Subjects: Language arts, Rhetoric, Curriculum development
ProQuest Document Number: 1892309701
UMI Number: AAT 3378733
Transfer, or how much knowledge from one context applies in new contexts, is a longstanding issue for writing program administrators (WPAs), researchers, and teachers of writing. Work from within rhetoric and composition has provided ample evidence that students of all levels have difficulty with transferring writing knowledge including from course to course, field to field, and from the university to professional workplace contexts. Furthermore, research from the fields of education and psychology suggests that students’ attitudes can help or hinder successful learning transfer. This dissertation ties together theories of student attitude and motivation with transfer to investigate their connection through a mixed-methods inquiry. Data collected includes beginning and end of semester surveys of 155 students, interviews from eight instructors and 15 students, writing samples, class observations, and an analysis of course materials. Findings suggest that students’ attitudes about their future writing contexts and definitions of writing substantially contribute to their attitudes about transfer and their beliefs about the ability to transfer writing knowledge. Findings from the instructors suggest that while instructors say that transfer is a goal of their teaching, many do not use explicit transfer pedagogies. Furthermore, declines in the students’ beliefs about transfer occurred from the beginning to the end of the semester, suggesting that classrooms were not engaging in transfer pedagogies. The final chapter presents a model for transfer and describes ways in which instructors of writing and writing program administrators might better facilitate transfer. The chapter also presents the Pedagogy of Transfer, a series of suggestions for fostering positive student attitudes, expanding students’ definitions of writing, building bridges to future possible writing contexts, and bringing underlying attitudes and motivations to the forefront of the classroom. Included also is a discussion about methodologies for studying transfer and how to extend this work.