Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Cogie, Jane

Abstract

The National Writing Project (NWP) conducts four and five-week professional development summer workshops that K-16 expert teachers consistently praise as transformative. The central question posed in this dissertation focuses on whether the NWP workshop, based on a teachers-teaching-teachers design, could also serve as an effective professional development vehicle for transforming and preparing graduate student instructors (GSIs) to teach first-year composition. This question arises out of the need for knowledge-building graduate student preparation programs that keep pace with the increased demands of the first-year composition course and of the first-year composition students. Methods used to explore the feasibility of the NWP to prepare GSIs involve an analytic autoethnography and two survey research instruments. In the autoethnography, the researcher views the various processes experienced throughout the NWP workshop through the twin lenses of Transformation Learning (TL) theory and constructivist learning pedagogy. In the survey research, the researcher investigates the GSI participants' and local site directors' perceptions concerning the value and benefits of the NWP workshop to prepare GSIs for teaching writing. The researcher's analytic autoethnography reveals the transformative effects of the NWP experience on the teacher-frames of the researcher and of those peers attending the same NWP institute, while the surveys of the GSI participants and the local site directors reveal similarly positive effects of NWP pedagogy for preparing GSI for teaching writing. Based on these findings, combined with foundational support from the NWP meta-analysis of student writing outcomes of NWP participating teachers generated by the Local Sites Research Initiatives (LSRI), along with the independent Inverness Associates' studies focusing on the perceptions of teachers involved in the NWP's New-Teacher Initiative (NTI), the researcher recommends a pilot project involving a NWP designed pre-semester workshop for graduate student instructors prior to teaching first-year composition.

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