Chapter 4: Pathways to Future Transfer
The last two chapters were filled with examples from the first-year writing study in which students transferred writing knowledge across media via various pathways. In this chapter, I examine first steps toward such transfer, paying attention to moments when students began to consider their compositional knowledge and develop different kinds of meta-awareness about composition. To investigate how students were considering their knowledge, I asked them if there was anything from the video project they thought would transfer to the future. Here is a sampling of their responses.
Various students discuss what they think will transfer to the future from the video project.
The song used in this video is by Admiral Bob, Creative Commons license BY.
|[Soft jazz music plays in the background. It continues throughout the rest of the video.]||White text appears on a black screen, reading "Was there anything from the video project that you think you will transfer to the future?"|
|Madison: I think the video was actually pretty helpful in the writing class because writing is not just writing. You have to experience different aspects of how people write.||Madison is shown in an office, sitting at a table, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. In the bottom corner of the screen, text reads "helpful in class" in white, and is later relplaced by the phrase "different aspects of writing."|
|Tiara: Making the Prezi/Animoto opens you up to a new form of writing. It does. I think that I've learned more from this than when I was writing the paper.||Tiara is shown in an empty classroom, sitting at a desk, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. She gestures as she explains her answer. The words "new form of writing" appear in the bottom corner of the screen in white.|
|Marlee: You just, you become so active in the video that you want your assignments to be that active.||Marlee is shown sitting at a table in front of a blue wall. She is talking to Crystal, who is off screen. The words "you become so active" appear on bottom of the screen in white.|
|Sabrina: I guess, I kind of learned I'm more of a visual learner.||Sabrina is shown at a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. In the bottom corner of the screen, white text reads "visual learner".|
|Travon: The video assessment model, I believe, is a concept that can go towards writing a paper and making a video.||Travon is shown sitting at a table in front of a blue wall. He is talking to Crystal, who is off screen. The words "video assessment model" appear on bottom of the screen in white.|
|Fawaz: In the future, if I got any assignment, I could do it like through Prezi or Animoto, even if my professor will not require it.||Fawaz is shown in a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. In the bottom corner of the screen, text reads "future assignments" in white, and is quickly replaced by "Prezi or Animoto."|
|Madison: By doing this video, it's going to help me perform my essay a lot better knowing I have some kind of visual I focus on before.||Madison is shown again in an office, sitting at a table, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. In the bottom corner of the screen, text reads "perform my essay" and is later replaced by "visual to focus on."|
|Sabrina: When I was doing the video outline, I was, like, sketching out how I wanted everything to look. I'm definitely going to use that from now on.||Sabrina is shown at a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. In the bottom corner of the screen, text reads "video outline" in white.|
|Evan: And like I said, I was able to, you know, use this project as, even in my personal life to be like, okay, you're going to make this video, but it's still relevant to, you know, what you're trying to figure out with your own life and where you're going to go after college.||Evan is shown sitting at a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. White text on the bottom of the screen reads "in my personal life."|
|Daijah: Being able to take previous skills or knowledge and adapt it into new stuff. If I take another writing class or even if, even in the career itself.||Daijah is shown sitting at a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. White text on the bottom of the screen reads "adapt skills or knowledge". Later it is replaced with "writing class", followed by "career".|
|Travon: My job as an instructional technology consultant. Somebody come in there and says, "Well, I'm not doing iMovie, I'm doing Movie Maker, it'll be cool that I know that too.||Travon is again shown sitting at a table in front of a blue wall. He is talking to Crystal, who is off screen. The words "my job" appear on bottom of the screen in white. This is later replaced by "iMovie or Movie Maker".|
|Evan: All the skills that I learned from video editing, I'm sure I would be able to use in any type of, you know, design career of any sort.||Evan is shown sitting at a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. White text on the bottom of the screen reads "video editing skills." This is later replaced by "design career".|
|Daijah: Technology's getting more and more every day. I'm pretty sure there's more stuff that's going to come out, and I'm going to have to learn how to do it.||Daijah is again shown sitting at a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen. White text on the bottom of the screen reads "technology."|
|[Background music becomes louder as all other audio stops.]|
These short excerpts demonstrate that students could envision various pathways to future transfer from the video project, some more direct than others.
These examples also reveal that students foresaw and started to enact many kinds of transfer for their video knowledge: transfer as application of technologies and rhetorical appeals, transfer as reconstruction of strategies and skills such as organization and analysis, and transfer as a mindset as they came to new understandings of their writerly identities and built confidence as writers who could collaborate with others and succeed at new tasks.
Looking across the interviews from the second site in the study (Oakland University) illuminates some patterns in terms of which pathways to future transfer students were considering and beginning. Across interviews with twelve students and three instructors from the second site, students mentioned various kinds of compositional knowledge that had potential to transfer across media into different contexts, as summarized in the table below. Participants talked about transferring this knowledge to several sites: to another class in college or multiple classes, specifically another writing course, or to future papers, presentations, or video assignments in college (all coded as “transfer to other courses” and also coded within the larger category of “transfer to the future”). Students also talked about transferring knowledge to a future job or career, to everyday life, to writing outside school, and to social media (all coded as “transfer to the future”).
|“Transfer to the Future” code (overarching category)||“Transfer to other courses” code|
|Rhetorical appeals (logos, pathos, ethos, and kairos)||7 students, 1 instructor (17 codes)||7 students (16 codes)|
|Technologies (software/hardware)||8 students, 2 instructors (15 codes)||3 students, 1 instructor (4 codes)|
|Process (drafts, deadlines, collaboration, feedback)||3 students (6 codes)||5 students (6 codes)|
|Organization (of writing/material, of self)||2 students (2 codes)||4 students (7 codes)|
|Analysis||1 student (3 codes)||4 students (6 codes)|
In the interviews, students talked about the rhetorical appeals transferring to the future most of all, perhaps because they were a major part of the curriculum in most of the courses in the study. Out of twelve students, seven talked about knowledge of logos, pathos, ethos, or kairos transferring to other college courses, and seven students and one instructor talked about the appeals being useful beyond college. How to use digital technology was the second most common type of knowledge participants mentioned. Three students and one instructor described how knowing how to use hardware or software would be useful in future courses, and a noticeably larger number—eight students and two instructors—talked about knowledge of technology transferring to the workplace. Composition process, organization, and analysis were also mentioned several times by multiple students as being useful in the future, with process knowledge envisioned as applying in college and in the workplace and organization and analysis envisioned as applying most often in future college work.
As this list of transfer-ready material indicates, students appeared most ready to transfer material and knowledge they had extensive practice with using in class: the rhetorical appeals, which were woven into many written and digital media assignments across the courses in the study. They also appeared ready to use newly gained technological knowledge within a process of transfer as direct application: they now knew how to edit video and could see uses for making video, particularly in future workplaces. The comments that knowledge of appeals, process, organization, and analysis might transfer to the future, however, indicate that transfer as reconstruction is a likely possibility for these students as they look to adapt and change their knowledge in a compositional situation that requires writing in and through different media, perhaps beyond a written essay or a digital video. The data makes it clear that these students are in the midst of considering their compositional knowledge and are preparing or even starting to (re)use, apply, and adapt what they know through various digital and non-digital technologies and within the surrounding practices and norms of compositional contexts. In other words, they have begun to transfer across media.