Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dougherty, Jane


This dissertation project centers on student engagement inside the composition classroom. Through an in-depth synthesis on engagement in three major fields of engagement research—Rhetoric and Composition, Education, and Psychology (the three disciplines with the most database hits on engagement)—I discovered that engagement is used disparately in its literature, resulting in difficulty in its application inside the classroom. Due to this difficulty in applying engagement to the classroom, especially to the writing classroom, I conducted a discourse analysis—through using artifacts, an initial coding scheme, and a category provided from the synthesis—to further understand engagement and to find a more beneficial characterization of engagement for writing instructors to foster inside their classrooms. The findings of this dissertation study resulted in the creation of a model of how the engagement process manifests inside a classroom environment. Within the classroom, the instructor guides students between procedural and substantive engagement, using action terms found from the discourse analysis. While instructors seek substantive engagement, I argue that procedural engagement can be beneficial if instructors and students learn to be metacognitive about the engagement process, willing to work together and to try new actions to foster engagement in the classroom (instructors) and in themselves (students).




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