Understanding the Learned Conceptions of Writing that First-Year Students Bring to College

  • Gabrielle M Stanley Moravian College


Professors, writing center tutors, and peers often observe that many students struggle with college-level writing, particularly during their first year. While the struggle itself is easy to observe, its origins are not as easy to identify. To better understand why students find difficulty in the transition from high school to college-level writing, I conducted qualitative research involving an analysis of 221 incoming first-year students’ descriptions of “good” writing. Through learning what students’ conceptions of writing are upon entering college, and measuring those conceptions against the writing practices supported by writing-studies research, it should be possible to pinpoint the areas in which students need further development in order to be successful college-level writers.

Author Biography

Gabrielle M Stanley, Moravian College

Gabrielle Stanley is a junior English major at Moravian College who has been interested in studying writing education since she began her undergraduate career. She focuses on Rhetoric and Writing Studies.