Close confidences: Students' experiences of relational pleasure, relfective competence, and self-authorship in first year composition research writing




Ellis-Lai, Laura Lee

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This dissertation explores students' perceptions of their own scholarly development in first year college writing courses. Using a mixed methods approach -- including ethnographic, case study, and teacher-research methodologies -- I explored statements my students made about their research-writing experiences during interviews, in their online research journal blogs, and in their final research papers. The student participants involved in this dissertation research all noted that the people they interviewed for their own ethnographic projects offered them an impressive level of trust and engagement during their recorded conversations. This aspect of those conversations, what I call "close confidences," serves as an overarching metaphor for the three main findings of this dissertation research, which point to the ways first year college writing students may experience 1) a motivating sense of relational pleasure when conducting their own ethnographic interviews, 2) a heightened sense of competence in their own scholarly abilities after completing their research-writing projects, and 3) a newfound shift in thinking of themselves as scholars, something I refer to as "self-authorship," a term I borrow from the field of adult developmental psychology.


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close confidences, first year composition, reflective competence, relational pleasure, self-authorship, undergraduate research