Digital identities: Revisiting the rhetorical situation in first year composition

Brandy R Dieterle, Purdue University


This study focused on the use of digital identities in first-year composition as a tool to help students understand the concept of the rhetorical situation. It examined four students' experiences and how composing from the perspective of a digital identity impacted their understanding of the rhetorical situation and their own composing processes. The findings indicate that asking students to choose topics based upon their digital identities enabled them to write about a topic they had a personal stake or interest in. It also helped students' understanding of the rhetorical situation, particularly regarding audience, because they had prior experiences with their chosen topic. The findings also suggest that bringing digital identities into the classroom can bring awareness to students' practices online. Many students said they had not thought previously about how their identity shifts according to the rhetorical situation, and some wished to alter their identities once they were more aware of the rhetorical situation. Using digital identities has proven to begin to bridge the gap between composing practices in and outside the classroom; however, more work needs to be done to fully bridge this gap.




Mabrito, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Web Studies|Rhetoric

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