Purdue University Graduate School
Sherman Formatted Dissertation.pdf (1.18 MB)

Cultures of writing: The state of transfer at state comprehensive universities

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posted on 2021-08-04, 14:14 authored by Derek R ShermanDerek R Sherman

The Elon Research Seminar, Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer, was a coalition of rhetoric and composition scholars’ attempt at codifying writing transfer knowledge for teaching and research purposes. Although the seminar was an important leap in transfer research, many ‘behind the scenes’ decisions of writing transfer, often those not involving the writing program, go unnoticed, yet play a pivotal role in how writing programs encourage and reproduce writing transfer in the classroom. This dissertation study, inspired by a pilot study conducted in Fall 2018 on writing across the curriculum programs and their role in writing transfer, illustrates how an institution’s context systems (e.g., macrosystem, mesosystem, microsystem, etc.) affect writing programs’ processes—i.e., curriculum components, assessment, and administrative structure and budget—and vice versa. Using Bronfenbrenner and Morris’ (2006) bioecological model, I show how writing programs and their context systems interact to reproduce writing transfer practices. Through ten interviews with writing program administrators at state comprehensive universities, I delineate specific actions that each writing program could take to encourage writing transfer. I develop a list of roles and responsibilities a university’s context systems play in advocating writing transfer practices. The results of the study show that research beyond the writing classroom and students is necessary to understand how writing transfer opportunities arise in university cultures of writing.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Bradley Dilger

Additional Committee Member 2

Irwin Weiser

Additional Committee Member 3

Patricia Sullivan

Additional Committee Member 4

Harry Denny

Additional Committee Member 5

Jessie Moore