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Meet Emily Lawrence: Author of “First Year-Writing Student Attitudes and Beliefs: The Potential for Writing-Related Transfer”



Emily Lawrence (she/her) is a 31-year-old graduate student currently attending Eastern Michigan University for their writing program. At the time of writing her article, “First Year-Writing Student Attitudes and Beliefs: The Potential for Writing-Related Transfer,” she was an undergraduate student at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where she was a double major studying Writing and Rhetoric as well as Philosophy. Lawrence was also minoring in creative writing and had goals for being a writing teacher in the future. Now, Lawrence is studying in Eastern Michigan University’s Writing Studies program, intending to teach others.

In fact, Lawrence explains that the intent behind writing her article was to research first-year writing students to prepare herself to be a better instructor. “I chose the topic because my goal is to teach first-year writing courses,” she shared, explaining that the class in which she came up with her topic was a Teaching College Writing course. Lawrence’s piece started as an assignment for a Writing and Rhetoric course she took afterward, taught by the same professor as her teaching course from the semester prior. She worked closely with her instructor, who assisted Lawrence in drafting a proposal for an independent research project.

Lawrence explains that many articles influenced her choice of topic and ultimately led to her focus on student attitudes and beliefs. A few she noted were Amy Locklear’s “Redesigning the Research of First-Year Composition: Renegotiating and Remapping an Approach to Information Literacy,” James Purdy and Joyce Walker’s “Liminal Spaces and Research Identity: The Construction of Introductory Composition Students as Researchers,” and various pieces written by Dana Driscoll from 2011 to 2018. These pieces, alongside others, helped Lawrence narrow her focus on first-year writing down to those students’ specific feelings towards those courses.

Lawrence’s article started as a proposal, after which she submitted the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application to be able to conduct her research. Her instructor greatly helped navigate the application process, which “felt like a strange web of requirements” in Lawrence’s experience. She was given a full semester to conduct the research afterward; her instructor also helped determine what methods could be used during the process. Lawrence explains that she had limitations in her research due to the amount of time left in her undergraduate career and the COVID lockdown in March 2020.

Lawrence worked with many deadlines throughout the writing process, which she explains was “stressful” but mainly “incredibly interesting.” Due to the length limitations, she also found that she had to exclude certain findings, so she did not exceed the page limit. Had there been no limit, Lawrence is sure her paper would have been over forty pages “quite easily.” In the end, this article took Lawrence a year and a half from the start of the process to the very end.

The instructor who guided Lawrence helped her discover Young Scholars in Writing. She explains that she decided to submit to our publication because it was “best aligned with the kind of research and theoretical frameworks” she found interesting. In addition, Lawrence says the submission process for her article allowed her to learn a lot about the revision and editing processes for publishing a piece. “The most important part of submitting to a publication is to know what kind of goals that publication has for what they publish,” she explains to others considering publishing, and leaves one final piece of advice: “it’s good to read previous editions! I read through the last couple of publications [from Young Scholars in Writing] before deciding whether to publish here. It helps you get to know what they’re looking for, and you might find some good source material for your research.”

Written by: Lexi Stewart, Professional Writing major at York College of Pennsylvania