English Ph.D. Dissertations


Remediating the Professionalization of Doctoral Students in Rhetoric and Composition

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

David Border (Committee Member)


In the twenty-first century, advancements in technology continue to influence our understanding of literacy education. According to the National Council of Teachers of English, "[b]ecause technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies." Due to the literacy needs of students in the twenty-first century, graduate student professionalization (i.e. the process of acclimating graduate students to their roles as scholars and literacy educators) has become increasingly complex. To explore how graduate programs in the field of Rhetoric and Composition Studies prepare their students to be faculty members in a digital age, this dissertation examines how four doctoral programs throughout the United States are responding to the pedagogical and institutional demands for preparing technologically literate faculty.

Relying on six research questions, this dissertation provides a focused look at how graduate students are professionalized at various points in their programs ranging from coursework to dissertation work. Each of the four case studies triangulates a variety of quantitative and qualitative data (curricular materials, surveys, and interviews), which was gathered from graduate students, faculty advisors, and administrators. The data represented in this dissertation indicate how graduate students and faculty are finding a balance among traditional approaches to professionalization and more recent demands for integrating technology throughout graduate education. The findings suggest that faculty and graduate students need more encouragement to share the responsibility for technology integration throughout the graduate student professionalization process. Recommendations are provided at the conclusion of this dissertation for how doctoral programs can integrate technology more effectively in practice given the professional needs of students and faculty members. Given the findings of these case studies, the field of Rhetoric and Composition Studies can gather more insight about its approaches toward educating its emerging scholars and how those approaches are influenced by advancements in technology.