Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Horner, Bruce M.

Author's Keywords

Commenting; Comments; Response; Course design; Ideology; Classroom context


English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching


This project responds to a neglected, over decade-old call from Jane Fife and Peggy O'Neill for greater consideration of classroom contexts in scholarship on teachers’ commenting practices. Drawing on Raymond Williams's reconceptualization of ideology, I examine how response occurs within larger contexts including societal, programmatic, institutional, and disciplinary expectations, how teachers and students operate within and against these expectations, and how their beliefs and actions shape the production and reception of response. Deploying data collected through a mixed-methodology approach including classroom observation, interview, textual analysis, and protocol analysis, I examine three first-year writing classes, the instructors for these classes, and students enrolled in the observed courses. Chapter 1 introduces the limitations of previous response scholarship and defines the various contexts that comprise the classroom context. Chapter 2 focuses on how the expectation for first-year writing as service shapes the production and reception of response. Chapter 3 examines how one instructor's use of a non-traditional grade alongside formative response and the student's reading of this response illustrate the complexities present between grading and response. Chapter 4 draws on the work of Elaine Lees, Louise Weatherbee Phelps, and Elizabeth Rankin to investigate how response may extend formatively across multiple texts and contribute to what I call “a cumulative project.” In tracing this expansion of response across texts, I consider how the values and beliefs teachers and students have for response both facilitate and complicate such expansion. Chapter 5 concludes the project by demonstrating how the increased attention toward computer grading/response illustrates the central role response occupies in conversations about writing and writing improvement. I summarize the central role “the text” has played in the previous chapters and link this privileging of the text to these calls for computer grading. I argue that future response scholarship must be attentive to both the text and classroom contexts so as to demonstrate the full complexity of response to student writing.