Online writing labs as sites for community engagement

Jaclyn Michelle Wells, Purdue University


This dissertation investigates the Community Writing and Education Station (CWEST), a community engagement project that partners a community adult basic literacy program with a university writing lab. The author argues that the community and university partners, the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy (LARA) and the Purdue Writing Lab, offer positive opportunities for sustainable, mutually beneficial, and collaborative engagement because they are well established and have complementary missions. The main products of the partnership are instructional resources tailored to the needs and learning styles of adult basic education students and published on the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). The author argues that the Purdue OWL offers a unique space for community engagement that allows for the production of public rhetoric, sustainability, and revision through empirical research. The research uses case studies of four LARA instructors to investigate LARA’s pedagogical and administrative characteristics and how the instructional materials created during the engagement project support those characteristics. Teaching observations and interviews were used during each case study, and focus groups and artifact collection were also used to investigate the research questions. The author describes the process of using research findings to revise the materials, thus providing a model of community engagement that is informed by community-based research. The dissertation concludes with recommendations for writing centers and writing programs interested in this model of community engagement.




Bergmann, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language arts|Adult education|Rhetoric|Educational technology

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