University of Michigan Press publishes enriched multilayered work on college students’ writerly development on Fulcrum

Ann Arbor, MI - University of Michigan Press has published the sixth volume in the Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative series, entitled Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study, edited by Anne Ruggles Gere, University of Michigan Gertrude Buck Collegiate Professor in the School of Education, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and Professor of English Language and Literature.

Supported by the Humanities Collaboratory at the University of Michigan, the “Book Unbound” project explores how digital affordances enable humanities scholars to create layered publications that engage multiple audiences with text, multimedia, and data to create a more compelling and effective research output than could have been produced in print alone. Developing Writers constitutes the first of three projects produced under the auspices of the project that involves collaboration between faculty across disciplines, between faculty and students, and between disciplinary experts and staff from U-M Press and the U-M Library, of which it is part.

The book stems from an in-depth longitudinal study of the writing and experiences of a cohort of 169 University of Michigan undergraduates. In addition to the scholarly monograph itself, the entire work is drawn from rich layers of research data and interpretation. Using tools of statistical and qualitative analysis along with corpus linguistics and case studies, this book traces the multiple paths taken by student writers. Scholars in higher education will gain a new, more inclusive perspective on college student writing development, expanding what is known about how students perceive and experience writing dimensions such as audience, reader relationships, peer review, genre, medium, creative forms, disciplinary expertise, and lifelong writing development.

The published monograph and the enriched digital objects are accessible in open access format on Fulcrum, the University of Michigan Press’ own digital publishing platform and will be included in the Press’s first ebook collection called UMP EBC, set to launch on January 10, 2019. The research team has also created a companion website or “engagement layer” ( to explore thematic topics, concepts, and curated content that connects the findings of the project to the everyday importance of writing. Underlying project data has been deposited in Deep Blue, the University’s institutional repository.

In speaking about the value the published monograph and the enriched digital objects offer to scholarly audiences, Naomi Silver, co-editor and Associate Director of the Sweetland Center for Writing, says, “We are particularly excited about the range of student writing experiences represented by our data, and the incredibly variegated picture of student writing development we were able to compile by coming at it from the ten different angles of our chapter authors’ analyses. All of this data is now available to our readers online as a supplement to the publication on the UM Press Fulcrum platform, and we are really hoping that writing researchers, WPAs, and others in the field will take up the invitation to study it through other lenses.”

The 2019 convention of the Modern Language Association, of which Dr. Gere is currently president, will be held January 3rd to 6th in Chicago. This year’s theme is Textual Transactions, which invites attendees to “move beyond simple dichotomies that can limit the ways people think about texts.”

With the theme of MLA in mind, Anne Gere points to an important aspect related to the process of writing development that her research uncovered; “Six years, 94 eportfolios, 131 interviews, 322 surveys, and 2,406 pieces of writing have produced a monograph, and a Fulcrum platform with an ebook framed by an engagement layer and research data. The 169 student writers in our study challenged received ideas about writerly development and reinforced others, but all their textual transactions made clear the value and importance of informed instruction. Teachers and researchers can draw on the materials collected to continue their own examinations of the life-long journey that is writing development.”

Dr. Gere will host a book signing on Friday, January 4th at 3PM Central time at the University of Press Booth #130 in the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Riverside Exhibition Center.

About the U-M Humanities Collaboratory “Book Unbound Project” The “Book Unbound” project of the University of Michigan’s Humanities Collaboratory, is a multi-disciplinary, multi-generational investigation into potential future forms of book-length publication that involved faculty members, students, and staff from classics, film studies, and writing studies, as well as partners from the School of Information, the Library, and the Press at University of Michigan. The Humanities Collaboratory is an innovative investment on the part of the university in collaborative, multi-generational humanities scholarship for the academy and the world beyond. Born in the U-M Office of the Provost; housed in the College of Literature Science and the Arts (LS&A); and located in the Hatcher Graduate Library, the Humanities Collaboratory gives generous grants to support new and ambitious forms of humanities scholarship.

About the Sweetland Center The Sweetland Center for Writing, a comprehensive writing center, exists to support student writing at all levels and in all forms and modes. Sweetland oversees the College of LS&A’s First-Year and Upper-Level writing requirements, offers one-to-one tutoring for undergraduate and graduate students in our faculty-led Writing Workshop and undergraduate Peer Writing Center, and teaches writing courses from the undergraduate to the graduate level. Sweetland provides support for all multilingual and international undergraduate students. Sweetland offers the Minor in Writing, teaches and supports new media and multimodal forms of writing, and runs the invitational Dissertation Writing Institute and Fellows Seminar. Sweetland offers consultations and workshops for instructors and students across the University, and conducts research on writing.

About Fulcrum Fulcrum is a publishing platform that helps publishers present the full richness of their authors’ research outputs in a durable, discoverable, accessible, and flexible form. Initial development has been supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and implemented by the University of Michigan Library and Press.