Hybrid, blended, online, interface, fyc


Online education has received excessive attention in recent decades as its characteristics and potential have undergone intense debate and scrutiny. Similar debate and scrutiny surround the content of first-year composition (FYC) courses. As we continue to define what composition studies entails, we redefine what we study in FYC. Yet discussions of blended delivery mode---using both online and on-ground teaching methods---get lost amid these debates. This dissertation addresses the dearth of research on blended online writing instruction by asserting the essential nature of connections between the content and the delivery of FYC courses. Through case studies of two experienced instructors teaching FYC in a blended environment for the first time, this dissertation evaluates the composition--both as a noun and as a verb-of FYC courses in light of the technology involved. Through an analysis of interviews with instructors, students, and faculty involved with FYC, I highlight the points of contact--the interfaces-that themselves create the experience of a class. This analysis applies interface theory from rhetoric and composition to the pedagogical acts of teaching FYC and reveals how attention to classroom interfaces can benefit our pedagogy. This project also incorporates student performance data (in the form of portfolio evaluations), student perception data (in the form of surveys), and comparative institutional data (in the form of website analysis) to better understand the varied causes, effects, and implementations of blended learning. By looking outside the classroom environment, I show how schools influence the way blended courses are perceived by those who create them. The differences in student and instructor expectations for this kind of class emerged as particularly influential in determining how successful a blended course can be. The perspective taken by an instructor in terms of experience and expertise also emerged as a significant determinant of perceived success, particularly for instructors themselves. This dissertation reveals the delicate balance instructors must navigate between relying on expertise in the field and exploring the course delivery as a novice. This balance allows instructors to be responsive, flexible, and dynamic in their classes while also assisting students in their efforts to better understand FYC course content. Overall, this dissertation defines and advocates for a hybrid approach to FYC instruction as an essential evolution of our pedagogical praxis. Students lead increasingly hybrid lives and learn in increasingly hybrid ways. Instructors must adopt hybridity in their classes to accommodate not only students' changing learning styles but also the changing nature of composition as a field and writing as its subject matter. And finally, institutions must consistently define and implement principles of hybridity to help reduce confusion and frustration across the disciplines. Suggestions for educators and institutions alike are provided to help meet the needs of today's students.


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Vie, Stephanie


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program

Texts and Technology








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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities