English Ph.D. Dissertations


Adapting Writing Transfer for Online Writing Courses: Instructor Practices and Student Perceptions

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English (Rhetoric and Writing)

First Advisor

Neil Baird (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Jesse G. Neal (Other)

Third Advisor

Daniel Bommarito (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Scott Warnock (Committee Member)


With almost no exceptions, scholarship on writing transfer has been situated in face-to-face writing courses; any unique affordances and challenges OWI has for writing transfer are largely unknown. This study addressed that unknown territory through a convergent mixed methods research design involving students and instructors of online first-year writing courses at BGSU. The student-focused portion of the study, examining how students’ perceptions of writing and themselves as writers developed during the course, involved a survey, given at the bookends of the Spring 2020 semester, and follow-up interviews with four of the survey participants. The faculty-focused portion involved a series of interviews supplemented with artifact collection in order to learn about how writing faculty practiced transfer-oriented pedagogy in online courses.

The student portion of the study revealed a complex response to OWI, certainly complicated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that had quickly dominated life in the Spring 2020 semester. While data suggested some changes to students’ perceptions about writing and writing transfer, the largest shifts occurred in response to questions about their perceptions of themselves as writers and their dispositions toward writing, with both negative and positive results. The faculty portion of the study revealed that faculty, though varied in their approaches toward adapting pedagogy for online courses, included dispositional development within their teaching goals and philosophies and responded, in their varied pedagogies, to the lack of immediacy that characterizes online learning.

The alignment of dispositional goals named by faculty and the attitudes toward writing and learning reported by students suggests that OWI may offer positive development of certain learning dispositions toward writing transfer. This research suggests that writing instructors and program administrators should consider intentional alignment of dispositions with course goals and structures through the creation of dispositional statements. Furthermore, the benefit of asynchronicity suggests potential consideration for hybrid formats for face-to-face courses. Finally, this study identifies further research opportunities toward continuing to understand writing transfer in the context of OWI, including long-term effects on writing transfer and the role of dispositions in writing beyond college and in course and curriculum development.