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This research study investigates the influence of two general education composition curricula on students' writing knowledge development, writing knowledge complexity, and concurrent writing knowledge transfer. This study uses case study methodology that employs reflective interviews and visual concept mapping to record and track what students in two different composition curricula report learning about writing and transferring to their writing tasks inside and outside of school. This project draws on four major threads of theory and scholarship: (1) research on composition curriculum from Writing Studies; (2) research on learning and writing transfer from Education, Educational Psychology, and Writing Studies; (3) research on learners' knowledge development from Education and Educational Psychology; and (4) research on visual concept mapping from Education and Writing Studies. Interested in students' ability to draw upon, use, and repurpose (Yancey et al. Contexts) their writing knowledge to accomplish writing tasks outside of the composition classroom, this study asks in what ways the composition curriculum students engage with can support or influence students' writing transfer. In order to answer the questions about if, and if so how, students were able to transfer their writing knowledge, this study first needed to answer what writing knowledge students were gaining in their composition course—as indexed through their definitions and self-selected key terms. Writing knowledge and writing knowledge complexity were analyzed from students' reflective interviews and their visual concept maps that they created. Students participated in three interviews over the duration of one semester. The first interview took place in the beginning of the term when they were first starting their composition course, the second interview took place in the middle of the term, and the third interview took place at the end of the term when students were wrapping up their composition course. Unique to this transfer research study is this project's interest in concurrent transfer. Not only is this study interested in how students transfer their writing knowledge they gain in their composition course to other contexts, but this study also asks if, and if so how, the writing knowledge students gain in other contexts influence their writing in their composition class. Using case study methodology and mixed methods, this dissertation project makes the following three claims: (1) The curricula used in this study did influence what students learned: students in the Expressivist Popular-Culture course reported increased understanding of writing as a therapeutic process of expressing themselves to others. Students in the adapted Teaching for Transfer course reported learning conceptual writing knowledge. (2) The curricula also influenced students' writing knowledge complexity. Students in the Expressivist Popular-Culture course reported established writing practices, but their writing knowledge complexity was low as their knowledge of writing was mostly tacit. Students in the adapted Teaching for Transfer course experienced changes in knowledge complexity as they remixed their prior learning with their new learning as the semester progressed. Their changing complexity reflected their development in the course. (3) Each one of the students who participated in this study reported concurrent transfer. More so, many of the participants reported transferring their writing knowledge they gained outside of their composition class into their composition class. However, the writing knowledge students transferred between contexts was at times influenced by their specific composition curriculum and it was not always efficacious.
Composition Curricula, Knowledge Development, Knowledge Transfer, Visual Concept Mapping, Writing Program Administration, Writing Transfer
Date of Defense
April 14, 2021.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Kathleen Blake Yancey, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Michael Neal, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Don Latham, University Representative; Kristie S. Fleckenstein, Committee Member; Jaclyn Fiscus-Cannaday, Committee Member; Deborah Coxwell-Teague, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Stark, K. (2021). Writer Development within and Outside the Composition Classroom: A Study of Concurrent Transfer. Retrieved from https://purl.lib.fsu.edu/diginole/2021_Summer_Stark_fsu_0071E_16497