freedman, Peter Medway, and Anthony Par. 2013. Worlds apart: Acting and writing in academic and workplace contexts. Routledge.

This text offers a detailed examination of how writing is applied in both academic settings and beyond. Based on a 7-year longitudinal and multi-site comparative study of writing in different university courses and matched workplaces, the text presents ideas on how writing operates in both settings. The unique context of university and workplace settings results in implications for teaching writing at the university.

The text argues that to a large extent, school-based simulations of workplace writing fails to prepare students for the workplace and suggests that the goals of teaching writing need to be re-examined.

Keywords: Re-examine teaching goals

Driscoll, Dana L., and Jennifer H. M. Wells. 2012. Beyond knowledge and skills: writing transfer and the role of student dispositions in and beyond the writing classroom. Composition Forum 26. http://compositionforum.com/issue/26/beyond-knowledge-skills.php

In this paper, Driscoll and Wells argue that individual disposition need to occupy a more central place in the research on writing transfer. They aim to provide a fuller understanding of the impact of student dispositions on writing transfer, thus contributing a better understanding of students’ struggles and successes in transferring writing knowledge. Through an examination of previous literature on writing transfer, they emphasise the need to focus more on student dispositions. From their own studies, they identify four specific dispositions, namely, value, self-efficacy, attribution, and self-regulation, which enabled of inhibited their participants’ successful transfer of knowledge.

Keywords: Student dispositions, value, self-efficacy, attribution, and self-regulation      

Elon Statement on Writing Transfer. 2015. https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/elon-statement-on-writing-transfer/

As someone new to this area of research, this document was very useful to me in explaining various concepts associated with transfer as well research strategies for studying transfer. I found it very liberating that the Statement acknowledges that it is not intended to be a final statement on transfer, but rather a foundation for further discussion and inquiry.  

Keywords: transfer concepts

Eodice, Michele, Anne Ellen Geller, and Neal Lerner. 2016. The Meaningful Writing Project: Learning, Teaching, and Writing in Higher Education. Logan: Utah State University Press.

This book reports a cross-institutional research study focused on students’ perceptions of meaningful writing experiences. The researchers used a student survey, the foundation of which were two open-ended questions that solicited from students a project they found meaningful and their perceptions of what made it meaningful. They also conducted student and faculty interviews. They found that the key components of meaningful writing projects are student agency; opportunities for engagement with instructors and peers; structure and support but also choice and freedom; connection to both previous experiences and learning and to future interests; applicability; and relevance. They also found that faculty whose assignments are found to be meaningful tend to be deliberate in building these features into them.      

Keywords: meaningful writing, meaningful writing experience, writing assignment, engagement, relevance, writing development, agency, structure, support, teaching, transfer, metacognition, connection

Evans, Sarah, Katie Davis, Abigail Evans, Julie Ann Campbell, David P. Randall, Kodlee Yin, and Cecilia Aragon. 2017. “More Than Peer Production: Fanfiction Communities as Sites of Distributed Mentoring.” Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing: 259-72.

Building on Hutchins’ concept of distributed cognition, this partially participant-observer ethnographic study theorizes components of online mentoring as it occurs in three fan-fiction communities: Dr. Who, Harry Potter, and My Little Pony. Such mentoring includes seven key features: aggregation, accretion, acceleration, abundance, availability, asynchronicity, and affect.  Methods included a thematic analysis of 4500 reader reviews, multiple interviews, and a case study of the My Little Pony group. Three takeaways from this study include: (1) distributed mentoring provides both instrumental and psycho-social support to writers; (2) feedback, rather than occurring peer-to-peer, occurs multiply (from several if not many readers) and in “small pieces … help[ing] authors to identify strengths and weaknesses in a whole greater than the sum of its parts”; (3) authors, reviewers, and the systems they inhabit constitute a cognitive ecosystem.  

Keywords: distributed mentorship, cognitive ecosystem, aggregation, accretion, acceleration, abundance, availability, asynchronicity, and affect    

Faigley, Lester, John A Daly, and Stephen P Witte. 1981. “The Role of Writing Apprehension in Writing Performance and Competence.” The Journal of Educational Research 75, no. 1: 16–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.1981.10885348.

The study was performed on 110 undergraduate students and assessed using a series of essays. The study shows that perceptions matter; apprehension plays a significant role in writing performance, including length and complexity of writing. Whilst no causality is proposed, students that are highly apprehensive about writing may be unlikely to seek out writing opportunities after graduation.

Keywords: apprehension, undergraduate writing, perceptions

Fleckenstein, Kristie S., Clay Spinuzzi, Rebecca J. Rickly, Carole Clark Papper. 2008. “The Importance of Harmony: An Ecological Metaphor for Writing Research.” College Composition and Communication 60, no. 2 (December): 388 – 419.

Perhaps an unconventional choice for this list, Fleckenstein et al do not design or conduct a study but instead offer an ecological theory for research design. The authors call for research studies designed in ways that treat as a feature rather than a bug the four rhetorical principles of possibility, kairos, to prepon (decorum), and rigor. Grounded in theories of writing’s complexity, these principles, when considered in relation to research design, aim to remain wedded to the genuine complexity of the subject while resisting simplification. Though there are no findings in this article per se, which itself is about research design rather than an example of it, Fleckenstein et al conclude that design considerations such as scope, permeability, and the researcher in relation to the study help remain calibrated to an “ecological orientation,” which “invites the researcher to define a research project by means of the relationships — the networks — feeding into a particular phenomenon, a process that harmonizes with an [understanding of writing as ecological]” (398). 

Keywords: methodology, rhetorical ecology, research design

Freedman, Aviva and Christine Adam. 1996. “Learning to Write Professionally: ‘Situated Learning’ and the Transition from University to Professional Discourse.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 10, no. 4 (October): 395-427. https://doi.org/10.1177/1050651996010004001

This qualitative, naturalistic study differentiates seven graduate student interns’ processes of learning to write in the workplace from three undergraduate students’ processes of learning to write in undergraduate courses. Freedman and Adams’ analysis of interview transcripts, student writing, and field notes from classroom and workplace observations, reveal four key differences between university and workplace contexts: the goals of writing, roles of guide-learner, evaluation of writing, and sites of learning. Adapting theories of situated learning in their effort to account for these differences, Freedman and Adam argue that students learn to write in university contexts through facilitated performance, whereas interns learn to write in professional contexts through attenuated authentic participation. This study highlights that writers must learn new ways to learn genres as they move from the academy to the workplace.       

Keywords: situated learning, facilitated performance, attenuated authentic participation, internships, professional writing, genre learning

Gilsdorf, Jeanette W. 1986. “Executives’ and academics’ perceptions on the need for instruction in written persuasion.” The Journal of Business Communication 23, no. 4: 55-68.

This paper addresses the need to instruct pre-professional students in persuasive writing, concluding that although persuasive writing is frequently required professionally, it is not taught in schools. The authors surveyed executive professionals using a set of agree-disagree, Likert-type statements as well as two write in questions and demographics. One interesting finding is that academics were less likely to think persuasive writing is a skill required of entry-level employees.

Keywords: persuasion, pre-professional, surveys

Grabill, Jeff. 2014. “The Work of Rhetoric in the Common Places: An Essay on Rhetorical Methodology.” JAC 34, no. 1-2: 247 – 267.

Grabill argues for an expanded understanding of rhetoric, of what constitutes rhetoric proper, when approaching its study, including 1) far earlier examination of the conditions from which rhetoric emerge, 2) theorizing to help others make things, rather than describing existing rhetoric, and 3) moving from academic study to public practice. Grabill moves toward an “empirical, pragmatic, and collective” understanding of rhetoric as the object of study, which suggests the importance of studies on the mundane, the material, and the collaborative especially. Since this article is not about a quantitative or qualitative study, there are no key findings, but the rationale for including it here is that this article offers reason to consider, when designing research studies of writing transfer beyond the university, making the object of study, in addition to texts and processes, also collaborative practices, material environments, and writing habits and practices that at first do not seem central to the writing itself.

Keywords: methodology, the mundane, public practice

Greer, Christina M. 2018 “Scholarly Engagement With the Public: The Risks and Benefits of Engaging Outside of the Classroom.” Political Communication 35, no. 1: 150-153.

This is more of an advice article than a study, but does assess both risks and benefits of being a public intellectual in a way that I think can address writing as a citizen in other fields as well. For academics, sharing knowledge and expressing views in social media and in fora like op-eds carries benefits in the form of getting additional practice in writing and in surfacing important knowledge to a broader audience. Risks are primarily time management, according to this piece.

Keywords: social media, writing as a citizen

Hart Research Associates. 2015. Falling short?: College Learning and Career Success. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities. https://www.aacu.org/leap/public-opinion-research/2015-survey-falling-short/

This report connects assumptions made by students, educators, parents, and others about what’s most important to focus on in college for career preparation, with what employers say they want from new hires. Drawing on national surveys, one with college students and another with business leaders, this report highlights the educational outcomes most desired by employers and that employers deem critical for long-term success, not just initial employability. On the list of skills desired are the expected critical thinking, communication, and complex problem-solving, but employers also identified other broad learning proficiencies that cut across majors, such as ethical decision-making, and the opportunity to participate in applied learning projects as examples of learning outcomes that will be important to early- and mid-career success.            

Keywords: career success, employment-ready, educational outcomes, employer needs  

Hughes, Bradley, Paula Gillespie, and Harvey Kail. 2010. “What They Take With Them: Findings from the Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project.” Writing Center Journal, 30, no 2: 12-46.

The authors report their findings from the Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project (PWTARP), a cross-institutional study of 126 former writing tutors who graduated between the years 1980 and 2007. Through their open-ended survey, researchers discovered that tutor alumni, employed across a range of careers post-graduation, report that tutoring writing improved their analytical, relationship, and collaboration skills. While this study reframed the way the field situated writing center work—as impacting not only students but tutors too—administering a survey has limitations. As an indirect assessment of participants actual skills, this study (and other like it) can only get to the participants’ perceptions of what transfers and is not a direct assessment of any skills that participants report gaining from tutoring writing.

Keywords: Writing centers, tutoring, professionalization, longitudinal study, transfer, analytical skills, collaborative learning

Leijten, Marielle, Luuk Van Waes, Karen Schriver, and John R. Hayes. 2014. “Writing in the Workplace: Constructing Documents Using Multiple Digital Sources.” Journal of Writing Research 5, no. 3: 285–337. https://doi.org/10.17239/jowr-2014.05.03.3

Annotation 1: Using keystroke logging, onsite observations, and retrospective interviews in a detailed ethnographic case study, Leijten et al. (2014) succeed in illustrating how the composition of a project proposal in a Design Consulting agency in response to a government tender was characterized primarily by the reusing, repurposing, and refashioning of previously written texts from a variety of digital data bases. The ethnographic case study documents how a project manager with a background in business studies, but with no training in technical or professional writing, managed a variety of digital sources, interpersonal negotiations, and multiple distractions during an 8-hour composition process, divided into five sessions. The article offers (a) a useful description of the software(s) used for data collection, analysis, and visualization, (b) a detailed account of the writing process, (c) a revision of a previous writing process model in light of the observations from the ethnographic case study, and (d) suggestions for a spreading-activation model for search activities in professional writing.”

Keywords: refashioning and reusing, ethnographic case study, writing process model, spreading-activation model

Leydens, Jon A. 2008. “Novice and Insider Perspectives on Academic and Workplace Writing: Toward a Continuum of Rhetorical Awareness.” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 51, no. 3: 242-63. doi:10.1109/tpc.2008.2001249.

Annotation 1: The study focuses on insider perspectives of mining engineers in academic and industrial contexts at diverse career stages. Using a phenomenological approach, the primary data source was interviews with eight respondents, including instructors, students, and alumni. The research builds on Winsor (1996), and suggests an initial continuum of rhetorical awareness.

Annotation 2: Leydens studies engineering students and practitioners to measure their development of rhetorical awareness. Based on his findings, he develops a 4 stage continuum that highlights how rhetorical awareness shifts as writer perspectives, identities, and professional standing shift. His research participants include engineering students, instructors, clients, and alumni (all male) from one university and several workplaces, focused on observational field notes, participant interviews, and participant documents, along with three respondents. Leydens uses a phenomenological approach to his data analysis, which allowed him to bring the sources of data together to create a textual and structural description for each participant, concluding with an overall description as a composite. Leydens study highlights the impact of situation on rhetorical awareness–the more experienced, reflective engineers were the most rhetorically aware and able to use writing to act in their organizations and perform knowledge transformation.

Keywords: engineering communication, engineering profession, writer identity, professionalization

Lillis, Theresa and Scott, Mary. 2007. “Defining academic literacies research: issues of epistemology, ideology and strategy.” Journal of Applied Linguistics 4, no. 1: 5-32.

This is a conceptual paper discussing Academic Literacies as a field of enquiry with a transformative ideological stance and a critical ethnographic orientation. The Academic Literacies approach foregrounds the view of writing as a social practice, as ‘ideologically inscribed knowledge construction’ (p.12). Although higher education has traditionally been the main domain of Academic Literacies research, the latter is expanding to other contexts, with a particular focus on exploring the impact of power relations on writing, writer identity, the contested nature of writing conventions and alternative ways of knowledge making.            

Keywords: Academic Literacies, social practice, transformative.

Malone, Edward A. 2010. “Chrysler’s ‘Most Beautiful Engineer’: Lucille J. Pieti in the Pillory of Fame.” Technical Communication Quarterly 19, no. 2: 144-183.

Malone focuses on reclaiming the contributions of women writers in technical settings, where their contributions in the workplace and to the profession of technical communication are often silenced or obscured. In this article, he uses historical archival methods to recover Lucille Pieti’s contributions as an engineer and writer; while she was not obscured (as she was a public-facing communicator), her case reveals the ways her voice was controlled and silenced, eventually driving her from her career with Chrysler. Ultimately, while Malone’s study is a historical case study, it demonstrates the tensions between engineering professional practice and communication, and a once overt hierarchy that is now more subtle, but still impacts the professional work of women engineers and technical professionals.

Keywords: technical communication, gender, historical case study, women in engineering

McCarthy, Jacob E., Jeffrey T. Grabill, Willia Hart-Davidson, and Michael McLeod. 2011. “Content Management in the Workplace: Community, Context, and a New Way to Organize Writing.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 25, no. 4: 367–395. https://doi.org/10.1177/1050651911410943

McCarthy et al. (2011) observed four professionals in an administrative office in order to document how the implementation of a new content management system (CMS) would change the writers’ collaborative writing processes. Interviewing the writers both prior to and after the implementation of the new writing environment, observing the writers completing CMS-supported writing processes during which the writers had to think aloud, and analyzing both digital and printed sources the writers had used, the authors trace how the implementation of the new CMS helped as well as hindered the collaborative writing processes that the four writers completed. The article offers thick descriptions of how writers handled (1) tensions of hierarchy in professional writing, (2) multiple document versions in review work flows, (3) different source types (e.g., print and digital), and (4) the usage of metadata that would allow to integrate the writers’ contributions into an interconnected data base.”  

Keywords: content management system, collaborative writing, review and revision, hierarchy

Moore, Jessie L., & Anson, Chris. 2016. “Introduction.” In Chris Anson & Jessie L. Moore (Eds.), Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer (pp. 3-13). Perspectives on Writing. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. https://wac.colostate.edu/books/perspectives/ansonmoore/

The chapter synthesizes prevalent theories of transfer, or knowledge generalization, that inform current research on transfer of writing knowledge and practices. Drawing from The Elon Statement, Moore and Anson also note that prior knowledge can be an affordance or hindrance for writing transfer, individual dispositions inform transfer, and meta-cognition plays a critical role in writing transfer. Enabling practices that foster writing transfer include: “Constructing writing curricula and classes that focus on study of and practice with concepts that enable students to analyze expectations for writing and learning within specific contexts…; Asking students to engage in activities that foster the development of metacognitive awareness, including asking good questions about writing situations and developing heuristics for analyzing unfamiliar writing situations; and Explicitly modeling transfer-focused thinking and the application of metacognitive awareness as a conscious and explicit part of a process of learning” (p. 9). The chapter also lists working-principles-in-development that merit further research.

Keywords: Elon Statement, enabling practices

Parks, Steve, and Eli Goldblatt. 2000. “Writing beyond the Curriculum: Fostering New Collaborations in Literacy.” College English 62, no. 5: 584-606.

Parks and Goldblatt argue that writing programs should foster new alliances both within the walls of the university (inter- and cross-disciplinary) and beyond the university with schools and local non-profit organizations. They argue that forging these alliances is necessary to keeping literacy instruction and the humanities important in the wider opinions of the general public, and that it also better serves our students in the classroom and in their future lives as professionals and citizens. They provide a collaborative model based on an Institute at Temple University that brought together a number of diverse groups to enact a number of projects in the schools, community, and at the university. Parks and Goldblatt recognize the potential problems with Writing Across the Curriculum programs going beyond the curriculum (e.g., maintaining focus, gathering support, and building alliances), but ultimately believe this re-articulation and widening of the goals of a writing program to be more public/civic and connected with multiple communities is essential.        

Keywords: Writing Across the Curriculum, community, alliances, writing program administration 

Pigg, Stacey. 2014. “Emplacing Mobile Composing Habits: A Study of Academic Writing in Networked Social Spaces.” College Composition and Communication 66, no. 2: 250-275.

Pigg studied students’ composing habits in networked social spaces—specifically, a coffeehouse and an on-campus Technology Commons. Pigg’s methods for the study included participant-observations (videotaped) of twenty-one university student participants as they wrote in these semi-public places, and follow-up interviews with the student participants. The study demonstrates the ways students bring academic literacy habits to non-classroom locations. Her findings show “how composing habits grounded in the materiality of places can build persistence for learning in a mobile culture” (250).   

Keywords: mobile composing, location, place-based, public, emplaced

Prior, Paul, and Jody Shipka. 2003. “Chronotopic lamination: Tracing the contours of literate activity.” In Writing selves, writing societies: Research from activity perspectives edited by Charles Bazerman and David Russell, 180-238. Fort Collins: WAC Clearinghouse & Parlor Press.

This text examines the ways in which twenty-one academic writers orchestrate multiple streams of activity in order to make writing happen.  Drawing on Bakhtin’s conceptions of chronotope, Goffman’s notions of lamination and footings, Vygotsky / Leont’ev / Engestrom’s understandings of activity, and Bolter and Grusin’s framing of re-media-tion, Prior and Shipka develop a complex theoretical framework that allows them to understand the Environment Selecting and Structuring Practices (ESSPs) their interviewees engage in with and through the construction of text.  Prior and Shipka connect their findings to work on distributed cognition (Hutchins) and Soviet-era conceptions of sense and meaning (Volosinov). I realize that this submission is focused on academic writing, but the attention to complex, multimotivational construction of text provides, I think, a useful framework for tackling what goes on beyond the university. 

Keywords: CHAT; Footings  

Rai, Lucy and Lillis, Theresa. 2013. “’Getting it Write’ in social work: exploring the value of writing in academia to writing for professional practice.” Teaching in Higher Education 18, no. 4: 352-264.

This paper reports on a study of five social work graduates transitioning from academia to professional practice. It explores their learning transfer in terms of the learning experiences they found useful for developing their professional writing, as well as the connections between academic and professional writing. Overall the findings suggest that the graduates did not feel well prepared for professional social work writing. Although they appreciated the learning gained from preparing academic assignments, the transfer of this learning to professional writing was not straightforward.  

Keywords: Learning transfer, professional writing, social work.

Read, Sarah and Michael J. Michaud. 2015. “Writing about Writing and the Multimajor Professional Writing Course.” College Composition and Communication 66, no. 3: 427-457.

In this article, Read and Michaud identify Writing about Writing (WAW) pedagogy as “an opportunity to… teach students in MMPW courses not just how to write professional but also ‘about’ writing in professional contexts” (428). Because Read and Michaud focus their MMPW courses on “the literacy practices of professionals-who-write,” as opposed to “writing professionals” (430), their main concern is to develop courses that prepare students not only to recognize and apply generic conventions of workplace genres but also to be adept at recognizing and adapting to changing conventions and expectations of workplace writing. Read and Michaud employ a literature review of two existing pedagogical approaches and then offer two case studies focused on undergraduate students at their institution that describe how they have attempted to employ WAW in their MMPW courses. Read and Michaud conclude that their intentional use of WAW pedagogy and emphasis on teaching “generalized rhetorical strategies for meeting new and complex writing situations” (454) moves the MMPW course from “an instrumental course in business writing” to a course that instills in students “a flexible and adaptable writing subjectivity that sees each new writing task as a new opportunity for learning” (454).

Keywords: multimajor professional writing course; writing about writing; genre-based pedagogy; client-based pedagogy; transfer

Robertson, Liane, Kara Taczak, and Kathleen Blake Yancey. 2012. “Notes toward A Theory of Prior Knowledge and Its Role in College Composers’ Transfer of Knowledge and Practice.” Composition Forum 26. https://compositionforum.com/issue/26/prior-knowledge-transfer.php

Within the context of examining the role of prior knowledge in transfer of writing knowledge and practices, Robertson, Taczak, and Yancey introduce a typology of prior knowledge. When students engage in assemblage, they add new knowledge without integrating it with their prior knowledge. In contrast, when students see new knowledge and practices as distinct from their prior knowledge and revise their personal model or theory to integrate prior and new knowledge, they engage in remixing. This open-access article provides a helpful introduction to the significant role of prior knowledge in writing for new contexts and purposes.

Keywords: prior knowledge; transfer

Roozen, Kevin and Joe Erickson. 2017. Expanding Literate Landscapes: Persons, Practices, and Sociohistoric Perspectives of Disciplinary Development. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State UP.  https://ccdigitalpress.org/expanding

This book includes several different articles Kevin Roozen has published over the years, all of them tracking the complex interplay of literacies inside and outside of school over time; there are accounts of the interplay between fanfic and English studies, between math, improv, and student teaching, between poetry, journalism, and standup, and between a career as a nurse, religious devotional writing, and science fiction.  The book includes a series of case studies, informed by the idea of “mediated discourse theory.” The basic finding is, in essence, that the ostensibly distinct strands of our lives are constantly informing and giving meaning to each other.

Keywords: case study; mediated discourse theory

Roozen, Kevin. 2009. “From Journals to Journalism: Tracing Trajectories of Literate Development.” College Composition and Communication 60, no. 3: 541–72.

This piece, which draws on a case study of Angelica Herrera, links the student’s experience with journaling to her learning through college and eventual career path of journalism. Angelica’s private writing includes prose, poetry, song lyrics, journal entries, and more. This study draws on those writings and text-based interviews to explore ways that Angelica’s journaling practices “textured” the writing she did for school and work. Its goal is to highlight the way that “leading a literate life” requires navigating one’s interrelated public and private literate practices.

Keywords: journaling, private writing, journalism, case study

Roozen, Kevin. 2008. “Journalism, Poetry, Stand-Up Comedy, and Academic Literacy: Mapping the Interplay of Curricular and Extracurricular Literate Activities.” Journal of Basic Writing 21, no. 1: 5-34.

Kevin Roozen (2008) studies the literate development of Charles, an African American undergraduate enrolled in a basic writing class and also a published writer, stand-up comedian, and spoken word poet. Roozen focuses on how Charles’s extracurricular literate activities informed his academic course work, specifically Charles’s goal of earning a journalism degree. Roozen’s longitudinal study of Charles draws on activity theory and culls data from textual analysis, observation, and semistrucured in-person interviews. Ultimately, Roozen argues that “extracurricular and curricular literate activities  . . . are so profoundly interconnected that it becomes difficult to see where one ends and others begin” (27).

Keywords: literate activity; activity theory; qualitative research; literacy; longitudinal

Rosinski, Paula. 2016. “Students’ perceptions of the transfer of rhetorical knowledge between digital self-sponsored writing and academic writing: The importance of authentic contexts and reflection.” In Critical transitions: Writing and the question of transfer, edited by Chris M. Anson & Jessie L. Moore, 247-271. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/books/ansonmoore/chapter9.pdf

This study aimed to answer two research questions about whether or not college students transfer rhetorical knowledge between their self-sponsored writing and academic writing and the possible role of reflection in that transfer. Through case-study interviews, Rosinski engaged 10 undergraduate students in discussions of their writing choices in the writing samples they selected. Rosinski found that while students didn’t seem to transfer rhetorical knowledge between their self-sponsored and academic writing, their reflection showed sophisticated rhetorical knowledge in the context of the first but weak knowledge in the context of the second. She concludes by inviting faculty to engage students in more reflective practices on their out of school writing and to tap into that knowledge to facilitate transfer to academic writing. 

Keywords: self-sponsored writing, reflection, transfer

Sharma, Ghanashyam. 2018, April 14. “Internationalising Writing in the STEM Disciplines.” Across the Disciplines 15, no. 1: 26-46. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/atd/internationalizing_wac/sharma2018.pdf.

The author highlights the need for STEM professionals to rely on a range of “sociolinguistic and rhetorical resources” to communicate their knowledge effectively and engage with professionals on a global platform. He draws attention to the fact that real communication in scientific circles is far from being merely straightforward, technical and unidimensional. He asserts through his grounded theory study involving interviews of five foreign-born, nonnative English-speaking faculty members (NNES) and five (NNES) of their graduate students, that transparency, simplicity, transience and universality should not be viewed as ‘givens’ in scientific writing. Instead he suggests that each scientific context is different and must be analyzed carefully for effective communication.      

Keywords: Writing as ‘doing’; Clarity as “accessibility’; Diversity of Perspectives in writing; Situate science in the world; complicate the idea of the ‘general public’

Shepherd, Ryan P. 2018. “Digital Writing, Multimodality, and Learning Transfer: Crafting Connections Between Composition and Online Composing.” Computers and Composition 48: 103-114.

Annotation 1: The purpose of this study was to explore the digital and multimodal writing experiences incoming first-year students bring to their writing classrooms and whether these experiences can be used to foster transfer between out of school and in school writing contexts. Shepherd collected national survey data from 151 first-year students and interviewed 10 of them. Findings of the study show that students didn’t see similarities between their digital and multimodal writing practices out of school and their academic writing, which led Shepherd to suggest ways teachers can use to help students make explicit connections between their writing in both contexts in order to facilitate transfer.

Annotation 2: Building on his prior research, Shepherd notes that although students often bring a great deal of experience with digital and/or multimodal composition into academic settings, they may struggle to see the connections between their extracurricular and academic writing. Through survey and interview research, he seeks to better understand students’ prior knowledge and perceptions of digital and multimodal composing as well as their understanding of the connections between this domain of writing and their academic writing. Shepherd distributed a survey to US and Canadian first-year composition students at the beginning of their first-year of college; he received 151 responses. From that group, he recruited 10 students representing a range of identities and educational backgrounds for follow-up interviews. The participants surveyed reported little transfer across domains, but in follow-up interviews, the majority of respondents ultimately did report seeing a connection between social media and college writing. He recommends that instructors, who may have more practice engaging in meta-awareness and high-road transfer, should coach students in redefining what “counts” as writing and in attempting to bridge their prior writing knowledge from digital contexts with the writing challenges they encounter in college.

Keywords: multimodality, composition, learning transfer, social media, prior knowledge, digital writing, multimodal writing, transfer

Soliday, Mary. Everyday genres: Writing assignments across the disciplines. SIU Press, 2011.

Soliday argues that genres “perform meaningful social actions” for writers/readers, shaping how a text is encountered and/or created. Through her study, Soliday documented how writers make choices about a text’s evidence as influenced by their understanding of genre. Soliday’s research included case studies of writers in several disciplines. Finding outline how pedagogical practices (such as scaffolding, clear and explicit prompts, and authentic writing assignments) assist students in developing writing proficiency and genre knowledge. Soliday’s research also finds that students had difficulty in taking a stance in their writing, for in order to become proficient, students must appropriate the ways of seeing and making meaning typical in a discipline, which also includes understanding of the genre that their writing performs.       

Keywords: genre, writing in the disciplines, writing pedagogy, writing across the curriculum 

Soerensen, Peter, Nikolaj Stegeager, and Reid Bates. “Applying a Danish version of the Learning Transfer System Inventory and testing it for different types of education.” International journal of training and development 21, no. 3 (2017): 177-194.

The purpose of this study was to explore the cross cultural application of the LTSI and see if it varies in suitability across different types of education. Survey data from 411 students following four different types of formal education – adult vocational training, academy profession programs, diploma programs and master’s degree programs – were analysed. Principal component analysis was used to answer research question one. Factorial ANOVA was used to answer question two. LTSI may be more suitable in measuring transfer systems and therefore promoting transfer in relation to short courses offering training in specific skills than in relation to long-term continuing education.

Keywords: Cross cultural, learning transfer system inventory, learning transfer, vocational training, education, workplace performance

Spartz, John M., and Ryan P. Weber. 2015. “Writing Entrepreneurs: A Survey of Attitudes, Habits, Skills, and Genres.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 29, no. 4: 428–55. doi:10.1177/1050651915588145.

The paper reports the results of an electronic survey on the writing skills valued by entrepreneurs, and the audiences entrepreneurs consider when writing. It also looked into the documents they write before starting and while operating a business. The population was 101 entrepreneurs in Wisconsin and North Alabama. The results point at the fact that writing and rhetorical skills are highly valued as entrepreneurs come across an extensive range of documents, and some special genres. 

Keywords: entrepreneurship, business writing genres, writing attitudes, survey research, entrepreneurship communication training

Spilka, Rachel. 1990. “Orality and Literacy in the Workplace: Process and Text-Based Strategies for Multiple-Audience Adaptation.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 4, no. 1: 44-67.

Spilka is interested in what role one-on-one interactions, which she defines as orality, play in the development of writing projects in workplace settings. To learn more about orality, Spilka designed an ethnographic case study of seven engineers in two firms. Findings suggest that engineers who were successful writers interacted with their audiences more and that the goals for this interaction shifted across time, orality being used primarily for information gathering at the start but then audience adherence as projects neared completion. The ability of expert writers to negotiate doesn’t fit neatly into Beaufort’s five domains of expertise and makes me wonder how writers learn to negotiate with audiences and how such knowledge transfers across contexts.

Keywords: Interaction, Orality, Workplace Writing

Thesen, Lucia, and Linda Cooper. 2013. Risk in Academic Writing: Postgraduate Students, Their Teachers and the Making of Knowledge. Multilingual Matters.

The edited collection is written from the perspective of non-western academics about the experiences of non-English writers. It brings to forefront issues for academic writing that are restrictive for novice writers which may not be immediately apparent for native English speakers, such as writing in a foreign language or having a set of templates for articles. It goes on to examine the effect of risk on young researchers.

Keywords: risk, PhD students, non-English writers

Winsor, Dorothy. 1996. Writing Like An Engineer: A Rhetorical Education. New York: Routledge.

Writing Like an Engineer looks at four engineering co-op students as they write at work across a span of five years. Primarily concerned with whether engineers see their writing as rhetorical or persuasive, the study attempts to describe the students’ changing understanding of what it is they do when they write. Winsor argues that two features of engineering practice have particular impact on the extent to which engineers recognize persuasion are identified: a reverence for data, and the hierarchical structure of the organizations in which engineering is most commonly done. Both of these features discourage an open recognition of persuasion.         

Keywords: Engineering, co-op, workplace, Academic writing

Yancey, Kathleen Blake, Kara Taczak, and Liane Robertson. 2014. Writing across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing. Logan: Utah State University Press.

Annotation 1: This research work explores the grounding theory behind a specific composition curriculum called Teaching for Transfer (TFT) and analyzes the efficacy of the approach. It seeks to provide a theoretical and practical road map to reflect on our own curriculum so that we are serving our students in ways that allow them to succeed in writing contexts across the university. The authors succeed in presenting three models of how students respond to and use new knowledge—assemblage, remix, and critical incident.

Annotation 2: Yancey, Robertson and Taczak’s book gives insight into the theory grounding the Teaching for Transfer (TFT) curriculum and explores the efficacy of this approach using a grounded qualitative research method. The authors offer a clear rationale for the key components of a TFT curriculum, highlighting the importance of content and reflection in such a curriculum. The authors engage the reader in an important discussion on students’ prior knowledge and its impact on the transfer of knowledge and practices of writing. The authors offer important recommendations for effective teaching for transfer.

Keywords: Teaching for Transfer, content, reflection, Writing Across Curriculum, WPAs, writing-in-the-disciplines

Yu, Han. 2010. “Bringing Workplace Assessment into Business Communication Classrooms: A Proposal to Better Prepare Students for Professional Workplaces.” Business Communication Quarterly 73, no. 1: 21-39.

Yu posits that business communication teachers “need to understand what kinds of assessment are valued in the workplace, what assessment methods are commonly used in professional workplaces, and what the purposes of these methods are” in order to “find out if there are common grounds between classrooms and workplaces” (22-23). Yu identifies five commonly used workplace assessments and compares them to classroom assessment practices, paying particular attention to the context and purpose of the assessments. Yu employed a literature review and a qualitative interview design using purposeful sampling and semistructured interviews with six professionals in range of workplaces. Yu concludes that when business communication teachers can introduce and expose students to typical workplace assessments and model some of those assessments in the course, these discussions “may help students develop a more informed understanding” (37) of the expectations of workplace environments as well as “better connect workplace reality” (35) to classroom practices.

Keywords: workplace assessment; response; evaluation; performance reviews; peer review; self-assessment

How to cite this post:

Key Scholarship Identified by Writing Beyond the University Seminar Participants. 2019, August 14. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/key-scholarship-identified-by-writing-beyond-the-university-seminar-participants/