Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Louise Wetherbee Phelps

Committee Director

Julia R. Romberger

Committee Member

Jamie Colwell

Committee Member

Kevin E. DePew


This design-based research study examines the pedagogical role of social, digital annotation in teaching reading as rhetorical invention, particularly the kind of invention necessary for thoughtful democratic participation in the contemporary discursive era, often described as troubled. In this dissertation study, I deployed a classroom-based intervention meant to challenge how educators in rhetoric and composition/writing studies might directly address the acute and exigent discursive struggle in the first-year composition classroom. This study ultimately finds that social, digital annotation invites significant shifts in students’ reading habits, in that annotations yielded a far more complex, multifaceted set of reading skills, behaviors, and dispositions than the pre-intervention private annotations. The social annotation experience proved far more performative and, therefore, highly rhetorical and inventive, encouraging an agentic approach to reading that many FYC teacher-scholars crave. In addition to the performative nature of SDA (, specifically), the social engagement among readers afforded by this relatively new digital tool of reading were the biggest catalysts for change. As a result, SDA may have that capacity as a technology to arrange meaning-making interactions in ways that are visible to the students themselves, shifting their perspectives on agency within reading.


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