Social media platforms have offered students—and all of us—more opportunities for self-sponsored writing. In response to calls from researchers to explore students' 21st-century writing practices and their relevance to college writing instruction, this dissertation articulated and applied a feminist teacher research methodology and a mixed-methods research design to explore first-year composition (FYC) students' self-sponsored writing practices, attitudes, and transfer opportunities on a popular, albeit under-examined, social media application: Instagram. This study found that students have developed elaborate, rhetorical, multimodal composing processes that include planning, drafting, evaluating, selecting, and styling images as well as planning, drafting/revising, and styling captions. Additionally, though most survey participants said that audience awareness figured into their composing practices, data from interviews revealed that students often misunderstood or inaccurately specified their audiences. Similarly, while all interviewees used a process-based approach to compose their Instagram posts, significant differences exist regarding students' levels of awareness about their composing decisions. Concerning students' perceptions of transfer opportunities between Instagram and FYC, this study found that most survey respondents did not conceptualize their Instagram writing as writing nor did they see their Instagram writing practices as related to the writing required in FYC. Further, respondents generally disagreed that opportunities to transfer skills and knowledge learned from Instagram to FYC exist. However, student interviewees offered evidence that contradicted survey results. Specifically, all interviewees within the study cited connections between their writing practices on Instagram and FYC composing practices by the end of their interviews. Findings from this study productively extend and nuance prior research on students' extracurricular composing practices, offer new findings that address the lack of empirical data about Instagram and writing process, and have several implications for FYC pedagogy. Particular curricular suggestions are provided along with two guiding principles that extend this dissertation's results.


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Graduation Date





McDaniel, Rudy


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program

Texts and Technology




CFE0008859; DP0026138





Release Date

December 2021

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Social Media Commons