Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Rhetoric and Professional Communication
Barbara J. Blakely
This qualitative study investigates knowledge transfer in college students
whose high school Advanced Placement (AP) or dual credit (DC) English courses
enabled them to opt out of the first level of composition at Iowa State University
(ISU). Although early college credit (ECC) students’ university writing
performances have been studied, writing transfer has not been adequately
studied in this population before. The influence of these students’ lived
experiences require more consideration from scholars because of the growing
number of students who enter advanced university classes by virtue of credits
earned in high school.
Thirteen students from a variety of backgrounds, majors, and years at ISU
participated in this study. Discourse-based interviews encouraged participants to
reflect upon high school writing experiences, university writing experiences, and
moments of crisis and confidence they encountered in writing “for the
university” (Bartholomae). Data were analyzed inductively with a constant
comparative method using disposition and threshold concept lenses since, as
scholars assert, transfer is heavily influenced by attitudinal and environmental
influences, especially those encouraged by educational practices. The
combination of disposition and threshold concept codes has not been used as a
method in writing studies before, but answers the call of writing studies scholars
to more thoroughly examine all influences on students’ abilities to transfer.
Participant perceptions revealed evidence of positive transfer closely
connected with generative dispositions. Instances of negative transfer revealed
inability to access prior knowledge and paralytically anxious attitudes about
needing to know the “right” way to proceed with assignments, revealing the
tendency of some threshold concepts to work in concert with disruptive
dispositions and create barriers to transfer. Students’ writing practices and
products indicated that they need not first level composition but more advanced
This project illuminates the need for teachers and administrators in both
secondary and post-secondary settings to better understand transfer and support
all students to become more successful in their college writing experiences.
Ultimately it suggests that the field of writing studies is at a point where some
redefining of roles and methods needs to happen, and where conversations need
to occur across institutional divides.
Kathy Sanders Rose
Rose, Kathy Sanders, "Indistinct boundaries and intersections: The role of threshold concepts and disposition in students with early college credit" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 15408.