The Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction: Principle 4

Document created by Heidi Skurat Harris on Oct 22, 2019Last modified by Cari Goldfine on Oct 23, 2019
Version 3Show Document
  • View in full screen mode

OWI Principle 4: Appropriate onsite composition theories, pedagogies, and strategies should be migrated and adapted to 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 uncertainty 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

Alvarez, Ibis, Anna Espasa, and Teresa Guasch. “The Value of Feedback in Improving Collaborative Writing Assignments in an Online Learning Environment.” Studies in Higher Education, vol. 37, no. 4, 2012, pp. 387-400. 

Alvarez et al. discuss a study with feedback during a collaborative writing assignment. They find that when teachers ask questions and give suggestions in their feedback instead of making corrections, students respond positively and generate significant changes in the texts they are working on, revising for content and in consideration of the instructor’s feedback. The authors aim to assess both student reactions to instructor feedback and the effects type of feedback on how students revise their texts. They ground their approach to feedback on the literature of Raymond Kulhavy and William Stock and argue that the feedback given on this collaborative writing assignment meets two conditions that facilitate the learning process: correction and elaboration. Their study shows the importance of student participation in the assessment process. They argue that feedback design as an interactive and communicative process promotes student involvement in the learning process in collaborative writing assignments.

Keywords: collaboration, assessment: English, feedback, student engagement
OWI Principles: 4, 5, 11

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


Arzt, Judy, Kristine E. Barnett, and Jessyka Scoppetta. “Online Tutoring: A Symbiotic Relationship with Writing Across the Curriculum Initiatives.” Across the Disciplines, vol. 6, 2009, pp. 1-15.

Arzt et al. discuss a new program piloted at the small liberal arts school of Saint Joseph College, where they combined online tutoring with more traditional writing center approaches to better support student writing for Writing In the Discipline (WID) and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) courses. The authors maintain that “Although WAC, WID, writing centers, and writing fellows form a natural nexus, the value of technology in this mix is not firmly established” (1). They piloted the addition of online tutoring within this portfolio of services. The article provides a section describing the history of technology in American college writing centers before describing Saint Joseph College’s program and the high demands it meets. Arzt et al. then report that a survey circulated after their program’s inception (n=101) found that 79% of respondents were very satisfied and 97% would use hybrid writing center services again (7). They found that recruiting experienced students as writing center fellows is beneficial, learning how to tutor online did not take significantly more time than learning to tutor in person, and tutoring was best managed through simple technologies like email. The authors also note that faculty reported better outcomes among supported assignments, and that overall “online tutoring is a natural outgrowth of the face-to-face rapport tutors develop with students” (10)

Keywords: writing center, tutoring, hybrid, online tutoring, WID, WAC, interdisciplinary, rapport, support services
OWI Principles: 4, 11, 14

Ashton, Scott, and Randall S. Davies. “Using Scaffolded Rubrics to Improve Peer Assessment in a MOOC Writing Course.” Distance Education, vol 36, no. 3, 2015, pp. 312–34. 


In this piece for Distance Education, Ashton and Davies argue that “providing guidance in the peer assessment process of a MOOC can improve evaluative outcomes, enabling students to successfully distinguish novice from advanced performances.” (329). As such, this study makes a case for more purposeful use of peer response in online writing instruction, especially when it comes to student ratings of and feedback to their peers. While primarily focused on the success of this pedagogical tactic in a creative writing MOOC, Ashton and Davies acknowledge the wider need for research on the use of guided rubrics in OWCs more broadly. This article provides a variety of student examples of usage of the various peer response protocols and is valuable for OWI.


Keywords: accessibility, MOOCs, rubrics

OWI Principles: 1, 4


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 Principles: 3, 4, 6, 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

Barrett, Edward. “Collaboration in the Electronic Classroom.” Technology Review, vol. 96, no. 2, 1993, pp. 50-55. 

Barrett describes MIT’s first distributed network (The Networked Educational Online System or NEOS), a system that allows students to exchange drafts outside of class and is a precursor of more contemporary blended or hybrid classrooms. Barrett indicates that the goal of NEDS was “to support the complex private and social activities that make up the learning process” (51). The article describes the interface of the tool, which does not provide visual cues to help students understand which comments are made by the teacher, thus, providing a more egalitarian response experience. The students become “active agents” in responding to their peers’ writing, and “thus develop a greater awareness of audience and personal voice” (53). Advantages of the system included student satisfaction with the interactive capabilities of NEOS. Barrett concludes with a vision of online classes that has, for the most part, come to pass in the years since NEOS was developed. This article provides a historical view of early efforts at hybrid and blended classes and is valuable to anyone studying the history of computer-mediated peer review.

Keywords: networked classrooms, peer-review, student engagement
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Bastian, Heather, and Fauchald, Sally K. “Confronting the Challenges of Blended Graduate Education with a WEC Project.” Across the Disciplines, vol. 11, no. 3, July 2014,

Bastian and Fauchald identify the challenges faced when a nursing program in a rural area of Minnesota moved from fully face-to-face to a blended program (some courses face-to-face and others online). As the program grew and attracted more adult learners, Bastian (the composition and rhetoric specialist on her campus) worked with Fauchald to train nursing faculty to implement a Writing-Enriched Curriculum (WEC) by “engaging in a three-phase, recursive process in which they create, implement, and assess a writing plan with the assistance of a composition and rhetoric specialist.” Faculty were encouraged to scaffold writing assignments, create group activities that encouraged students to write for real audiences, and incorporate peer review. The article outlines how Bastian and Fauchald evaluated the projects and “demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary collaborations between professional program faculty and composition and rhetoric experts.” This article models a successful collaboration between writing specialists and faculty in the disciplines and encourages WAC and WID programs to work with writing specialists to improve writing strategies for their online courses. 

Keywords: WAC, WID, hybrid courses, scaffolding, collaboration
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11

Bell, Lisa. “Preserving the Rhetorical Nature of Tutoring When Going Online.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011, pp. 351-58.

In this chapter, Bell recounts her experience as a new writing center coordinator who navigates and reframes an existing but not functional OWL. She narrates her experience, beginning with returning to the foundational principles of writing center theory espoused by Stephen North, Mary Dossin, and Joan Hawthorne. She then reviews the current state of the OWL, which consisted primarily of email submissions. Without the face-to-face interaction and meaning making involved in the traditional writing center, Bell felt that some of the tried-and-true methods of tutoring would be difficult to implement in an OWL. In particular, she found that the conversational nature of tutoring, so crucial to the experience of shared meaning-making, was lost when questions were added to a student’s paper and the tutor received no reply. Because synchronous online tutoring sessions take more time to complete, tutors found themselves getting straight to the point of the writing, which took away relationship-building that was the heart of the face-to-face tutoring sessions. Bell also found out that tutors in OWLs needed different types of training than their face-to-face colleagues. She concludes by calling for more research into what makes OWLs effective, research that others have done since this chapter was first published. This article provides those chronicling the shift from face-to-face to online writing centers a snapshot of a single center at a point of transition, a valuable narrative in the longer history of understanding OWLs. 

Keywords:  writing center, online writing lab, synchronous interaction, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 13, 14

Bjork, Olin, and John Pedro Schwartz. “Writing in the Wild: A Paradigm for Mobile Composition.” Going Wireless: A Critical Exploration of Wireless and Mobile Technologies for Composition Teachers and Researchers, edited by Amy C. Kimme Hea, Hampton Press, 2009, pp. 223-27. 

Bjork and Schwartz suggest a pedagogical approach for teaching composition that requires instructors to meet students in the media in which they are already composing. Since most students use mobile technology and often conduct most of their research via the Internet, the authors “propose a paradigm for mobile composition in which students visit places of rhetorical activity (e.g., city parks, waiting rooms, shopping malls) and research, write, and (ideally) publish on location” so they can understand “the relationship between discourse and place. (224)”  In doing so, it can establish a connection between students and place, thus making them aware of social and cultural contexts if they write from within them. Ultimately, they urge composition instructors to “relocate composition in the field,” and offer examples of pedagogical strategies for doing so.  

Keywords: mobile technology, pedagogy: English, composition
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4

Blair, Leslie. “Teaching Composition Online: No Longer the Second-Best Choice.” Kairos, vol. 8, no. 2, 2005,

Using Bakhtin’s Speech Genres theory, Blair dissects the nature of the relationships between students and instructors in the classroom.  Her notion is that the student understands the instructor as the audience of the written or constructed work in the course, and that such work is to receive a grade or judgment. Therefore, communication between the student and instructor is limited because of the power relationship between them. However, students may utilize online discussion opportunities to build community among themselves, even as the instructor is still a part of the audience. Students’ experience or awareness of audience as they write their comments and responses in the online classroom forums seem to ebb and flow as they organically create knowledge together throughout the group discussions. This experience is important to the development of critical thinking and ideas.  Students can develop and submit their ideas without immediate interruption and overrule and also read and reread communication as necessary to understand and respond. This experience is also very different from the ways the students write for formal assignments, where the instructor is typically perceived as the audience. Blair concludes that because students in online writing courses are forced to communicate largely in writing throughout the course, their academic writing is strengthened more than students who get the “benefit” of oral communication in face-to-face classrooms. Leveraging online technologies with research in distance education can be empowering for students and teachers in writing classes, both in online and face-to-face classes.

Keywords: discussion: English, audience, community, collaboration
OWI Principles: 3, 4

Blythe, Stuart. “Designing Online Courses: User-Centered Practices.” Computers and Composition, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 329-46. Special Issue, Designing Online Courses: User-Centered Practices. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(01)00066-4.

Blythe argues that online faculty must think like designers while acknowledging that faculty will not necessarily know the specifics of who they are teaching until after they have built a course. He points out that designers of web courses must understand the pedagogical, political, and ethical implications of their designs. He compares systems-centered and user-centered models for designing online courses, noting that these two models embody inherently different value systems. He argues that the user-centered model for course design is more appropriate for OWI because it more closely matches the values of teachers. Online faculty should consider using think-aloud protocols with test students in order to clarify and refine their online course design. He presents a number of strategies for implementing such user-centered design in OWI, including a version of design that is student-driven with the instructor acting as a guide as students create their own goal-oriented pathways through the online writing course. He concludes by calling for student input into online course design, regardless of the design model.

Keywords: course and program design: English, web design, usability testing, user-centered design
OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10

Boas, Isabella Villas. “Process Writing and the Internet: Blogs and Ning Networks in the Classroom.” English Teaching Forum, vol. 49, no. 2, 2011, pp. 26-33

Boas argues for an ESL/EFL writing pedagogy that centers on genre, process, and practices that are informed by social constuctivism. In doing so, she advocates for multimodal assignments that utilize the Internet for language learning purposes; as she notes, ESL/EFL students can use blogs and networking sites like Ning, which are helpful collaborative tools. She offers two examples of assignments teachers could adopt: 1) blogging argumentative essays and 2) composing an expository paragraph using Ning.  She outlines the steps for each assignment.

Keywords: ESL, EFL, multilingual writers, teaching with technology: English, blogs, networked classrooms, pedagogy: English
OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11

Borgman, Jessie. “Clarity in an Online Course as an Extension of Onsite Practice.” OWI Open Resource, Conference on College Composition and Communication,

Borgman argues that face-to-face course practices can be applied successfully to the online classroom, grounding her argument in OWI Principle 4. She uses examples from her own courses to illustrate basic adaptable concepts, such as clarity in design, using modules to break up information, color coding, having information readily available in the course syllabus and using a welcome video to show how strategies that are used in the face-to-face classroom can migrate to the online classroom with a few adjustments. This resource provides online writing instructors clear directions for arranging their course and utilizing resources they already have.

Keywords: clarity, course and program design: English, modules, video: English
OWI Principles: 4

Borgman, Jessie, and Jason Dockter. “Considerations of Access and Design in the Online Writing Classroom.” Computers and Composition, vol. 49, 2018, pp. 94–105. 


Borgman and Docker argue that writing programs have an opportunity to create a new playing field in their online composition courses that conceives of students and content differently than does a typical iteration of an online course (a course that traditionally migrates materials and practices from a f2f context and reimagines them for an online setting). This article emphasizes how readers can use user-centered design in their online courses to accommodate students with varying learning styles. The authors offer an understanding of the significance of user-centered design for maintaining student enrollments,promoting learning and avoiding attrition. They show that specific moves made by the instructor will have very real repercussions on whether a course, or even elements of a course, is accessible by all.

Keywords: accessibility, user-centered design, course design, usability testing

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4


Borgman, Jessie. “Creating a User-Centered Experience in Online Courses Through Content Strategy.” Content Strategy in Technical Communication, edited by Giuseppe Getto, Jack Labriola, and Sheryl Ruszkiewicz, 2019, Routledge, pp. 154–70.


Borgman discusses how content strategy can be applied to online course settings and why content strategy should be used for online course/degree design and delivery. The chapter argues that utilizing content strategy allows institutions/instructors/designers to ensure they are meeting their users’ (students) needs. The author offers strategies for developing, delivering, and maintaining effective online educational content utilizing content strategy. 


Keywords: content management, course design, user-experience design, course content, usability Testing

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4

Borgman, Jessie, and Jason Dockter. "Minimizing the Distance in Online Writing Courses Through Student Engagement." Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 44, no. 2, 2016, pp. 213–22.


In this review essay, the authors use three texts (Applied Pedagogies: Strategies for Online Writing Instruction, Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction and “A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI)”) to demonstrate the theoretical framework for the use of media tools, the benefits of using media tools within online courses, and, to a lesser degree, specific practical suggestions for what online teachers can do to incorporate such tools into their pedagogy. 


Keywords: accessibility, technology, multimedia

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4

Borgman, Jessie, and Casey McArdle Personal, Accessible, Responsive, Strategic: Resources and Strategies for Online Writing Instructors. Fort Collins, CO, WAC Clearinghouse, 2019.

In 2015, Borgman and McArdle created The Online Writing Instruction Community ( and with it, developed the PARS approach to online writing instruction (Personal, Accessible, Responsive, & Strategic. The authors argue that if online writing instructors and administrators design, instruct and administer their online writing courses using the PARS approach, they will be successful in online writing instruction. The premise of their text is that online writing instruction is grounded in user experience User Experience (UX) principles and practices because when instructors and students are parts of an online writing course, they are part of a user experience. Online writing instructors and administrators should use the PARS approach to online writing instruction and pay close attention to how they architect these experiences for their students.

Keywords: user-centered design, PARS, design: Writing
OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4 

Bourelle, Tiffany. “Adapting Service-Learning into the Online Technical Communication Classroom: A Framework and Model.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 42, 2014, pp. 247-64. 


Bourelle discusses how service learning is implemented into a pilot technical communication course at Arizona State University. She links course outcomes to the pedagogical values of service learning and describes the curriculum and potential for what she calls “service e-learning.” Bourelle argues that online writing classes are a natural fit for service learning projects because they encourage student-centered pedagogies and require students to be self-regulated learners interacting with others. Service e-learning can meet the course objectives of developing civic responsibility, applying skills to authentic workplace situations, peer learning, and nonlinear learning. She provides a model of how to structure service e-learning in an online technical writing course and demonstrates how students in the pilot courses met the course objectives. Students in the course wanted more time with the directors of their service learning projects, which posed a challenge given the time constraints faced by most directors. The author ends with reflections on how she changed the course based on student evaluations. 


Keywords: service learning, technical and professional writing, culture, reflection

OWI Principles: 1, 4, 11

Bourelle, Tiffany. “Preparing Graduate Students to Teach Online: Theoretical and Pedagogical Practices.” WPA: Writing Program Administration, vol. 40, no. 1, 2016, pp. 90–113


Bourelle describes the eComp program at the University of New Mexico, which prepares TAs who already have experience in the face-to-face classroom for online instruction. The article demonstrates how the program’s pedagogy course aligns with Hewett and Ehmann’s five principles of OWI training and the CCCC Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction. The training includes engaging the TAs in research on programmatic praxis, training them immersively in the online teaching environment, mentoring TAs individually to address their specific needs, creating communities that encourage authentic interaction, and encouraging metacognitive reflection. The article includes a detailed description of how the program works as well as a syllabus from the course. This article provides a follow up to Bourelle and Bourelle (2015), which introduces the eComp program and provides an example of how previous theories and practices for effective online instruction can be put into practice to both train TAs and ensure programmatic alignment and consistency. 


Keywords: graduate education, professional development: Writing, writing program administration

OWI Principles: 4, 7, 14, 15


Bourelle, Tiffany. “Service e-Learning in the Online Technical Communication Classroom: Keeping our Pedagogies Relevant in an Age of Austerity.” The New Normal: Pressures on Technical Communication Programs in the Age of Austerity, edited by Denise Tillery and Ed Nagelhout, Routledge, 2016, pp. 107–24. 


Bourelle argues that service e-learning projects in online courses help students learn new technologies and engages them in civic learning focused on technological literacy. The author demonstrates how service e-learning projects were implemented at Arizona State University, including a discussion of how to provide real-world experiences and  assignments that help students meet course outcomes through structured discussions, collaborative projects and reflection. Bourelle identifies how service e-learning can be incorporated in a variety of course platforms and how institutions facing budget cuts can support service e-learning. She concludes her article by challenging instructors to implement and reflect on service e-learning in the classroom. 


Keywords: service learning, professional and technical communication, peer learning, technology, culture

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 4, 11


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

Bourelle, Tiffany, Angela Clark-Oates, and Andrew Bourelle. “Designing Online Writing Classes to Promote Multimodal Literacies.” Communication Design Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 1, April 2017, pp. 80–88.


Bourelle, Clark-Oates, and Bourelle draw upon their experience with course design to propose five practices both new and experienced instructors can consider adopting in their online writing classes as a means of promoting multimodal literacy. Multimodal literacy is in increasing demand beyond the classroom. Therefore, teaching multimodal literacy should become even more of a priority than before. The article notes a similar dearth of information on teaching multimodal literacy the academic side, as there is little scholarship on teaching multimodal composition in online formats (80). The authors’ five recommendations to address these shortcomings are as follows: 1) incorporate multimodal assignments and the appropriate scaffolding, 2) use multimodal instructional tools, 3) provide multimodal feedback, 4) encourage technological literacy through media labs, and 5) make students’ reflections on their own work into “a significant part” of the learning process (80). Bourelle, Clark-Oates, and Bourelle also maintain that course design is inherently rhetorical, and instructors should be considering how and whether their online classes reflect multimodality themselves. The article then provides an overview of multimodal literacy, its importance, and the fields where it tends to be prioritized and taught before going into each of these five recommendations in more detail. The authors suggest possible obstacles and how to overcome them as well as strategies, tools, and outcomes that online instructors should consider. The article concludes by revisiting Scott Warnock (2009)’s idea that it is possible to migrate classes online rather than transforming them to be taught online and the authors here suggest that their five principles are one way of thinking about how to do so.


Keywords: multimodal, digital literacy, technological literacy, course design, rhetoric, instruction

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 13


Bourelle, Tiffany, Andy Bourelle, Stephanie Spong, Anna V. Knutson,  Emilie Howland-Davis, and Natalie Kubasek. “Reflections in Online Writing Instruction: Pathways to Professional Development.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 20, no. 1, 2015,


In this webtext, Bourelle and colleagues argue for more online-based pedagogical training within academia, especially for graduate students. They provide information on their digital first-year writing program, Electronic Composition (eComp), for undergraduate and graduate students. eComp “encourages undergraduate composition students to develop twenty-first century literacies in a fully online environment” while including graduate students as instructors. Graduate students wishing to teach online through eComp must either work as an Instructional Assistant (IA) or take a multimodal and online pedagogies seminar. Working with experienced online instructors, IAs learn how to give students feedback, facilitate discussions, and answer student questions, in addition to forming close relationships with their team-teachers during their first semester. In the multimodal and online pedagogies seminar, graduate students read theoretical texts behind multimodal composition and online theory and course development; draft assignments, rubrics, lecture videos, lessons plans, and facilitate discussions; and complete a digital literacy narrative and electronic teaching portfolio, establishing their own teaching philosophy based on theories of multimodal composition. By the end of the course, graduate students have an online course ready to teach. In this webtext, which resembles a public transportation system map, readers can choose different pathways to read through an online pedagogy literature review; reflections from the professor, veteran graduate students, and novice graduate students in eComp; an overview of the offered pedagogy seminar; future directions; and, of course, appendices.


Keywords: graduate teaching assistant, professional development, first-year composition, digital literacy, multimodal

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13


Bourelle, Tiffany, and Beth L. Hewett. “Training Instructors to Teach Multimodal Composition in OWI Courses.” Handbook of Writing and Composition in the Age of MOOCs, edited by Elizabeth Monske and Kristina Blair, IGI Global, 2017, pp. 348–69.


Bourelle and Hewett argue that because multimodal composition has predominantly been taught in traditional face-to-face courses, there is a need for more intentional multimodal pedagogy in online courses.  They argue that teachers need training in four skill sets: developing and scaffolding multimodal assignments, creating multimodal instructional tools, incorporating technology labs within the curriculum, and adopting and adapting a multimodal ePortfolio to showcase student learning. For each skill, they offer insights into how trainees might acquire the skill set, discuss what practices trainers can use to promote learning, and explore how this teacher training benefits students. Bourelle and Hewett also recommend ways trainers can overcome limitations, such as their own lack of familiarity with technologies and lack of time or resources to conduct trainings. Finally, they argue that trainers must emphasize the non-traditional student population trainees will encounter and encourage trainees to reconsider how they use digital tools like discussion boards in online courses. 

Keywords: writing program administration, professional development, multimodal, digital literacy, faculty development

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12


Bowie, Jennifer. “Beyond the Universal: The Universe of Users Approach to User-Centered Design.” Rhetorically Rethinking Usability: Theories, Practices, and Methodologies, edited by Susan Miller-Cochran and Rochelle L. Rodrigo. Hampton Press, 2009, pp. 135-63. 

Bowie analyzes user-centered design methods versus system-centered design methods and the problems that occur in current applications of these elements. The concept of a user-centered design method stems from the attempt to pull away from a system-centered design process due to the idea that individuals contain unique, defining characteristics that are ignored. The system-centered way of design is problematic since it disregards and inhibits certain users by not taking into account characteristics such as sex, race, and ethnicity. The technology is male-oriented and results in sexist, racist issues; the desired user methods of women do not seem to be incorporated. Due to the differentiating opinions of women, there should be differentiation in technology and user-centered design methods. Studies reflect that gender generates different opinions and different genders initiate different ways to use products. When a single, universalized user is created, it is less user-centered because it does not acknowledge key differences. Traditional application of the user-centered design method is problematic in the way that it focuses on superficial differences instead of the universe of actual users. Although differences are taken into consideration, the dissimilarities are still categorized into a few sections, and the universal user is described as being representative and generalized rather characterized into “the user.” The article describes how examining differences, considering personal bias, creating various models, remembering and involving future users, and making results representative of all users are crucial to incorporating ideas of the user-centered design method. It is necessary to understand the users by examining their differences in order to improve user-centered methods of design.

Keywords:  user-centered design, gender, technology, race
OWI Principles:  4 

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

Boyd, Patricia Webb. “Creating and Reflecting on Professional Identities in Online Business Writing Courses.” Writing in Online Courses: How the Online Environment Shapes Writing Practices, edited by Phoebe Jackson and Christopher Weaver, Myers Education Press, 2018, pp. 85–102.


Boyd notes that while identity is key to effective writing, identity construction is an often overlooked part of business writing classes. She argues that the online writing classroom can encourage students to see themselves as “professionals who are learning, not as students learning about professionals” (86). Using Petriglieri and Insead’s “identity workspaces” make identity the central part of her online business classes, Boyd analyzes those classes, aligning the concepts of identity workspaces (e.g., social defenses and sentient communities) with the assignments students completed. These assignments ask students to enact professional identities in order to professionalize themselves and use the online writing course’s archival nature to prompt student reflection on their professionalization process. Boyd encourages online business writing instructors to construct classes that help the transition from student to professional.


Keywords: business writing, identity, reflection, assignment: Writing

OWI Principles: 3, 4


Boyd, Patricia Webb. “Online Discussion Boards as Identity Workspaces: Building Professional Identities in Online Writing Classes.” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, no. 4, Dec. 2013,

Boyd argues that online business writing classes should focus on professional writing practices as opposed to learning to write professionally, emphasizing critical identity production and reflection. The article compares two academic writing assignments: 1) Writers and Identity to Professional Writing and 2) Personal Brand. The goal is to get students to engage in online discussion board interactions as they produce a document for a social network. Boyd presents the idea of identity workspaces focused on social defenses, sentient communities, and rites of passage. These dynamic spaces enable students to develop as professionals through their writing. Boyd asserts that the two assignments under discussion teach students how to professionalize themselves by reflecting on the creation of their own professional identities and learning how professionals write as well as how they create themselves as professionals. Students’ awareness of themselves as professionals through online discussion is a unique way of building community as a learning tool and a pre-professional training tool. These online identity workspaces support the co-creation of knowledge among this professional learning community in online business classes.

Keywords: business writing, technical and professional writing, identity, learning communities
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Boynton, Linda. “When the Class Bell Stops Ringing: The Achievements and Challenges of Teaching Online First-Year Composition.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 29, no. 3, 2002, pp. 298-311.

Boyton provides a narrative account of the ways in which moving from face-to-face to online writing instruction hearkened back to her insecurities as a new teacher. She found herself surprised by the challenges of moving a writing class online. The article aligns her achievements and their corresponding challenges, including 1) the achievement of being pushed to learn new things coupled with the challenge of redefining previous roles and responsibilities, 2) the achievement of discussing what constitutes good teaching coupled with the undercurrent of “us vs. them” embedded in those discussions, 3) the achievement of partnering more closely with students coupled with the challenge of surrendering authority, 4) the achievement of increased teachable moments that come with the extended contact with online students coupled with the challenge of the increased time commitment that online writing instruction requires, and 5) the achievement of inviting an increased “spectrum” of students to participate coupled with the challenge that those students may not succeed in the online modality. Boyton concludes her article with a story of choosing to teach online one online class at a time and a call for all online instructors to be continually reflective in developing online pedagogies that keep students at the center of the online classroom.

Keywords: narrative, identity, reflection
OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11

Brady, Laura. “Fault Lines in the Terrain of Distance Education.” Computers and Composition, special issue, Distance Education: Promises and Perils of Teaching and Learning Online, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 347-58. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(01)00067-6.

Brady defines the “two goals—enhancing learning and reducing the cost of instruction” as the “fault line” of distance education (348). She uses this metaphor to review crucial points along the fault line. At the “surface” are courses that move online and then back to face-to-face classrooms due to technology access problems, students’ answering “not applicable” when assessing the teachers’ roles in the online classroom, and retention issues. Deeper ideological issues are also at play, particularly the “fault line between educational ideals and educational realities” (353). In particular, distance education exposes and exacerbates the commodity of the course hour and how students access and instructors labor intersect with issues of access and the political realities of teaching and technology. Brady concludes with a call to be aware that those who have the greatest access to the technology necessary to take an online class are more than likely those who already possess the income and education to not need additional access to education. While this article was written at a time that technology was less ubiquitous, the political and power dynamics of this article are still at play in online classes and programs.

Keywords: retention, power, distance education, teaching with technology: English
OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11

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

Breuch, Lee-Ann. “Faculty Preparation for OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew. WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, 349-88. 

Breuch argues that online writing faculty need to be equipped and trained to teach writing online.  Using distinct conceptual categories, this article calls for the 4-M Approach (migration, model, modality, and moral).  The four key elements are 1) migration of the course to an appropriate, usable online format; 2) model and conceptual design of the course; 3) modality and media use within a course; and 4) moral, or the need to create a sense of community within a course for increased student engagement.  Each of these training ideas is explained in its own section and contains sample training exercises to assist with each concept. Because accessibility is an overarching principle in online education, the accessibility of the online course must be considered at each step of the development and implementation of a course, including instructor training.

Keywords: accessibility, faculty development, multimodal, modeling, student engagement, course and program design: English
OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 7

Breuch, Lee-Ann Kastman. “Enhancing Online Collaboration: Virtual Peer Review in the Writing Classroom.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 141-56.

Breuch identifies the ways in which face-to-face peer review is both the same as and differs from online peer review. Commonalities include the assumptions that writing is a social act and that writing is a process. The differences in peer review involve space, time, and interaction. Asynchronous technologies for peer review require that students participate in peer review at both different locations and different times, and this fact affects how the students interact in both positive and negative ways. Breuch provides concrete steps to help facilitate peer review for brainstorming, providing reader response, and addressing strengths and weaknesses in the writing. This perspective on peer review demonstrates how similarities and differences in peer review between face-to-face and online environments can lead to equal or more productive experience and calls for additional research to deal with accessibility.

Keywords: tutoring: English, writing process, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 14

Breuch, Lee-Ann Kastman. Virtual Peer Review: Teaching and Learning about Writing in Online Environments. SUNY P, 2004. 

Kastman Breuch explores the question of what is gained and what is lost in moving writing instruction online through the concept of peer review. In doing so, she first investigates the definitions of peer review and virtual peer review, indicating that virtual peer review supports that philosophy that pedagogy must drive technology while also establishing virtual peer review as a “remediation” of traditional, face-to-face peer review (borrowing from Jay Bolter’s concept of remediation). Kastman Breuch then demonstrates how virtual peer review, rather than being better or worse than face-to-face peer review, is different but that those differences, primarily in terms of time, space, and interaction, can be seen as either challenges or benefits. Identifying these differences illuminates how “computer technology privileges written communication over oral communication”--or did so in 2004 and before (52). Because computer technology privileges print and the traditional peer revi