Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date

Fall 2016


Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English

Source Publication

The Wisconsin English Journal


This article considers the value and implications of inquiry-driven learning for secondary and postsecondary education. In response to ongoing interest in and the need to foster inquiry in English education, we share the course model of “Ethnography of the University.” This writing-intensive course asks students to become authors of their own educations; to identify problems facing the campus community; to conduct semester-long, original research projects; and to make proposals for change. Through conducting inquiry projects, students come to see themselves as writers with real audiences, to personalize an often-impersonal education, and to connect academic with everyday concerns. Two undergraduate researchers describe their projects on student life—projects that emerged from and have continued beyond the course. By describing “Ethnography of the University” and sharing undergraduate research projects, we argue that inquiry helps students see themselves as agents over their own writing and learning. When students become agents, they can more easily write their way beyond a semester, course, or educational experience—and into the stance of writers.


Published version. The Wisconsin English Journal, Vol. 58, No. 2, (Fall 2016): pp. 7-21. Permalink. © 2016 Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English. Used with permission.