Summer Institutes & Seminars

Summer Seminar 2019

Annual Dartmouth Summer Seminar for Composition Research

"Data-driven Inquiry: Process, Methods, Results"

July 28—August 9, 2019

Offered by Dartmouth College’s Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, in collaboration with the Council of Writing Program Administrators.

“The seminar filled big holes in my education—holes that I didn’t know were there.”

What kind of research do we focus on?

Research is broadly—and provisionally—defined here as systematic or replicable inquiry in response to a research question that can generate interpretable data, inquiry that is grounded in previous research and designed to extend existing knowledge and, through scholarly publication or other public contribution, to be extended itself.

Who should attend?

We welcome new and seasoned writing researchers, teachers, and writing program administrators from all types of institutions, including universities, two-year/four-year colleges, writing centers, writing research laboratories, technical schools, or centers for teaching excellence, around the globe. We encourage research teams to apply. Competitive acceptance.

The program is designed to support higher education writing researchers who would like to engage in data-driven research but have not had the opportunity to develop their expertise in understanding, choosing, and using the particular research methods we cover. Participants may be looking to develop or expand their repertoire of methods, from strictly qualitative into mixed methods or more quantitative approaches. The emphasis of the Dartmouth Seminar is on models for systematic inquiry, with particular attention to methods for gathering and analyzing sets of data using coding-based qualitative analysis and some forms of quantitative analysis. Participants will also learn to engage in critical analysis with (and of) statistics and statistical software and prepare for publication of this kind of research. The Seminar is also valuable for faculty with experience doing this work but looking for some input into a particular project they wanted to workshop, or teachers of writing and leaders of writing initiatives trained in different research traditions who are interested in exchanging ideas, in a collegial and productive setting, about research methods used in contexts around the world. We appreciate the dialogue created by international and interdisciplinary participation.

2019 Program

The specific program will be tailored to the research projects defined by applicants. The program’s key on-site features will include group/team work, individual consultations with program leaders, individual work time, and daily classwork:














• Overview: major theories and research methods,

feasible research questions, gaps in writing’s current research landscape, research in relation to assessment.

• Workshops: participants’ data collection, questions they can ask of the data, what that shows about what else they need to know, and how to obtain it; situating individual projects within these paradigms and considering literature reviews; data treatment and analysis.

• Overview: coding of data, systematic treatment approaches. Introduction to a particular rigorous coding approach.

• Practice sessions: data analysis in small groups.

• Workshops: developing preliminary coding schemes for participants’ data.


• Workshop:

Applying methods to assessment; assessment principles.

• Overview: additional systematic approaches (for example, corpus linguistics).

• Overview: understanding and using parametric and non-parametric statistics; key software options and uses.

• Workshop: statistical analysis: what do we really need to know?

• Overview: strategies for addressing challenges to research in specific institutional contexts; case study.

• Workshop: individual plans for completing participant projects.


• Discussion: issues in ethical research; case study.

• Workshop: publication, conference presentations.

•Presentation of participants’ projects; feedback from nationally-known scholars

Who will the session leaders be?

Charles Bazerman, Chris Anson, Neal Lerner, Cheryl Geisler, Dylan Dryer, Joanna Wolfe, Jason Swarts, Mya Poe, Norbert Elliot, Christiane Donahue, and more. Additional faculty will be announced as we determine project-specific issues.

When does the program work begin?

In the February-July 2019 period, we will form a cohort, distribute readings, share information about projects, and offer preliminary guidance from team leaders on IRB contact and data collection as needed. In April we host a series of exchanges to share projects and discuss preparation. Peer review and consultations with team members are ongoing throughout the seminar, from an initial meeting to a final presentation of projects.

What will participants gain?

Key takeaways include:

  • a deeper understanding of data-driven research; access to resources and a research network over time
  • a set of practical and methodological tools for implementation; improved ability to ask questions and interpret data
  • a sense of a project’s place and value in the writing studies landscape
  • a cohort of colleagues with whom to continue working and exchanging ideas over time

Participants will leave the summer seminar with a concrete plan for completing the project they bring to the program, as well as an ongoing support network, including the program cohort and the team members (see previous participants’ testimony, below).



Program fee (includes all materials, access to the library and Internet while at Dartmouth)

$1,500 (partial scholarships funded by CWPA available to community college, HCBU, and TCU participants)

Housing* for the full seminar term (single rooms in comfortable dormitories)

$780 approximate (includes a $100 credit towards meals in College facilities)

We offer a $100 discount on the fee for 2019 CWPA or EWCA conference attendees.

* The housing/meal plan is optional, though strongly recommended: participants have noted that being onsite really enables the fullest participation. Quoted cost is an estimate; Dartmouth has not yet released 2019 fee structures.

Application Information

For your reference in preparing your application, the application form questions are available in a more compact printable format as an Adobe Acrobat PDF or MS Word document.

2019 Summer Seminar Full Form compact printable (PDF) or 2019 Summer Seminar Full Form compact printable (MSWord).

2019 Summer Seminar Short Form compact printable (PDF) or 2019 Summer Seminar Short Form compact printable (MSWord).

Deadline for applications: December 15, 2018.

Notification of acceptance: January 15, 2019.


For More Information

Please write to Christiane Donahue with any questions.


About Dartmouth

Dartmouth is in Hanover, NH, USA, a beautiful New England town. Dartmouth offers an excellent summer location, with serious facilities, resources, and a work atmosphere alongside recreational and cultural events for off-time: hiking, lakes, bicycling, farmer’s market, concerts, films, speakers, and performances. Access to Dartmouth is quite easy from Boston Logan (Dartmouth Coach is direct to campus every 2 hours). There are also flights into Manchester NH or Lebanon NH and Burlington VT, and an Amtrak train, Greyhound bus, and Dartmouth Coach from NYC.

Previous participants’ commentary on the Dartmouth Summer Seminar

“In addition to several ‘ah ha’ moments, I left the conference with a new approach to and understanding of research and research tools that can help me answer questions I've been trying to ask for quite a while.”

“Certainly one of the most incredible professional experiences I’ve had.”

“I was pushed to think in new ways about my particular project and about writing studies research in general. It was incredibly stimulating intellectually to go through that process with other researchers.”

“This was such a valuable opportunity to get to know [writing] researchers who were at various points in their career, from a variety of places and institutions, and with unique perspectives on writing studies. It simultaneously helped me to hone in on my own research and to see new possibilities for research.”

“The seminar filled big holes in my graduate education—holes that I didn’t know were there. I feel better equipped to design and carry out research projects, as well as better equipped to read and review scholarship in the field. I’ve always felt a step behind due to the lack of focus on research methods in my graduate program. Now I feel confident that I'll be able to make valuable contributions.”

“It was SO wonderful to be a student again. It helped solidify some things I knew about methodologies and methods; I learned practical coding practices that I could immediately implement; and I finally understand what all those statistics mean when I read research across disciplines!”

“An excellent professional development opportunity and learning experience for teacher-scholars at any career stage. You get to work side-by-side on developing research with specialists in the field--when do you get that kind of sustained experience at your own institution? The seminar changed the way I think about research; I value that tremendously for my own work, and I will take this new mindset back to my own institution and to my work with undergraduate and graduate students.”

“Everything seemed designed to provide us with two weeks to learn, explore, design, circle back, think, and share with like-minded (and, frankly, wonderful) colleagues. I also appreciated that we were pushed out of our comfort zones on our projects and on ways of doing research. I cannot imagine a richer environment for this stage in my career.”

“The content was very well-chosen, and the mentoring and modeling so generously offered by the program leaders was a gift, both for younger colleagues and mid-career professionals. The uncompromising dedication to this emerging field—writing studies—demonstrated by the organizers and contributing faculty was energizing and at times bracing but always welcome. I certainly benefited from the experience, and it will probably mark a turning point in my career.”

“The energy that comes from bringing together a group of committed, intellectually curious professionals is really inspiring!”

“Not since grad school have most of us had anything quite like this, and few of us will likely enjoy such a sense of professional community again—at least not to such a concentrated degree.”

“I felt engaged intellectually and socially on common projects, even though our individual projects were different.”

“This is among the very best intellectual experiences I have had in my career. I feel like my career has received an electrifying jolt (in a very good way)!”

“I hoped to learn new methods and to think through ways those methods would apply to future projects, but really the experience was far richer than I could have anticipated.”