Date of Award

Fall 2001

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Thomas Newkirk


This dissertation examines the redesign of a basic writing course at a large, urban, majority-minority public university in Miami, Florida. In the redesigned course, there are no regular class meetings at all. Instead, small groups of five students meet with a teacher in "writing circles," where they workshop papers. The content of the course is provided by a third-party software program in a dedicated computer lab. The redesign project is examined in light of the particular institutional history of Florida International University, with special emphasis on the roles of space, time, and face-to-face interaction in the teaching of writing to a richly diverse student body.

Support for the course redesign is adduced from the work of other scholars in social linguistics, Teaching English as a Second or Other Language, classroom discourse analysis and composition theory. The study finds that the changes in the delivery methods of the course can benefit teachers, students, and the institution.