Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Jeffrey Ringer

Committee Members

Lisa King, Kirsten Benson


While studies of Appalachian students examine student retention or success generally, or recognize the need to validate student dialect or identity, there has yet to be an intersection between South Central Appalachian identity and the freshman writing classroom at a four-year institution. Since socialized backgrounds—often unconsciously—inform behaviors and attitudes, and since those attitudes influence how writing tasks are transferred, this study sought to determine to what extent Appalachian students’ regional identity influences their dispositions toward writing. This study of Appalachian freshmen students in First Year Writing classes asks questions about factors that affect writing transfer—lifeworld socialization and motivational dispositions. Using a combination of surveys, interviews, and focus groups to analyze quantitative and qualitative data, this study sought answers to the following questions: (1) What do the lifeworlds of South Central Appalachia look like for freshmen at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; (2) What differences, if any, do freshmen students who have grown up in South Central Appalachia have from students who have grown up outside of the region; and (3) If these students are different, how do those differences influence their dispositions towards writing in First Year Composition classes at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville? The results from this study offer a new definition of Appalachian student persistence in post-secondary environments.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026

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