First-Year Composition and Transfer: A Quantitative Study

James D. Williams, Minami Hattori


The present study investigated the effect of writing pedagogy on transfer by examining the effect of pedagogical orientation (WAC/WID or ‘traditional’) on content-area grades. Participants were 1,052 undergraduates from 17 schools throughout the United States. Hypothesis was that the WAC/WID orientation would lead to higher transfer levels as measured by participants’ higher content-area performance. Composition grades were collected in year one; content-area grades where collected in year two. Propensity scores were calculated to stratify the groups and minimize selection bias of writing- class assignment, thereby allowing quasi-causal inference. An ANOVA was performed on the resulting 2- by-5 stratified data. Results indicated that students who completed the WAC/WID composition classes received significantly higher content grades than those in the ‘traditional’ writing classes. The results confirmed the hypothesis.



transfer; academic performance; composition; pedagogy

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