Symposium Recap: Session Highlights

Continuing our symposium recaps, we want to share a bit about every session. Writing Research Without Walls 2018 hosted presenters from various US institutions and programs like English, Rhetoric & Composition, Second Language Studies, and Engineering. Their contributions enriched our conversations about approaches to teaching and researching writing. The thematic relevance of these talks provided opportunities for scaffolding research initiatives and networking among presenters who shared common research interests. These brief recaps move in the order on the program.

  • Neil Baird and Bradley Dilger showed how the discourse-based interview is an insightful research technique for investigating writers’ tacit knowledge, a rich source of data for writing researchers. We found the techniques they shared about updating this research method for digital media helpful and up-to-date.
  • Jie Gao, presenting on behalf of a team at Purdue and Arizona, described the form and function of L2 writers’ citation practices in first year writing courses. Their emphasis on defining the rhetorical function of these citations allowed us to witness connections with pedagogical materials and source texts.
  • Eunjeong Park’s mixed-methods study of lexical bundles combined analysis using a learner corpus with interviews and intervention in an L2 writing course. Attendees valued the depth her research design provided.
  • Ashley J. Velázquez discussed her investigation of L1 and L2 students’ problem-based writing in a first year engineering program. The mismatch between pedagogical materials and faculty expectations about writing quality was an interesting takeaway.

  • John Gallagher, Nicole Turnipseed, John Yoritomo and Julie Zilles focused on integrating writing instruction into engineering and science at Illinois Urbana Champaign. We benefited from their design of instructional materials and assessment of writing in engineering and physics courses.
  • Tatiana Teslenko exposed the advantages and challenges embedded in collaboration among faculty in writing studies and engineering courses at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Attendees found her emphasis on mentoring international graduate students who are serving as writing fellows in WID courses very insightful.
  • Tamara Roose described her approach to shaping both her curriculum and pedagogy in response to the input of the Chinese international students in her ESL writing course. We loved the way she asked audience members to voice her students’ writing.

  • Mariam Al Mayar presented an interesting profile about the needs of the Afghani student population in US institutions. Her contribution was instrumental to clarifying the literacy experiences of these students while learning English as a foreign language in Afghanistan highlighting their challenges in transitioning to the US.
  • Estela Ene and Thomas Upton presented two studies. The first described their corpus-based move analysis of teacher-student chats in ESL online and hybrid classes. Their emphasis on the negotiation taking place between the teacher and students was eye opening. The second continued the conversation about teacher feedback by comparing between synchronous and asynchronous teacher e-feedback in ESL classes. Their findings about teacher feedback practices and students’ receptivity and interaction generated a lot of questions from the audience.
  • Negin H. Goodrich discussed the efficacy of applying a combination of two types of corrective feedback to promote accuracy of student texts in an international writing classroom. Her results show the benefits of integrating two types of feedback, which helped the audience reflect about the practices we use for assessing L2 writing.
  • Sweta Baniya, sharing a Purdue study of linked courses, introduced Adaptive Comparative Judgement as a method for holistic assessment of writing and comparison of various student work in a writing classroom. They presented alternatives for rubric-based methods and reflected on the groundwork needed to build criteria for assessments in linked courses.
  • Adriana Picoral’s presentation on native language identification was unique. She used computational methods to show how she constructed L1 background profiles from L2 writing. Her work inspired us as we think of the profiles of student writers we can create from the metadata accompanying corpus texts in Crow.
  • David O’Neil used corpus methods to investigate how fourteenth and fifteenth century alliterative poems were part of a continuous tradition dating back to the seventh century. His rigorous data coding methods of syntactic, prosodic, and rhetorical features were engaging and inspiring.

  • Alisha Karabinus and Lee Hibbard shared with us the results of a survey they conducted at Purdue in 2017 and 2018 to investigate student perceptions of pre-university writing instruction and experiences. The diverse profiles they constructed from their data will help first-year writing administrators design writing curricula and classes that cater for various needs.

  • Adam Steffanick shared the Vanderbilt University Writing Repository, repository of L2 student writer texts constructed by collaborations between libraries and second language researchers at Vanderbilt. Attendees compared their project to the methods we adopted in building the Crow corpus.

We found the conversations between writing researchers and engineering faculty particularly constructive given our interest in interdisciplinary collaboration and its usefulness for designing curricula, pedagogies, and teaching artifacts that help bridge between writing practices in academia and the industry. We’re grateful to all the presenters for sharing their work.