Transfer and Faculty Writing Knowledge: An Activity Theory Analysis
Dirk, Kerry Jean
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The purpose of this study was to determine how faculty members\' previous writing experiences in a variety of activity systems shaped their current understanding of writing, as well as to analyze the ways in which this understanding manifests itself in the courses they teach. Using a survey, interviews, genre analysis, and class observations, I aimed to gain an understanding of the ways that faculty members across disciplines transferred and/or recontextualized their own disciplinary writing knowledge. Previous research on faculty writing knowledge is often limited to participants at universities with long-standing, formalized WAC programs. Through nine case-study analyses of faculty across disciplines, this study expands the scope of previous research by focusing on a more diverse set of faculty to contribute to our knowledge of how faculty members negotiate their own understanding of writing with their goals for student writing. The participants\' ability to transfer writing knowledge was largely determined by the way they understood their own processes of learning to write. Those who understood learning to writing from a social interactive perspective transferred rhetorical knowledge among activity systems, while faculty who understood learning to write from a text-based ideology relied on their knowledge of form, grammar and/or mechanics. Participants who shared a writer-based understanding, on the other hand, were resistant to the notion that writing can be taught. Though not entirely inclusive, these unique understandings of how writers develop manifest themselves in the ways disciplinary faculty include writing in their courses. This study demonstrates the nuanced and complex reasons for faculty choices in relation to student writing and encourages WAC/WID writing scholars to consider the complexities of faculty understandings of writing knowledge.
- Doctoral Dissertations