The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) is the largest professional organization for researching and teaching composition and rhetoric. The CCCC Research Initiative provides funding for research proposals that are deemed to have the potential to contribute substantively to the field. It is highly competitive and the awards are prestigious, and I was delighted to receive this grant because it reinforces the importance of my work.
In the discipline of composition and rhetoric, considerable research and scholarship is devoted to writing pedagogy. Central to teaching writing is the three-way relationship between instructor, student, and students’ developing texts (typically, academic essays). Most experts in composition and rhetoric agree that instructors have the most influence on the intellectual growth of student writers during the revision process, beginning with comments on students’ paper. But the scholarship in the field has thus far focused primarily on the teacher’s perspective; researchers are only beginning to explore how students actually make use of teacher comments. This project investigates the student perspective at an institution that serves a highly diverse set of students. Through examination of student papers (both papers with comments and students’ revisions), interviews and demographics, this project makes use of grounded theory to document what happens in the mind of the student between receiving the teacher’s comment and revising the final draft, with the goal of improving the ways instructors comment on student work.
In addition to preparing papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals in my field (e.g., College Composition and Communication or College English), I plan to design workshops and resources for faculty at DePaul who use writing in their classrooms. The results of this project have the potential for helping faculty understand more fully what students make of their comments and what kinds of learning goes on as a result.