Teaching the Teachers

Description of the Research

Data Set

Researched writing and interviews with graduate students at a single institution over two semesters. Collected, 2012-2013

Date of Study


Principal Investigator

Tricia Serviss

Contributing Researcher

Sandra Jamieson


This single-site mixed-methods study of graduate students explores what future teachers know about citation practices and how they apply that knowledge in their own work. By using a design-based approach that engages research subjects in the analysis of their own writing, the research enhances participants’ understanding of source integration and helps them develop strategies for teaching, while also generating data for others to study. The method employs citation context coding, solicited reflective writing, and reiterative interviewing.


Analysis of papers and interviews by the researcher and by research subjects themselves reveals that we cannot assume that advanced graduate students are able to engage with sources as well as more experienced researchers. Citation practices must be taught and refined throughout the educational process and beyond, especially in the case of those who would teach.

Related Publications

Report and Analysis of Findings:

Serviss, Tricia. “The Things They Carry: Using Design-Based Research in Writing-Teacher Education.” In Points of Departure: Rethinking Student Source Use and Writing Studies Research Methods. Ed. Tricia Serviss & Sandra Jamieson.  Utah State University Press, 2018. 102-122. DOI: 10.7330/9781607326250.c003

  • Abstract: While research about undergraduate source use proliferates, we know less about the development of graduate students’ source use. It is essential to understand how writing teachers themselves use and think about sources. This chapter describes a design-based study of the citation knowledge and practices of ten graduate students at a single site. The study employs citation context coding, solicited reflective writing, and reiterative interviewing, and this chapter provides coding materials, interview questions, and analytic prompts.
  • [Downloadable PDF]

Application of Findings:

Jamieson, Sandra. “Shouldn’t our expectations of students’ and academics’ intertextuality practices differ?” In Student Plagiarism in Higher Education. Eds Diane Pecorari and Philip Shaw. Taylor & Francis/Routledge Research in Higher Education Series (co-published with the Society for Research into Higher Education), Abingdon, UK. Forthcoming: 2018.

  • Abstract: Existing research on the citation practices of expert and novice writers in the US and Europe (including data from “Students and their sources” and “Teaching the Teachers”) suggests that we must expect a much more limited form of intertextuality from novice writers than from expert, just as we expect more limited reading and general writing skills from novice readers and writers. We must develop pedagogical strategies to help writers acquire the language and intertextual practices necessary for successful source-based writing, accepting that patchwriting of all kinds–cited or not–is an attempt to produce successful paraphrase, and that the process of learning to engage with ideas, absorb them, and then reproduce them in dialogue with other ideas takes time and is a complex process.
  • [Downloadable PDF available after publication]

Serviss, Tricia.  “Creating Faculty Development Programming to Prevent Plagiarism: Three Approaches.” In The Handbook of Academic Integrity, edited by Tracey Bretag. Singapore: Springer, 2016. 551-567. DOI: 10.1007/978-981-287-079-7_68-1

  • Abstract: Teaching writers to write from sources is so difficult that faculty from across disciplines seek professionalization and support, often motivated by worry about student plagiarism. This chapter surveys three different approaches to faculty development programming designed to create a culture of academic integrity at the postsecondary level. These three approaches to faculty development programming include focusing on conceptualizations of plagiarism, emphasizing best practices, and calling for a holistic approach. This chapter reviews and arranges scholarship within these three approaches. Ultimately, the holistic approach to faculty development in response to plagiarism emerges as the most promising way forward.
  • [Downloadable PDF]
Serviss, Tricia. “Using Citation Analysis Heuristics to Prepare TAs Across the Disciplines as Teachers and Writers.” Across the Disciplines13(3). 2016.
  • Abstract: National discussions about source-based, academic writing in higher education have been and are increasingly tied to concerns about citation proficiency, plagiarism, and academic integrity. In response to these discussions, scholars have argued for better pedagogical strategies to teach students how to work with sources in effective and ethical ways. Since WAC graduate teaching assistants (TAs) work closely with student writers, they too need support in crafting these pedagogical tools. Based on quantitative and qualitative research, this article argues that the use of citation analysis heuristics in WAC TA professional development programs fosters metacognitive awareness and an improved understanding of source-based writing. This study of ten first-year graduate students at a U.S. research institution found that TAs who code their own academic writing developed an awareness and knowledge that influenced their development as both teachers and writers.
  • [Downloadable PDF]