Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Rhetoric and Composition



Major Advisor

Heidi Estrem, Ph.D.


Jim Fredricksen, Ph.D.


Michelle Payne, Ph.D.


For students enrolled in First-Year Writing courses, reading is an important aspect of the writing process; for this reason, reading has been discussed and researched in a variety of ways by composition scholars. Departing from the long and ongoing debate about what types of texts should be read by composition students, this thesis explores both the ways that students read when they arrive at their first-year composition courses and how they make sense of the new, and often difficult, things they are asked to read there. Using verbal protocols, a research method developed by Michael Pressley and Peter Afflerbach, I analyze the ways that six English 102 students make meaning in an academic text about writing. I find that, because these students are not participants in the academic discourse surrounding writing pedagogy, they must appropriate different types of knowledge and experiences to form “reading resources,” which help them build context for the ideas presented in the text. This need to create context, and the strategies these students use to do so, has implications for how reading is described and presented in composition courses.