Writing in Multiple Contexts: Research on Transfer and its Implications for Writing Across the University

Faculty Workshop with Dr. Liane Robertson on, “Writing in Multiple Contexts: Research on Transfer and its Implications for Writing Across the University” on April 25, at 1-3pm, in Withers Hall 331. Please register at http://go.ncsu.edu/robertsonworkshop

The ways in which students understand the similarities and differences across academic, workplace, and other writing contexts, is critical for successful writing throughout their lives.  For students to be able to transfer what they learn about writing from one context to another, and to sustain that ability across diverse disciplinary curricula, they must be able to draw upon a conceptual framework of writing knowledge that allows them to develop an approach appropriate for each new writing context encountered. The development of such a conceptual framework is afforded by the opportunity to experience writing and critical thinking as interdependent across disciplines.

Fostering successful transfer among student writers requires certain conditions, including the availability of contexts writers can transfer into while learning, the ability to identify patterns of meaning across contexts, and to make connections between writing contexts.  When the connections across contexts are not made explicit, and when a conceptual framework of knowledge about writing is undeveloped, students often struggle to understand which knowledge is crucial and how to transfer their knowledge from one situation to the next.

This workshop will explore writing instruction deliberately designed to transfer within and across disciplinary contexts, drawing upon recent research in Writing Studies that focuses on knowledge transfer, threshold concepts, and the role of systematic reflection in successful transfer. 

Liane Robertson is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program at William Paterson University of New Jersey. She is a co-author of Writing Across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing (2014), which won the 2015 Research Impact Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and the 2014 Best Book Award from the Council of Writing Program Administrators. She has received multiple grants for her groundbreaking research on the transfer of knowledge and practice in writing studies, and is the co-founder of the Teaching For Transfer curricular model for first-year writing. Her research is the focus of several chapters in edited collections in Writing Studies, including Understanding Writing Transfer (2017), Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer (2016), A Rhetoric of Reflection (2016), and Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies (2015). She is currently engaged in a multi-institutional research study involving nine universities across the country, in which the Teaching for Transfer curricular model is being studied for efficacy in various local contexts.