Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dana Driscoll, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Curt Porter, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Matthew Vetter, Ph.D.


This study seeks to explore how students use and understand writing prompts, as well as how their understanding might help or hinder the successful transfer of previously gained knowledge into new writing contexts. First-year composition seeks to impart a broad-reaching set of skills to their students, and so students enrolled in a first-year composition course were selected in order to determine the skills that participants had gained in their high school experiences, how they utilized these skills in their first year of collegiate English instruction, and how they responded to a new writing context using these skills and the ones they gained in first-year composition. The study examines the lived writing usage of students in this important space of writerly development and contrasts it with the skills that they reported as having gained, as well as how they utilized these skills in a new writing context.