Investigating Community in the Work of First-Year Core Writing Students
AuthorLambrecht, Kathryn Mary
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For the fields of composition, linguistics, and student services, community serves as a binding concept, particularly given the work of these fields in relation to the college campus. Scholars study the way that community involvement impacts retention rates, the way that discourse communities are built through language, and the way that community awareness influences writing. However, few studies consider how these factors overlap and influence each other within a multidisciplinary framework. This study takes a step towards filling that research gap by investigating the writing practices of students in first-year writing programs at the University of Nevada, Reno. Specifically, I will look at the writing practices of students in both a traditional classroom environment and a classroom environment that is part of a Living Learning Community in order to ascertain any differences in the way that students perceive their classroom community, differences in metadiscourse levels, and differences in student ethos and classroom interactions as noted by the instructor. I make use of Alfred Rovai's Classroom Community Scale, Ken Hyland's metadiscourse model, and Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus in order to achieve the research goals. While I found that metadiscourse levels and perceptions of classroom community were remarkably similar between the two classes, there was a statistically significant difference in the use of transitions, evidentials, hedges, and self mentions. However, I believe the interpretation of those results can benefit from further study. Overall, the results of the study suggest that while community plays a role in the writing of students, ultimately it is the complexity of individual student experience and the development of institutional habitus that informs classroom community.