Date of Award

Spring 2006

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Paul Kei Matsuda


Much of the literature on academic and workplace writing focuses on the differences between these two writing arenas, leading Dias et al. to describe writing for school and work as "worlds apart." Using insights from activity system theory and rhetorical genre theory, this dissertation project investigates the possibility of middle spaces between academic and workplace writing. Set in a Communication Science and Disorders (CSD) master's program, this qualitative study follows five graduate students as they learn workplace writing in a space that physically bridges academia and the workplace, an on-campus speech-language clinic.

Findings indicate that the genres used in the on-campus clinic, as they are informed by both academic and workplace writing, look different from those used by licensed speech language pathologists. Some professional writing scholars might read this distance between the writing students do in this program and the writing they will do in the workplace as "bad news." However, findings also indicate that there is a great deal of activity around student-clinical writing: supervisors use student writing to gauge learning, supervisors engage students with the values and ideology of the profession through student writing, and students begin to craft professional identity through writing. Student-clinical writing facilitates both the learning and the teaching process, and starts to bring the student into the culture of the profession of speech language pathology. In CSD programs, then, academic and workplace writing are not distinct "worlds," but exist as a continuum, as students learn different aspects as workplace writing as they move through the academic program, on-campus internship, off campus internships, and into the workplace.

These findings have pedagogical implications for other on-campus workplaces, internship programs, writing courses, and courses across the curriculum. If the transition between academic and workplace writing is imagined as a leap between two distinct worlds, then students are left to flounder in the space between those worlds. But if that transition is seen as a gradual transition, a moving through sites that can offer different opportunities for teaching and learning professional writing, then instructors can work towards making those sites more effective spaces for students to learn professional writing.