The Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction: Principle 3

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OWI Principle 3: Appropriate composition teaching/learning strategies should be developed for the unique features of the online instructional environment.


Return to The Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction


Abbas, Zainab Ibrahim. “Blended Learning and Student Satisfaction: An Investigation into an EAP Writing Course.” Advances in Language and Literary Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, 2018, pp. 102–05.


Abbas describes a study conducted on Iraq’s first blended learning courses, which were planned to introduce this as a new method of instruction for EAP (English for Academic Purposes) classes. Abbas notes that student satisfaction was considered a major factor in the study because the new form of instruction would only continue to attract students if the first ones who took it reported good outcomes. The article begins with a definition of blended learning and a description of how it relates to traditional instruction. Abbas then turns to describing the EAP classes initiated in 2015. These six-week courses had the same instructor, used the same materials, and targeted students who were working and had limited schedules. Evaluators worked from Moore and Kearsley (1996)’s model in which satisfaction stems from interactions between “learner-content, learner-instructor, and learner-learner” (103) to design a survey assessing student satisfaction. Survey findings would be used to determine what “could be adjusted for the future” (103) to attract more students. Survey results reported high levels of satisfaction even as students often compared the blended learning approach to fully face-to-face instruction and found blended learning less effective. However, some of this might be due to the lingering novelty and uncertainly of blended learning in Iraqi higher education, and the survey did find that “learner-centered” instruction from the pilot teacher was an important factor in high satisfaction rates.


Keywords: hybrid, interaction, English for Academic Purposes (EAP), pilot study, assessment, student satisfaction

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 15

Adams, Heather Brook, and Patricia Jenkins. “Applying Rhetorical Genre Studies to a Stand-Alone Online Professional Writing Course.” Composition Forum, vol. 31, Spring 2015,

 Adams and Jenkins provide an overview of their program and recount the events of using Rhetorical Genre Studies in a semester of their online professional writing course. They explain how they use Rhetorical Genre Studies to add a lens for investigating concepts of genre set, genre system, and activity system within their online course. They argue that their approach to Rhetorical Genre Studies and the way they’ve designed their courses helps students understand transfer and develop genre awareness that they can apply to possible workplace situations and circumstances by framing professional writing as “problem solving.”  They adapted the Rhetorical Genre Studies methods developed by Anthony Paré and Graham Smart for their course, and they ground their discussion in genre theory, focusing on Charles Bazerman’s discussion of genre sets, genre systems, and activity systems. They identify three reasons why their problem-solving approach to professional writing is beneficial to online professional writing courses: (1) the course design allows for awareness and can work with diversified student interests and degrees, (2) it allows students to understand genre as flexible and how the work they do in their lives and profession can be framed through genre awareness, and (3) the approach allows students to understand inter-subjectivity and think about how this might look in a professional setting.

Keywords: genre, technical and professional writing, course and program design: English, student engagement
OWI Principles:  3, 4

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

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

Anson, Chris M. “’She Really Took the Time’: Students’ Opinions of Screen-Capture Response to Their Writing in Online Courses.” Writing in Online Courses: How the Online Environment Shapes Writing Practices, edited by Phoebe Jackson and Christopher Weaver, Myers Education Press, 2018, pp. 21–45.


Anson describes students’ feelings regarding screen-capture responses to final course essays using three dimensions: cognitive, affective, and linguistic. Students received traditional, written feedback on one paper and recorded screen-capture feedback on a second paper. Using a 14-item survey and subsequent interviews, Anson used two nonparametric measures to ensure differences in written and screen-capture feedback and equality of populations. Students reported that hearing the instructor’s voice on the screen-capture was more positive and encouraging, and they indicated that they preferred the screen-capture feedback to the written feedback. This study, although small and gender-biased, indicates that students might find screen-capture feedback more effective in learning and improving their writing processes. 


Keywords: screencast, feedback, student satisfaction, student perceptions, empirical research, qualitative research, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 15


Babb, Jacob. “Reshaping Institutional Mission: OWI and Writing Program Administration.” Handbook of Research on Writing and Composing in the Age of MOOCs, edited by Elizabeth Monsky and Kristina Blair, IGI Global, 2017, pp. 202–15.


Babb argues that Writing Program Administrators are uniquely positioned as knowledgeable practitioners to lead important change for OWI practices within their university, and they can lead broader institutional change by connecting online learning to the school’s current mission statements.  Using the institutional mission as a backdrop and a starting point for reflection and conversation, WPA’s can improve student learning, contingent faculty working conditions, and online training and technology gaps. As online learning continues to be a driving force within higher education, Babb points to the university mission as a place for conversation, growth, and change. He points out that even the mission itself may need to adapt and change to better reflect and accommodate the education needs and experience brought about by online learning. 


Keywords: faculty development, writing program administration, online education, contingent faculty
OWI:  3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15


Balfour, Stephen. “Assessing Writing in MOOCs: Automated Essay Scoring and Calibrated Peer ReviewTM.” Research and Practice in Assessment, vol. 8, Summer 2013, pp. 40–48.


Balfour analyzes and responds to the decisions by both Harvard and Stanford to utilize Automated Essay Scoring (AES) technologies in their Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC). To cover this topic, Balfour reviews the existing research, reviews the benefits, assesses the  limitations, and develops a table that offers a framework for comparing these forms of assessment of student writing. This article explains both AES and CPR technologies and methodologies in detail as well as student and researcher responses to them. After careful reviews of literature and responses, Balfour shows that AES has proved to be accurate and a legitimate way for scoring and providing effective feedback to students for over ten years.  However, despite this success, there is still no indication that any of these scoring systems can effectively assess or evaluate creative work or original research writing. 


Keywords: MOOCs, automated writing evaluation, online writing

OWI: 3, 4, 6, 15


Barber, John F. “Effective Teaching in the Online Classroom: Thoughts and Recommendations.”