Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Matthew K. Gold

Committee Members

Sondra Perl

David Greetham

Cathy Davidson

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Digital Humanities | Rhetoric and Composition


composition, rhetoric, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, ePortfolios, digital literacy


The pedagogical practice of asking students to compose in open, online spaces has grown rapidly in recent years along with an increase in institutional and financial support. In fact, in July 2013, the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) announced the “coming of age” of ePortfolios as the percentage of higher education students using ePortfolios rose above the 50% mark in the U.S. (“About”). There are a host of constituent assertions that support the use of open online writing platforms in college-level courses. These claims include that writing publically cultivates digital literacy through broader audience awareness, facilitates interactivity and collaboration between peers, and supports the incorporation and creation of multimedia in the writing process. This dissertation project challenges the assertions about both the benefits and drawbacks of digital writing pedagogy through a mixed methods approach including a survey of first-year students at Macaulay, a distant reading of the student writing contained in the Macaulay ePortfolio archive, a close reading of three student-run ePortfolio sites, and interviews with three students who participated in a self-nominated ePortfolio competition. The results suggest that students need digital literacy training, as well as specific prompt language, in order to utilize the affordances of digital writing platforms.