Learning to Learn to Write: Adapting the Principles and Practices of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy into First-Year Writing Curricula

Riopelle, Stephen, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Riopelle, Stephen, Arts & Sciences Graduate, University of Virginia

This thesis examines the potential usefulness of a first-year writing pedagogy inspired by the principles and practices of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This work builds on research into composition processes and composition-learning processes, filling a gap in the current literature: the process by which writers learn a composition-learning process. In other words, this thesis goes beyond how people write and beyond how people learn to write, and seeks to understand how people learn to learn to write, drawing together disparate strands of composition studies research in the process (i.e., cognitive process theories of composition, transfer research, research on dispositions and habits of mind in writing, et cetera). Moreover, a CBT-inspired approach to this problem constitutes a more productive and actionable solution than current approaches based on theories of mindfulness. The ultimate goal of this work is twofold: 1) to introduce a framework for understanding the hierarchical structures of belief that students bring to writing, and which influence their writing processes, and 2) to propose a course curriculum designed to help students address their own belief structures, so that they might not only learn to write, but learn to learn to write, as well.

MA (Master of Arts)
composition, first-year writing, first-year composition, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive process, composition studies, writing, writing process, writing education
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