Submissions:2016/College Writing and Wikipedia: Purposes, Audiences, and Genres

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College Writing and Wikipedia: Purposes, Audiences, and Genres



Academic Peer Review option


Type of submission



Robert E. Cummings

E-mail address




University of Mississippi


Dan Melzer’s recent study of writing assignments in US Higher Education gives a comprehensive understanding of the purposes, audiences, and genres of writing assignments in higher education. In examining more than 2,101 assignments at public institutions, Melzer found that the vast majority of college writing assignments (66%) were had a transactional/informative purpose for a teacher-as-examiner audience in an exam genre. In other words, the genre of most college writing assignments is designed for the student-author to prove to the teacher-reader that s/he has mastered course content.

This is bad news for teaching and learning. This artificial genre little resembles the literacy challenges students will face in the world beyond college, shunts student voice and agency, and ignores the potential of writing to strengthen metacognition and guide lifelong learning. It is a contrivance of higher education designed to serve the internal purposes of higher education.

This presentation will report on the early findings of a study designed to (1) extend Melzer’s data set and see if his conclusions hold when even more writing assignments from even more institutions are gathered, coded, and analyzed, and (2) incorporate the effects of writing with Wikipedia assignments on diversifying the purposes, audiences, and genres of college writing. It will investigate continuing evidence, including that provided by the Wiki Ed Dashboard, that rather than destroying he integrity of college writing, teaching with Wikipedia improves it.

Length of presentation

20 mins

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  1. LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 14:51, 29 August 2016 (EDT)
  2. ProfTAH (talk) 16:56, 31 August 2016 (EDT)