The NWP Studio Model: Growing Writers And Teachers Of Writing

Chapter in Innovative Developments in Writing Studio Practice forthcoming in 2015 from Hampton Press


For 40 years, the mission of the National Writing Project (NWP) has been to improve the teaching of writing. Nearly 200 NWP sites located on college campuses across the United States work with educators from primary through postsecondary on this goal. The foundation of this successful professional development model is the learning community. The writing studio model, which creates learning communities focused on writing, is a natural extension of the work of NWP sites as NWP methods already center around writing workshop and process theory. The learning communities and writing workshops that NWP teachers create in their classrooms and schools create the same mentoring roles which writing studio programs develop.

In true NWP fashion, the Morehead Writing Project Writing Studio has created a master learning community to support both the Peer Writers, as our writing group facilitators are known, and writing instructors teaching the classes working with the studio. In this way, the mentoring that results from our studio program has many levels. Our undergraduate peer writers mentor the developmental students they work with and the instructors and MWP site leadership mentor the peer writers. And of course, as this is a learning community, the students sometimes become the teacher and sometimes everyone is a student learning from the shared experience.

In this chapter, I propose to share the development of this pilot NWP writing studio and its impact on the facilitators and instructors as well as the NWP site and its host institution, including both the writing and education programs.

The NWP learning community is an ideal model to support studio work and, in particular, the training and support of studio personnel. As the NWP model is based on teachers teaching teachers we are already equipped with the tools and experience necessary to support the development of new teachers or facilitators and we believe the ability to provide this instruction in the context of a studio is a win for all the stakeholders.

Much like the studio model itself, the NWP site is both outside and alongside. We serve our host institution in a number of ways – working with both students and faculty. However, NWP work offers a different experience than more traditional studio programs because our work already reaches beyond campus boundaries. This offers us the potential to take our studio work in K-12 classrooms, which we have already done on a limited basis, and we expect that as our peer writers graduate and move into their own classrooms that studio work will find its way in.

While an NWP writing studio offers many advantages and increased opportunities over the more traditional studio model, such as being above institutional mandates, this model also brings with it limitations and disadvantages. As an “outside” program we do not have control (or input) over class and instructor schedules and have very little financial or administrative support for our studio. While our data speaks strongly to the positive impact of our studio work, we suspect that our administration will gladly accept the gift but give nothing in return.

This chapter will address not only what other studio programs can learn from the NWP model but will also include an argument for why an NWP site would want to start a writing studio program.

Making Writers in a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute

Kentucky English Bulletin, Spring 2014, Vol 63, No. 2, pgs. 50-59


These findings support the idea that working in a learning community focused on writing has a long-term, positive effect on writers by decreasing writing apprehension; attending to the sources of writing self-efficacy; and fostering self-regulation. The results of this study provide support for fostering writing in more open systems such as writing groups, writing workshops, and learning communities. These findings have implications for teachers of writing at all levels of education.


Those who work with writers can take several lessons away from this project. First, is the knowledge that intervention can make a difference in whether or not a person becomes a writer. Second, we gain insight into some of the strategies that can be used for that intervention and that these strategies can be used to work with student writers or professional adults. Third, and most important, is the understanding that the level of intervention must be low rather than high to allow the writer the agency to set her goals and reflect on her growth and development as a writer. There is still a clear role for the teacher and editor as the experienced writer and mentor. Not only can they provide an important model for how writing should be done as well as examples of work in progress and completed work, but they can also share their successes and failures to illustrate their own growth and development as a writer. Perhaps the most important contribution the teacher or editor can make to assist in the process of the writer becoming a confident and skilled writer is to help shape the immersion or workshop experience that offers not only the sources of writing self-efficacy, but also makes the agency for full growth and development to take place.

(BEG)ging the Question: Using Online Tools to Support Writing Feedback

With Alison Hruby and Brandie Trent

Kentucky English Bulletin, Spring 2014, Vol 63, No. 2, pgs. 30-36

Effective writing feedback is an essential part of writing development. Without effective feedback, students do not engage in the “substantive self-assessment and revision” necessary to their growth and development as writers (Beach and Friedrich 231). Effective feedback is a “transaction…offering honest critique paired with instruction,” according to Nancy Sommers (253), and a “respectful” exchange between writer and reader, according to Carol Rutz (261).

We have found through the use of all three platforms–Blackboard, Edmodo, and Google+–that technology can be used, with proper planning and pedagogical support, to scaffold the conversation necessary to help students improve their writing. While it is easier to share in a more traditional classroom without the barriers and challenges of technology, technology also offers opportunities to work without distraction and to preserve a record of the conversation, including drafts, questions, and responses.

Review: Agents of Integration: Understanding Transfer as a Rhetorical Act

In Agents of Integration: Understanding Transfer as a Rhetorical Act, a new addition to the Studies in Writing and Rhetoric series by Southern Illinois University Press, Rebecca S. Nowacek addresses one of the greatest challenges facing education: how and why and when students connect and apply learning from one context to another. The issue is especially important to faculty teaching writing within the early semesters of college as helping students negotiate the difference between writing in high school and college, as well as writing within different contexts and disciplines, is an ongoing challenge. Transfer is important to those teaching in two-year colleges as we strive to prepare our students writing in college as well as professional life.

Teaching English in the Two-Year College, Vol. 41, No. 2, December 2013

Writing Self-Efficacy and Written Communication Skills

Writing is an essential professional skill. The goal of writing instruction in business communication classes is to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully meet future writing challenges. However, many writers struggle to transfer skills and knowledge from one context to another. The primary reason for this struggle is that despite years of writing instruction, most people are highly apprehensive about writing and do not consider themselves “writers.” Writing instruction typically does little to lessen writing apprehension, but fostering writing self-efficacy can both diminish writing apprehension and further writing development.

Business Communication QuarterlyJune 2013 vol. 76 no. 2 216-225

Digital Connections and Learning Styles

Written with Julie Davis and Letitia Harding (chapter in The Handbook of Research on Virtual Environments for Corporate Education and Employee Learning edited by William Ritke-Jones), published Spring 2010

Online or e-learning is increasingly becoming an integral part of education and training programs both in the academic world and in industry. This chapter includes a study which examines the ways in which faculty and students in an online Ph.D. program plan, adapt, and correlate coursework, teaching, study habits, and networking practices to accommodate all types of learning styles and to ensure that students feel part of a community of learners. The findings indicate that distance education should incorporate both synchronous and asynchronous instruction, personal and individual contact, a proper balance between the specific demands of the material to be covered and the learning styles of the students, and a willingness to adjust and modify delivery methods in order to obtain course or training objectives.



The Need for Rules: Determining the Usability of Adding Audio to the MOO

With Lora Arduser, Julie Davis, Rob Evans, Christine Hubbell, Cheri Mullins and Chris Ryan. Computers and Composition, 28 (2011).

This usability study assesses the impact on user experience when audio is added to a text-based MOO classroom in a large distance learning Ph.D. program. We found that the addition of audio to this text-based, synchronous classroom enhanced the user experience, but this enhancement was impacted by the control and structure of information and conversation flow, instructor leadership and modeling, and the need for time and support to learn the technology. It also fostered a greater sense of social connection between instructor and students as well as student to student. We found that limitations with adding audio to this environment included trouble with identifying speakers and users having difficulty managing multiple conversations through multiple channels. Additional benefits identified by participants included quick responses to calls for help or clarification, the comfort level of audio communication in general, and the ability to expound on a particular issue in greater detail.


A Study of Writing Self-Efficacy in Adults

Given the powerful influence writing self-efficacy exerts over writing performance, it is essential we increase our understanding of writing self-efficacy and its sources. As writing is now understood to be a social act, it is also important that we specficially look at writing self-efficacy sources that are socially influenced. This study focuses on the impact of socially-negotatied writing on writing self-efficacy.

Academic Exchange Quarterly, Fall 2010 (31% acceptance rate)