Research Projects

The CWCC conducts a variety of one-time and ongoing research projects in writing studies, composition studies, and writing across the curriculum.

  • “Whose Literacy Is It Anyway? Examining a First-Year Approach to Gaming Across Curricula.” By Jonathan Alexander (UCI) and Elizabeth Losh (UCSD).
    • What does a multi-disciplinary approach to gaming offer students, both in terms of their ability to think critically about games as games, but also in terms of their ability to reflect critically about complex contemporary communication practices and how different disciplines might use awareness of those literacy practices to build and communicate knowledge production? This essay profiles a first-year, year-long course sequence focused on a multi-disciplinary approach to computer gaming. The sequence, entitled “Computer Games as Art, Culture, and Technology,” was designed and taught at the University of California, Irvine, from 2006-2009.


  • “Pedagogical Memory: Writing, Mapping, Translating” in Writing Program Administration. By Susan C. Jarratt, Katherine Mack (UCI), Alexandra Sartor (UCSD), and Shevaun E. Watson (University of South Carolina).
    • This essay analyzes retrospective accounts of writing instruction gleaned from interviews with nearly a hundred juniors and seniors at UCI. Given the difficulties with tracking the “transfer” of knowledge in writing studies, the authors propose “pedagogical memory” as an alternative interpretive framework for making sense of students’ experiences with college writing across the undergraduate years. Gaps between program expectations for continuity and student accounts lead the authors to recommend helping students prepare to translate discourses about writing as they move from one academic site to another. Further, the study suggests the value of ongoing interview projects conducted by WPAs outside the strictures of institutionally mandated assessment. Such a practice would cultivate the habit of retrospection in students and generate more detailed understanding of the ways students make maps of their own learning.


  • “Transnational Identifications: Biliterate Writers in a First-Year Humanities Course” in the Journal of Second Language Writing. By Susan C. Jarratt (UCI), Elizabeth Losh (UCSD), and David Puente (UCI).
    • This essay presents the results of a study of first-year UCI students who report competence as speakers and writers of a language other than English. Data collected includes a language questionnaire administered to over a thousand students and, from a smaller sample, responses to focus group interviews, a research paper, and reflections on that paper drawn from a writer’s memo. Drawing on contrastive and critical rhetoric as well as transnational cultural theory, they sketch profiles of students with home languages of Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish, finding that the students’ transnational linguistic experiences and identifications inform in complex and significant ways their research and writing strategies, as well as their future educational goals.


  • “The ‘Write’ Context: Embedding Information Literacy” in the Journal of Information Fluency. By Jonathan Alexander, Cathy Palmer, and Kevin Rumminson (UCI).
    • Information literacy skills go hand in hand with other literacy skills, such as crafting arguments or producing robust textual and visual presentations. Because of the rich and complex contexts in which students find and work with different kinds of information, capturing the demonstration of specific information literacy skills is often a tricky task. This joint project between the Campus Writing Coordinator and UCI Libraries assesses the information literacy levels of incoming first-year students and what they learn after rudimentary instruction in library research. It also looks more closely at discipline-based writing to gauge how students situate information in their written work and employ it to do different tasks, such as persuade, contradict, or confirm, and suggests trajectories for future research.