Hilgers, Thomas L., Edna Lardizabal Hussey, and Monica Stitt-Bergh. “'As You’re Writing, You Have These Epiphanies’: What College Students Say about Writing and Learning in Their Majors.” Written Communication 16.3 (1999): 317-353.
The authors, all based at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, report on the results of interviews with juniors and seniors about writing in their majors. The results are quite detailed, but the most interesting findings for our purposes are that students often had problems with writing as a result of majors not explicitly teaching methodology, a majority of students believed that writing in their major prepared them for writing in the workplace, a vast majority (91%) thought that writing helped them learn, and 47% believed that “writing is the best way for them to learn” (342). Overall, the authors observe that writing intensive “courses, particularly those in the major, are providing students with rich opportunities to do what professionals do—to observe, gather data, make analyses, and write reports” (345). The authors suggest that their university’s investment in writing across the curriculum and writing in the disciplines has paid dividends for students, but suggest that if the methodology of a discipline were taught more explicitly, then students might be better able to utilize skills honed in past writing in future writing. Generally, this article is most useful in supporting the claim that improving student writing will improve student learning, and may console instructors kneedeep in papers that the extra effort sometimes involved in using writing in a class will be ultimately worthwhile. If you’d like to read the article, it is available through the library’s “Journal Finder” tool.