WPA Research

Ongoing Research

As I have mentioned elsewhere on this site, writing program administration is both a role I inhabit at UMaine and a central aspect of my research agenda.  At the moment, my WPA research has two ongoing themes to it: attending to my own work as a WPA, and investigating the history of writing instruction at UMaine.  I have some work in the pipeline on both of these, as well as some presentations at various conferences (see my WPA Publications and Presentations page for more details).

Writing Program Administration: Principles and Praxis

As you can no doubt tell by the top of this section of the website, principle-driven WPA work is important to me.  I have been trying to keep track of the work I do as a WPA in a number of ways, and I’ve spent the better part of the past three years thinking about different ways to analyze those records and frame the work I continue to do.

For the most part, this has meant rather straight-forward record keeping: notes on my decisions, time tracking logs, and so on.  I’ve also tried to build a broader methodology to continually study this work based on a combination of phenomenology (and, lately, post-intentionality phenomenology), Actor-Network Theory, and ethnomethodology.  I’ve made some interesting progress, although I think there’s a lot of work left to be done.

As you can no doubt tell from the above paragraphs, I’m interested not just in principles but in how those principles get enacted.  My ongoing record collection and analysis really moves back and forth between the two, articulating principles and aspects of them, tracing them in action, and using the new records collected to inform the language about my principles.

UMaine Writing Instruction: An Oral and Documentary History

As my principles indicate, attending to the local in writing program administration is important to me.  One of the ways that I mobilize that importance is by carefully looking at the ways in which writing instruction has developed here, at UMaine, over time.  UMaine has a rich history of writing instruction—and, even more importantly for researchers, somewhat extensive records that detail such a history.

I am in the midst of a broad collection of oral histories and existing documents on writing instruction, and several different studies have spun off of this.  For instance, a recent CWPA-funded research project examined the nexus of national events / documents and local events for broader patterns of social action.  This work was presented on at CWPA, and my research team and I are currently putting together a manuscript on our findings.

I’m also interested in writing program administrative moves from across the history of the university, and I am in the midst of some data collection from English faculty past and present to discuss first-year writing’s development over the past half century.