Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Michael L. Keene

Committee Members

Kirsten F. Benson, Russel Hirst


Given the often-discussed struggles of first-year university students as they learn to write in college, this qualitative interview study was an exploratory investigation of the experiences of five first-year students during their first semester at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The study focused on their experiences in high school and in English 101, the first course in the university’s two-semester first-year composition sequence, which all undergraduates at the university are required to take. This study sought the perspective of these students to answer the questions: (1) What do first-year students in first-year composition classes know about writing, and (2) How does students’ prior knowledge compare to their actual experiences in their first-year composition classes?

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