Masters Thesis

Possessors or collectors: models of authority in student writing

Statement of Problem: In spring, 2007, I instructed a section of College Composition in which I found myself guiding students toward a rhetorical model based in individual authority, despite my intentions to encourage a more inquiry- or dialogue-based model of authority. This experience caused in me these beliefs: claim to individual authority can be defined and found in student writing; student writing that makes claim to individual authority can be distinguished from student writing that doesn't; and both institutional and instructor texts, as well as instructor discourse, can be correlated with a student writer's tendency to persuade by means of individual authority. Sources of Data: I collected institutional curriculum and four bodies of research from four different College Composition classrooms, each of which includes instructor texts (syllabus and assignment sheet), instructor discourse (oral description of assignment sheet), and student texts (essays in response to assignment sheet). I analyzed two of these bodies of research. Conclusions Reached: Claim to individual authority can be defined and found in student writing. Student writing that makes claim to individual authority can be distinguished from student writing that doesn't. Both institutional and instructor texts, as well as instructor discourse, can be correlated with a student writer's tendency to persuade by means of individual authority.

Items