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At the end of each semester, composition instructors at the University of Dayton (UD) collected portfolios of student writing for the annual program assessment, encouraging their students to return the following semester to pick up their folders of work. However, the stacks of unclaimed portfolios that piled up in faculty offices each year was an indication that students cared little about what they had written, perhaps believing no one beyond their instructor was interested in reading their writing now or in the future. Nevertheless, academic scholars have recognized that student writing improves—as do a sense of ownership and pride in one’s writing—when students know their work will be shared with authentic audiences in wider, public spaces. As such, many institutions have created journals of outstanding undergraduate research. Today, the Council on Undergraduate Research lists well over 200 journals, the majority of which include work from advanced students’ disciplinary research; however, few journals exist to celebrate the work of beginning student writers.
In 2014, Line by Line: A Journal of Beginning Student Writing (ecommons.udayton.edu/lxl) was created, in part, to provide undergraduates with an authentic audience and to celebrate the wide variety of writing emerging from first- and second-year composition courses. Line by Line is an open-access online journal published twice a year by the UD English department and hosted by the university library. If their work is selected for publication, students know it will be shared not only with their peers but also with a wider public audience. Likewise, the archival repository that hosts the journal serves as an important record of what students are writing and thinking about during their formative years as academic writers. Importantly, the journal highlights the value of collaboration between an English department and a university library to promote and preserve undergraduate scholarship.
This chapter presents a case study of Line by Line, describing key steps in its development, major decisions and challenges as the journal took shape, and project outcomes for the journal’s first three years. We begin with a review of the scholarship that has emerged regarding student writing in institutional repositories and the importance of student journals for providing authentic writing experiences. We conclude with a discussion of the potential for library archives as sites to preserve undergraduate writing and research of all kinds. It is hoped that the information that follows will allow individuals to replicate a journal of this kind at their home institutions.
ABOUT THE BOOK: The intent of the book was to "create a dialogue around the idea of the academic library as a laboratory for emerging scholars and creatives to practice and test their disciplinary work; as a forum for sharing that work; and as an archive where work can be sustained and curated."
Curriculum and Instruction | Higher Education | Language and Literacy Education | Library and Information Science
Biswas, Ann E.; Schlangen, Maureen E.; and Gauder, Heidi, "A Student Journal to Celebrate, Preserve, and Improve Beginning Undergraduate Writing" (2019). Books and Book Chapters by University of Dayton Faculty. 22.