From where they sit : stories of students making the transition from high school writing to college writing

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Date

2002-05

Authors

Cobb, Victoria Valentine

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Abstract

This dissertation reports the results of a year-long naturalistic study of students making the transition from high school writing to college writing. I spent one semester as a participant observer in two senior English classes at a rural high school in the Northeast. I followed nine students from these classes during their first semester at area colleges. Six of the nine were the focus of contextualized case studies presented in the dissertation. Data sources included interviews, student papers, teacher comments and materials, and class observations. Analysis of the data suggested that high school writing experiences influenced these students' understandings of college writing assignments and feedback as they entered new discourse communities. However, students at the same high school did not experience writing the same way. Their social identities within the high school influenced how students viewed themselves in relation to school and to writing and shaped their high school and college literacies. This research indicates that investigating college writing within a broader social and cultural context, such as that typically considered in studies of literacy, can viii yield insights not available when context is conceived of more narrowly. Knowing more about students' lives and literacies can help teachers and professors engage their students more fully in school literacy tasks.

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