Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Takayoshi, Pam

Author's Keywords

Education; Language; literature and linguistics; Technological literacy; Writing programs; Computer-assisted instruction


Technological literacy--United States


This dissertation empirically studies computer-assisted writing administration as a site of agency for social change by inquiring how writing program administrators (WPAs) use their agency and power when developing and maintaining computer-mediated spaces (CM) or computer-assisted instruction (CAI). This study asks, What are the results when individual agency meets technological literacy in the academic workplace? Numerous articles have examined WPAs as agents of social change (R. Miller, C. Selfe, M. Pemberton); few have used empirical data as their grounds. To date, no articles have examined the WPA's agency with technological literacy in computer-mediated environments. This study utilizes triangulated and multi-modal research methods including site observations as well as interviews and email surveys with WPAs, students, technicians, and non-departmental stakeholders. The study assumes that WPAs act as "administrative agents" who use their agency to move beyond the role of functionaries such as "boss compositionists" (Sledd in Harris, 2000) or academic bureaucrats (R. Miller, 1988). Special features of this dissertation include original primary data on WPA decision-making, education, compensation. Preliminary data show the following: WPAs report using their agency when managing technology use for departments and institutions; 70 percent of WPAs report that their technological literacy affords them power in their departments; 70 percent of WPAs state that their technological literacy has improved their relations with students; most WPAs receive little compensation for their technological skills other than salary; and search and screen committees increasingly require technology proficiency of their writing faculty. WPAs should take into consideration managerial trends: faculty who resist CAI professional development because they are in the "retirement track" arguments that position CAI as a Technology vs. X false dilemma ("We can support either labor and people or technology"); assumptions that link technology with democracy and unexamined grand social narratives; and the conflation of technological literacy with critical technological literacy This data suggests that job skills and intellectual contributions of WPAs who work with CAI are not fully recognized and compensated in departments and contribute to a rise in invisible labor. The dissertation includes the following chapters: (I) Introduction: Shoulders to Stand On and the Work Already Done in Computer-Mediated Writing; (II) The Discourse on Technological Literacy: A Bakhtinian Reading of the National Infrastructure Initiative; (III) What WPAs Say about Their Work as a Site of Agency; (IV) Results from Online Survey of WPAs and Technological Literacy; and (V) Conclusion and Supplementary Materials.