Stuart Ross Blythe

Conceptualizing the technologies of writing center practice

Stuart Ross Blythe

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1997; pp: 154
  • Advisor: Sullivan, Patricia
  • Source: DAI-A 58/12, p. 4633, Jun 1998
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); Education, Technology (0710); Education, Language and Literature (0279)
  • ProQuest Document Number: 736838281
  • ISBN: 0-591-70489-7
  • UMI Number: AAT 9818920

Abstract:

    This project addresses two questions: (1) To what extent might networked computer technologies affect existing writing center practices? and (2) How can one make informed choices about implementing such technologies? It addresses these two questions through a combination of theoretical inquiry and qualitative research. Specifically, instrumental and substantive theories of technology are implicated in current discussions of networked computers and writing center practice, and the project argues for the value of critical theory as an alternative theoretical framework that enables those who work in writing centers to critique networked computers while envisioning future uses and designs. Important principles for writing center instruction are defined, principles such as individualized instruction, negotiation and dialogue, and minimal risk. The project argues that those principles should be embodied in the computer technologies that writing centers adopt. In order to ensure that such principles may be embodied in technologies adapted for writing center instruction, a set of strategies for their critique and design are defined, a set of strategies that includes both diachronic (historical) and synchronic (contemporary) critiques. A number of principles for the development and adaptation of networked computers are also defined. Specifically, the project argues that design efforts must include a variety of voices, including those of students, tutors, teachers, and administrators. Many of those strategies and principles are illustrated in a study of Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL). This set of strategies and principles offers a theoretically informed set of guidelines for the implementation of networked computer technologies in writing centers in particular and for writing instruction in general. Therefore, the project should be of particular interest to writing center administrators and tutors who are using, or who are planning to incorporate, networked computers in their writing centers. It also should interest writing instructors and writing program administrators who view networked computers as an integral part of writing instruction.