Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction: Principle 15

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OWI Principle 15: OWI/OWL administrators and teachers/tutors should be committed to ongoing research into their programs and courses as well as the very principles in this document.


Ahrenhoerster, Greg, and Jon Brammer. “What’s the Point of Your OWL? Online Tutoring at the University of Wisconsin Colleges.” The Writing Lab Newsletter, vol. 26, no. 2, 2002, pp. 1–5.

Ahrenhoerster and Brammer make the argument faculty overseeing OWLs should implement OWL services to add benefits for students rather than doing so to incorporate technology for technology’s sake. After surveying twenty students who used an OWL, they found that half of the students expressed satisfaction with their online peer tutoring services, and all those who were satisfied were in their second semester of writing classes. Final grades of those students surveyed suggested that all students benefit from online peer tutoring services, regardless of satisfaction. Based on their admittedly small study, Ahrenhoerster and Brammer restructured their program to include more individualization in tutor response to provide more assistance at the sentence level, a change that many first-year students recommended in the survey. While this study has an admittedly small sample size, it does provide OWL administrators with a model of how to use student feedback to help revise OWL services to meet online student needs.

Keywords: online writing labs, surveys, student satisfaction

OWI Principles: 13, 15

Alexander, Jonathan, and William P. Banks. “Sexualities, Technologies, and the Teaching of Writing: A Critical Overview.” Computers and Composition, vol. 21, no. 3, Sept. 2004, pp. 273–93. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2004.05.005.

This introductory piece for the special edition of Computers and Composition on Sexuality, Technologies, and the Teaching of Writing provides a literature review of the scholarship on this topic and a call for additional research in this area. Alexander and Banks write that “both sexuality and technology studies are concerned with the intertwined issues of space and identity” (274). As such, this introduction makes a case for the need for research to address a variety of sexualities, including LGBTQ issues and heterosexuality alike. While primarily focused on technology-enhanced classrooms, Alexander and Banks make a case for also studying how sexuality intersects or impacts the online classroom as well as the face-to-face classroom. This article provides a history of the intersectional work on sexuality, technology, and the teaching of writing and is valuable for the online writing instructor or scholar researching how gender has or has not been addressed in the online writing classroom.

Keywords: sexuality, LGBTQ, gender, accessibility, intersectionality

OWI Principles: 1, 15

Anderson, Bill. “Writing Power into Online Discussion.” Computers and Composition, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 108-24. 10.1016/j.compcom.2005.12.007.

Anderson explores how power manifests in student discourse in distance learning environments. After establishing a theoretical framework that includes a literature review of research related to gender, race, and political space, Anderson considers both individual, group, and external elements that influence how students engage in asynchronous work. Myriad factors such as “demands from and interests in an instructor-learner relationship, an educational institution, a family, friends, a workplace, and community organizations” dictate how students engage in online writing spaces. He interviews twenty-five full-time students enrolled in a teacher-education course regarding their experiences engaging in online discussions and in online classes. Students identified power dynamics in the choices they made of whether or not to read class materials and whether to post initial discussion board posts and follow-up discussion posts or not. The primary constraints bearing upon students were time and technology issues.  Anderson urges awareness for these constraints and suggests that instructors can “ensure that interaction in online learning communities is enabling for the learning of all students, not just some” if they are attentive to power dynamics.

Keywords: agency, power, asynchronous interaction, discussion: English, interviews

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 15

Anderson, Dana. “Interfacing E-mail Tutoring: Shaping an Emergent Literate Practice.” Computers and Composition, vol. 19, no. 1, 2002, pp. 71–87. Science Direct, 10.1016/S8755-4615(02)00081-6

Anderson argues that the new literacy practices of email “invite—perhaps even require—new literate behaviors, behaviors that, in turn, invoke correspondingly new conceptions of literacy in the writing center” (72). Anderson demonstrates ways in which the new interfaces require different types of literacies and then analyzes the e-mail interface of twenty-one online writing labs (OWLs) to understand how the interface shapes students’ expectations experiences in this medium. The language of the OWL sites indicates specific parameters about the type of student and the type of writing acceptable for the OWL. These limitations, Anderson argues, shape a writer’s goals and expectations about the OWL. Faculty administering OWLs should, therefore, design e-mail portals to reflect the goals of their overall writing center literacy practices. Anderson concludes by introducing language that distinguishes “between first- and second-level representations within OWL email tutoring interfaces (83). She hopes that introducing such language will start a conversation about how OWLs integrate theory and language with literacy practices.

Keywords: literacy, online writing lab, interface, tutoring: English

OWI Principles:  13, 14, 15

Anderson-Inman, Lynne. “OWLs: Online Writing Labs.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 40, no. 8, 1997, 650–54.

Anderson-Inman traces what resources Online Writing Labs (OWLs) offered students and teachers in the late 1990’s. She creates a taxonomy for OWLs and categorizes them as providing “resource materials, online tutoring, and information gateways.” For each category, she lists examples of institutions that are utilizing each type and highlights what they offer students. Research material types provide students with sources for teachers, students, and tutors alike; they range from grammar handouts to handbooks for writers. Online tutoring types offer wider accessibility to students who can’t make it to campus; it can provide “synchronous” one-on-one tutor to student help or it can be used as a “grammar hotline” or email feedback service. Information gateway types serve as a means of guiding students to helpful resources that are housed outside of the OWL on the Internet and lead students to helpful grammatical or punctuation information. The author encourages these online mediums as a means of increasing access for online writing students to on-campus resources.

Key words: online writing labs, writing resources, tutoring: English,

OWI Principles: 1, 14, 15

Anson, Chris M. “Distant Voices: Teaching Writing in a Culture of Technology.” College English, vol.  61, no. 3, 1999, pp. 261–80.

Anson discusses two ways that “teaching and responding to student writing are pressured by rapidly developing technologies:” 1) “virtual” interaction replacing face-to-face contact in classrooms and 2) the evolution of distance education (at this time, mostly through tele-education) (263). The author investigates the first topic by providing a brief background on how various programs in the 1980s and 1990s used computer-networks to expand writing classrooms and how doing so challenged more traditional notions of “physical and textual spaces” (264). The article proceeds through an overview of how interaction, assignment responses, and other communication are changing due to advancements in educational technology, using a “futuristic” hypothetical example of a student (Jennifer) who navigates the new kind of classroom, one that has, for the most part, come to pass with the increasing advent of new technology. Anson then traces the history of correspondence courses and how new technologies are transforming those classes into “distance education” courses which are more dynamic and robust. The article concludes with a list of questions that those engaged in writing studies should discuss in order to ensure that writing instructors and administrators are using technology in the service of students and the faculty who teach them..

Keywords: distance learning, interaction, correspondence courses, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15

Arduser, Lora et al. “The Need for Rules: Determining the Usability of Adding Audio to the MOO.” Computers and Composition, 28, 2011


Lora Arduser, Julie M. Davis, Robert Evans, Christine Hubbell, Deanna Mascle, Cheri Mullins, and Christopher J. Ryan describe how adding an audio component to a MOO impacts the user experience. Five students in the Online Technical Communication and Rhetoric Ph.D. program at Texas Tech University completed a series of tasks that simulated logging on to an online class and performing a series of tasks, such as pushing web pages to a display window, that could be completed using either audio or print instructions. The tests were designed to evaluate “whether a user solved problems with task completion by using text, audio, or a combination of the two and whether audio increased participation for some users” (61). Using a combination of think-aloud protocols, post-task questionnaires, and qualitative data on user participation, the researchers concluded that audio can improve the learning environment and increasing social connections. The article provides additional qualitative and quantitative data from the participants before concluding that several issues contributed to successful implementation of audio into online classes: 1) managing multiple channels of conversation, 2) learning and managing audio technology, 3) modeling behavior and instructor leadership, 4) the desire to relate, and 5) the establishment of rules. This article both demonstrates an effective protocol for usability testing and provides support for using audio and other multimodal means to connect with and engage students with online courses and online task completion.


Keywords: usability testing, synchronous interaction, qualitative research, quantitative research, multimedia, MOO


OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 15

Barber, John F. “Effective Teaching in the Online Classroom: Thoughts and Recommendations.” The Online Writing Classroom, edited by Susanmarie Harrington et al., Cresskill, 2000, pp. 243–64.

Barber argues that the online writing classroom offers a new opportunity for learning centered around collaboration, but online writing teachers moving from a face-to-face classroom to an online classroom will need “planning, preparation and practice different or more extensive than what is required in the traditional classroom” (245). Basing his conclusions on an ethnographic study of 17 online students in a doctoral seminar that investigated the implementation of computer technology in the classroom. Because interaction is primarily through writing, miscommunication can occur when writers reply without carefully considering the other person’s position. As communication continues, the online writing course becomes Bakhtinian “heteroglossia” (250), which can lead to a sense of detachment from other learners. Added to these challenges are the perception that learning is lost in the online space, participation may not be consistent, and learning paradigms shift as silent students seem to not be present.  Barber concludes that while these tensions and challenges exist, the online writing classroom is beneficial in making online faculty rethink their pedagogy, challenging them to plan ahead, requiring them to have alternative plans, and allows them to provide hands-on training in writing instruction for graduate students. Barber challenges faculty to model effective participation, to provide channels in which to work productively in collaborative settings, and to allow students enough time to engage fully in the class. This chapter identifies the key benefits of online writing classrooms and provides a set of working recommendations for writing faculty considering or undergoing the shift from face-to-face to online teaching.

Keywords: collaboration, ethnography, pedagogy: English, student engagement

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 5, 15

Blakelock, Jane, and Tracy E. Smith. “Distance Learning: From Multiple Snapshots, A Composite Portrait.” Computers and Composition, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 139-61. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2005.12.008.

Blakelock and Smith trace important institutional attitudes and labor practices that contributed to the state of distance learning in 2005. Their findings are based on a survey they distributed to a diverse array of intuitional types.  They also followed-up with participants to ask personal interview questions and compared their findings to previous national studies on the subject. In their discussion, they point out several patterns and trends that relate to actual—not theoretical—distance learning practices that teachers and students are exposed to in writing classrooms.  They are also attentive to administrative treatment of distance learning. They pay particular attention to the misconceptions that distance learning is often embroiled in and how those do or do not play out in writing classrooms. Further, they offer a logistical breakdown of course caps, the teachers, and the technologies used for distance learning. Their conclusions suggest that 1) fears and myths about distance learning are often not realized, 2) while circumstances for online teachers are improving, rising course caps remain a concern for students’ educational quality and instructors’ labor conditions, 3) technical help must remain constant for teachers, 4) “incentives and compensation need to be more commensurate with workload” (159), 5) we need to conduct formal research on assessment of online writing courses, and 6) we must continue to encourage quality online courses departmentally and as a field.

Keywords: academic labor, pedagogy: English, composition, faculty workload, distance learning, surveys, interviews, course caps

OWI Principles: 7, 8, 9, 15

Bourelle, Tiffany et al. “Assessing Learning in Redesigned Online First-Year Composition Courses” Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation, edited by Heidi McKee and Danielle DeVoss. Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State Press, 2013.


Tiffany Bourelle, Sherry Rankins-Robertson, Andrew Bourelle, and Duane Roen describe a model of online course delivery that was developed in response to budget cuts at Arizona State University. The authors created the Writer’s Studio, a first-year writing curriculum focused on “post-process pedagogy, learner-centered pedagogy, multimodal instruction, and eportfolios that showcase[d] self-assessment in response to the course learning outcomes.” The Writer’s Studio utilizes coordinators (non-tenured, full-time faculty), instructors (part-time, contingent faculty), and instructional assistants (upper-level English majors and graduate assistants) to deliver pre-designed course content and both “facilitate instruction and provide feedback.”  All aspects of the course design and delivery were collaborative and learner-centered. Designers used the Quality MattersTM rubric to ensure effective course design, and learners were introduced to their courses and facilitators through video introductions. Classes used the WPA Outcomes Statement and the “Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing” to develop course learning outcomes, and instruction in the class was multimodal. The article provides examples of instructional videos, multimedia learning objects, and portfolio prompts and sample responses. Finally, the authors share their portfolio assessment scores and how they used those scores to revise and improve the Writer’s Studio. This article provides a sound, research-based and learner-centered model of how large-scale first-year writing courses and programs can use research-based and professional standards to respond to budget fluctuations while simultaneously remaining engaging and learner-centered.


Keywords: learner-centered, Quality MattersTM, collaboration, contingent faculty, multimodal, video: English, writing program administration, pre-designed courses, portfolios


OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15


Bourelle, Tiffany, Andrew Bourelle, and Sherry Rankins-Robertson. “Employing a Multiliteracies Pedagogy through Multimodal Composition: Preparing Twenty-first Century Writers.” Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2013.


In this webtext, the authors argue for preparing 21st century writers by challenging them to create multimodal rhetorical texts, using the scholarship of the New London Group to argue that teachers “consider not only how technology can have a significant impact on students’ understanding of rhetorical concepts, but also how technology can impact curriculum design as well.” The remainder of the article demonstrates their English 105 classroom where they use multimodal composition and multimodal content to shape a classroom around Picciano’s “Blending with a Purpose” model of online course design. Their curriculum description includes an overview of the content, student interaction, critical questioning, collaboration, synthesis, and reflection in their class. Their assessment of the course includes anecdotal student feedback about the courses, and their conclusion identifies steps that instructors can take to begin incorporating multimodality into their classes. This article describes the same course structure the authors developed for Arizona State University (see Bourelle et al. 2013 for a more thorough discussion of this online class).


Keywords: multimodal, writing program administration, learning management systems, video: English, collaboration, student-to-student interaction, student engagement, assessment


OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 15


Bourelle, Tiffany, et al. “Teaching with Instructional Assistants: Enhancing Student Learning in Online Classes.” Computers and Composition, vol. 37, Sept. 2015, pp. 90-103. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2015.06.007.

This article describes a pilot program undertaken at Arizona State University wherein undergraduate peer mentors, called “instructional assistants (IAs),” were incorporated into online first-year composition courses in order to “enhance students’ experiences and reduce instructors’ workload” (91) despite a rising student-to-teacher ratio. The authors describe the hiring and the ongoing training of the IAs, which included an orientation, a “portfolio workshop,” bi-weekly meetings with the course instructor, and an in-service practicum. IAs were each assigned a cohort of up to 15 students to work with under the supervision of a first-year composition instructor who had up to 96 total students in a “mega-section” of the course, and IA responsibilities included facilitating online discussions, responding to student drafts, and managing students’ peer reviewing of each other’s work. The authors conclude by discussing the success and subsequent growth of the program, suggesting that other institutions consider a similar program for its pedagogical advantages rather than its money-saving benefits. They additionally question the potential ethical issue of using unpaid undergraduate interns and recommend that care be taken to ensure such an internship is pedagogically sound and beneficial to the interns’ future careers. This article is important because it offers an alternate model for effectively managing enrollment caps.

Keywords: internships, mentoring, teacher training, teaching assistants, workshop, course caps

OWI principles: 3, 4, 9, 10, 15

Boyd, Patricia Webb. “Analyzing Students’ Perceptions of Their Learning in Online and Hybrid First-Year Composition Courses.” Computers and Composition, vol. 25, no. 2, 2008, pp. 224-43. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2008.01.002.

Boyd discusses a study of online and hybrid first-year composition courses and student perceptions of how much they learned in each format. As a way to promote learner-centered education (LCE) in online and hybrid formats, Boyd developed a survey that studies students’ perceptions of their interactions with their peers, their instructor, and the technology, and the impact of each of these on what the students learned in the course. This survey was completed by 179 students in nineteen sections of hybrid and online first-year composition courses. The survey found that instructors must be intentional about online course design, and they should explain the purpose of assignments and how these connect to the learning objectives for the course. Such intentionality promotes LCE in online and hybrid environments. Additionally, instructors valued the interactions between students, but data suggests that while students liked interaction with peers, the instructor feedback was most important to them. Boyd suggests that instructor-to-student interactions promote LCE over student-to-student interactions, but both are vital to student success in the online/hybrid writing class. Additionally, by building a community of learners through online discussion, students become the immediate audience and support one another as co-constructors of knowledge.

Keywords: student perceptions, first-year composition, hybrid, interaction, student-to-student interaction, surveys

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Bozarth, Jane, Diane Chapman, and Laura LaMonica. “Preparing for Distance Learning: Designing an Online Student Orientation.” Journal of Educational Technology and Society, vol.  7, no. 1, 2004, pp. 87-106.

Bozarth, Chapman, and LaMonica describe their experience developing a one-credit-hour online orientation for students new to online learning. They discuss the differences between student and instructor expectation of what is needed in such an orientation based on feedback from an online questionnaire, which was developed to elicit feedback from both students and instructors about their perceptions of online learning. A focus group with online instructors identified key issues that they felt were prohibitive for students new to online learning. The authors identified instructor concerns as conflicting with student concerns. Where instructors focused on technology skills training, students pinpointed issues such as time management, realistic expectations, and communication. While students admitted they need preparation, they did not see a need for an orientation course. The authors suggest there is a need for an online orientation course for students new to the online environment, and suggest that there is a need for instructor training as well. The article outlines the differences between student and instructor expectations of what this orientation should contain.

Keywords: orientation, survey, faculty development, time management

OWI Principles: 10, 15

Braine, George. “A Study of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Writers on a Local Area Network (LAN) and in Traditional Classes.” Computers and Composition, vol. 18, no. 3, 2001, pp. 275-92. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(01)00056-1.

Braine studies the use of local-area networks (LANs) and their effect on the motivation of EFL learners. He explains how the LANs operate and provides examples of LAN conversations in a writing class for Cantonese-speaking students enrolled in English writing at a university in Hong Kong. Braine finds that the “quantity of writing and degree of interaction” make LANs attractive (279). After a review of literature related to students writing in LAN-based and traditional writing classes, Braine sets up this a study of eighty-seven undergraduates enrolled in a course titled “Effective Communication in Writing” (280) to determine if LAN classes improved writing. Experimental classes used the LAN to discuss the readings, provide feedback and conduct peer review. Control classes completed these same activities face-to-face and orally. The experimental classes did not show more improvement than the control classes, and Braine discusses the qualities of the LAN that might have led to the results, including an increased amount of written text that could have been overwhelming for EFL learners. He concludes that while LANs may produce more writing, they might not produce better writing.

Keywords: networked classrooms, empirical study, EFL

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 15

Brooks, Kevin, et al. “Remediation, Genre, and Motivation: Key Concepts for Teaching with Weblogs.” Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs, edited by Laura Gurak, et al.,  U of Minnesota P, 2004,

In an ongoing effort to motivate students by utilizing technology, Brooks et al. study weblogs or “blogs” as serious educational tools. By using familiar forms of writing such as journals, research notes, and notecards in an the electronic form of a blog, the authors sought to create a transformative learning experience for students.  These three instructors studied 165 students over two semesters in various writing courses. Students were given an initial survey and an exit survey to gauge results.  Findings indicated students overwhelming liked using the blog as a personal journal as a form of social, expressive communication.  This is likely because it is the most familiar form of writing to students.  Findings also suggested that using blogs as research notebook works well if the blog functions as part of a shared community space to.  The use of weblogs in general seemed to motivate the students to write for class and further engaged in their course.  The focus on student motivation and technology use for the production of education texts is valuable to OWI studies.

Keywords: blog, survey, research, community

OWI Principles:  3, 5, 15

Brunk-Chavez, Beth, and Shawn J. Miller. “Decentered, Disconnected, and Digitized: The Importance of Shared Space.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 2, 2006,

This pilot study supports the creation of a shared space in which students can create common or shared experiences for collaborative learning in an online setting. Students and instructors from three hybrid courses and three face-to-face courses responded to beginning- and end-of-course surveys.  While the findings are not generalizable, they suggest it is important to consciously design spaces that support true collaborative learning or learning that happens when knowledge is co-created simultaneously by participants and the teacher.  The tools of online learning and the course design must be critically examined to determine if true collaborative learning is taking place within a course.  Some technological tools may appear to be collaborative such as an online discussion board.  However, the way a tool is utilized determines if it is really forming a collaborative experience.  OWI benefits from careful examinations of the intersection of rhetorical online practices and the implementation of specific online tools.

Keywords: collaboration, course and program design: English, pedagogy: English, surveys

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Cargile Cook, Kelli, and Keith Grant-Davie, editors. Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers. Baywood, 2005.

This edited collection, published at a time when technical communication programs were shifting from using online technologies to putting classes fully online, is a primer for faculty to understand how to create and plan online courses. The volume is organized around four questions: 1) “How do we create and sustain online programs and courses?”;  2) “How do we create interactive, pedagogically sound online courses and classroom communities?”; 3) “How should we monitor and assess the quality of online courses and programs?”; and 4) “How is online education challenging our assumptions?” This collection provides a look at the challenges of building, facilitating, and assessing online courses and is helpful for anyone wishing to reflect on and/or research the history of online writing classes and programs in technical writing but also across the disciplines.

Keywords: course and program design: English, technical and professional writing, instructional design, faculty development, course evaluation, program evaluation: English, online writing programs

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 15

Cargile Cook, Kelli, and Keith Grant-Davie, editors. Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication. Baywood, 2012.

The chapters in this collection were solicited ten years after those for the editors’ previous collection, Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers. Given the changes in online education over this decade, this collection focuses on how online writing instruction has changed, what online instructors have learned, and how online programs are sustained. Chapters are organized into three sections: 1) Evolving Programs and Faculty, 2) Adapting to Changing Student Needs and Abilities, and 3) Reinventing Course Contents and Materials. This collection provides insights into innovative instructional strategies, encourages experimentation with and critical reflection on technologies, and suggests that online instructors’ classrooms will thrive with continued training, mentorship, and practice in these environments.

Keywords: course and program design: English, technical and professional writing, instructional design, faculty development, course evaluation, program evaluation: English, mentorship, online writing programs

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15

Carlson, David A., and Eileen Apperson-Williams. “The Anxieties of Distance: Online Tutors Reflect.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, pp. 285-94.

Carlson and Apperson-Williams studied how online tutors negotiated the sterile territory of online tutoring sessions without the face-to-face contact and rapport building that on-campus tutoring provides. The authors review various methods of online tutoring, including email and chat features, and conclude that “tutors must readjust their conceptions of how to develop interpersonal relationships when tutoring online” (286-287). Interviews with online writing tutors revealed some of the anxiety that online writing tutors face when interacting with online students, including worries about appropriating student writing and building relationships with students. However, the interviews also highlighted what tutors see as beneficial in online tutoring--the ability to alleviate concerns about prejudice and focus on the student writing and the student’s approach to the text. The authors conclude that, as students become more familiar with online tutoring, their anxieties will lessen. This article demonstrates some of the basic concerns of transitioning tutors from face-to-face to online tutoring.

Keywords: tutoring: English, online writing center, email, interviews

OWI Principles: 10, 13, 14, 15

Carpenter, Trudy, William L. Brown, and Randall C. Hickman. “Influences of Online Delivery on Developmental Writing Outcomes.” Journal of Developmental Education, vol. 28, no.1, Fall 2004, pp. 14-35.

In this piece, Carpenter, Brown and Hickman provide data on urban Midwest community college students who took developmental writing online. They studied 265 students enrolled in a developmental writing class using logistical regression analysis to study student retention and student success (controlling for self-selection of modality and instructor effect) to determine whether instructional delivery (face-to-face vs. online) had a significant impact on student outcomes. Their analysis showed that while online courses had higher withdrawal rates than face-to-face courses, those students who remained in online courses saw higher success rates. Students with lower Accuplacer scores withdrew from online courses in greater numbers, and students with higher Accuplacer scores withdrew from face-to-face courses in higher numbers. Student scores in reading also inversely correlated with student withdrawal rates in both modalities.  Carpenter, Brown, and Hickman suggest that something about the online delivery method leads to greater success if the students actually complete the online developmental writing course and do not withdraw. he authors conclude by providing a table listing their findings and offering suggestions for pedagogical improvements for the developmental writing course.

Keywords: developmental writing, student success, retention, two-year college, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 4, 12, 15

Carter, Joyce Locke. “Texas Tech University’s Online PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric.” Programmatic Perspectives, vol. 5, no. 2, Fall 2013, pp. 243-68.

Carter first provides background on the department that houses the Online Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric, which Texas Tech has offered fully online since 2004. She then provides the history of the program in the context of Texas Tech, which has a “large engineering, agriculture and professional student population” (244). Next, the article establishes the reasoning of developing an online doctoral program that had all of the rigor of the traditional face-to-face residential program and highlights two particular challenges in moving the program online: the questions of “residency and culture” (247). To address both issues, the program designed a 2-week residency in May. The article also outlines the curriculum and lists the courses and the dissertations and publications that have come out of each of the program’s areas of specialty (Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology; Technical Communication; Rhetorics of Science and Healthcare; Technology, Culture, and Rhetoric; and Visual Rhetoric, New Media, and User-Centered Design) (249). The showcase ends with sections that outline how the program is innovative, the facilities and faculty involved in the program, and professional challenges involved with continuing and building the program. This program showcase provides a template for how to develop, sustain, and build a rigorous online graduate program.

Keywords: program evaluation: English, technical and professional writing, online writing programs

OWI Principles: 15

Carter, Lorraine M., and Ellen Rukholm. “A Study of Critical Thinking, Teacher–Student Interaction, and Discipline-Specific Writing in an Online Educational Setting for Registered Nurses.” The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, vol. 39, no. 3, 2008, pp. 133-38.

In their qualitative study, Carter and Rukholm analyze student writing activity in an online course for evidence of critical thinking. Their findings suggest that high levels of critical thinking by nurse learners can be developed in an online setting. They looked at two bulletin board posts, using John’s Model of Structured Reflection (1995) to identify four different kinds of thinking: 1) aesthetic, 2) personal, 3) ethical, and 4) empirical.  They also examine student-teacher interactions and discipline-specific writing. They offer no comparison to onsite instruction and no argument that online is better or different, only that online instruction can be successful in teaching critical thinking.

Keywords: WID, discussion: WAC qualitative research
OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Chan, Mei Yuit, and Ngee Thai Yap. “Encouraging Participation in Public Discourse through Online Writing in ESL Instruction.” The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, vol. 16, no. 2, 2010, pp. 115-39.

Chan and Yap identify challenges to ESL students when instructors construct projects that involve socially-driven writing and engagement in civic awareness in online settings. In particular, the authors indicate two specific challenges that face ESL learners as they encounter public writing tasks in online classrooms: 1) ESL students must be familiar with English and comfortable writing in English, and 2) some ESL students are not comfortable communicating in the public sphere (119-120). The authors’ study “examined the extent to which the use of an online discussion board as part of a university ESL writing course requirement served to encourage ESL student towards participation in public discourse” (121). The online students (n=1400) were required to write at least 200 word discussion board posts over the course of a ten week online writing class. The students were then surveyed to “identify their perceptions on their English writing skills development, their confidence to write in public in English, the effect of audience on their writing, the value they place on participation in online discussion, and reasons for their intention to participate or not participate in future online discussions” (124). Survey results indicated that online ESL students appreciated the value of online forums, and the researchers concluded that online writing for ESL students was valuable and that “ESL writing instruction harness the benefits of public writing, and . . . contribute to the empowerment of students to enter into public discourse in the global community” (135). This research demonstrates the need for online writing faculty to engage ESL in online discussion activities in order to both build their English skills and their confidence in writing to real-world audiences.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, surveys, agency

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11, 15

Chandler, Sally W. et al. “On the Bright Side of the Screen: Material-World Interactions Surrounding the Socialization of Outsiders to Digital Spaces.” Computers and Composition, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 346-64. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2007.05.007.

Sally Chandler, Joshua Burnett and Jacklyn Lopez contribute to research that examines how “outsiders” resist Internet discourses shaped by a western perspective. Their ethnographic case study explores how those outside of discourse communities enter those communities. First, they provide a history of research on how individuals acclimated to new communities. They then investigate “how mindset differences affect teaching and learning when students and teachers are from different digital generations” (350).  The study extends strategies used by gamers to initiate an “outsider” named Sally, a digital immigrant, into the world of gaming. The authors provide concrete examples of the discourse that surrounded Sally’s acclimation to the gaming culture, suggesting that these strategies can be used by instructors to help students who are “cultural outsiders” engage in classrooms and writing centers. In particular, the authors recommend that online writing instructors and online peer tutors, “help students to seek out, create, and enhance effective support” by “emphasizing the importance of self-directed, peer-supported learning, validating learners’ needs to connect to learning practices they bring to the new community, acknowledging the difficulty and importance of making shifts in mindsets, and alerting students to the discomfort and frustration they may encounter” (362-363). This article provides a set of strategies for bridging the gaps between the language and learning strategies that novice writers use in online worlds and the language and learning strategies that will help them be successful in the online writing classroom.

Keywords: tutoring: English, gamification, online writing centers, ethnography

OWI Principles: 1, 11, 13, 14, 15

Chen, M.-H., et al. “Developing a Corpus-Based Paraphrase Tool to Improve EFL Learners’ Writing Skills.” Computer Assisted Language Learning, vol. 28, no. 1, 2015, pp. 22-40.

Because EFL learners do not have adequate resources for learning paraphrasing concepts, Chen et al. developed a program, PREFER, that offers a “corpus-based paraphrasing assistance.” In this article, they report the results of EFL learners’ experiences (n=55) with the tool.  The program utilizes “multi-word input” to generate “a list of paraphrases in English and Chinese” and produces examples of sentence variations students can model in their own writing. The authors claim that the program is effective after comparing students’ written performances against those who used the program and those who used an online dictionary or thesaurus.

Key words: EFL, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 6, 15

Choi, Jessie. “Online Peer Discourse in a Writing Classroom.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, vol. 26, no. 2, 2014, pp. 217-31,

Choi outlines a study that addressed three research questions: “1) What types of online discourse appeared in the peer review process of a writing classroom with Hong Kong ESL undergraduates? 2) What is the role of explicit instructions and training for producing quality online peer discourse? and 3) What are the important elements that facilitate the production of quality online peer discourse?” (220). Participants in the study (n=27) were students in a Bachelor of Education program in Early Childhood Education in Hong Kong. Students participated in a writing assignment on a Blackboard wiki and were then asked to peer-review the content of their peers’ drafts both before and after they received specific instruction in the peer review process. The researcher then did content analysis to analyze whether students “showed a greater awareness of making quality comments than they did prior to taking the training and instructions on peer review” (221). Results indicated that students benefited from explicit peer review training, from evaluating their peer reviews, and from careful organization of groups. This study helps both blended and online instructors understand how to better facilitate peer review groups who work collaboratively online.

Keywords: peer review, collaboration, ELL, ESL, multilingual Writers, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Clerehan, Rosemary. “Framing Writing Support Online for an International Student Population.” Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, vol. 1, no. 3, 2006, pp. 195-219.

Clerehan’s study investigated the issues that arise when students from other cultures (even from Western, English-speaking cultures) encounter post-secondary assignments from new cultures. The study investigates the efficacy of stand-alone online materials that support student writing in the disciplines. The objective of the research was to understand how incoming freshmen, many of whom were international students, responded to discipline-specific writing support materials posted online and “whether the theory (as embodied in the resource) correctly identified the students’ learning needs from the students’ perspectives” (201). Her results indicated that international students were “more likely to report the module elements as difficult or very difficult to understand than were the local students” (204). The survey indicated no significant difference on the helpfulness of the materials between local and international students. The motivation of local students to access and use the resources ranged from 59% to 67%, and the motivation of international students to use these resources was 92%. Clerehan concludes that “universities with diverse student cohorts who are concerned to internationalize their curricula and to improve their online teaching and support for student learning, research theoretically sound ways of doing so” (213). This research demonstrates that online writing faculty who teach international student populations review their materials to ensure that the writing suitable for diverse audiences.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 13, 15

Comer, Denise K., et al. “Writing to Learn and Learning to Write Across the Disciplines: Peer-to-Peer Writing in Introductory-Level MOOCs.” International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 15, no. 5, 2014, pp. 26-82.

Comer et al. describe how peer-to-peer interactions enhance understanding, linking course learning objectives to positively contribute to students’ learning. They developed a coding protocol to best interpret peer feedback and discussion threads, including posts and comments, and concluded that 1) online discussion board forums intentionally linked to course content contribute positively to learning gains and 2) feedback on peers’ writing can meaningfully focus on higher order concerns across multiple disciplines. This research specifically targeted peer-to-peer interactions as adding value and increasing learning in the online environment where the concept of “community” is challenged.

Keywords: MOOCs, WAC, empirical research, quantitative research, discussion: English, peer review, student-to-student interaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 6, 11, 15

Condon, Conna, and Raul Valverde. “Increasing Critical Thinking in Web-Based Graduate Management Courses.” Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, vol. 13, 2014, pp. 177-91.

Condon and Valverde found that students who were participating in a graduate-level online accounting and operations management course were producing summaries of their assigned readings rather than composing critically engaged responses for discussion board posts. To understand this problem, faculty theorized that students may not have the same cultural writing processes that teachers expected, or that students who came from professional fields might not have been exposed to critical thinking strategies. To learn effective practices for encouraging critical thinking skills, researchers turned to the types of questions that were asked of students in their Discussion Questions (DQ) and surmised that they were not asking students to “exhibit analytical thinking.” Reframing the questions was not enough to elicit work that “included analysis or synthesis.” Thus researchers set out to answer whether “the DQ process from design through implementation and grading [could] be improved to increase the achievement of learning objectives and critical thinking in online class forum asynchronous?” (179) To do so, researchers compared a pilot course and original course in which they used mixed-methodologies (comparative case study, discussion question development, and writing quality development) to analyze responses to discussion questions. Condon and Valverde conclude that “ongoing content analysis could be used to identify whether any specific DQ was achieving the level of critical thinking intended for that DQ, as may vary by DQ type.” (188)

Keywords: discussion: WAC, graduate classes, empirical research, case study, mixed methods,

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11, 15

Conference on College Composition and Communication, Committee on Best Practices in Online Writing Instruction. Annotated Bibliography. Edited by Keith Gibson and Beth Hewett, 2008, OWIAnnotatedBib.pdf.

In 2008, the Conference on College Composition and Communication developed an annotated bibliography of research “pertaining to Online Writing Instruction (OWI).” The sources on this list cover approximately 28 years (1980 to 2008) and are organized into four categories: OWI Pedagogy, OWI Technology, E-learning, and Online Writing Centers (OWC). The annotated sources in this collection cover a wider range of issues that are related to online instruction (or distance education) in addition to sources devoted solely to online writing instruction. This annotated bibliography provides a historical view of what sources were considered the heart of research on online writing instruction and provides part of the research used to develop the CCCC Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction.

Keywords: annotated bibliography, research

OWI Principles: 15

Cotos, Elena. “Potential of Automated Writing Evaluation Feedback.” CALICO Journal, vol.  28, no. 2, 2011, pp. 420-59.

Cotos investigated the impact of automated writing evaluation (AWE) on student scores on standardized tests, teachers’ impressions of AWE, student impressions of AWE, impact on student writing, and student behavior as they use AWE applications—most notably, the Intelligent Academic Discourse Evaluator (IADE) program. Through the use of AWE, students’ writing performance improved notably through comparisons of their first and final essay drafts. Students also reported higher satisfaction rates with the instantaneous feedback provided through the use of AWE as compared to the time-delayed feedback provided by individual instructors. Using Likert-scale, yes/no, and open-ended survey questions that focused on tailoring computer automated responses to the individual, the study concluded that automated feedback stimulates computer-learner interaction which leads to better learning and retention of the information presented.

Keywords: automated writing evaluation, feedback, assessment

OWI Principles: 3, 6, 15

Cunningham, Jennifer M. “Mechanizing People and Pedagogy: Establishing Social Presence in the Online Classroom.” Online Learning, vol. 19, no. 3, 2015, pp. 34-47.

Cunningham applies the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework as a lens for understanding the perceived effectiveness of using avatars in an online classroom to create social presence. Voki—free, online, customizable avatars—were investigated as one potential means for establishing social presence. Students in seven sections of a prerequisite composition class at a community college were surveyed. Out of 140 students, forty completed a questionnaire that included three open-ended questions asking about their overall experience relative to social presence as well whether social presence was established using Voki specifically. Analyzing the open-ended question responses using content analysis informed by grounded theory, results suggested that Voki avatars had little effect on creating social presence. Receiving instructor emails and feedback as well as direct interpersonal communication with peers (i.e., a group project and peer workshops) was found to establish the most social presence. Adding to previous COI research, this research suggests three specific practices that best establish social presence: (1) an active instructor presence, (2) interactivity among students, and (3) the timeliness or immediacy of both.

Keywords: community of inquiry, instructor presence, qualitative research, feedback, email, student-to-student interaction

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

de Montes, L. E. Sujo , et al. “Power, Language, and Identity: Voices from an Online Course.” Computers and Composition, vol. 19, no. 3, 2002, pp. 251-71.

L.E. Sujo de Montes, Sally M.Oran and Elizabeth M. Willis analyze the role of race in online class discussions. In particular, the authors “apply theoretical frames of constructivism, symbolic interactionism, and critical theory [to] reveal issues of power and racism in student communications” (252), in particular, student communications centered around a disagreement on a course bulletin board that demonstrated “differing views of power, ethnicity and identity between majority and minority students” (252). The authors used inductive qualitative data analysis to study twenty-five students in a foundations course for a master’s degree who all had ESL students. The article includes narratives from the three researchers and an overview of the events that lead to the three encounters and associated events that were included in the study. The researchers talked about how the classroom discourse helped to demonstrate how ethnic identity for the students was presented in empowering and in less-empowering ways. They conclude with a reminder for online writing instructors not to “turn a blind eye on race, ethnicity, and power [that] denies minority students the conversations and confrontations critical for ethnic identity development” (268).  The article ends with actions that will help constructivist teachers to use critical reflection to interrogate their own issues surrounding power, language, and identity.

Keywords: power, constructivism, qualitative research, ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, culturally responsive pedagogy, race, graduate education

OWI Principles: 1, 11, 15

DePew, Kevin Eric. “Social Media at Academia’s Periphery: Studying Multilingual Developmental Writers’ Facebook Composing Strategies.” Reading Matrix, vol. 11, no. 1, 2011, pp. 54-75,

As a follow-up study to DePew and Miller-Cochran (2009), DePew uses a similar research protocol to learn about the social media composing practices of multilingual students placed in developmental writing classes. DePew explains the complex linguistic capabilities most multilingual students develop when learning more than one language—capabilities ignored by many English speakers who expect near proficient syntactic written products. Moreover, because most writing instructors almost solely focus on language correctness, they overlook the rhetorical sophistication that many of their students already have. To demonstrate the advanced rhetorical strategies these developmental students have developed, DePew reports on three students giving a tour of their Facebook profiles. Like the advanced students in the DePew & Miller-Cochran research, DePew learns that these supposed developmental writers also mostly make deliberate decisions but also make a few decisions based on just trying to create a “cool” outcome. Also, like the previous study, audience is a key factor in the multimodal composing decisions these students make, such as whether to post a picture or not or whether to use Microsoft Word to spell check posts before posting them. DePew concludes that instructors should try to leverage this rhetorical sophistication by helping students transfer these strategies from their social media composing process. As with DePew and Miller-Cochran, this article can help OWI instructors design curricula that leverages the types of online writing that struggling students are familiar with as a way of helping these students see that they already know how to fulfill their audience’s expectations for several writing features.

Keywords: social media, multilingual writers, developmental writing, literacy, education

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 5, 11, 15

DePew, Kevin Eric, and Susan Kay Miller. “Studying L2 Writers’ Digital Writing: An Argument for Post-Critical Methods.” Computers and Composition, vol. 22, no. 3, 2005, pp. 259-78. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2005.05.001.

DePew and Miller describe the divergence and convergence of “digital writing studies (also known as computers and composition studies) and second language (L2) writing” (260). While scholars in either field might be confident in their own field, if asked “which computer-mediated writing technologies are most conducive for facilitating L2 writers’ academic literacy development, the available corpus of literature that addresses all aspects of this question decreases significantly” (260). The authors argue for a post-critical framework for the study of digital writing practices of L2 writers after first acknowledging the difficulties and benefits of applying that framework to “the interdisciplinarity of a digital/L2 inquiry” (263). Next, the article “place[s] post-critical methodologies into conversation with methodological trends of digital writing, L2 writing and their related disciplines” (269). Finally, the article ends with implications of post-critical research and a call for the use of this methodology to study the digital lives of L2 students. This article could be used to analyze, extend, or critique other studies of L2 learners in online writing instruction.

Keywords: ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, L2

OWI Principles: 1, 15

DePew, Kevin Eric, and Susan K. Miller-Cochran. “Social Networking in a Second Language: Engaging Multiple Literate Practices Through Identity Composition.” Inventing Identities in Second Language Writing, edited by Michelle Cox et al., National Council of Teachers of English, 2009, pp. 273-95.

DePew and Miller-Cochran seek to learn how social media writers, specifically those whom are multilingual writers, compose their identity in these spaces. To this end, the authors study three advanced multilingual students—from Thailand, India, and Belarus—who were using an array of social media—Facebook, hi5, Orkut, and Odnoklassniki. They asked them to give a virtual tour of their profile pages. From these three students, the authors learn that the students are often making deliberate decisions about how they use verbal language, images, and video to present themselves, yet they make some decisions because they think the outcome “will be cool.” The participants also described a conflicted relationship with their audiences in which they wanted to protect themselves from unwanted audiences (i.e., not all of these social media sites provided privacy setting for their users) but barely regulated what they wanted to post based upon their audience. Overall these students demonstrate advanced levels of rhetorical sophistication, similar to writing instructors’ expectations for academic prose. For DePew and Miller-Cochran these participants’ practices raise more questions about multilingual writers composing using social media, especially whether their social media composing practices reflect the same literacy practice for multilingual developmental writers. This chapter can help online writing instructors design strategies for helping multilingual students use backwards reaching transfer to connect familiar multimodal literacy practices with those they want students to use in their courses.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, case study, audience, multimodal, literacy, social media, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11, 15

DePew, Kevin E., et. al. “Getting Past Our Assumptions About Web 2.0 and Community Building: How to Design Research-Based Literacy Pedagogy.” Emerging Pedagogies in the Networked Knowledge Society: Practices Integrating Social Media and Globalization, edited by Marohang Limbu and Binod Gurung, IGI Global, 2013, pp. 120-43.

DePew et al. interrogate the general promises certain vendors make that their technological applications or pedagogical designs will create community among students, especially in online writing instruction courses. Because the outcomes for achieving community are rarely defined, the authors question whether community can actually be created in online classrooms and, if so, how instructors can leverage a technology’s affordances to achieve their articulated outcomes for community. The authors theoretically reflect upon a “Community Analysis” assignment in which students are given the opportunity to create community by reading and responding to each other’s blog entries on the textual research they are doing. At the end of the research blog assignment students use the course readings on community to argue in the “Community Analysis” whether the students in the course had become a community or not. The authors learned that many of the students in the class felt a sense of community, but the blog assignment did little to facilitate it. Of the twelve students in the class, only seven of them commented on the blogs or commented on others’ comments ten times or more for the five blog entries. Over half of the total blog comments or responses to others’ comments were written in the last week of the blog assignment presumably in anticipation of “Community Analysis” assignment. This led many of the pre-service and in-service students to conclude that comment posts should be required after each blog entry was posted. While this requirement raises a question as to whether the students can truly be a community if they are compelled to interact with each other, the substantive interaction among those posts suggest that instructional motivations can be the catalyst students need to truly engage each other. Although the students did not feel a sense of community from the blog assignment and the blog’s affordances, many described feeling a sense of community resulting from how they used the affordances of other technologies in the class, such as the chat function on the synchronous video meeting application or the audio editing application that a group of students were piloting. The authors conclude that a deliberate approach to design online writing curriculum might entail collecting and studying data from how students are interacting in one’s class.

Keywords: community, blog, course management systems, qualitative research, discussion: English, synchronous interaction, course and program design: English, audio

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15

De Rycker, Antoon, and Prema Ponnudurai. “The Effect of Online Reading on Argumentative Essay Writing Quality.” GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, vol. 11, no. 3, 2011, pp. 147-62,

De Rycker and Ponnudurai performed a quasi-experimental study with ESL students in Malaysia (n=45) to compare the students’ quality of argumentation when reading interactive texts presented on a screen or texts printed on paper. Students completed an argumentative essay after reading the texts, and that essay was scored using a modified version of Harrell’s rating scale. The researchers found that the modality of the text did not affect the length of the essays or the students’ abilities to present counter-arguments. However, more students who read the interactive online reading wrote thesis statements and overall arguments that were rated as “good” (156). The sample size limited the study, but this research sets the stage for additional, more robust studies of the effect of reading on a computer screen as opposed to reading a print text and how either of those modalities affect student writing ability in online and hybrid classes.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, modality, qualitative research, reading, hybrid

OWI Principles: 1, 4, 13, 15

Driscoll, Dana, et al. “Usability and User-Centered Theory for 21st Century OWLs.” Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices, edited by Pavel Zemliansky and Kirk St. Amant. Hershey, IGI Global, 2008, pp. 614-31.


Driscoll, Brizee, Salvo, and Sousa examine the theories of user-centered Online Writing Labs (OWL) and the research conducted on the usability of the Purdue OWL. They detail the history of the Purdue Writing Lab, the Purdue OWL Usability Project, and the implications of user-centered theory and usability research, primarily those involving collaboration with users to create an online literacy resource. In the study, two tests were conducted. In test one, the participants navigated the OWL and answered a survey, while in test two, participants responded to questions while using both the OWL website and a user-centered OWL prototype. Results suggest the prototype was more time efficient and participant responses to the prototype were positive. Researchers conclude that the necessity of usability research paired with participatory invention for the most effective user-centered website.

Keywords:  online writing labs, usability studies, user-centered design, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 13, 15

Duffelmeyer, Barbara. “Learning to Learn: New TA Preparation in Computer Pedagogy.” Computers and Composition, vol. 20, no. 3, Sept. 2003, pp. 295-311. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(03)00037-9.

Duffelmeyer examines how student teaching assistants (TAs) experience their first-year composition classrooms and how well they adjust to these classrooms as they seek to incorporate computers into their pedagogy. She asked approximately twenty TAs to share their experiences with computers to study areas of “unease and dissonance with more intensive and advance[d] computer training” to establish the need for a communities of practice model for helping new TAs to be active participants in their preparation to teach in computer classrooms. She includes excerpts from TA narratives about their early teaching experience to demonstrate how these students encountered dissonance in the classroom and were tempted to fall back on old models of teaching and learning without computers in order to regain a sense of control in the classroom. Duffelmeyer selects two contrasting narratives to showcase how their comfort and skill in computer classrooms developed more organically in a TA preparation model that emphasized a community of practice. The benefits of this model are that TA’s experience “congruence among course goals, technology, and pedagogy” (305), they have “learning trajectories they can identify with” (306), and they can focus on “learning to learn” as they help to teach first-year students (308). The article concludes by positing the community of practice model against models that fall back on transmission modes in the classroom. This article, while in computer-mediated and not fully online or hybrid classes, demonstrates some of the very concerns that faculty might face in helping TAs move into online or hybrid classrooms.

Keywords: graduate teaching assistants, computer-mediated communication, narrative, community of practice, teaching with technology: English, faculty development

OWI Principles: 7, 15

Dutkiewicz, Keri, et al. “Creativity and Consistency in Online Courses: Finding the Appropriate Balance.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2013, pp. 45-72.

Dutkiewicz provides the results of survey research that captured student and faculty perceptions of a predesigned course (PDC) at Davenport University (DU) in Michigan. DU implemented a PDC structure to help improve quality and ensure alignment in the 50% of courses delivered online, including sections of professional writing on an accelerated, 7-week schedule. The PDCs were designed and maintained in-house and were taught in Blackboard. Course administrators solicited feedback from faculty and revised the PDCs regularly after testing practices in pilot courses. The survey research indicated that instructors using the PDCs appreciated that the courses allowed them additional time for interaction, with approximately a quarter of survey participants (about 50% of instructors) indicating that they would be willing to invest more time in customizing courses in exchange for the ability to be more flexible in course design. Student respondents indicated that individual guidance and help from instructors and links to outside resources were most beneficial in improving their learning. The authors scheduled Live Classroom synchronous sessions with instructors teaching the PDCs to share survey results and to address concerns and issues highlighted by the survey. The study concludes that faculty engagement and input in PDC course construction is important and that communication regarding the PDC can help strengthen the instructional design and course facilitation process. This chapter gives a research-based approach to understanding faculty satisfaction with the design and teaching of online courses as well as providing a model for implementing and assessing online courses.

Keywords: assessment, pre-designed courses, Blackboard, course management system, surveys, course and program design: English, qualitative research, faculty satisfaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 15

Eaton, Angela. “Students in the Online Technical Communication Classroom.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 31-48.

Eaton analyzes the results from a survey of online students at six institutions (n=37) who answered questions regarding what they liked about online classrooms, what they disliked about online classrooms, and what advice they had for online faculty. Participants reported that they primarily liked that online classes fit their schedule and that they could participate in classes without commuting. The two most disliked qualities of online instruction were the lack of face-to-face interaction with classmates and with faculty. Online students in this survey recommended that faculty understand and respect the amount of time and demands required of students in online courses, be clear about how the course activities were beneficial to their learning, and create consistent deadlines so that online students could easily schedule their assignments in hectic schedules. In addition, online students recommended that faculty “be involved,” by providing feedback regularly and being personable in their written comments. Finally, students suggested that faculty choose technology that serves the course (and not the other way around), be careful with limiting the face-to-face meetings in hybrid courses, and to be aware of how programs are marketed to students to make sure that they meet student expectations of online courses in programs. Based on these comments, Eaton concludes that online programs can best market to and serve online technical communication students by determining if the program can be found in a web search on the first page of search results, using the “word of mouth” technique, and recruiting through professional organizations. Finally, the chapter concludes by recommending that marketing methods focus on selling the benefits of studying at a distance and working classes into busy schedules. The data provided in the student comments to faculty reinforces the need for careful course design around instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction, an awareness of time constraints for online students, and the clear and intentional use of technology to serve the writing in online classes.

Keywords: student satisfaction, technical and professional writing, marketing, instructor presence, surveys, hybrid, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 15

Eaton, Angela. “Students in the Online Technical Communication Classroom: The Next Decade.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2013, 133-58.

Eaton replicates and expands her 2002 study on online graduate student experiences and preferences (the results of which were published in the first edition of Online Education). While the number of students taking the second survey increased by 311% (2002, n=37 from six universities, 2010, n=152 from twelve universities), the answers to survey questions regarding students lifestyles and choices for selecting online classes remained largely the same. The bulk of features that were most disliked by students in 2010 were the perception that an online program was not as rigorous as a face-to-face program and a variety of options related to interaction with and feedback from faculty, in addition to technical problems. Advice to faculty most frequently involved recommendations for more (and more clear) communication, a consideration of the workload required in completing online assignments, and having backup plans for when technology does not work. Eaton notes that the bulk of the recommendations could easily be applied to face-to-face classes as well. Online students indicated that they selected an online program over a local program roughly 50% of the time, and students were most likely to have heard about online programs through Web searches and by visiting the programs’ Web sites. Eaton concludes with a call for further research into student experiences in online writing programs, particularly as those programs are rapidly expanding. These studies are valuable because they follow similar populations over a particular time period and correlate with information in the literature about best practices for teaching online.

Keywords: surveys, student perception, graduate students, program evaluation: English, quantitative research, marketing

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 10, 11, 15

Ehmann Powers, Christa. “A Study of Online Writing Instructor Perceptions.” The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors, edited by Beth Hewett, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015, pp. 174-82.

This study examines some of the experiences of online writing tutors at Smarthinking, Inc. in 2009 in an attempt to understand their attitudes about OWI and the roles they take as online instructors (also called e-structors at that time). Tutors primarily conducted asynchronous interactions where they commented on Web-delivered texts using a framework that called first for global comments with the addition of a few embedded local comments. Some tutors also provided synchronous conferences via a whiteboard and co-located chat box. Although unsolicited in the survey, many tutors remarked that they had pedagogical challenges when teaching using text (i.e., not voice) and struggled with the lack of instant feedback from students regarding whether the tutorial had been helpful. Tutors also spoke to what they saw as distinct features of OWI, including the ability for online writing instructors to self-reflect and assess their own work and the need for students to engage with different levels of cognitive processing. In terms of attitudes toward OWI, the online tutors expressed some concerns regarding whether OWI was pedagogically valid and potential political issues about the uses of OWI in educational institutions. Respondents claimed that OWI could have significant learning benefits for students and their writing processes while framing these benefits in terms of affect and the practical aspects of working online. Ehmann Powers ends with a series of implications for this research and the need for ongoing study of these issues.

Keywords: tutors: English, online writing center, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, faculty perceptions, research

OWI Principles 13, 14, 15

Ehmann, Christa, and Beth L. Hewett. “OWI Research Considerations.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 517-46.

Ehmann and Hewett address key issues of research into OWI by considering development of research questions, theoretical frameworks, methods, analytical approaches, and dissemination venues. After a literature review that supports the exigency for OWI research, they discuss the need for qualitative and quantitative research, and they provide an analysis of some methodological research approaches with emphasis on replicable, aggregable, and data-supported (RAD) research. Organizationally, they align their literature review and discussions of various research topics with the OWI Principles and offer a series of research questions that readers can develop into potentially useful projects. OWI Principle 1 regarding access and inclusivity is a primary concern as it is one of the least explored considerations of online literacy instruction. Among the topics they consider for research are online tutoring, automated writing evaluation (AWE), and massive open online courses (MOOCs). This chapter may be especially helpful to those seeking to develop core research projects in OWI.

Keywords: access, automated writing evaluation, MOOCs, qualitative research, quantitative research, research, online writing center

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 15

Ekahitanond, Visara. “Students’ Perception and Behavior of Academic Integrity: A Case Study of a Writing Forum Activity.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol. 15, no. 4, 2014, pp. 150-61. DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals, doi:10.17718/tojde.55218.

This article researches students’ behavior and perception of academic integrity in an online discussion forum. Ekahitanond expresses concern about the authenticity of student responses in online learning environments and how instructors can adjust teaching methods to better address this concern. After participating in a written discussion forum, students were given an initial questionnaire to measure their perception of academic integrity and record their experience violating this policy. An interview was further conducted to investigate the reasons for dishonesty. Findings suggest that students do not have a clear understanding of academic misconduct, leading them to acts of plagiarism or collusion. Ekahitanond concludes that instructors should clearly inform students of the rules for good writing and what explicitly constitutes academic integrity. While not explicitly about OWI, this article demonstrates the need to be explicit when addressing academic integrity when creating and facilitating online writing courses.

Keywords: plagiarism, student perceptions, surveys

OWI Principles:  10, 11, 15

Elder, Catherine, et al.  “Evaluating Rater Responses to an Online Training Program for L2 Writing Assessment.” Language Testing, vol. 24, no. 1, 2007, pp. 37-64.

Elder et al. discuss the methodology and findings of a study conducted to investigate rater reactions to an online evaluation program designed to decrease variability and enhance reliability of rater scores. Data was collected in three phases to compare rater perceptions and mark behavior before and after training: pre-training questionnaire, online rater training, and post-training questionnaire. Diagnostic English Language Needs Assessment (DELNA) writing samples were given to the study group—most of whom were ESL instructors—to rate the fluency, content, and form of the samples. Once samples were rated, participants answered a brief survey dealing with training. Participants then took online DELNA training and were then asked to re-rate previous writing samples and fill out a follow-up survey. The findings suggest individual variation in receptiveness to training input and its effectiveness. Researchers conclude with suggesting a refinement of the online training program as well as further research into the factors influencing rater responsiveness.

Keywords:  ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, L2, assessment, surveys, qualitative research, faculty development

OWI Principles:  1, 6, 7, 15

Ferganchick-Neufang, Julia K. “Harassment On-line: Considerations for Women & Webbed Pedagogy.” Kairos, vol. 2, no. 2, 1997,

Ferganchick-Neufang acknowledges the benefits of writing on the web to support student writing and to democratize the classroom, but she warns that we should not ignore problems that online instruction can create for women and people of color.  She focuses specifically on the issue of student-to-teacher harassment by first discussing a previous study on student-to-teacher harassment of women instructors in the traditional, face-to-face classroom. Despite being in positions of authority within the classroom, female instructors who responded to the survey for the study relayed incidents of sexual harassment and threats of violence from male students. The author warns that despite notions of computer-mediated instruction creating egalitarian spaces and discourses, the dangers female instructors can face in the traditional classroom are still present in online environments. She points to the exclusion of women in the fields of computer technology and virtual reality and discusses the real and perceived differences in computer expertise of men and women, which could hurt the ethos of a female instructor wanting to teach with computers. The author then points out that the opportunity for anonymity online may encourage the participation of some students to be aggressive or hostile. She provides the transcript from a MOO used in a class to demonstrate this point, noting that harassment through writing, like harassment that occurs over email or in virtual reality environments, is often ignored or brushed aside. This harassment is real, and female instructors should have administrative support when they are harassed in virtual environments. The article concludes with suggestions for addressing these concerns, including 1) not obscuring these difficulties by focusing too much on the positive possibilities of web pedagogy, 2) training students in netiquette, 3) creating disruptive behavior policies appropriate for web environments, and 4) opening up channels of communication regarding this issue. Though dated, this article provides an important perspective on issues and challenges that OWI instructors, particularly female instructors, might face.

Keywords: gender, race, surveys, qualitative research, email,

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 10, 11, 15

Fey, Marion H., and Michael J. Sisson. “Approaching the Information Superhighway: Internet Collaboration Among Future Writing Teachers.” Computers and Composition, vol. 13, no. 1, 1996, pp. 37–47.

Fey and Sisson detail the results of using computer-networked groups for future teachers of writing in order to both expose them to the technologies they would be using in their classrooms and to help them “experience the liberatory effects of collaborative pedagogy in long-distance, computer-mediated writing classes” (37). Sisson was a student in Fey’s class and provides a student’s perspective on the collaborative groups. Students initially met Fey for a face-to-face orientation and then collaborated primarily online. Sisson identifies technology difficulties experienced by various members of the group as well as the content that helped them to develop a close online community from their respective schools. Fey provides a final overview of how these online communities helped student teachers, particularly those in rural areas, to be more connected through the important transition from student to teacher, easing the sometimes difficult transition into the professional world.

Keywords: collaboration, community, faculty development, WAC

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 11, 15

Gerrard, Lisa. “Feminist Research in Computers and Composition.” Computers in the Composition Classroom, edited by Michelle Sidler et al., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007, pp. 377-400.

This chapter sets an agenda for research of the association of computers with masculinity and how this can impact female students and how computers can both support and challenge feminist pedagogy. The author first considers how cultural associations with computers and computer technologies like video games often provide males more access to and experience with computers than females and how these different experiences could make female students reticent about computer-mediated instruction and learning. She suggests we need to understand the attitudes and experiences of students with these technologies. She then looks at how computers could support feminist pedagogies, focusing specifically on the internet as a place to share experiences which she suggests supports the consciousness-raising goal of feminist methodology. She shows, however, that studies have demonstrated conflicting results of whether female students did freely express their feelings in online settings and calls for further attention to how web spaces can encourage students to be open about their experiences. The author also advocates further research into how computer technology can be utilized to support the feminist goal of democratizing the classroom. Other potential areas of future research presented by the author include examining gendered experience of aggressive discourse online and testing assumptions about gendered learning styles and gendered writing and rhetorical styles within the computer-based classroom. Finally, the author calls for research into gender dynamics within the field of computers and composition studies itself. This chapter enumerates several areas of research for those interested in OWI and gender, many of which have been largely left unexplored currently within the field.

Keywords: gender, computer-mediated communication, research, gender, critical pedagogy

OWI Principles: 11, 15

Good, Jennifer, and Kellie Shumack. “If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them: Emphasizing Writing Instruction and Online Learning in Faculty Professional Development.” Journal of Faculty Development, vol. 27, no. 2, 2013, pp. 5-10.

Good and Shumack argue that the same sorts of best practices used in OWI can, in several ways and for several good reasons, transfer over to online faculty professional development across the disciplines. This essay reports on a study of WAC faculty members’ thoughts on their experiences in using OWI-inspired training practices to enhance and improve teaching and learning in their writing-intensive courses. Some of the findings that emerged from the study, and have subsequently led to programmatic adjustments, include 1) adding Powerpoint slides to all presentations so that faculty can get a clearer sense of how their training can be realized in their instruction (including how individual peer interactions and evaluations can be accomplished through Blackboard, Jing, MyCompLab, and VoiceThread); 2) including a face-to-face orientation session was added to the overall training design; and 3) a decision to switch from Audacity to Jing for asynchronous recorded learning materials.

Keywords: faculty development, WAC, Blackboard, teaching with technology: English, audio, video, orientation, asynchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 7, 12, 15  

Handayani, Nani Sri. “Emerging Roles In Scripted Online Collaborative Writing In Higher Education Context.” Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 67, Dec. 2012, 370-79. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.11.340.

Handayani’s study investigates students’ competencies in completing collaborative written assignments following what he calls a “script,” which is defined as “a series of instructions prescribing how students should form groups, how they should interact and collaborate, and how they should solve [a] problem” (371). The researcher used a multiple case study design with eighteen students in an Introduction to the Learning Sciences class at the University of Sydney. Data was collected from recorded face-to-face group sessions, from online discussion spaces, and from in-depth semi-structured interviews with the participants. The results indicated that while each group included members who evolved into particular group roles, the script was interpreted differently than what the researcher had intended. The three groups had varying levels of participation, which led Handayani to conclude that due to the variation in group work among the members, “it may be necessary to increase the role of the teacher during collaboration or to structure collaboration more strictly” (378). This research reinforces the need for faculty participation in hybrid or blended group projects and provides research into how blended groups operate when provided a specific plan of action for a group project.

Keywords: collaboration, discussion: English, case study, qualitative research, interviews, instructor interaction, hybrid, mixed methods

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Harris, Leslie D., and  Cynthia A. Wambeam. “The Internet-Based Composition Classroom: A Study in Pedagogy.” Computers and Composition, vol. 13, no. 3, 1996, pp. 353–71.

Harris and Wambeam describe an early version of an online course in which students connected students synchronously through a MOO and asynchronously through an email list. The article is a report on the design and pilot study of an online environment that connected first-year composition classes in Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Through this connection, Harris and Wambeam support the critical thinking and persuasive skills that are a part of the classrooms built around social constructionism. The article builds a body of theory on building playful communities in writing courses and then moves to a description of the pilot study, a mixed methods study of students’ internet journals and MOO meetings along with a pre-and post-test and questionnaires in order to measure whether “students improved as writers, but also whether computer-mediated discussions contributed to or helped foster their improvement” (360). Their results were that the experimental internet-based classroom was more effective in improving student writing. Harris and Wambeam conclude with an invitation for others to participate in similar classrooms to encourage active participation in writing classrooms.

Keywords: MOO, community, discussion: English, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, mixed methods, qualitative research, first-year composition, social constructionism

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “The Characteristics and Effects of Oral and Computer-Mediated Peer Group Talk on the Argumentative Writing Process.” Dissertation, Catholic U of America, 1998.

In her doctoral dissertation, Hewett describes a naturalistic study with functional and qualitative analyzes and retrospective interviews regarding whether and how students use computer-mediated communication (CMC) and oral peer response group commentary differently when they revise their drafts. Using and adapting Anne Ruggles Gere’s 1985 linguistic function taxonomy and an iteratively derived revision analysis adapted from Lester Faigley and Stephen Witte’s 1981 revision analysis taxonomy, this study reveals key differences between uses of peer group response in asynchronous, hybrid CMC and oral settings. The “oral talk was more contextually-focused on abstract, global idea development; the CMC talk was more focused on concrete writing issues and group management; and each environment seemed to generate qualitatively different talk regarding referential and phatic contact” (ii). Referential and phatic talk were qualitatively different between the oral and text-based modalities. Both the talk and the student revision had different qualities between the two modalities, “suggesting that the medium shapes not only talk, but revision itself” (iii). Student individual writing styles and challenges revealed that students with visual or auditory challenges might have experienced better access in particular learning environments. Hewett’s study suggests a need for understanding CMC-based peer response as both connected to and separate from oral-based peer response. It suggests need for additional research into text-based peer response groups and the writing that emerges from them, as well as for research into how students with various learning disorders may benefit from either the traditional or online setting or a combination of both.

Keywords: asynchronous interaction, computer-mediated communication, hybrid, orality, revision, peer review, collaboration, quantitative research, qualitative research, modality, accessibility

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Characteristics of Interactive Oral and Computer-Mediated Peer Group Talk and Its Influence on Revision.” Computers and Composition, vol. 17, no. 3, 2000, pp. 265-88. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(00)00035-9.

Abstracted from her 1998 dissertation, Hewett details a naturalistic, functional, and qualitative study of interactive oral and computer-mediated communication- (CMC) generated (using Norton Connect) peer-response group talk and its influence on revision in two classes: a traditional oral class whose peer groups met orally and a hybrid asynchronous class whose peer groups worked via text. The CMC was a hybrid class where students met in a computer lab for each class. They interacted both orally and through text although text was the primary medium for peer group work. The study revealed that the interactive peer groups in both environments talked primarily about their writing. However, the talk had different qualities when students used different media, suggesting that medium shapes talk. Oral talk focused contextually on abstract, global, idea development, whereas written talk focused more on concrete writing tasks and group management. Each environment generated qualitatively different talk regarding referential and phatic contact. Revision changes revealed different qualities when developed in different environments, suggesting that medium shapes revision. Revision from talk included more frequent direct use of peer ideas, whereas revision from oral talk included more frequent intertextual (imitative and indirect) and self-generated idea use. Further study of these phenomena may confirm these findings and lead to additional theories of writing when that writing occurs in online settings and/or when peer response groups share ideas in online settings.

Keywords: asynchronous interaction, computer-mediated communication, hybrid, orality, peer review, revision, modality,

OWI Principles: 3, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Asynchronous Online Instructional Commentary: A Study of Student Revision.” Readerly/Writerly Texts: Essays in Literary, Composition, and Pedagogical Theory, vol. 11, no. 1, 2004, pp. 47-67.

Hewett describes an empirical, practice-based study of asynchronous OWI undertaken to learn whether and how students apply commentary to their revision. The post-secondary developmental and first-year English students in the study received one-to-one asynchronous commentary from Smarthinking online instructors, called e-structors. The e-structor feedback was coded by breaking it down to idea units that revealed linguistically direct comments that inform, direct, and elicit and linguistically indirect comments that suggest. The students’ original and revised drafts were coded for revision changes according to Lester Faigley and Stephen Witte’s 1981 subtypes of revision changes. The study revealed that “the students 1) made approximately 40% of their revision changes in response to online instructional comments, 2) changed their writing more often at the surface formal and meaning altering levels from those comments, 3) revised in generally correct ways that had moderate to low rhetorical force, and 4) may have developed experientially from OWI.” This study addresses the fact that writing feedback provided in text-based, asynchronous online settings can lead to useful revision changes. However, it also reveals that students are more likely to use linguistically direct instructor feedback than linguistically indirect feedback, suggesting that knowledge of and training in writing such types of feedback is necessary.

Keywords: asynchronous interaction, feedback, revision, empirical research, developmental writing, first-year composition, grammar & style, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Synchronous Online Conference-Based Instruction: A Study of Whiteboard Interactions and Student Writing.” Computers and Composition, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 4-31. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2005.12.004.

Hewett reports on describes a small-scale, empirical study of synchronous conference-based OWI using an electronic whiteboard, where the tutorials were conducted by Smarthinking, Inc. tutors using their electronic whiteboard. She analyzed the talk of students and tutors involved in each tutorial using a previously tested linguistic analysis tool. Participant talk indicates that the interactions were focused on developing writing ideas and content and oriented to the task at hand as opposed to being oriented toward social exchange. However, despite the educationally transactional nature of the interactions, many interactions consisted of detailed dialogue in primarily declarative language. Nearly half of the talk was oriented toward communicative needs such as achieving interpersonal connections, facilitating the interaction, and communicating about the whiteboard's workspace. Most of the traceable writing and revision changes were meaning-preserving from the students’ original ideas and of minimal insignificant to moderate rhetorical force in terms of argument development. Hewett ends with suggestions for tutor training, preparing students for whiteboard use, and further research. The study suggests potential best practices for online instructor training, a need for student preparation to use whiteboard platforms, and ideas for future research into synchronous, text-based conferences.

Keywords: revision, empirical research, tutoring: English, synchronous interaction, revision, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Generating New Theory for Online Writing Instruction.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 6, no. 2, 2001,

In an article containing what may be the first published use of the term OWI, Hewett includes “computer-mediated communication (CMC) for classroom and writing/peer group situations, computer-based literary study, as well as individualized writing instruction such as that found in online writing lab (OWL) tutorials” under this term. This webtext specifically considers online writing labs and online writing courses (also known as CMC at that time) as examples of online settings where practice-based research is necessary for finding best practices in OWI. She outlines how the theories that ground OWI and OWLs particularly stem from the current-traditional, expressivist, neo-classical, and social constructivist constructs. Further, she provides examples and explications of tutorials from both asynchronous and synchronous (whiteboard-based) environments as tutored through Smarthinking, Inc. Finally, Hewett provides examples of tutor-to-tutor discussion threads that both demonstrate the educational principles of association and reveal self-reflective discussions.

Keywords: online tutoring, research, empirical research, online writing labs, theory, expressivism, constructivist, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, tutoring: English, reflection, discussion: English

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L. The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015.

In this book, formerly published by Heinemann Boynton/Cook in 2010, Hewett uses empirical research into online writing feedback and student revision to theorize that online writing students need especially clear and deliberate communication from their online instructors—both teachers and tutors. She calls this theory of OWI semantic integrity whereby the instructor is called on to consciously seek fidelity when communicating with students; in other words, the intention of the written message should be clearly delivered in language that helps students interpret the intention of the message. She also calls for instructors to intervene in the students’ writing in order to teach them what they can do in revision that might improve it. She provides a 4-step intervention plan of explaining 1) what the problem is, 2) why it is a problem, 3) how to address it (modeling revision using the student writing), and 4) to do something by working through next steps. Hewett expresses that online writing students may be served best when teachers and tutors use linguistically direct comments that inform students about their writing, direct their next steps in some manner, and elicit information through genuine questions (as opposed to rhetorical questions).  Her research indicates that students may not pay attention to linguistically indirect and conditional comments that suggest students might do something with their writing. She demonstrates how using indirection is inculcated into teachers and tutors through contemporary popular theory and practices and one-to-one tutoring where peer tutors are asked to consider themselves in Socratic positions with student writers.

Keywords: online conferencing, intervention, feedback, linguistically direct, linguistically indirect, semantic integrity, empirical research

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 15

Hewett, Beth L. Reading to Learn and Writing to Teach: Literacy Strategies for OWI, Bedford/St. Martins, 2015.

In this book, Hewett theorizes that the core literacy practice of reading is at the center of online writing instruction. In an online setting (whether hybrid or fully online, asynchronous or synchronous), much of the teaching and learning occurs through text, which must be read by students. When students are unskilled or weak readers, they may be less successful in online writing courses where their lesson content, primary readings, and teachers’ feedback and instructions typically are presented textually. Even when multimedia instructional tools are used for access or other reasons, reading is necessary for students to interpret teacher feedback to their writing and to then make use of such feedback in their revision. Teachers, too, face literacy issues in online writing courses as they must write content, instructions, and feedback for students using vocabulary and language that even less skilled readers can understand. Such writing differs dramatically from their typical scholarly writing. This book reviews the theory behind literacy challenges for the (new) nontraditional contemporary students whose reading habits are changing with digital technology. It provides specific literacy strategies for students (e.g., relearning such reading skills as metacognition, schema, inference, questioning, finding relevance, visualizing, analysis, and synthesis). It also provides writing strategies to help online writing instructors hone their writing to meet contemporary students’ literacy needs (e.g., using the 4-step intervention plan for feedback); such strategies include guidance for writing instructional text, providing readable feedback online, writing readable assignments, and offering thoughtful, tone-sensitive interpersonal communication.

Keywords: literacy, reading, multimedia, nontraditional student, intervention, feedback, assignment instructions, assignment design, assignment: English

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Grounding Principles of OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 33-92.

Hewett provides the theoretical background that supports the OWI Principles. She explicates each OWI Principle and addresses it within the context of the first principle regarding access and inclusivity. Each OWI Principle is presented in its full text along with the rationale the OWI Committee had originally provided for each principle. Hewett then offers a discussion that provides the committee’s historical research and discussions regarding the principle; its theoretical rationale; its connections to replicable, aggregable, and data-supported (RAD) research; and its general importance to those who study, research, and teach with OWI.

Keywords: accessibility, asynchronous interaction, hybrid, research, synchronous interaction, CCCC OWI Committee

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Kevin Eric DePew, editors. Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015.

This book addresses the questions that OWI instructors and writing program, writing center, and other administrators should consider when developing viable OWI programs that have potentially effective practices. Each chapter corresponds to concerns raised in the 2013 A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices published to the NCTE website by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI. The five parts of this book address relevant issues for a principle-centered OWI: (1) An OWI Primer, (2) OWI Pedagogy and Administrative Decisions, (3) Practicing Inclusivity in OWI, (4) Faculty and Student Preparation for OWI, and (5) New Directions in OWI. Hewett and DePew emphasize a future academy where most writing courses will be taught or otherwise presented in some type of online setting, which makes it a core text for the next generation of composition theory and praxis and valuable for those who teach and/or tutor students writing in online settings.

Keywords: accessibility, inclusivity, praxis, research, theory, writing program administration, online writing programs, student preparation, faculty development, tutoring: English, online tutoring, writing centers, CCCC OWI Committee

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Kevin Eric DePew. “Introduction: A Research History of the CCCC OWI Committee.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 5-30.

Hewett and DePew outline the history of the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in Online Writing Instruction (OWI) and its research. This historical background enables readers to understand the empirical quantitative and qualitative research that grounds the 2013 A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices published to the NCTE website by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI. They begin by defining the work of the OWI Committee per its charges from the CCCC Executive Committee upon its 2007 constitution and 2010 reconstitution, and it outlines the vocabulary that the committee has used in its discussions of OWI. They continue by explaining the committee’s general research methods that included 1) determining core research questions, 2) developing an annotated bibliography of the extant literature up until 2008, 3) conducting site visits and personal interviews, 4) developing and launching two national surveys, 5) analyzing and reporting on those surveys through a report of the contemporary state of OWI in both fully online and hybrid settings, 6) developing an expert/stakeholder’s group that could advise the committee, and 7) writing the OWI Principles. They describe the importance of understanding all of its work in the context of a new understanding of access and inclusivity. Finally, they end by outlining the rest of the book by sections and chapters. This unique book has the potential to serve OWI administrators, teachers, and tutors as they assist and teach students through online media.

Keywords: CCCC OWI Committee, faculty development, research, literature review, interviews, surveys, accessibility, inclusivity, writing program administration, online writing programs

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Christa Ehmann. Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction: Principles and Processes, National Council of Teachers of English, 2004.

Using common educational principles that evolved in traditional onsite settings, Hewett and Ehmann outline what they call their “principle-centered” approach to developing best practices for the training and ongoing professional development —both teachers and tutors. They outline five common educational principles—(1) investigation, (2) immersion, (3) individualization, (4) association, and (5) reflection—that they use to undergird their training program and practices at Smarthinking, Inc. Even though these practices are used in one for-profit, online learning assistance center, they are sufficiently broad as to be useful in developing professional development for online teachers and tutors at a wide variety of online educational institutions, regardless of their traditional or corporate structures. The book outlines the five principles, and Hewett and Ehmann use these principles to demonstrate experiences, difficulties, and successes in online writing instruction.  These principles, as well as a discussion about contemporary theories and philosophies relevant to OWI and what they call the “training spiral,” reveal a one-to group and one-to-one process of teacher/tutor training that can be used both asynchronously and synchronously. Hewett and Ehmann believe that such grounding makes their training approach educationally and practically sound regardless of the technology in use. The book is replete with examples, illustrations, and sample training materials.

Keywords: faculty development, online tutoring, mentoring, tutoring: English, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Christa Ehmann Powers. “How Do You Ground Your Training: Sharing the Principles and Processes of Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 10, no. 1, 2005,

In this webtext, Hewett and Ehmann Powers contend argue that, like students, educators need acculturative and supportive training in online writing instruction (OWI). In particular, they need time and space for supportive professional development and mentoring. The authors review the available literature surrounding online training and professional development, and they discuss the five training principles first articulated in Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction: Principles and Processes--(1) investigation, (2) immersion, (3) individualization, (4) association, and (5) reflection--breaking them down to constituent parts and offering example scenarios. Their dual focus is on practical strategies of implementing the five principles and offering untapped areas of research into the strategies. They end the webtext with a call for program administrators and online instructors to dialogue more fully about their experiences and join together “to articulate, define, and theorize online training processes for both writing instructors and other educators.”

Keywords: writing program administration, faculty development, research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Ice, Philip, et al. “Using Asynchronous Audio Feedback to Enhance Teaching Presence and Student Sense of Community.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, vol. 11, no. 2, 2007, pp. 325.

This case study presents an argument for using audio feedback in asynchronous online classes to promote student communities and meaningful relationships between instructors and students. In a study of an online class—Curriculum and Instruction 687, Advanced Teaching Strategies at West Virginia University—the authors asked instructors of the course to give text-based feedback for six assignments and audio feedback for five assignments. Using survey, interview, and final-project data, the authors found that students perceived the audio feedback to be more effective than text-based feedback in at least four ways: 1) conveying nuance, 2) promoting increased involvement in the course, 3) enhancing retention of content, and 4) increasing instructor-student interaction. The findings indicate that instructors should develop appropriate teaching strategies for the online environment by understanding how to adhere to students’ various learning styles in the inherently digital platform of the online class.

Keywords: asynchronous interaction, feedback, technology, teaching with technology: English, pedagogy: English, community, audio, surveys, interviews, research, qualitative research, retention, instructor interaction, instructor presence

OWI Principles: 3, 15

Inman, James, and Dagmar Stuehrk Corrigan. “Toward a Doctoral Degree by Distance in Computers and Writing: Promise and Possibilities.” Computers and Composition, special issue, Distance Education: Promises and Perils of Teaching and Learning Online, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 411-22. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(01)00072-X.

This article, written when only two online Master’s programs in technical writing existed, outlines the possibility of universities offering Ph.D. programs online. Inman and Corrigan point out that there were, at the time this was written, a large number of adult learners who were place-bound by family or careers who would benefit from being able to earn a Ph.D. at a distance. Of concern was the benefit of a potential residency and whether online classes, even synchronous ones, could replicate the advantages of that residency. In demonstrating the value of online Ph.D. programs, the authors surveyed 71 four-year-only institutions and 58 institutions offering graduate degrees. A number of institutions surveyed at the time indicated that they did not see proficiency in computers and writing as a part of their hiring criteria. However, the authors concluded from the survey that, “the data demonstrate that room does exist in computers and writing education for an innovative program, one that continually adapts to the changing opportunities and implications of technology and one that well represents field diversity” (418). The authors close by proposing a consortium model to offer an online Ph.D., one that admits a limited amount of students and requires “four supervised research projects and a dissertation” (419). This article would be interesting to scholars who are completing historical research on online writing programs at the graduate level.

Keywords: non-traditional students, teaching with technology: English, technical and professional writing, graduate students, graduate programs, online writing programs, writing program administration

OWI Principles: 15

Inman, James and Donna Sewell, editors. Taking Flight with OWLs: Examining Electronic Writing Center Work. Routledge, 2000.

Inman and Sewell collect a variety of essays that take various positions on the development of the Online Writing Lab, both theoretically and practically. These essays explore the development of an OWL, discussing the theoretical groundings and institutional needs required for a successful OWL. The research then explores the ways OWLs maintain and diverge from analog writing center pedagogy. Some researchers argue that OWLs diverge from writing center pedagogy, failing to create dialogic models for their students, and as such, encourage readers to reexamine OWL practices to greater reflect accepted pedagogy and theory. Other researchers, however, see OWLs as an opportunity to expand and adapt pedagogy to the need for students to be technologically proficient and skilled writers in a digital age. Both groups, however, believe that as technology changes, the role of the writing center within the university should continuously evolve, establishing itself as part of the learning community, especially in the technological age.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing center, theory, online tutoring, praxis, community

OWI Principles 1, 3, 13, 14, 15

Izzo, Margaretha Vreeburg, et al. “The Faculty Perspective on Universal Design for Learning.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, vol. 21, no. 2, 2008, pp. 60-72.

This article presents the results of two studies on the applicability and use of universal design in higher education. In Study 1, the instructional climate for students with disabilities was assessed through a survey of 271 faculty members and teaching associates (TAs) and focus groups with 92 additional faculty members and TAs. Survey respondents ranked universal design for learning (UDL) as the most needed training topic. A web-based, self-paced professional development tool called FAME (Faculty and Administrator Modules in Higher Education) was developed, piloted, and revised in response to the training needs identified. In Study 2, a review of FAME by 98 faculty members and administrators supported the value of on-demand, multimodal professional development in universal design. Ninety-two percent of respondents reported increased comfort in meeting the instructional needs of students with disabilities as a result of using this curriculum. The article recommends that faculty 1) create a classroom climate that fosters trust and respect, 2) use a variety of instructional methods, 3) identify the essential course content,  4) provide multiple means for students to access the essential course content, 5) integrate natural supports for learning, 5) stay current on new and promising instructional technologies, and 6) allow multiple methods of assessment. For OWIs, this research complements research within technical communication and composition on what it takes to create a successful online course for students with disabilities.  

Keywords: accessibility, universal design, disability studies, teaching with technology: English, faculty development, multimodal, research, instructional design, assessment, technical and professional communication, surveys, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 7, 12, 15

Jacobs, Geert, et al. “A Multilanguage Online Writing Center for Professional Communication: Development and Testing.” Business Communication Quarterly, vol. 68, no. 1, 2005, pp. 8–22.

Geert Jacobs, Liesbeth Opdenacker, and Luuk Van Waes describe the Calliope Online Writing Center at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. The authors detail how Calliope is constructed around social-constructivist, problem-based learning that “combines learner-guided learning and system-guided learning” (9). Calliope allows users to follow a less-linear process in dealing with the inherently recursive nature of writing. In a preliminary assessment of student self-efficacy after using Calliope, Jacobs et al. found that Calliope was effective on twenty-six separate measures of self-efficacy on post tests. They also found that peer feedback in Calliope showed a “relation between the level of confidence and the quality of the feedback” (17) and that learners made more comments and felt more knowledgeable in those comments “(18). The authors indicate that they are encouraged by these preliminary assessments and will continue development of the project.

Keywords: feedback, teaching with technology: English, online writing center, constructivism, research

OWI Principles: 1, 13, 14, 15

Johnson, J. Paul. “Writing Spaces: Technoprovocateurs and OWLs in the Late Age of Print.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,

This short hypertext document provides an overview of the primary OWLs that were available online at the turn of the 21st century. While the article is dated and not all of the hyperlinks go to active pages, the article provides an overview and basic theoretical structure for the movement of OWLs from a focus on print-text-only medium or an online space that points to a physical campus location to what Johnson (through Eric Crump) calls “technoprovocateurs,” or “a writing space ‘where quietly subversive activity can emerge.’” Johnson notes that more of the OWLs he outlines fall into the former rather than the latter categories. However, he does nod to the fact that these OWLs embody Bolter’s concept of the “late age of print” in that they are remediations of more traditional writing center spaces that are solely focused on print. This hypertext provides a description of several early OWLs and, while not all of them exist in the form they were at the time of publication, provides insight to scholars researching the history of OWLs in terms of concerns that scholars and researchers voiced as the OWL moved from the 20th to the 21st century.

Keywords: online writing labs, research, hypertext

OWI Principles: 13, 14, 15

Jones, Rodney H., et al. “Interactional Dynamics in On-Line and Face-to-Face Peer-Tutoring Sessions for Second Language Writers.” Journal of Second Language Writing, vol. 15, no. 1, 2006, pp. 1-23.

Rodney Jones, Angel Garralda, Davis C.S. Li, and Graham Lock examine two types of peer-tutoring and compare online tutoring interactions with face-to-face tutoring interactions. Using Halliday’s functional-semantic view of dialogue, the logs of online tutoring sessions were coded and compared with those from face-to-face interactions. The results showed that online tutoring fostered greater participation on the part of the student being tutored, while face-to-face interaction tended to result in hierarchical structures of communication controlled predominantly by the tutor.

Keywords: online tutoring, qualitative research, tutor training, online writing centers

OWI Principles: 1, 13, 14, 15

Kargozari, Hamid R., and Hamed Ghaemi. “Web-based Writing Instruction and Enhancing EFL Learners’ Writing Quality.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol. 12, no. 3, 2011, pp. 36-45. Education Research Complete,

This study questions the role of technology on students’ writing skills. Specifically, the authors ask whether technology incorporated in traditional face-to-face courses significantly improves the writing skills of EFL learners. The authors compared student test results from two classes that used the same textbook and assignments. However, the experimental class provided students with a supplemental website where students could interact and discuss concepts via asynchronous forums. The instructor also aided students in the technological component of the course, offering extra credit to students if they used the online course platform to communicate and create written assignments. Students in both classes took an essay test at the end of the course, and based on holistic scoring, the authors determined that the experimental class outperformed the traditional class. As such, the authors suggest using web-based instruction to improve the writing skills of EFL learners and assert that EFL trainers should be trained to use online instructional tools to effectively teach EFL students, providing sample training materials.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, online tutors, asynchronous interaction, empirical research, quantitative research, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 1, 7, 14, 15

Kramer, Robert, and Stephen Bernhardt. "Moving Instruction to the Web: Writing as Multi-tasking." Technical Communication Quarterly, special issue, Redefining the Technical Communication Service Course, vol. 8, no. 3, 1999, pp. 319–36.

Kramer and Bernhardt describe implementation of a web-based case study project in two face-to-face sections of a technical and scientific communication course. In a computer classroom setting, students worked individually with multiple linked documents in order to analyze the rhetorical situation of the case study and to design a visual solution that they communicated in a business memo. Students were surveyed about their technological and rhetorical expertise before beginning the project and were then observed by the researchers while completing the project. Few students reported having worked with visual information before, and many students who reported comfort with “multitasking” or moving between multiple open applications on the computer desktop were observed experiencing difficulty with these technological skills. In post-project reflection, the two instructors emphasized the benefit of teaching students to integrate visuals and text. The authors conclude that using web-based instruction can teach students technological and design skills at the same time they address rhetorical problems.

Keywords: technical and professional writing, technology, teaching with technology: English, research, case study, qualitative research, surveys, visual literacy, rhetoric

OWI principles: 3, 4, 15

Krause, Kerri-Lee. “Supporting First-Year Writing Development Online.” JGE: The Journal of General Education, vol. 55, no. 3-4, 2006, 201–20.

Focusing on first-year students in an entry-level behavioral science course, Krause studies their perceptions of their own writing skills as well as their evaluations of an online writing support program comprised of interactive tutorials. The survey on the program’s usefulness showed that the oldest demographic group (over 24 years) valued the online resource significantly more than younger groups, although the online program itself was generally perceived to help improve skills and reduce anxiety about writing. Even so, the participants generally “rejected the option of replacing face-to-face classes with an online resource such as the one under investigation” (215). Krause emphasizes the value of the results for understanding student perspectives of online tutorial resources, acknowledging problems with the study’s validity for positing how the tool may have actually altered students’ perception of their own writing (219). Although the opening justification for the study addresses community building, the conclusions noted above suggest such an online support program was viewed as contradistinctive to the “social interaction” characterizing face-to-face sessions (213). Academic socialization is discussed in the context of access based on the study’s analysis of the online program’s support of students reflecting different ages and routes to higher education. In this respect, the study shows how a flexible and simple self-paced tutorial system can provide non-traditional students a means to address concerns and anxieties about writing as they deem necessary—hence the discussion of “just-in-time” online learning (208). Finally, while the article briefly mentions relevant literacy studies, it is not clear how relevant composition pedagogy was integrated into the online tools.   

Keywords: non-traditional students, WAC, WID, online support, community, accessibility, composition pedagogy, students success

OWI Principles: 1, 6, 11, 13, 15

Lasarenko, Jane. “PR(OWL)ING AROUND: An OWL by Any Other Name.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,


Lasarenko’s hypertext catalogues the ninety-three OWLs that she found in 1996 and divides them into three categories: OWLs that advertise for on-campus labs, OWLs that offer on-site tutoring services, and OWLs that offer fully-online tutoring services. The links to each of these groups of OWLs are almost all broken, but the list itself provides a snapshot of which OWLs were functional in the mid-1990s and will provide scholars seeking to research the history of OWLs a basic list of then-operational OWLs on which to build.

Keywords: online writing labs, literature review, research, online tutoring

OWI Principles: 13, 15

Leonard, David. “The Web, the Millennium, and the Digital Evolution of Distance Education.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1, 1999, pp. 9-20.

Leonard discusses the necessary shift in academia away from the “industrial age” model of education and toward a “digital age” in learning. He predicts that technical communication will need to shift to accommodate the increasing presence of knowledge shared freely on the World Wide Web (10). He compares and contrasts the two models of education, calling for a learning environment that “parallel[s] the digital networked environment that our students currently are or soon will be working in” (12). Leonard briefly discusses the shifts that universities will need to make to meet this new paradigm, including a shift from “teacher-centric” to “learner-centric” instruction (13). While some of his predictions, including the “demand for a tighter certification process for technical communication” (15), the ability for “students to consume the best possible interactive courses and content via the Web, no matter what their parent institution is” (16), and the “death of academic departments” have not been fully realized in the early 21st century, his predictions for what online writing programs are and can become serve as a fascinating starting point for individuals researching the evolution of online writing instruction.

Keywords: course and program design: English, technical and professional writing, online writing programs

OWI Principles: 15

Lo, Hao-Chang. “Design of Online Report Writing Based on Constructive and Cooperative Learning for a Course on Traditional General Physics Experiments.” Journal of Educational Technology and Society, vol. 16, no. 1, 2013, pp. 380-91.

This article reports on a study of wiki-based online report writing in physics experiments. The study focuses on fifty-eight undergraduates working in randomly-assigned groups of 2-3 individuals. The multi-method, quantitative and qualitative study collected data including questionnaires, interviews, online discussions, and student writing and instructor assessment of student writing. Study results indicated that students communicated more extensively with each other, students working online received higher scores than those writing in more traditional ways, and students and instructors responded favorably to the teaching and learning experience afforded by the wiki. The author concludes with recommendations for using computer-mediated communication through wikis to improve the social and cognitive teaching and learning experiences of both students and instructors of physics and a call for researchers to conduct similar studies. This article discusses how to apply appropriate pedagogical strategies to an online class and how to develop successful online communities for student success.

Keywords: wikis, WAC, WID, research, qualitative research, quantitative research, interviews, surveys, discussion: English, assessment, student-to-student interaction, computer-mediated communication, community

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

McGrath, Laura. “In Their Own Voices: Online Writing Instructors Speak Out on Issues of Preparation, Development, and Support.” Computers and Composition Online, Spring 2008,

McGrath argues that “if faculty trainers, administrators, and other stakeholders are to make informed decisions about training and support, they need to know what online writing instructors are saying about these matters.” In order to provide this information, she conducted two surveys—one national and one local—as well as three interviews, each directed to online writing instructors asking about their perception of the training, professional development, and support they receive in their work. Her results indicate that most training is voluntary and focused on technological rather than pedagogical issues, that departmental and university administrators generally express little interest in instructors’ online teaching, and that most online instructors feel that their departments and institutions do not adequately value their online teaching and its time-intensive nature. McGrath calls for greater training and support, noting a special need for discipline-specific, pedagogy-based training to supplement general, technology-focused offerings, and recommends departments consider electing an “eLearning coordinator” to lead such efforts.

Keywords: teacher training, faculty development, administration, writing program administration, online writing programs, faculty satisfaction, faculty workload

OWI principles: 7, 8, 12, 15

McVey, Mary. “Writing in an Online Environment: Student Views of ‘Inked’ Feedback.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, vol. 20, no. 1, 2008, pp. 39-50.

The purpose of this study was to identify helpful feedback forms in an online class.  This study of fifty-seven students in a sixteen-week fully online course used student surveys to identify effective feedback methods.  The instructor utilized a handwriting tool on a digital tablet to mark student papers in a format that resembled traditional ink on paper feedback. She also utilized a feedback form, which contained live links to additional learning resources. Using the tablet feature, the instructor could write directly on the electronic version of the student paper, allowing her feedback to resemble feedback given in a traditional face-to-face setting. Students reported that the feedback was highly personalize and clear, allowing them to apply their learning to future assignments.  OWI studies in feedback may benefit from the continued study of the intersection of personalized feedback on student writing, student engagement, and student learning success.

keywords: feedback, research, surveys, qualitative research, student engagement, student success, instructor interaction, assessment

OWI Principle:  3, 4, 15

Miller, Susan. “A Review of Research on Distance Education in Computers and Composition.” Computers and Composition, special issue, Distance Education: Promises and Perils of Teaching and Learning Online, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 423-30.

Miller analyzes research related to online writing instruction (called distance-learning) that was published in Computers and Composition between 1994 and 1999 as part of a special edition of Computers and Composition . She identifies trends in the research, and her analysis of the twelve relevant articles from this period leads to her to identify two main categories 1) articles that theorize distance education in the context of writing instruction and (2) articles that describe distance education in practice. Articles in the first category address the need for new theories for computer-mediated instruction, a call to reconstruct of the concept of the physical classroom, and concerns about accessibility and ownership in online classes. Articles in the second category describe projects that seek to connect communities of distributed learners and highlight the benefits and limitations of “distance learning” (used first by Stacy, Goodman, and Stubbs, 1996) in composition classes. Miller ends by identifying the problems with making generalizations about online writing instruction using only articles from a single source within a single discipline based on only her definitions of “distance education” and “writing instruction” (428). She calls for the field of composition studies to do more research on distance education in writing instruction and for scholars in composition studies to explore how writing instruction is discussed in venues and disciplines outside of Computers and Composition.

Keywords: distance education, computer-mediated classrooms, community, research, literature review

OWI Principles: 15

Miller-Cochran, Susan K., and Rochelle L. Rodrigo. “Determining Effective Distance Learning Designs through Usability Testing.” Computers and Composition, special issue, Distance Learning: Evolving Perspectives, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 91-107.

Miller-Cochran and Rodrigo present the results of the usability testing they conducted to assess the design of their online first-year composition courses at a large community college in the Southwest. They sought to answer the following questions: 1) “How well can students navigate and perform tasks in the course? 2)  What should be revised in the course to make it more usable for students? 3)  What aspects of the course design were helpful to students and why? 4) What can teachers learn about the strengths and weaknesses of their own course design through conducting usability testing, and how can they use the results to revise their courses? 5) What methodological options do teachers have for conducting usability testing and what should they consider as they design their own tests? 6) What overall guidelines for online course design can be developed to address patterns revealed through conducting usability testing?” (93). Using a heuristic evaluation method and a think-aloud protocol, they asked students to complete a series of course tasks. They divided their results into three categories: 1) “course-specific results,” 2) “guidelines for conducting usability testing,” and 3) “guidelines for designing online courses” (98). They conclude that the study highlighted the need for them to re-think the clarity of their online and face-to-face courses. Their tests offer a model for conducting usability testing of online writing classes to anticipate and alleviate design problems, and their analysis provides an understanding of approaches for course design in online writing courses. The former offers an indication of how to design the tests, gather the data, interpret the results, and implement their findings. The latter are guidelines developed after examining a number of writing classes and applying design principles from usability engineering.

Keywords: usability testing, first-year composition, course and program design: English, modeling, research, qualitative research, instructional design

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 15

Moore, Noreen S., and Michelle L. Filling. “iFeedback: Using Video Technology for Improving Student Writing.” Journal of College Literacy and Learning, vol. 38, 2012, pp. 3-14.

Moore and Filling study the relationship between student engagement and instructor use of video feedback on writing assignments. Video feedback is beneficial in humanizing the instructor, providing a record of the instructor’s reactions to the writing, and allowing for more feedback provided more quickly than written comments. The researchers study addressed the following questions: “1) What characterizes the comments college students receive from instructors using video feedback? 2) What types of revisions do college students make after viewing video feedback? 3) How do college writers perceive video feedback?” (6). The participants were forty-five college students in a children’s literature and an English composition course. The instructors and peer tutors provided video feedback using iMovie, BBVista, and Quick Time Player and then asked students to revise their drafts and reflect on their revisions. After the students submitted final drafts, they were surveyed and interviewed. Using constant comparative analysis, the researchers concluded that students perceived the feedback as “better” than written feedback and that students revised at a global level. Students indicated that they listened to the feedback multiple times and continued to revise their work beyond the final draft for the portfolio. The implications of this study point to a need for additional studies on the efficacy of video feedback and an understanding of why revision improved after students received video feedback.

Keywords: feedback, revision, video, student engagement, instructor interaction, technology, teaching with technology: English, composition, tutoring, portfolios, research, surveys, interviews, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 15

Mongillo, Geraldine, and Hilary Wilder. “An Examination of At-Risk College Freshmen’s Expository Literacy Skills Using Interactive Online Writing Activities.” Journal of College Reading and Learning, vol. 42, no. 2, 2012, pp. 27-50.

Mongillo and Wilder’s study focused on at-risk college freshmens’ ability to read and write descriptive text using game-like, online expository writing activities. The research explored online expository literacy tasks that required the at-risk students to read and write descriptive text for the purpose of having peers guess an object or subject. The findings suggest that these online activities improved at-risk students’ expository literacy skills in the categories of description of prominent features and word choice. When writing in an online environment, writers should not only select appropriate words but also know their audience. By reading their peers’ responses to their own writing, participants were exposed to diverse and varying viewpoints, which may have helped them to better understand their audience and their own writing. Mongillo and Wilder note that at-risk readers often disengage when presented with expository text, yet the authors know that many of them are proficient users of technology, utilizing the Internet for information when necessary. The researchers used Blackboard to facilitate their game-like activity, and the participants reported that the LMS was easy to use. However, not all students have access to computers, and as some participants reported, the platform is not always reliable. The authors’ research concluded that future research is needed to determine if the activities used in this study can serve as a lens to examine students’ reading and writing behaviors and strategies.

Keywords: at-risk students, gamification, audience, student engagement, Blackboard, course management system, reading, literacy, grammar & style

OWI Principles:  1, 3, 4, 11, 15

Neaderhiser, Stephen, and Joanna Wolfe. “Between Technological Endorsement and Resistance: The State of Online Writing Centers.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, 2009, pp. 49-77.

Starting with identifying the various definitions of the term “online writing lab” (OWL) and discussing the types of online services often provided in these spaces, this article lays a foundation for past and current practices of OWLs. The authors identify each type of service, explain the type of technology needed for each service, and explain the benefits as well as potential problems of certain technological services. The authors then discuss the results of a 2006 survey conducted by The Writing Centers Research Project that included 1,286 respondents from the US and Canada. The results conclude that the creation of OWLs  is increasing across institutions. However, the infrastructure of the OWL is sometimes expensive and not often supported by institutional funding. For some centers, this financial challenge has led to outsourcing online services to companies such as Smarthinking. The findings also concluded that 90% of OWLs still rely most heavily on asynchronous or email based services despite the advancement of synchronous online communication applications and that research institutions were more likely to try new technologies for an online writing conference.

Keywords: online writing lab, asynchronous interaction, writing center, technology, research, surveys, qualitative research

OWI Principle:  13, 14, 15

Olson-Horswill, Laurie. “Online Writing Groups.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 30, no. 2, 2002, pp. 188-97.

Olson-Horswill argues that, if used well, “discussion forum technology connects online students in interactive, real-life writing groups,” with results that “can be even more interactive and personal than in a traditional classroom” (188). The article uses case methodology to study a freshman composition course. The course used the process model of reading, discussion, writing, writing groups, and writing workshops. Olson-Horswill concluded that once trust was established, online groups showed similar traits of face-to-face groups. In addition, because these groups were not bound by the space and time of the classroom nor governed by body language or facial expressions, they were even more connected through the genuine expression of their thoughts in writing. Olson-Horswill details the methods she uses in designing and facilitating the course and identifies student work that exemplifies the concepts she emphasizes in her online writing course.

Keywords: community, collaboration, discussion: english, discussion boards, case study, research, writing process, reading, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Oswal, Sushil K., and Lisa Meloncon. “Paying Attention to Accessibility and Disability in Technical and Professional Communication Online Course Design.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, vol. 28, no. 3, 2014, pp. 271-300.

Roughly 1 out of 10 students in online classrooms have some form of disability, and now that a growing number of technical and professional communication (TPC) courses and programs are offered online, scholars need to adequately address accessibility in online course design. Calling on the field to pay attention to this issue, the authors report the results of a national survey of online writing instructors. They use Selfe’s landmark essay as a way to theoretically frame the results, which indicate that instructors do not understand the need of making their courses accessible and have little guidance at their institutions regarding where to start. The authors offer several suggestions on ways to help instructors make their courses more accessible. Suggestions include instructors’ need to be more proactive in embracing accessibility, use multiple means of representation of course materials, carefully select online tools, and build capacity for accessible design within writing programs.

Keywords: disability studies, inclusivity, accessibility, course and program design: English, online writing programs, technical and professional writing, faculty development, surveys

OWI Principle: 1, 15

Oswal, Sushil, and Beth Hewett. “Accessibility Challenges for Visually Impaired Students and Their Online Writing Instructors.” Rhetorical Accessability: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies, edited by Lisa Meloncon, Baywood, 2013, pp. 135-56.

Stating that access in online teaching most often refers to throwing a wide net to reach students in geographically distributed locations or requesting that disabled students contact the professor in the first week of class, Oswal and Hewett frame accessibility in online writing instruction in terms of the core issues that arise for people with disabilities, using visual impairment as the core example. The authors use results of the 2011 State of the Art of OWI report developed by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI to demonstrate that those who teach writing of any kind in online settings are underprepared to consider access issues and, in some cases, express a lack of interest in them. They relate problems inherent to defining access adequately as one source of the problem. Oswal and Hewett extend the extant literature on access and OWI by providing a series of adaptive technologies for OWI that include textbook and technological choices (i.e., modality, course management systems, multimodal text accessibility, visual aspects of formatting, resources beyond the OWI classroom, and online conferencing). They conclude with an appendix offering tools for improving accessibility of electronic materials for the blind that provides a place for interested educators to begin their search.

Keywords: accessibility, disability studies, assistive technology, multimodal, visually impaired users

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15

Palmquist, Michael, et al. “Network Support for Writing Across the Curriculum: Developing an Online Writing Center.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 3, 1995, pp. 335-53.

Michael Palmquist, Dawn Rodrigues, Kate Kiefer, and Donald Zimmerman review their previous research on writing across the curriculum (WAC) efforts and argue that “computer-network technologies make it possible to consider an alternative to the indirect, top-down pedagogy used in most WAC programs” (335). By expanding the audience considered in WAC programs to not only faculty but also students themselves, Palmquist et al. insist that an integrated model of teaching, including team-teaching and content and writing specialists is the soundest model for WAC programs. However, because many campuses lack funding for such a robust WAC model, the article recommends instead centering the initiative in an online writing center (OWC). They then outline the process of developing their “network-supported writing-center-based WAC program” (340). They developed modular media courseware that was accessible by students using the Asymetrix Multimedia Toolbox 3.0 (344). In addition, they developed reference programs and tutorials to assist writers working at multiple stages of the writing process. Palmquist et al. conclude with a list of benefits and challenges to their model, and they encourage others seeking to implement this approach to begin with campus-wide conversations about the importance of writing at each individual campus.

Keywords: WAC, online writing center, research, literature review

OWI Principles: 13, 14, 15

Passig, David, and Gali Schwartz. “Collaborative Writing: Online Versus Frontal.” International Journal on E-Learning, vol. 6, no. 3, 2007, pp. 395-412.

Passig and Schwartz hypothesize that synchronous collaborative writing that is facilitated with technology, rather than occurring in the fully face-to-face (what they call “frontal”) mode, can produce higher quality writing.  Their study looked at a collaborative online document generated synchronously by graduate students and compared it to writing produced by similar students who also worked collaboratively but face-to-face. To evaluate written documents, the authors used the Cognitive Level and Quality Writing Assessment instrument, or CLAQWA. The technology used to facilitate the synchronous collaboration was called GROOVE.  According to the authors, the GROOVE platform “generates a shared space which serves as a private online work environment to which colleagues are invited to share information. The shared space enables all the online participants […]to process and edit text in an interactive, synchronic way” (398).  The authors found that despite some of the technical challenges presented by users having to install GROOVE on home machines, the student group that worked synchronously online produced what the authors describe as “a paper of a higher quality” (395) compared to the collaborative group that worked face-to-face, thus challenging what the authors express as the belief by others that technology is unlikely to improve student writing.

Keywords: synchronous interaction, collaboration, technology, quantitative research, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 3, 10, 15

Pickering, Kristin. “Developing Ethos in the WebCT Technical Communication Classroom: Diverse Voices.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 2, 2009, pp. 166-87.

Drawing upon activity theory and Engeström’s triangle of human activity (1987), this article focuses on student ethos development within an online course environment as a way to highlight the individuality of students participating in online, social forums. After contextualizing the concepts of ethos and persona, the author presents foundational activity theory concepts and explains the theory’s value as an analytical tool for studying distributed learning environments. The author analyzes email messages and discussion board postings from two students in the same online course through a case study approach and applies the activity theory triangle to suggest ways these students developed their own unique ethos within the course. For one of these students, the ethos constructed resulted from social conflict that developed within the course during the semester, including dis-identification. The article concludes by discussing limitations of the study, summarizing the benefits of applying activity theory to distributed learning environments, and suggesting directions for future research.

Keywords: student engagement, assessment, discussion: English, discussion boards, case study, research, qualitative research, identity

OWI Principles:  3, 11, 15

Pittenger, Amy L., and Becky Olson-Kellogg. “Leveraging Learning Technologies for Collaborative Writing in an Online Pharmacotherapy Course.” Distance Education, vol. 33, no. 1, 2012, pp. 61-80.

Pittenger and Olson-Kellogg investigated a graduate-level nursing course to understand how online writing could help faculty understand how graduate students “collaboratively create written communications appropriate for different audiences, namely, for the students in this project, patients, and other members of the health-care team” and demonstrate content mastery (63-64). Fifty participants in the study were assigned complex problems that combined physical therapy situations with pharmacotherapy issues. The researchers asked the following questions: “1) To what extent does collaborative writing within a wiki effectively facilitate learning? 2) Is it feasible to use a completed hypertext document to demonstrate content mastery and health professional competency? and 3) How does working within a group, addressing interprofessional as well as a patient audience, impact professional identity development?” (68). Participants completed an entrance survey and course evaluation and participated in focus groups after the projects were completed. Pittenger and Olson-Kellogg found that students were initially reluctant to work in groups, but they found the experience to be valuable after the project was over. The respondents indicated that “the complexity of the learning format allowed them to take on the role of a physical therapist in addressing the entire patient, both in designing physical therapy recommendations within a pharmacotherapy context, but also communicating with multiple audiences as the physical therapist” (73) through activities that helped them develop their professional identities. This study is important for those interested in writing to learn across the disciplines and for reinforcing the importance of writing across the curriculum as programs outside writing studies seek to expand their online offerings.

Keywords: WAC, collaboration, graduate students, wikis, WID, surveys, evaluation, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Poniatowski, Kelly. “Getting Students Ready to Write: An Experiment in Online Teaching and Learning.” Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, vol. 67, no. 2, 2012, pp. 120-33.

This case study in course design demonstrates the success of a required one-credit online grammar and writing mechanics course. Over five semesters, Poniatowski studied an online grammar course and a traditional face-to-face grammar course and found that the engaging nature of the online course through interactive tutorials and podcasts led to greater student satisfaction.  The author also saw what appeared to be a positive relationship between the online course and student learning.  Course design, access to a significant number of online tools, and the potential to interact with the instructor all played a role in the success of the online grammar course.  In this study, faculty perceptions indicated a belief that students were better prepared for later courses when this grammar course was used as a gateway course to more advanced studies.  OWI studies benefit from the ongoing study of course design, student perception, and student achievement in online writing and grammar classrooms.

Keywords:  interactivity, grammar & style, writing mechanics, course design, student perception, student satisfaction, instructor interaction, WAC, WID, faculty perception

OWI Principle 3, 11, 13, 15

Qiu, Mingzhu, et al. “Online Class Size, Note Reading, Note Writing and Collaborative Discourse.” International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, vol. 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 423-42.

Mingshu Qiu, Jim Hewitt, and Claire Brett studied the “relationship between class size and note reading loads, note writing locas, and collaborative discussions in online graduate-level courses” (424). Because student participation and interaction are crucial to a successful online course, students can experience information overload in large online classes. Their researchers used a mixed methods approach which demonstrated a positive correlation between class size and the number of notes that students read. However, “when the number of notes that students were meant to read increased beyond a certain point, the percentage of notes they actually read declined, mainly because of information overload” (429). Some students, when faced with more notes to write, chose to write more notes with more simple language. When asked about the instructor’s notes in discussions, students indicated that when instructors did not write enough notes, the students considered them “absent” (432). The researchers concluded that the ideal class size for online graduate classes was between 13 and 15 students; fewer students would lead to slow class discussions, and more students lead to information overload for both students and instructors. This study is important in demonstrating the correlation between class size and student performance in online classes.

Keywords: graduate classes, course caps, collaboration, discussion: English, reading, student engagement, student-to-student interaction, instructor interaction, research, mixed methods, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 9, 11, 12, 15

Rankins-Robertson, Sherry et al. “Multimodal Instruction: Pedagogy and Practice for Enhancing Multimodal Composition Online.” Kairos 2014, vol. 19, no. 1,


Sherry Rankins-Robertson, Tiffany Bourelle, Andrew Bourelle, and David Fisher argue for using multimodality in online courses to “design online writing courses with digital tools to deliver instructional content and facilitate feedback.” This webtext not only lays out the argument for multimodality but mirrors the content through the design of the text, which looks like what a student using Writer’s Studio might encounter when accessing and navigating through a class that implements multimodal elements. Each section of the webtext demonstrates how the course is designed while simultaneously describing what elements would go in each section of the course and how those elements supported student learning. The webtext provides a sample assignment sequence and student response to that assignment to demonstrate how a multimodal sequence in the online class works. Finally, the authors discuss the challenges and constraints of both encouraging students to create multimodal projects and providing multimodal feedback to those students (samples of multimodal feedback is included as well). Instructors implementing multimodal course assignments and learning objects are encouraged to keep assignments simple, to use popular media, and to plan assignments so that they can be reused. This article provides a thorough theoretical and practical description of how multimodal assignments can work effectively in the online classroom with a clear description of the challenges of implementing these assignments.


Keywords: multimodal, learning management systems, video: English, collaboration, student-to-student interaction, student engagement


OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 15


Reilly, Colleen, and Joseph John Williams. “The Price of Free Software: Labor, Ethics, and Context in Distance Education.” Computers and Composition, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 68-90.

Reilly and Williams investigated whether open-source software choices were influenced by instructors’ institutional pressures and structures. They concluded that “due to time constraints, inadequate technical expertise, and institutional mandates, both proactive and implied, many instructors select commercial courseware—such as Blackboard and WebCT—when teaching their distance-learning courses.” (69). Even though open-source software more closely aligns with the liberatory and participatory nature of many university and college writing courses and programs, the time and knowledge constraints on online writing instructors can dissuade them from using open-source software. In a survey distributed to the WPA-L and TechRhet listservs, participants identified ease of use as the primary motivating factor in selecting course systems for online classes. Also at issue are the tension between philosophies that encourage the sharing of knowledge and the concerns that institutions and others might monetize the software and content produced by instructors using open-source tools. The authors review three open-source course management systems in terms of their viability for use by online writing instructors: Drupal, Plone, and Sakai (75). They concluded that the most viable course management system was Drupal. They also reviewed Blackboard and WebCT and concluded that these proprietary systems could be rigid and complicate the idea of open sharing so important to writing pedagogy. They conclude with case studies of four educators who use course management systems and identified a “disconnect between the professed support for open-source applications and the extent of their use for delivering writing courses in a distance-learning format” (88). This study raises crucial questions about who controls the environment of the online writing class and how the increasingly contingent nature of faculty positions might prevent instructors from fully implementing innovative and open-source technologies.

Keywords: accessibility, open-source software, teaching with technology: English, surveys, research, Blackboard, course management systems, academic labor,

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 5, 6, 12, 15

Rendahl, Merry, and Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch. “Toward a Complexity of Online Learning: Learners in Online First-Year Writing.” Computers and Composition, vol. 30, no. 4, Dec. 2013, pp. 297-314. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2013.10.002.

Rendahl and Kastman Breuch used a mixed methods approach to answer the question, “What do students in an online first-year writing course perceive as good study habits, and what helps them succeed?” (298).  They used a case study research design to observe two sections of an online first-year writing (OFYW) course. They also used a student survey, statistics from the course management system, information from online discussions, online peer review session notes, and interviews with both students in the OFYW class and interviews with both instructors teaching the classes and students in the classes. They analyze this data through social cognitive theory, in particular the theories of Albert Bandura, in order to understand the complex dynamics of student choices and motivation in OFYW classes. Rendahl and Kastman Breuch found that, “Students ranked interactions with course content as a more frequent and more typical activity than interaction with the instructor, which was subsequently ranked as more frequent and more typical than interactions with other students” (306). Students who rated themselves highly on use of study time did not necessarily receive better scores than individuals who rated themselves moderately on those scales. Course structure was a significant external factor in students’ satisfaction with the course. Students who logged into the course early were more likely to successfully complete the course. The authors end the article by calling for researchers to revisit the place of participation in the online classroom and to further explore social cognitive learning theories for what they can tell us about student behavior in the online classroom. This study is useful for researchers attempting to identify internal and external student motivations in OFYW classes and provides a model study that could be replicated with different first-year-student populations.

Keywords: first-year writing, mixed methods, research, course management system, student preparation, case study, surveys, qualitative research, instructor interaction, student-to-student interaction, student engagement

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11, 15

Rubin, Lois. “‘I Just Think Maybe You Could . . .’: Peer Critiquing through Online Conversations.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 29, no. 4, 2002, pp. 382-92.

Rubin points to then-recent studies that demonstrate the benefits of peer review, including peer review using computers, to argue for why she prefers her students to do computer-mediated peer-review. She finds that peer-review done online lead to longer, more conversational, more robust commentary. The article outlines the various politeness techniques that her students used and the language that demonstrated that they believed themselves to be part of a group. Student surveys indicated that a majority of students in her three classes gave positive evaluations of computer-mediated critiquing. They indicated that the increased distance between themselves and the students they were critiquing helped them to focus on responding to the text and kept them from venturing into “off topic” conversations (389). Overall, Rubin concludes that the online critiques were “lively and personable” in contrast to the flat marginal comments of hand-written peer review.  

Keywords: peer review, computer-mediated communication, feedback, surveys, qualitative research

OWI principle: 11, 13, 14, 15

Rubens, Philip, and Sherry Southard. “‘Students’ Technological Difficulties in Using Web-Based Learning Environments.”  Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2005, pp. 193-205.

Rubens and Southard identify how they planned the initial online courses around research on web design and interaction through freeware and shareware, distribution lists, and Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ chat rooms for an online Certificate in Professional Communication and an online master’s degree in English, Technical, and Professional Communication. They provided training opportunities for students new to the technologies of the courses. In spite of this preparation, they found students still had difficulties navigating and participating in online courses. A study of email messages, threaded discussions, and summaries of phone and face-to-face interactions with students indicated that students required additional support to use discussion software, understand commands in browsers, and access course materials in various browsers. This study concludes with a list of ways in which faculty and programs can prepare their classes and their students for using technologies necessary to be successful in online settings.

Keywords: instructional technology, technical support, graduate programs, graduate students, student preparation, email, discussion: English, discussion boards

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 15

Sánchez, Fernando. “Creating Accessible Spaces for ESL Students Online.” WPA: Writing Program Administration, vol. 37, no. 1, 2013, pp. 161-85.

Sánchez’s study examines the accessibility of OWL websites for international students. The study sample consisted of eight universities with 6,000 or more international students. Sanchez then tested each university website for accessibility based on four factors: 1) intercultural needs, 2) writing resource needs, 3) plagiarism needs, and 4) readability. Intercultural needs involved the website’s clarity of purpose in explaining the goals and purpose of the writing center, and writing resource needs involved the OWL’s ability to provide resources readily. Plagiarism needs were defined as how well ESL students could understand and avoid plagiarism, and readability involved how easily the website could be read and understood by ESL students. Sánchez then searched for each OWL through the university’s homepage and continued his search for each category through the use of keywords and phrases. In order to test readability, Sánchez copied and pasted student expectation pages into a Microsoft Word document and used the Readability Statistics function. While he found that every website contained intercultural needs criteria, only three websites contained writing resource needs. Some of these failures were indicative of a more systemic problem of the failure to assist ESL students. Plagiarism was widely addressed, but only one website explained cultural differences regarding borrowing work. Every website scored as readable, although some scored more difficult to read than others. Sánchez recommends that websites be more tailored to the needs of ESL students, including resources that go beyond grammar, as well as improving the readability of these sites.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, EFL, multilingual writers, accessibility, writing center, online resources, online writing centers, online writing labs, accessibility, plagiarism, research, usability testing, culturally responsive pedagogy

OWI Principles 1, 3, 15

Sanderson-Cole, Karen, and Danielle Watson. “Academic Writing Within An Online Learning Environment: Assessing The Impact Of Peer Evaluation On Lesson Planning, Execution and Assessment.” Journal of International Education Research, vol. 9, no. 2, 2013, pp. 115-26.

In this study, Sanderson-Cole and Watson assess the impact of peer evaluation and collaboration among teachers of various sections of the online course English for Academic Purposes, a compulsory level one course for students entering the University of the West Indies. While the extent of peer evaluation in developed countries is mostly limited to addressing administrative tasks and providing technical frameworks for course development, the authors note that peer evaluation in developing countries, such as those in the Caribbean, lacks even these basic resources.  In their study, which consisted of teacher pairs assigned various activities to prepare content for delivery to English for Academic Purposes, Sanderson-Cole and Watson examine whether teacher pairing results in greater standardization of course content, the impact on standardization of approaches to learning, and the extent to which collaboration results in new strategies for improving student learning in an online environment.  Based on their findings, the authors conclude that peer collaboration enhances the learning environment through identification of specific areas that need improvement in course delivery both in general and in individual practice. Furthermore, the authors conclude that peer collaboration is an effective tool for promoting self-reflection and is useful in terms of course planning among learning facilitators. The authors end with a call to further study peer evaluation in the face-to-face learning environment as a means to address territorialism and professional identity.  

Keywords: collaboration, peer review, reflection, English for Academic Purposes, research, qualitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15

Schelly, Catherine, et al. “Student Perceptions of Faculty Implementation of Universal Design for Learning.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, vol. 24, no. 1, 2011, pp. 17-30.

The anecdotal benefits of implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) at postsecondary institutions are well documented. The literature suggests that UDL offers students with disabilities enhanced opportunities for engagement, expression, and academic performance. Responding to the call by educators for empirical evidence of UDL’s beneficial effects on student learning, performance, persistence, and ultimately retention, the researchers used focus groups and surveys to measure changes and/or improvements in instruction as perceived by students following UDL instructor training and subsequent course delivery modifications. Students reported statistically-significant increases in faculty UDL use after training. Even though this study was conducted using psychology classes, the findings suggest that OWIs can benefit from professional development in the principles of UDL because that training resulted in significant increases of UDL principles in online course development.

Keywords: faculty development, universal design, learning outcomes, empirical research, WID

OWI Principles: 1, 7, 15

Schneider, Suzanne P. and Clark G. Germann. “Technical Communication on the Web: A Profile of Learners and Learning Environments.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1, 1999, pp. 37-48.

Schneider and Germann describe the results of their demographics study of students taking online courses at University of Colorado at Denver (CU-Denver) and Metropolitan State College of Denver (MSCD) and discuss how online learning may support adult learning practices. The authors examined three demographic areas of students enrolled in online courses: age, sex, and ethnicity. Their results demonstrated that students enrolled in online courses were on average older than students enrolled in face-to-face courses. At MSCD there was no significant enrollment difference between men and women, and at CU-Denver, a slightly higher percentage of women were taking online courses. The authors compare this finding to statistical data of general Internet usage of men and women. This data demonstrated that although a higher percentage of men than women used the Internet, this statistic does not seem to impact women’s enrollment in online courses. Therefore, Internet use does not seem to be a barrier for women to enroll in online education. All of the ethnicity data from their study comes from MSCD, and the data demonstrated that significantly more White-Caucasian students enrolled in online courses than non-white students. The authors conclude from their demographic data that providing equal access to online education is an important and continuing issue. The authors then consider how the five characteristics of a learning environment best suited for adults presented by Kolb, Rubin, and Oswald could be met through online education. They discuss notions of reciprocity, experienced-based learning, personal application, and learning that is individualized and self-directed as well as that which integrates learning and living. The authors conclude with a discussion of the importance of an interactive learning environment and discuss how writing technologies, such as email, threaded discussions, and synchronous chat can support teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction.

Keywords: nontraditional learners, adult learners, accessibility, technical and professional writing, gender, race, research, empirical research

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11, 15

Severino, Carol, et al. “Comparison of Online Feedback Requests by Non-Native English-Speaking and Native English-Speaking Writers.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 29., no. 1, 2009, pp. 106-29.

The authors conduct an empirical study of the types of feedback requests made by Non-Native English Speakers (NNES) in comparison with those made by their Native English Speaker (NES) counterparts. The study used feedback requests from the online tutoring program at the University of Iowa writing center and were categorized based on the type of request, ranging from “satisfy assignment or task” and “development” to “style and syntax” and “grammar and punctuation” (116). The study asked whether NNES writers were more likely to submit requests for certain types of feedback, and if so, what kind. The results prove that NNES writers do submit more requests for grammar and punctuation help, but they are almost equally as likely as NES writers to submit requests for help in other areas of concern, including higher-order skills.

Keywords: empirical research, ESL, ELL, EFL, L2, multilingual writers, grammar & syntax, online tutoring

OWI Principle 1, 13, 15

Shih, Ru-Chu. “Can Web 2.0 Technology Assist College Students in Learning English Writing? Integrating ‘Facebook’ and Peer Assessment with Blended Learning.” Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 27, no. 5, 2011, pp. 829-45.

This article presents the findings of a study examining a writing course for first-year students at a technical university in Taiwan that used Facebook, peer assessment, and classroom instruction in a blended learning environment. For this course, students were required to post their writing assignments to Facebook, respond to each other’s writing via Facebook’s comment function, and then respond to each other’s feedback. For the study, twenty-three students were divided into three groups based on their National College Entrance Exam scores. Shih used both quantitative and qualitative methods to ascertain the perspective of students and the instructor about the class and changes in students writing as a result of the class.  Results of a pre- and post-test demonstrated improvement for all students, but particularly those who were in the lowest scoring group. Content analysis showed that those in the highest scoring group commented the most, most likely due to their higher competency with English. Shih found that many students used emoticons or the “like” button within Facebook to accompany their comments. Results of a survey given to students revealed moderate to high satisfaction with aspects of the course. Interviews with students corroborated these findings; students seemed to appreciate the opportunity to communicate with and receive feedback from their peers on Facebook. The instructor’s reflection suggested that a blended learning model relying on online peer assessment may actually require more time and effort for instructors. Shih concludes that the study supports the effectiveness of this course model and calls for future research with a larger sample of students.

Keywords: blended, social media, assessment, peer review, community, research, empirical research, ESL, EFL, ELL, L2, multilingual writers, accessibility, faculty workload, time management

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 8, 11, 12, 15


So, Lee, and Chung Hyun Lee. “A Case Study on the Effects of an L2 Writing Instructional Model for Blended Learning in Higher Education.” Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 12, no. 4, 2013, pp. 1-10,

L2 students in traditional onsite classes face many challenges in improving their writing, particularly those associated with time and guided practice. In response to these challenges, So and Lee designed a blended instructional model grounded in writing process theory that enabled students to interact with each other and each other’s drafts online. Doing so gave students more time to write and more opportunities to have their work reviewed by their peers and teacher before submitting the final draft and reflection. The instructional model mapped the five main stages of the writing process—prewriting, drafting, revising, revising and polishing, and reviewing—onto a blended model that started and ended in the onsite classroom. Students interacted with each other in both the onsite and online environments through the initial brainstorming session, two rounds of peer review, and the final assessment and reflection activities. Student learning was measured by language proficiency tests administered at the beginning, middle, and end stages of the semester. All of the participants’ writing improved, which So and Lee attribute to “the abundant opportunities to produce multiple drafts, the giving and receiving of feedback, and the explicit practicing of discrete writing components through guided writing exercises” (9). This study would be useful to OWI instructors, especially those who teach blended classes, as an example of how to sequence and support the stages of the writing process across multiple learning modalities.

Keywords: blended, L2, ELL, ESL, EFL, multilingual writers, writing process, interactivity, peer review, revision, empirical research, quantitative research, modality

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 15

Starke‐Meyerring, Doreen, and Linda S. Clemens. "Theoretical and Practical Considerations for Virtual Learning Environments in Technical Communication: An Annotated Bibliography." Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 2, 1999, pp. 125-41.

This article provides an annotated bibliography of sources related to virtual learning environments for technical communication. Starke-Meyerring and Clemens note that they chose sources that related to praxis, including sources published on the Internet and aimed for a middle ground between theory and practice. They arrange sources according to the steps technical communicators take when entering the field: overviews, designs, implementation, and evaluation. Their annotations provide a summary of the sources and an evaluation of their usefulness for those in the field of technical communication who are also interested in online learning.

Keywords: technical and professional communication, virtual classroom, praxis, literature review

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 7, 13, 15

Stewart-McCoy, Michelle. ‘“Beautifying the Beast’: Customising Online Instruction in a Writing Course for Jamaican Tertiary-level Students.” SiSAL Journal, vol. 4, no. 3, 2013, pp. 157-74.

This article details the first two phases of a 4-phase research project that seeks to develop guidelines for the design of a customized online academic writing course in Jamaican tertiary schools. The project’s intention is to generate interest in online courses, maintain student engagement, and encourage self-directed learning. Stewart-McCoy describes the present challenges for the model, including students’ poor writing skills and discomfort with online courses. She then describes how she used “Design Based Research” (DBR) to develop address two research questions: “1) What are the learning characteristics and needs of students pursuing academic writing courses? and 2) What components are deemed relevant to spark students’ interest, ensure active participation and encourage self-direction in an online academic writing module?” (161-162). The researcher gathered information from “two content writing experts, one multimedia specialist, six academic writing lecturers and fifty-four academic writing students” through surveys and interviews (162). Based on an analysis of the students’ learning preferences, Stewart-McCoy designed an online class and provided a mockup of the course layout.  The final two phases, including a pilot course and two additional cycles of the course, were briefly detailed.

Keywords: student engagement, research, qualitative research, surveys, interviews, course and program design: English

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Taffs, Kathryn H., and Julienne I. Holt. “Investigating Student Use and Value of e-Learning Resources to Develop Academic Writing within the Discipline of Environmental Science.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education, vol. 37, no. 4, 2013, pp. 500-14.

This article studies the value, quality, and effectiveness of e-learning resources to improve learning skills, specifically focusing on the discipline-specific skills required to complete an academic writing assignment in environmental sciences. Taffs details the background and methodology of the study, including the specific online resources that were developed to effectively address previously identified barriers to learning. Through the analysis of usage statistics and student questionnaires, Taffs argues that e-learning resources can be both useful and highly effective in the learning process as long as the resources are assignment-specific and are embedded directly into the curriculum.  The final conclusions of the study serve as a guide to future resource development to support flexible and engaged learning.

Keywords: WID, research, online resources, surveys, quantitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 15

Tai, Hung-Cheng, Mei-Yu Pan, and Bih-O Lee. “Applying Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) Model to Develop an Online English Writing Course for Nursing Students.” Nurse Education Today, vol. 35, no. 6, 2015, pp. 782-88.

This article focuses on a study that implemented the Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) model in an online English writing course for nursing students. The study sought “1) to assess the effectiveness of the TPACK model based writing training program contributing to learners' learning outcomes; 2) to investigate the learners' perceptions and satisfactions about the TPACK model based writing training program; and 3) to explore the teacher's reflections about the TPACK model based writing training program” (783). The study was a single-group experimental study, utilizing the National College Entrance Examination Center (CEEC) writing grading criteria and a self-designed course satisfaction questionnaire. . . . collected at the end of the course” (783). The results demonstrated that the TPACK model was successful in raising students’ test scores, although they did not like the increased pressure of peer tutoring and other activities that occurred outside of the traditional classroom. In particular, they wanted to receive feedback directly from the instructor rather than from peers or a learning program.  Though several challenges became apparent during the course semester, Tai advises that the TPACK model should be seriously considered when developing a class for language learners.

Keywords:  WID, course design, learning outcomes, reflection, peer review, feedback, instructor interaction, qualitative research, surveys, empirical research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 14, 15

Thompson, Gene. “Moving Online: Changing the Focus of a Writing Center.” SiSAL Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, 2014, pp. 127-42.

To address the limitations of a small departmental writing center in Japan, Thompson uses survey data to identify and accommodate student needs. Thompson explains that the dialogic, process-oriented tutor sessions common to North American writing centers frequently did not match the expectations of students who often came to the writing center with straightforward questions about assignment guidelines, grammar, or citations. Moreover, due to budgetary and space constraints, the writing center was only open on a walk-in basis for about six hours a week. The few students who came to the center usually did so all at once, forcing the center to turn many students away. To remedy this situation, two changes were made: the introduction of an online reservation system and the creation of an online resource lab for handouts and references. After one semester, students were surveyed to determine the efficacy of the changes. The results indicated that of the students who used the writing center, most accessed the online resources instead of coming in for a face-to-face session. Based on these findings, tutor sessions were suspended, and more materials were added to the online resource lab. A subsequent survey indicated that over 90% of the students surveyed found the online resources useful. Thompson proposes that tutor sessions be reincorporated in the third stage of this study, but only online, through the institution’s new LMS. Ultimately, Thompson argues that user-focused data is needed when determining how best to meet students’ needs. While this is a small, context-specific study, it provides a simple yet effective model for OWI instructors and administrators interested in evaluating and improving their own classes and programs.

Keywords: writing center, online writing lab, surveys, grammar & style, surveys, research, online resources, course management system, qualitative research, evaluation

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 13, 14, 15

Thompson, Riki, and Meredith J. Lee. “Talking with Students through Screencasting: Experimentations with Video Feedback to Improve Student Learning.” The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, no. 1,  2012,

In this article, Thompson and Lee explore the benefits of using screencasting software to deliver audio-visual feedback to students on written assignments. After briefly discussing how screencasting is used in the classroom for supplemental teaching, she explains the small study she and Lee conducted to survey students (n=32) regarding screencasting as a response medium. While the students were mostly positive about the screencast feedback, Thompson cautions that additional studies are necessary before drawing generalized conclusions on the effectiveness of screencasting with regard to improved learning and greater student engagement. However, the methods that Thompson and Lee outline for providing feedback are helpful for those considering providing screencast feedback or studying the efficacy of that feedback in their own classes.

Keywords: audio, feedback, video: English, assessment, research, qualitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 12, 14, 15

Townsend, Jane S., and Allan Nail. "Response, Relationship, and Revision: Learning to Teach Writing in Asynchronous Contexts." Journal of Literacy and Technology, vol. 12, no. 3, 2011, pp. 51-85.

In this article, Townsend and Nail present the findings of a study of a writing mentorship program between pre-service teachers and high school students as part of the Online Writing Partnership. This article draws on a larger study examining this program, with the current study focusing on interviewing both the graduate student and high school student participants and analyzing artifacts from the experience, including high school students’ papers with feedback and the email correspondence between the partners. Townsend and Nail categorized the type of feedback offered by the graduate students and found that the majority were editing suggestions, despite the graduate students’ belief that they were helping students revise. Townsend and Nail suggest that even the graduate students do not fully understand or embrace the concept of revision. They suggest that these views are likely influenced by these pre-service teachers’ own experiences in the classroom. The other major theme from the study was the nature of online mentoring relationships. Many of the graduate students expressed a frustration with the lack of social presence in their online relationships. All communication was asynchronous, and many graduate participants reported feeling disconnected from their high school student partner. Despite this challenge, Townsend and Nail argue that experiences like the Online Writing Partnership are important for pre-service teachers, perhaps because of the discomfort, which provides an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to reflect on the function and form of effective feedback. From the results of the study, changes have been made to the Online Writing Partnership program to provide more opportunities for collaborative interactions and face-to-face meetings. The authors report that ongoing research is continuing on the program to assess this new blended learning model. The findings of this study on online mentoring demonstrates the importance of a sense of presence, relationship, and community in online learning.

Keywords: revision, mentoring, graduate students, email, feedback, teacher training, instructor interaction, asynchronous interaction, collaboration, blended, community

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 15

Tuzi, Frank. “The Impact of E-Feedback on the Revisions of L2 Writers in an Academic Writing Course.” Computers and Composition, vol. 21, no. 2, 2004, pp. 217-35.

Tuzi argues that there are clear advantages for using electronic feedback (e-feedback) and oral feedback in first-year composition classroom. He studies the e-feedback of twenty L2 writers “in a natural setting that incorporated an emergent design and subjective data collection from human subjects in the form of interviews and observations…[and] statistical analysis and coding of the written drafts and responses” (222). Tuzi finds that e-feedback was more effective at encouraging changes at the sentence and paragraph levels, but e-feedback proves more beneficial than oral feedback in stimulating global revision. However, Tuzi argues that students enjoy oral feedback more and generally prefer that method. He concludes that e-feedback provides additional avenues for feedback but that L2 learners will benefit as much from feedback training as they will from providing feedback in a particular modality.

Keywords: feedback, orality, L2, ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, interviews, qualitative research, revision

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15

Van Waes, Luuk, Daphne van Weijen, and Mariëlle Leijten. “Learning to Write in an Online Writing Center: The Effect of Learning Styles on the Writing Process.” Computers and Education, vol. 73, 2014, pp. 60-71.

Van Waes, van Weihen, and Leijten investigate the extent to which different learning styles affect students’ writing process and the quality of student writing. The authors designed a study in which twenty undergraduate students completed a writing task—writing a “bad news letter”—which they did by completing an online module comprised of three main sections: theory, practice exercises, and a “case section” for the writing task itself.  The module was designed in such a way that students could interact with the sections in any order they liked. The authors collected and analyzed data that recorded which module pages the students clicked, how long students stayed on a page, and how long students took to draft and revise the writing task. The authors found that reflective learners (divergers and assimilators, in Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory) viewed more pages of the module, switched tasks more frequently, and took longer to complete the task than the active learners (accommodators and convergers). The authors found no significant differences between active and reflective learners in the quality of the text produced. Perhaps the most useful finding is that all students spent time referencing the theory section as they were completing the writing task, indicating that writing is not a linear process, especially in digital environments. The authors recommend that OWI instructors build “flexible learning paths” into their courses to accommodate students with different learning styles.  

Keywords: learning styles, writing process, modules, adaptive learning, revision, reflection, research, quantitative research,

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 14, 15

Vincelette, Elizabeth. “Video Capture for Grading: Multimodal Feedback and the Millennial Student.” Enhancing Instruction with Visual Media: Utilizing Video and Lecture Capture, edited by Ellen G. Smyth and John X. Volker, IGI Global, 2013, pp. 107-27, doi: 10.4018/978-1-46666-3962-1.ch008.

Vincelette discusses a pilot study that incorporates what she calls “screencast assessment” for providing multimodal feedback on student writing assignments through Jing and (107). Because of the ubiquity of multimodal objects in the lives of “digital natives,” she infers that “screencast assessment fits into students’ daily experiences with technology, uses familiar interfaces, and can provide more effective feedback to students about their writing than can text-based feedback alone” (108). The article addresses the following research questions: “1) To what degree is screencast assessment more beneficial than traditional text-based feedback?, 2) How do students perceive the effectiveness of screencast assessment?, and 3) To what degree does screencast assessment help students improve writing?” (109). While Vincelette acknowledges that the small sample size (9 out of 18 students in the class) does not allow for the conclusions to be generalized, she found that her grounded theory approach to student surveys using corpus analysis revealed that “students feel responsibility for their writing and recognize that grading is part of a process involving both students and instructors” (113). Students seemed to most value the combination of video and the teacher’s voice, understanding that faculty were more involved in their grading and their classes and had taken extra time to do the recordings, which mattered to students in this study. Vincelette concludes with recommendations for how to effectively set up and complete screencast assessment and calls for additional studies with larger student populations and a consideration of how screencasting works for students with a variety of disabilities. This article provides a research methodology for studying the effectiveness of screencasting to provide student feedback and also a set of concrete guidelines for those instructors seeking to begin using screencasting for student assessment in their online and hybrid courses.

Keywords: accessibility, assessment: English, feedback, video: English, disability studies, research, grounded theory, instructor interaction, screencast, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 15

Vincelette, Elizabeth, and Timothy Bostic. “Show and Tell: Student and Instructor Perceptions of Screencast Assessment.” Assessing Writing, vol. 18, no. 4, Oct. 2013, pp. 257-77. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.asw.2013.08.001.

Vincelette and Bostic study the use of screencast feedback in order to develop a method of feedback that meet the goals of reducing faculty grading load, inserting the instructor as a presence with vocal tone and inflection in commenting, and providing more usable feedback to students who might not be motivated to read written feedback. Their study seeks to answer three questions: “1) From their perspective, do students find multimodal assessment using screen capturing technology more effective than traditional written feedback, and do they feel more engaged with their writing feedback? 2) From the instructors’ perspectives, do they believe that their students’ written works improved due to the use of a multimodal assessment method? and 3) Do instructors using screen-capturing as a method of providing feedback on writing believe that the time it takes to learn the technology is worthwhile?” (261). The study participants included thirty-nine students enrolled in one of two entry level composition courses at a university. Instructors in the courses used Jing to screencast feedback that was shared via email or in portfolios. Students were then surveyed about their experiences with the screencast feedback, and their instructors were interviewed about their experiences providing feedback. The results showed that students felt the feedback was more effective, and they felt that they made more substantive revisions after receiving screencast feedback. Instructors felt that screencasts were beneficial and that “the level of engagement reported by the students is seen by the instructors as an increase in the communication rapport between instructors and students” (265). While faculty reported that student revision was “mixed,” they also indicated that providing screencast feedback required that they be more positive and give more detailed comments on student papers once they established sound workflows with the technology. Vincelette and Bostic conclude that additional studies with more students are warranted and that instructors implementing screencast feedback pay attention to the length of the feedback and their own comfort levels with using screencast technology. This article is an important contribution to the research on alternatives to written feedback in online classes and helps instructors better understand effective feedback and the limitations of multimodal feedback on student writing.

Keywords: assessment: English, feedback, multimodality, research, revision, screencast, faculty workload, student engagement, instructor interaction, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 15

Walkington, Helen. “Developing Dialogic Learning Space: The Case of Online Undergraduate Research Journals.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education, vol. 36, no. 4, 2012, pp. 547-62.

Walkington asserts that “Understanding research and participation in the research process are central to the needs of undergraduate students in Higher Education” (547). Thus, this article outlines a strategy for using wikis as an online collaborative learning space where undergraduate students learn to write for professional publications, and graduate students review articles for undergraduate researchers. Walkington evaluates the impact of this collaborative space on student learning by interviewing students who participated in publishing and reviewing articles for two e-journals: GEOverse and Geoversity. Undergraduate students reported “a sense of achievement, heightened  understanding of a research topic, enjoyment of the creative process and a sense of ownership of the research” (552). In particular, students reported using more scholarly sources over web sources because they wanted to make sure the results they were presenting fit in with others’ published work on their topic. Students also highly valued the experience of working toward publication in the two journals; thus, they reported a greater ability to apply the criticism they received from the graduate student reviewers. The online aspect of the review process via the wiki affected students’ views of the criticism as they saw the publication process for what it is—a process—a working document (553–554). In terms of writing development, undergraduate students also reported a greater ability to evaluate their own writing as well as others’ writing because they learned what good writing in their field consists of through the process of publication (554). Challenges included a desire for dialogue. Although students appreciated and were able to work with reviewers on the wiki, some students noted that they would have liked to have an actual conversation with the reviewers and editors to clarify comments (556). Graduate students who acted as reviewers for both journals reported the collaborative online space to be beneficial because students often had to work with a reviewer from another department who helped them see how writing can be viewed from different perspectives; thus, the definition of good writing varied among reviewers. Some students reported liking the asynchronous aspect of reviewing with another person, while other students noted that they would have preferred to meet face-to-face and discuss the review after each one read the paper. However, graduate students reported the overall experience as a positive one because they developed “reviewers eyes,” which helped them be more critical and reflect on the characteristics of good writing (557). This article provides a method of helping to move online writing students across disciplines beyond simple activities that ask them to summarize research in their disciplines to actually understanding the process of publishing in their fields.

Key words: collaboration, research writing, wiki, WAC, graduate students, peer review, asynchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Walters, Shannon. “Toward an Accessible Pedagogy: Dis/ability, Multimodality, and Universal Design in the Technical Communication Classroom.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 4, 2010, pp. 427-54.

Walters argues for the need for research in usability to counter what she sees as a limiting focus on disability-specific needs. Walter writes that, “Extending these recent broader inquiries is crucial because impairment-specific efforts may limit students and teachers to consider specific disabilities and specific solutions instead of encouraging more comprehensive understandings of disability and ability as contingent bodily states affected by time, space, and a range of fluid contexts” (429). She argues that the technical writing classroom setting is ideal to analyze the effectiveness of different pedagogical approaches to disability and accessibility. Walters uses a teacher-researcher methodology and disability studies methodology to analyze both her subjective observations and those of the students as well. The study of disability included both the practical, assignment driven work of a typical classroom as well as discussions of broader concepts from disability studies. Walter both details the sequence of activities and discussions in the course and reflects on students’ work and reactions to disability studies in the class. Walter concludes that “through integrating multimodal and [universal design] approaches to dis/ability in the classroom, technical communication teachers can contribute to the ongoing conversation in disability studies about impairment and the social experience of disability” 450). Walter’s work can help to train instructors in online writing classrooms who need to create accessible materials for teaching through the practical exercises that she used successfully with her own students.

Keywords: usability testing, disability studies, accessibility, pedagogy: English, multimodal, universal design

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 15

Wang, Jen-Hang, et al. “Effects of a Mixed-Mode Peer Response on Student Response Behavior and Writing Performance.” Journal of Educational Computing Research, vol. 51, no. 2, 2014, pp. 233-56.

Harry Wang, Shih-Hsun Hsu, Sherry Chen, and Tak-Wai Chan research the effects of computer-mediated peer review to answer four questions: “1) How did students in the experimental group perform differently from students in the control group in terms of writing quality and written expression? 2) How did high-ability students in the experimental group and those in the control group perform differently in terms of writing quality and written expression? 3) How did low-ability students in the experimental group and those in the control group perform differently in terms of writing quality and written expression? and 4) How did high- and low-ability students in the experimental group perform differently in peer response behavior?” (238). The study investigated the peer-review and writing practices of 54 third-graders in Taiwan who took a pre- and post-test to assess their writing abilities before and after the experiment. The researchers found no significant difference in prior writing ability between the two groups of students. Students who were initially high-performing in both groups did better on the post-tests than low-performing students. Overall, students who were in the e-Peer Response (EPR) group performed better than those students in the teacher-centered writing. They attribute these findings to the fact that the EPR group had a “more convenient online writing environment,” that the EPR group had a “complete writing practice with opportunities for revision,” and that the EPR “provided a sharable mechanism so that students could exchange drafts and share meanings with each other” (248-249). The findings in this study, though from an elementary classroom, might shed light on issues related to the advantages of implementing online peer review in the college classroom.

Keywords: peer review, ESL, ELL, elementary students, EFL, L2, multilingual writers, empirical research, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 15

Warnock, Scott. “Online Writing Instruction and the Disappearing Educational Interface.” Rhetorics and Technologies: 20th Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, Penn State University, Collegeville, PA, July 2007.

In this conference talk, Warnock explores how digital technology might help in re-thinking students’ experience with what he calls “the interface of writing education.” Offering education as a type of interface, he points out that users/students regularly use technology to navigate the educational interface, and this may be a good thing for writing instruction because introducing layers of technological infrastructure may not complicate students’ learning but instead place it within more comfortable and familiar contexts. He then draws on several student writing samples to demonstrate that students may write “better” on message boards. In the samples, he compares message board posts to formal papers written by the same student about similar topics; using a rudimentary coding methodology, he concludes that the online environment, which involves students working in increasingly “natural” ways through the reading and writing they engage in with digital devices, may provide a “striking opportunity” for writing instruction.

Keywords: interface, discussion boards, reading, digital literacy

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 5, 15

Warnock, Scott. “Responding to Student Writing with Audio-Visual Feedback.” Writing and the iGeneration: Composition in the Computer-Mediated Classroom, edited by Terry Carter and Maria A. Clayton, Fountainhead P, 2008, pp. 201-27.

In this chapter from a book designed to help new and experienced teachers incorporate technology into their teaching of writing, Warnock first provides a review of the history of teachers’ use of audio to respond to student writing and then describes his step-by-step process of providing audiovisual (AV) response to student writers in his own courses using Camtasia software. He concludes this description by saying, “The conversation I need to have with students about their writing is facilitated at least as well by AV feedback as with written comments” (210). In an appendix, he discusses a brief study in his own classes in which he asked students on anonymous course evaluations if they preferred written feedback, face-to-face conferences, or AV comments for their drafts. Students said the face-to-face conferences were best but preferred AV feedback over written commentary. While this study is not exclusive to OWI, the technological method of response fits well with efforts to teach writing using digital technology.

Keywords: feedback, video: English, audio, screencasting

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 15

Warnock, Scott. “Studies Comparing Outcomes among Onsite, Hybrid, and Fully-Online Writing Courses.” WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies, no. 21, 2013,

In this bibliography, Warnock both responds to and challenges the drive for research comparing onsite, online, and hybrid writing courses. Warnock begins by pointing out that questions about the efficacy of online writing instruction invariably position hybrid and online writing courses against the “‘gold standard’ of the onsite class experience,” an assumption that “is—to say the least—flawed” (1). Assessment of onsite writing courses is notoriously difficult, due in no small part to methodologically-questionable assessment measures and the absence of “widely-accepted criteria as to what clearly constitutes success in writing courses” across institutions (2). Nevertheless, a robust collection of studies comparing onsite and online courses have been published, which Warnock examines closely. Among the themes that emerge from this analysis are that there is no significant difference between online, onsite, and hybrid courses and that instructor-student and student-student interactivity seems correlated “to student satisfaction and perhaps course success”(3).  This bibliography is an indispensible resource for OWI instructors and administrators alike.

Keywords: assessment: English, learning outcomes, hybrid, online writing programs, literature review, administration, writing program administration, student-to-student interaction, instructor interaction, student success

OWI Principles: 7, 10, 11, 15

Warnock, Scott, et al. “Early Participation in Asynchronous Writing Environments and Course Success.” The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, vol. 16, no. 1, Jan. 2012, pp. 35-48.

This study investigates if early participation on course message boards is connected with success in online and hybrid courses. The authors investigated twelve first-year writing classes, eight hybrid and four fully online, and found that first posters on course message boards had better grades than the class final average in every course, and later posters tended to have lower grades than the course average. The research team also correlated course performance with average length of posts, finding earlier posts to be longer. This study was conducted in two phases, with the researchers initially investigating six courses and then engaging in a more robust analysis with an additional six courses. The results help support the connection between student volition and success in classes that rely heavily on asynchronous writing environments.

Keywords: hybrid, first-year writing, discussion boards, research, quantitative research, student engagement, asynchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 4, 10, 15

Wichadee, Saovap. “Improving Students’ Summary Writing Ability Through Collaboration: A Comparison Between Online Wiki Group and Conventional Face-to-face Group.” Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 12, no. 3, July 2013, pp. 107-16.

Wichadee investigates the differences between the summary writing skills of L2 learners who participated in “wiki-based collaboration” and those who collaborated face-to-face. The researcher also compared the students’ writing abilities with their satisfaction with the online or face-to-face methods. In doing so, Wichadee addressed the following questions: 1) To what extent did the students improve their English summary writing ability after learning through collaboration? 2) Is there a difference in students' writing ability between those using wiki-based collaboration and those using conventional face-to-face collaboration after the intervention? 3) Is there a difference in satisfaction of students learning via wiki-based collaboration as compared to those learning via face-to-face collaboration? 4) What are students’ attitudes towards learning through wiki in terms of its advantages and disadvantages? and 5) Is there a difference between wiki-based group and face-to-face group in terms of summary writing accuracy of the final product?” (109). Forty students in two sections of Fundamental English I at Bangkok University completed writing summary tests, and questionnaires gauged their writing performance and their perception of their experience. Both groups improved their summary writing skills, and while the gains from the wiki-based collaborative group were higher, the results were not statistically significant. The improvement in the summary writing was attributed not to the modality but rather to the experience of working collaboratively and sharing writing with classmates. Students in the wiki-based groups identified more advantages than drawbacks, and students recognized in surveys that the teacher would be more likely to evaluate individual effort in the wiki-based groups, which motivated their performance. In addition, the face-to-face group was found to do more direct copying from the passage than the wiki-based group. This article is valuable to researchers and instructors who are investigating the differences in online learning communities versus face-to-face learning communities in term of writing performance.

Keywords: wikis, writing process, collaboration, ELL, ESL, L2, multilingual writers, surveys, research, quantitative research, plagiarism

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Wichadee, Saovapa. “Peer Feedback on Facebook: The Use of Social Networking Websites to Develop Writing Ability of Undergraduate Student.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol. 14, no. 4,  Oct. 2013, pp. 260-70.

Wichadee explored how using Facebook to provide comments on student papers affected the quality of that feedback. The study had five primary goals: “to explore the nature of feedback that students receive on their writings, to find out the extent the peer feedback in Facebook improve students’ writing ability, to examine the extent to which peers' comments are incorporated into their subsequent revisions, to study students’ attitude towards peer feedback activity to study students’ attitude towards the use of Facebook for peer feedback” (262-263). Thirty first-year students enrolled in a Fundamental English course wrote two pieces of at least 100 words and then posted their work to Facebook for peer review. Students were then interviewed about their attitudes about using Facebook for peer review and the types of feedback were coded. The study showed that students were more likely to comment on content rather than grammar and language use. They also significantly improved their writing. However, students were more likely to have incorporated the grammatical recommendations rather than the content recommendations from the peer review (although content recommendations were close behind the grammatical ones). The students found their peer comments to be useful and did not experience difficulties using Facebook to provide feedback. The study is useful as a means of identifying alternatives to the LMS when completing peer review of short documents in online classes.

Keywords: peer review, social media, first-year writing, interviews, qualitative research, research, grammar & style, feedback, course management system

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Wolfe, Joanna, and Jo Ann Griffin. “Comparing Technologies for Online Writing Conferences: Effects of Medium on Conversation.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 32, no. 2, 2012, pp. 60-92.

This article details the methodology and results of a small-scale study that measured the effect medium has in writing conferences. Wolfe claims that although many writing and teaching professionals assume in-person consultation is ideal, online conferencing can be pedagogically equivalent to face-to-face sessions. In addition to face-to-face conferences, two forms of online writing instruction were studied that incorporated synchronous audio and screen-sharing technology. The differences between all three mediums are discussed, with emphasis on the computer-based conferencing styles. Wolfe concludes with recommendations for utilizing online conferences and guidance for future research.

Keywords: research, online tutoring, synchronous interaction, audio, screencasting

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Xu, Di, and Shanna Smith Jaggars. Adaptability to Online Learning:

Differences across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas, CCRC Working Paper No. 54. Community College Research Center at Columbia University, 2013,


In this study of over 40,000 students enrolled in over 500,000 first-semester courses at two-year institutions across the state of Washington, Xu and Jaggars analyze grades and persistence rates as a measure of student ability to “adapt to the online environment” (Abstract). When compared with average persistence and grades of students in face-to-face classes, online students were found to have lower adaptability overall, and students who otherwise performed better academically were more likely to enroll in online classes, suggesting that adaptation to online environments may be more difficult than previously acknowledged. When looking at age, ethnicity, gender, and previous academic performance, the authors found younger students, black students, males, and lower performing students had a more difficult time adapting either due to lower persistence rates or grades. When comparing adaptability across disciplines, English and social sciences courses fared the worst, an outcome the authors suggest may be due to peer effects from having a number of other classmates who fit criteria for having lower adaptability in an online environment (21–22).  The authors present recommendations for reducing these adaptability problems, including better managing online course availability and enrollment, integrating more components of online instruction into face-to-face environments, using early alert systems for faster identification of students who are struggling, and “improving the quality of all online courses” through “substantial new investments in course design, faculty professional development, learner and instructor support, and systematic course evaluations” (26).

Keywords: adaptability, gender, research, retention, race, hybrid, faculty development, student success, technical support, evaluations, design

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 15

Yang, Yu-Fen. “Cognitive Conflicts and Resolutions in Online Text Revisions: Three Profiles.” Journal of Educational Technology and Society, vol. 13, no. 4, 2010, pp. 202-14.

This study analyzes student writers’ engagement with online peer feedback in an L2 class to investigate how students’ resolution of cognitive conflicts leads to improved writing. The online system used in this study includes dialogue boxes for writers and their reviewers, a differential tool that enables writers to compare their peers’ edited version of the text with their own, and a trace result that tracks how students progress through the revision process. The study analyzed 45 “student writers’ first and final drafts, students’ actions and errors recorded in the trace result, and retrospective interviews” (206). The results indicate that a significant proportion of students (36%) accepted their peers’ edits wholesale, without even reading the majority of peers’ comments in the dialogue boxes. Only 17% of students were categorized as those who are “always aware of the differences between her first draft and peer editors’ suggestions and knows why she accepts or rejects peer editors’ suggestions in a text” (206). The remaining students in this study fell in between the two profiles. Based on the findings, Yang suggests that successful text revision is predicated on an awareness of cognitive conflict and active engagement with peer feedback. Yang also notes that teachers need to scaffold the peer review process so that students learn how to give and receive effective feedback. While this research was conducted solely on face-to-face classes, it provides an example of an online, structured opportunity for dialogue on and about student writing. Instructors might consider incorporating or improving upon their current digital tools for peer-editing, especially in providing opportunity for conversation between readers and writers and facilitating increased engagement with and reflection about the writing process.

Keywords: peer review, revision, writing process, scaffolding, feedback, interviews, mixed methods, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 13, 15

Yang, Yu-Fen. “Preparing Language Teachers for Blended Teaching of Summary Writing.” Computer Assisted Language Learning, vol. 27, no. 3, 2014, pp. 185-206.

This study examines how language teachers perceive and address the problems L2 students encounter in summary writing. Using theories of blended learning and social constructivism as a guide, six experienced language teachers scaffolded the summary writing process into three stages in which students were rotated through three roles: outliners, summarizers, and peer editors. The teachers used an online learning system (CLCS), developed by Yang, which promoted student-student and student-teacher interaction throughout the summary writing process. The data analyzed included the interactions recorded in the CLCS, interviews with teachers, and student scores on a standardized English proficiency test taken three times over the course of the semester. The results demonstrate that student learning was greatly improved due primarily to the shift in the roles of both teachers and students. Teachers “shifted from dominators to facilitators” by scaffolding the assignment, “monitor[ing] students’ learning progress through the” CLCS, and continuously “revis[ing] their curriculum design in order to meet their students’ needs” (198, 200). Meanwhile, students “shifted from passive to active learners, as they became self-regulated” and interacted with each other more frequently (198). This study is valuable to OWI practice because it articulates many of the challenges that students face in writing effective academic summaries, and it addresses challenges teachers have when transitioning to blended and online formats. Of particular note is Yang’s concluding claim that “new teaching approaches are crucial in blended language courses,” particularly those that promote greater student-student and student-teacher interaction” (203).

Keywords: peer review, student-student interaction, scaffolding, blended, L2, ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, social constructivism, instructor interaction, course management systems, research, mixed methods, qualitative research, quantitative research,

OWI Principles: 3, 10, 11, 15

Yang, Yu Fen. “Students’ Reflection on Online Self-correction and Peer Review to Improve Writing.” Computers and Education, vol. 55, no. 3, 2010, pp. 1202-10.

Yang studies the influence that reflection has on text improvement using an online platform. Yang posits that reflecting on self-correction and peer review encourages students to evaluate and adjust the writing process, leading to a deeper understanding of learning and problem-solving processes for future tasks.  Students were asked to revise an essay themselves (through self-correction) and have a draft of that same essay revised by peers (through peer review), in addition to writing in reflective journals.  The online system was able to record each step in the writing process to facilitate data analysis. Findings suggest that self-correction allowed students to identify writing weaknesses, while peer review provided specific examples of text improvements. Yang concludes that reflection contributes to text revision and improvement and goes on to note several potential topics for future studies.  

Key words:  peer review, revision, reflection, writing process, research, empirical research, quantitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 15

Yang, Yu-Fen, and Wu, Shan-P. “A Collective Case Study of Online Interaction Patterns in Text Revisions.” Educational Technology and Society, vol. 14, no. 2, 2011, pp. 1-15.

In this article, Yang and Wu consider the effects of peer interaction and collaboration on student writing in an online setting. Background information on previous collaboration studies is provided, as well as relevant contextual information regarding the central study of this article. The online system interface and procedures for data collection are explained before specific examples of two students’ writing processes are analyzed. Students participating in the study could clearly be divided into two groups—those who made global and local revisions and those who made only local revisions. Yang and Wu found that students who actively participated in acquiring and contributing knowledge through peer collaboration made both local and global revisions to their final drafts. Students who passively interacted with the online system only made local revisions to final drafts and were more likely to focus on grammatical corrections when editing peers’ essays. The researchers concluded that increased peer interaction resulted in greater text improvement. They suggest teachers encourage students to fully engage in peer collaboration and emphasize the importance of peer reviewing, especially for low-participating students. The article concludes by noting existing downfalls of the study, such as the small sample size and unknown effect of the computer-based system on the writing process.

Key words:  peer editing, collaboration, revision, student engagement, grammar & style, research, qualitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15

Yeh, Hui-Chin, and Yu-Fen Yang. “Prospective Teachers’ Insights Towards Scaffolding Students’ Writing Processes Through Teacher-Student Role Reversal in an Online System.” Education Tech Research and Development, vol. 59, no. 3, 2011, pp. 351-68.

In this research article, Yeh and Yang discuss the methodology and findings of a study conducted to investigate the effects of student-teacher role reversal in a computer-supported environment. Yeh and Yang postulate that prospective teachers benefit from taking on the student roles of writer, editor, and commentator; however, few empirical studies have been conducted on the subject. By using an online interface, the study is able to systematically record each step in the role-reversal experience, which allows researchers and teachers to evaluate and reflect on the writing texts and action logs produced. In addition to the semester-long online portion of the study, data was also collected from an open-ended questionnaire and follow-up survey. The researchers conclude that role reversal is an integral part of teacher training which allows future instructors to better understand students’ learning difficulties and appropriately adapt the learning curriculum and teaching methods to meet the students’ needs. The article does note a handful of changes to the online system interface that would better facilitate future role-reversal experiments. Yeh and Yang conclude by stating that the effect of role reversal in different teaching environments (online or face-to-face) would need to be explored in a future study.

Keywords:  assessment, flipped classroom, computer-mediated classroom, surveys, instructor interaction, mixed methods, qualitative research quantitative research

OWI Principles:  4, 7, 11, 14, 15