Rhetorical Awareness of Student Writers at an HBCU: A Study of Reflective Responses in the Writing Center
The recent call for replicable, aggregable, and data-driven (RAD) research of writing center effectiveness motivated this study. In writing centers, the primary objective is to improve writers through one-to-one conversations. Improvement in writers, defined here in terms of rhetorical awareness, has proven difficult to measure. In this article, the authors describe how they developed a scale to measure rhetorical awareness, specifically purpose, genre, and audience awareness. Using both discourse and content analyses, they applied the scale to student responses on reflection forms collected over two semesters at an HBCU to see if rhetorical awareness might be observable and measurable. Although the responses of students who visited the center more than once within six months did not show changes in their rhetorical awareness, as the authors had hoped, the results seem to reveal more about the social context than individual students, suggesting that current-traditional pedagogy persists. Aggregating data with this methodology may open new lines of inquiry for researchers of writing and allow them to track trends in discourse on writing.