Date of Award

Winter 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Kevin Eric Depew

Committee Member

Louise Wetherbee Phelps

Committee Member

Julia Romberger

Committee Member

Christina Ortmeier-Hooper


Teaching materials play vital roles in writing classrooms, yet they are understudied genres in English Studies. Teaching materials are inherently visual genres; the document design choices made by teachers illuminate values held about writing and writing classrooms. They are understudied genres, in part, because of the feminized position of composition. A professional writing investigation of the document design of teaching materials offers opportunities to rectify this. I developed a technofeminine genre tracing methodology focused on exploring the visual convention choices made by teachers and how these visual conventions are interpreted by students across the three levels of activity: the activity-driven macroscopic level, the action-based mesoscopic level, and the operation-embedded microscopic level.

Two case studies were conducted with two composition teachers and one section of composition students each. Teachers were interviewed, observed, and their documents for this section were collected. Students were observed and surveyed twice during the semester. By considering how external practical, discourse community, and rhetorical factors influence teaching material design at the macroscopic and mesoscopic levels, I found that this resulted in a deep grip of print based, microscopic choices. One external practical factor, technology, is changing the evolutionary path of teaching materials. It is a messy evolution during which teachers are trying to blend traditional teaching material design with new exigencies and technologies. Conclusions indicate that we cab address the feminized and understudied position of teaching materials and their design by making use of the principles of deconstruction by asymmetries as articulated by Louise Wetherbee Phelps. This schema of conditions, structures, and exemplification considers what paths forward exist. Institutional critique of the materiality of teaching materials in local contexts is a means to promote the conditions for critical collaboration within writing programs. Pedagogical applications of usability and rhetorical design to teaching materials, as Susan Miller-Cochran and Rochelle Rodrigo advocate for online writing instruction, can create structures that nurture and sustain teachers and students in writing programs. Finally, ethical leadership and community initiatives are intrinsically necessary to establish and maintain the kind of relationship building necessary to promote active and evolving design work.