What do students think about their own writing? Insights for teaching new college writers


  • Grant Eckstein Brigham Young University
  • Dana Ferris University of California, Davis
  • Katherina Sibbald Sonoma State University




Writing, process, product, journey, self-efficacy, identity, high school, content analysis


Students face multiple challenges when transitioning from high school to college writing, with new content, audiences, genres, and task expectations. Psychometric researchers have shown that self-efficacy, competency, and affective factors can help or hinder students during this transition, but little previous research examines what students themselves say about their writing and writing experiences. This study analyses the content of 248 essays from first-year composition writers who discussed their writing identities, processes, products, and journeys. Our findings show differences between writers who view themselves positively and negatively. Instructors can use this information to design meaningful prompts, utilize process writing activities, and engage students in meaningful reflection.

Author Biographies

Grant Eckstein, Brigham Young University

Grant Eckstein is an associate professor of linguistics at Brigham Young University. His research interests include second-language writing development and pedagogy and curriculum design. He is currently associate editor of the Journal of Response to Writing.

Dana Ferris, University of California, Davis

Dana Ferris is a professor in the university writing program at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests focus on multilingual writers and readers and on response to student writing. She recently completed a term as co-editor of the Journal of Second Language Writing.

Katherina Sibbald, Sonoma State University

Katherina Sibbald is a lecturer in the School of Education at Sonoma State University. She researches the intersections among culturally sustaining pedagogies, first and second language development, white teacher identity, and composition studies.


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How to Cite

Eckstein, G. ., Ferris, D. ., & Sibbald, K. (2021). What do students think about their own writing? Insights for teaching new college writers. Writing and Pedagogy, 12(2-3), 307–339. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.19540




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