In the Winter 2014 and Fall 2014 semesters, I worked with Adrienne Jankens to research the impact of cross-sequence collaboration, student motivation, and engagement in ENG 1010 (Basic Writing) and 1020 (Intro to College Writing). Here is an abstract of the project:

Supporting Student Success through Collaboration and Social Motivation

This co-authored project collected data through two semesters of basic writing and first-year writing. This project uses field notes and students’ reflective writing to examine whether and how students valued collaboration between two composition courses. This project also evaluates the reflective argument – a genre of writing used to assess student learning programmatically – to determine whether and how it is useful to gauge students’ perceptions of a course focused on collaborative learning. This is currently under review for the journal Composition Forum.

Currently, I am working to develop two chapters of my dissertation titled “Self-Directed Learning and the Development of Self-Efficacy in Basic Writing” into articles for publication. Here’s a description of the study:

This dissertation examines and analyzes the work of two sections of basic writing over the course of one semester. I explore relevant research in writing studies, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology to build a framework within which to discuss pedagogical strategies implemented to support student’s self-directed learning behaviors in hopes to positively affect their efficacy beliefs. Through an analysis of students’ reflective assignments, I determined whether and how a pedagogy designed to address self-efficacy through asking students to think about their own self-directed learning objectives helped them to increase their self-efficacy as evidence through the language of their reflective writing assignments.

Analysis of the data suggests three major arguments: first, that while self-efficacy is a complex construct to identify and analyze qualitatively, it remains beneficial to continue to investigate ways in which to do it; second, that reflective writing when coupled with the prompting of students to develop and discuss learning objectives, yields a specific construct in student writing – multicausality – in which students break down their learning objectives into component parts that make the monitoring of their learning much more accessible and task-based; third, that identifying the task-based learning that students articulate throughout the course of a semester can lead teachers and researchers to see students’ own language as it relates to their perceptions of success in a writing classroom.

IN AY 13-14 and 14-15, I worked with a research group funded through the Wayne State Humanities Center. The group researched the development and implementation of a Learning Community/Peer Mentoring program specifically for freshman Composition here at WSU. The Composition Learning Community is now an official funded Learning Community at Wayne State University. I share this project with three other Lecturers here in WSU’s Composition program: Nicole Varty, Adrienne Jankens, and Jule Thomas.

HC talk 2015

Below is the original proposal highlighting this project: 

As composition scholars writing about students’ transfer of writing-related knowledge have noted, the transition into college and through general education courses is complex and fraught (i.e. Rounsaville, Goldberg, and Bawarshi).  While scholars seek teaching methods to support this transition, scholarship suggests that well-structured peer mentoring programs also provide support by increasing students’ development, achievement and persistence (Lenning and Ebbers). In order for these programs to be meaningful and sustainable, expectations of mentorship must be clearly delineated (Reid) and mentors must themselves receive training and support (Budge; Lenning and Ebbers).

For such programs to survive and thrive, they must be founded on a solid vision and set of expectations. The CWPA’s Framework for Student Success, which guides our pedagogical practice in Composition, is a valuable starting point for identifying how we articulate a vision for peer mentoring in Composition.

Our working group, a collaborative venture between instructors in the Composition sequence and the Writing Center at Wayne State University, is interested in the transition students make from basic writing (BW) to first year writing (FYW). Our investigation of the creation of a peer-mentoring-based learning community for BW and FYW students has grown in response to our need to better support students’ movement through the composition sequence. It is an investigation borne out of research in scholarship on peer mentoring, evaluation of similar local programs, and consideration of our local curricular context.

Drawing on the Framework for Student Success, we hope that through the development of a Composition-based peer mentoring program, we will support BW students’ engagement in composition and in the university more broadly, and FYW students’ sense of responsibility for their own learning and contributing to the learning of others. These ideals ground our inquiry-based development of this program.

As we move forward in researching and developing a peer mentoring program, one of our guiding questions has become: how does the Framework for Student Success in Postsecondary Writing help us develop a mission statement for a peer mentoring program founded upon collaborative engagement and responsibility?  The chapter we propose answers this question through a description of our local curricular context and a narrative account of the working group’s development of a mission statement for a Composition-based peer mentoring program at WSU. In using a narrative-based account, we respond to scholarship in composition that suggests that narrative is a valuable means of knowledge-making (hooks; Newkirk; Spigelman) and that teacher narratives contribute to our understanding of the development of meaningful pedagogy through reflexive inquiry (Gallagher, Gray, and Stenberg). In our description of the development of our mission statement,  we will also explore how collaborative writing serves as both an act of practical social construction and how our own practice of the Framework concepts will be applied when we help students develop mentoring relationships with each other.

Ultimately, we will demonstrate how through articulating our principles and mission we begin to develop a pilot peer mentoring program, guided in our pedagogical and administrative approaches by the Framework for Student Success.