Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Hibbert, Kathryn


This dissertation focuses on Canadian Writing Studies by working with students as co-constructors of knowledge. It stems from my pedagogical and personal desire to understand how students built their knowledge of writing in my first-year writing classroom. By working closely with ten former students, the study explored how their experiences in my writing course at Conestoga College (otherwise known as COMM1085) could inform writing pedagogy. To accomplish this, the study combined Academic Literacies theory with Rhetorical Genre Theory as part of a larger Critical Narrative Inquiry into the students’ narratives of experience. Simply put, these theoretical and methodological frameworks enabled me to consider student experiences with writing in relation to wider social contexts, and then ask what these experiences said about writing pedagogy on many levels. I have organized the results into three levels: the writing classroom, writing programs, and Writing Studies as a field. The results papers are organized such that the first paper looks at classroom-level pedagogy and curriculum, the second paper examines writing studies program staffing in relation to conversations with students, and the third paper synthesizes certain themes that emerged from the research that may inform Canadian Writing Studies pedagogy more broadly. I zoom out with each successive paper to explore a broader element of the conversations and how they inform my position as a Canadian Writing Studies researcher and teacher. Each strand that emerges from these papers adds one more piece to an ever growing disciplinary puzzle that is forming in the Canadian Writing Studies community.

Summary for Lay Audience

This thesis explores how writing is taught at the post-secondary level in Canada. More specifically, it looks at how writing is taught and how writing is built according to ten of my former students from Conestoga College. These former students taught me how their own writing processes can benefit future students who take my classes. They also told me a lot about how contract labour, which is so prominent in post-secondary institutions today, undercuts the very teaching practices that allow learning to flourish. These former students also made me think about my field differently. I used to worry, like many of my colleagues, that writing studies was dominated by a desire to build skills quickly but not always efficiently. While this is true, my participants showed me that skill building has its place and that it may even provide opportunities to discuss those wider processes that make my teaching so successful.