Writing at the State U presents a comprehensive, empirical examination of writing programs at 106 universities. Rather than using open survey calls and self-reporting, Emily Isaacs uses statistical analysis to show the extent to which established principles of writing instruction and administration have been implemented at state comprehensive universities, the ways in which writing at those institutions has differed from writing at other institutions over time, and how state institutions have responded to major scholarly debates concerning first-year composition and writing program administration.
Isaacs’s findings are surprising: state university writing programs give lip service to important principles of writing research, but many still emphasize grammar instruction and a skills-based approach, classes continue to be outsized, faculty development is optional, and orientation toward basic writing is generally remedial. As such, she considers where a closer match between writing research and writing instruction might help to expose and remedy these difficulties and identifies strategies and areas where faculty or writing program administrators are empowered to enact change.
Unique in its wide scope and methodology, Writing at the State U sheds much-needed light on the true state of the writing discipline at state universities and demonstrates the advantages of more frequent and rigorous quantitative studies of the field.