Most new first-year composition (FYC) students already have a great deal of writing experience. Much of this experience comes from writing in digital spaces, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. This type of writing is often invisible to students: they may not consider it to be writing at all. This dissertation seeks to better understand the actual connections between writing in online spaces and writing in FYC, to see the connections students see between these types of writing, and to work toward a theory for making use of those connections in the FYC classroom. The following interconnected articles focus specifically on Facebook--the largest and most ubiquitous social network site (SNS)-- as a means to better understand students' digital literacy practices.
Initial data was gathered through a large-scale survey of FYC students about their Facebook use and how they saw that use as connected to composition and writing. Chapter 1 uses the data to suggest that FYC students are not likely to see a connection between Facebook and FYC but that such a connection exists. The second chapter uses the same data to demonstrate that men and women are approaching Facebook slightly differently and to explore what that may mean for FYC teachers. The third chapter uses 10 one-on-one interviews with FYC students to further explore Facebook literacies. The interviews suggest that the literacy of Facebook is actually quite complex and includes many modes of communication in addition to writing, such as pictures, links, and "likes." The final chapter explores the issue of transfer. While transfer is popular in composition literature, studies tend to focus on forward-reading and not backward-reaching transfer. This final chapter stresses the importance of this type of transfer, especially when looking back at digital literacy knowledge that students have gained through writing online.
While these articles are intended as stand-alone pieces, together they demonstrate the complex nature of literacies on Facebook, how they connection to FYC, and how FYC teachers may use them in their classrooms. They serve as a starting off point for discussions of effective integration of digital literacies into composition pedagogies.