Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


English Rhetoric and Composition


Evelyn J. Posey


The Historical Context of the National Writing Project (NWP) is a broad inquiry into the core values and importance of theory-driven pedagogical "best practices." This dissertation situates the teaching of writing within societal changes as well as changes in the disciplines. The researcher interviewed six primary sources (all participants in the first summer institute of the NWP) in a total of nine interviews. The research also reviews secondary sources and examines the personal documents of Gray twice, once before they were archived and once after archival procedures were begun. Results indicate that in the early days of the NWP theory was at the core of "best practice" demonstration lessons prepared by the master teachers involved in the first summer institute through eyewitness documentation by the early participants in the interview process or in later documents of James Gray, founder and first director of the NWP. Based on the results of this research, the NWP core values were discovered by investigating teachers' knowledge base through primary, secondary, and archival sources which are rich in context and meaning.

This dissertation situates the teaching sources which are rich in context and meaning. The process of identifying the authority of teachers to base their classroom practices on experience leads this research through the history of writing processes. The research is grounded in the expressivist, the cognitivist, and process-over-product writing theoretical stances, traced through their development and interconnecting ideologies. The results provide proof that the long term product of teaching and writing movements was and continues to be fluctuating to meet societal changes that require adaptive postures by educators. Importantly, this research examines the underpinning of the theory which provides strength to the daily ""best practices"" teachers use in the teaching of writing, especially in the NWP by master experienced teachers sharing their practices with other master teachers. In the fields of rhetoric, composition, and teacher education, the phrase Gray used as his memoir title, Teachers at the Center is just as important now as it was for NWP founder James Gray.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

150 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Kay Lester Mooy