Learning as Doing: What are the Practices of Students in Online Writing Courses?

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

This project explores a line of inquiry to fill the current need in Composition Studies to research both online classes and the students who enroll in these courses, in order to navigate how students literacy practices are developing in online writing courses.


Emily Proulx is a third year graduate student in the Rhetoric and Composition Master's program at the University of Central Florida. She currently teaches First Year Composition and is writing her thesis.

Extended Abstract

As enrollment in online classes continues to grow, there is a call in the field of Writing Studies to learn more about how to create successful online classes (Xu & Jaggars, 2013; Lehman & Conceição, 2014; Bourelle, et. al, 2016). In “Sites of Multimodal Literacy: Comparing Student Learning in Online and Face-to-Face Environments”, Andrew Bourelle, Tiffany Bourelle, Anna V. Knutson, and Stephanie Spong hope to encourage a conversation in the field that discusses “what instructors of an f2f classroom can learn from the online environment” (2016, p. 55). This asks us to shift away from the notion that a class is first face-to-face and then transferred online, and to instead see the two environments as the different learning spaces that they are. Previous research has been conducted on these learning environments, such as surveys and conducted interviews asking students about their demographic information and preferences in online classes, in order to development an identity for the online student (Xu & Jaggars, 2013; Bailie, 2014). However, this is difficult because as the typical college student becomes more diverse, so does the online learner. While these survey results paint a broad picture of online student’s learning needs, more close research could be done to better represent individual types of students. This project explores a line of inquiry that hopes to fill the current need to study both online classes and the students who enroll in these courses. This particular study will look to online education scholarship and the field of New Literacy Studies in order to examine the literacy events and practices of online students in one undergraduate class and one graduate class. This research aims to navigate how students literacy practices are developing in these online environments to better match our pedagogy to the needs of our students.