Program Research Publications




Aull, L. & Ross, V. From cow paths to conversation: Rethinking the argumentative essay. Pedagogy, 20(1), 21-34. https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-7878975

This article analyzes ideologies underpinning argument-based writing assignments and considers how they may contribute to a current climate of polarization. The authors suggest that the argument-based essay may be what Kenneth Burke called an unquestioned and habituated “cow path” and conclude by considering how students may benefit from a deeper engagement with explanatory ways of knowing, writing, and relating to each other.



Ross, V. & Walker, DM. (2018). Supplanting the research paper and one-shot library visit: A collaborative approach to writing instruction and information literacy. In G. Veach (Ed.), Teaching information literacy and writing studies (Vol. 1: First-year composition courses) (pp. 49-60). Purdue University Press.

PennKey holders may access the chapter via Penn Libraries.

Founded in 2003, the Critical Writing Program of the University of Pennsylvania has built an evidence-based, “lab style” curriculum that is taught by faculty from across the disciplines. All teach a shared curriculum inflected by writing in their own disciplines as well as by their individual course topics and readings. A core mission of the program has been to develop a curriculum that positions students as authentic participants in generative knowledge practices. Our chapter will explore the development of our curriculum and our collaborative approach to teaching information literacy, highlighting productive areas of overlap between writing studies and information science and literacy scholarship, including the ACRL Framework (ACRL, 2015; Elmborg, 2003; Norgaard, 2003). It will address some of our challenges and mishaps as well as successes, including the development of an organic, mutually beneficial form of professional development that reinforced curricular development, advancing our shared understanding of generative knowledge practices and how students learn.



Ross, V. & Browning, E. (2018). From difference to différance: Developing a disability-centered writing program. Composition Forum, 39. https://compositionforum.com/issue/39/u-penn.php

This program profile of the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania focuses on how disability came to be a valued term, a structuring philosophy, and a pedagogical touchstone for the program’s philosophy, curriculum, and practices. After exploring various challenges involved in addressing the needs of students with disabilities, we provide an overview of our program’s efforts to address the needs of students with disabilities. In so doing, we explain how we came to adopt an orientation towards disability that depends for its philosophical force on a return to Derrida’s advocacy of the deconstructive notion of différance. Différance seeks to overturn binary thinking, challenge uninterrogated binaries such as abled/disabled and the normate templates that enact and enforce these, replacing them with a relational, fluid, contextual approach.



Ross, V. & LeGrand, R. (2017). Assessing writing constructs: Toward an expanded view of inter-reader reliability. Journal of Writing Analytics, 1. https://journals.colostate.edu/index.php/analytics/article/view/141

This study focuses on construct representation and inter-reader agreement and reliability in ePortfolio assessment of 1,315 writing portfolios. These portfolios were submitted by undergraduates enrolled in required writing seminars at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in the fall of 2014. Penn is an Ivy League university with a diverse student population, half of whom identify as students of color. Over half of Penn’s students are women, 12% are international, and 12% are first-generation college students. The students’ portfolios are scored by the instructor and an outside reader drawn from a writing-in-the-disciplines faculty who represent 24 disciplines. The portfolios are the product of a shared curriculum that uses formative assessment and a program-wide multiple-trait rubric. The study contributes to scholarship on the inter-reader reliability and validity of multiple-trait portfolio assessments as well as to recent discussions about reconceptualizing evidence in ePortfolio assessment.