Date of Award

5-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

McClure, Lisa

Abstract

One of the main expectations the university community has for First Year Composition (FYC) is that it will help students to become better writers and prepare them for the work they will do in subsequent courses, including writing in their own disciplines. In order for this to happen, students have to be able to transfer their knowledge. Because transfer does not happen automatically, it must be fostered in a way that encourages students to recognize and articulate what they have learned and are learning. Articulation of learning and of awareness of writing development moves students toward transfer, and reflection provides the means for students to address their learning. For students to learn how to transfer, we must teach for transfer, doing so in a way that promotes both transfer and their awareness of its possibility. Context-sensitive discourse analysis provides a glimpse at students’ perceptions of their writing development (a necessary component for transfer) as well as potential transfer and cues to trigger it. This research conducted at a small, private university in the Midwest collected reflective essays from first-year students; I coded the essays according to comments addressing what students’ papers show about them as students and writers, what revisions and changes they would want readers to notice, what they learned over the semester, what they said about their growth and its ongoing nature, etc. The students’ comments provide a glimpse at their awareness of the ongoing nature of their development and the places where the awareness of transfer emerges, which, by extension, can show us where we can intervene and work with students to promote transfer.

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