Mary K. Stewart

Rhetoric & Composition · Online Writing Instruction · Collaborative Learning

I work as an Associate Professor and the General Education Writing Coordinator for the Literature & Writing Studies Department at California State University, San Marcos. I teach first-year writing and graduate-level composition theory and pedagogy courses. Beyond CSUSM, I am the webinar co-chair for the Global Society of Online Literacy Eductors, a Writing Spaces co-editor, and the Communications Chair for the CCCC OWI Standing Group.

My research consists of qualitative and quantitative investigations of collaborative learning and instructional design in technology-mediated writing courses. I particularly work with the Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework.


My research contributes to the fields of writing studies and online education, and focuses on issues related to instructional design and community building in technology-mediated writing courses.

I am currently working with a research team (Jennifer Cunningham, Kent State University; Lyra Hilliard, University of Maryland; Natalie Stillman-Webb, University of Utah) to conduct a cross-institutional, mixed-methods study of the extent to which blended and online writing courses function as communities of inquiry. Our project is funded by institutional grants from IUP and Kent State, and by a CCCC Emergent Researcher Grant.

Peer Reviewed Publications

Stewart, Mary K., Cunningham, Jennifer M., Stillman-Webb, Natalie, & Hilliard, Lyra. (in press). How and what students learn in hybrid and online FYC: A multi-institutional survey study of student perceptions. College Composition and Communication.

Stewart, Mary K., Hilliard, Lyra, Stillman-Webb, Natalie, & Cunningham, Jennifer M. (in press). The CoI in Writing Studies survey: Interpreting social presence in particular disciplinary contexts. Online Learning Journal.

Cunningham, Jennifer M., Hilliard, Lyra, Stewart, Mary K., & Stillman-Webb, Natalie. (in press). Conceptualizing time in blended and online writing instruction and program administration. Making Administrative Work Visibe (edited collection).

Stewart, Mary K. (2021). Student-teacher conferencing in zoom: Asymmetrical power in a digital space/(non)place. Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments 25(2).

Stewart, Mary K. (2020). Strategic design: A case study of designing a globally distributed, condensed format, online pedagogy course for FYC instructors. In Jessie Borgman & Casey McArdle (Eds.), PARS in Practice: More Resources and Strategies for Online Writing Instructors., pp.47-69. WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado.

Stewart, Mary K. (2019). Bridging instructor intentions and student experiences: Constructing quality feedback, evaluating writing features, and facilitating peer trust as goals of peer review. Journal of Response to Writing 5(2), 72-102.

Stewart, Mary K. (2019). The Community of Inquiry Survey: An Instrument for Assessing Online Writing Courses. Computers and Composition 52, 37-52.

Hilliard, Lyra & Stewart, Mary K. (2019). Time well spent: Creating a community of inquiry in blended first-year composition courses. The Internet and Higher Education 41, 11-24.

Stewart, Mary K. (2018). Cognitive Presence in FYC: Collaborative Learning that Supports Individual Authoring. Composition Forum 38.

Stewart, Mary K. (2018). Community Building and Collaborative Learning in OWI: A Case Study of Principle 11. Research in Online Literacy Education (ROLE) 1(1).

Stewart, Mary K. (2017). Communities of Inquiry: A Heuristic for Designing and Assessing Interactive Learning in Technology-Mediated FYC. Computers and Composition 45, 67-84.

Stewart, Mary K., Hagood, Danielle, & Carter Ching, Cynthia. (2017). Virtual Games and Real-World Communities: Environments that Constrain and Enable Physical Activity in Games for Health. International Journal of Game-Based Learning 7(1), 1-19.

Ching, Cynthia Carter, Stewart, Mary K., Hagood, Danielle, Rashadi, Roxanne Nasim. (2016). Representing and Reconciling Personal Data and Experience in a Wearable Technology Gaming Project. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies 9(4), 342-353.

Stewart, Mary K., Cohn, Jenae, & Whithaus, Carl. (2016). Collaborative Course Design and Communities of Practice: Strategies for Shared Course Shells in Hybrid and Online Writing Instruction. Transformative Dialogues: Teaching and Learning Journal 9(1), 1-21.

Cohn, Jenae, Stewart, Mary K., Comins, Dan, & Harwood-Theisen, Cara. (2016). Creating Online Community: A Response to the Needs of 21st Century Faculty Development. Journal of Faculty Development 30(2), 47-57.

Cohn, Jenae & Stewart, Mary K. (2016). Responding to Students’ Low-Stakes Reflective Writing: Ensuring Validity for Metacognition as a Learning Outcome. Journal of Response to Writing 2(1), 58-74.

Stewart, Mary K. (2015). Digital Invention: A Repository of Online Resources for College Composition Instruction. Xchanges Journal 10(2)/11(1).

Stewart, Mary K. (2014). The Social Practice of Digital Literacy in the Internet Age: Mulitmodal Composition, Information, and Collaboration. Computers and Composition Online.

Stewart, Mary K. (2014). Designing for Emergence: The Role of the Instructor in Student-Centered Learning. Hybrid Pedagogy.

Conference Presentations

“Reconsidering Common Spaces: Making the Case for Hybrid Writing Instruction,” CCCC, Virtual (April 2021, on demand)

“Social Presence in Online Writing Courses,” invited talk for GSOLE Certification course, Virtual (March 2, 2021)

“Social Presence and Social Identity in OWI,” Global Society of Online Literacy Educators, Virtual (January 29, 2021)

“On the Global Preparation of Online Literacy Instructors: A Tale of GSOLE’s Basic OLI Certification Development,” Global Society of Online Literacy Educators, Virtual (January 29, 2021)

“Strategic Design & Compassionate Pedagogy: Designing for Adaptation,” OWI Symposium, Virtual (September 8, 2020)

“Reconsidering Common Spaces: Making the Case for Hybrid Writing Instruction,” CCCC, Spokane, WA (accepted 2020)“Hybrid Teaching and Learning: Workshop Sponsored by the Online Writing Instruction Standing Group” [workshop], CCCC, Mikwaukee, WI (accepted 2020)

“Researching Communities of Inquiry in Blended and Online Writing Courses: Results of a Multi-Institutional, Mixed Methods Study,” CCCC, Pittsburgh, PA (March 14, 2019)

“Teacher (Fear of) Failure: Teaching as Adaptation & Problem Solving,” Computers & Writing, Washington DC (May 26, 2018)

“Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence: Cultivating Communities of Inquiry in Blended & Online Writing Courses,” CCCC, Kansas City, MO (March 17, 2018)

“Developing GSOLE and Guidelines for Online Literacy Education,” GSOLE Conference, online (January 26, 2018)

“Communities of Inquiry: A Heuristic for Designing and Assessing Collaborative Learning in Online Writing Instruction,” Computers & Writing, Findlay, OH (June 2, 2017)

“Designing Effective Activities for Interactive Learning in Technology-Mediated FYC: Cooperation, Coordination, & Collaboration,” CCCC, Portland, OR (March 16, 2017)

“Career Pathways Workshop for Rhet/Comp Graduates,” CCCC, Portland, OR (March 15, 2017)

“The Contingent Labor of Online Course Delivery: Course Shells and Instructor Agency,” Computers & Writing, Rochester, NY (May 21, 2016)

“Challenges of and Strategies for Building Community in Online FYC,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Houston, TX (April 9, 2016)

“Developing Sustainable Hybrid and Online First Year Composition Courses,” Conference of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, Boise, ID (July 17, 2015)

“Game Your Life: Motivating Physical Activity & Reflection on Physical Fitness,” Games, Learning, and Society, Madison, WI (July 9, 2015)

“A Tale of Two Schools: Terrain and Resources in Virtual Games and Physical Communities” (poster, with Danielle Hagood). Games, Learning, and Society, Madison, WI (July 8, 2015)

“Dual Identities as Digital Literacies: The Teacher and the Interface,” Computers & Writing, Menomonie, WI (May 31, 2015)

“Making the Instructor Visible: A Grounded Theory Research Study of Instructional Design,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Tampa, FL (March 20, 2015)

“Teaching Online” (with Jenae Cohn). University of San Francisco Faculty Workshop, San Francisco, CA (February 11, 2015)

“EdTech Commons: An Online Resource and Community for Teaching with Technology” (with Jenae Cohn). Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Davis, CA (September 26, 2014).

“Taking Learning at Interface Value: Fostering Digital Literacies in Hybrid & Online FYC,” Computers & Writing, Pullman, WA (June 7, 2014)

“Designing Online and Hybrid Courses” (with Jenae Cohn). Northern California-Nevada Council of Writing Program Administrators, Davis, CA (April 4, 2014)

“Designing & Teaching Hybrid Courses: It’s All About Time Management,” Summer Institute for Teaching and Technology, Davis, CA (September 13, 2013)

“Digital Literacy Across the Curriculum: A Faculty Survey,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Indianapolis, IN (March 21, 2014)

“Developing Online Writing Activities: Selecting Digital Tools & Designing Online Environments,” Northern California Writing Across the Curriculum Conference (January 24, 2013)

“Functional Instruction for Multimodal Composition,” Computers & Writing, Frostburg, MD (June 8, 2013)

“Learning and Writing in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs),” CCCC Research Network Forum, Las Vegas, NV (March 13, 2013)

“Digital Invention” (poster). Interdisciplinary Graduate and Professional Student Symposium, UC Davis (April 26, 2012)


The spaces in which I teach vary dramatically, from windowless rooms with chalkboards and moveable chairs to video calls with accompanying text chats and breakout rooms. The students in my classes similarly range in their cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and their reasons for pursuing higher education.

The ways in which I interact with these students, and the digital and non-digital technologies that mediate our communication, are constantly in flux. However, some things stay the same. I am always teaching that writing is rhetorical. I am always striving to create inclusive and accessible environments that integrate technology in pedagogically sound ways. And I am always striving to take on the role of coach as I invite learners and writers to participate in communities of inquiry.

Lower Division

GEW 101b: Writing as a Rhetorical Act (CSUSM)

ENGL 101: Composition 1 (IUP)

ENGL 202: Composition II (IUP)

UWP 1: Expository Writing (UC Davis)

ENGL 101: Introduction to Composition (Ashford University)

ENGL 121: Humanities Literature (IUP)

Upper Division

ENGL 360: Editing & Publishing (IUP)

UWP 101: Advanced Composition (UC Davis)

EDU 185: Learning in a Digital Age (UC Davis)


LTWR 602a: Composition Theories (CSUSM)

LTWR 602b: Composition Pedagogies (CSUSM)

ENGL 632: Composition Theories & Practices (IUP)

ENGL 705/805: Language & Social Context (IUP)

ENGL 800: Research in Composition and Applied Linguistics (IUP)

ENGL 833: Theories of Composition (IUP)

ENGL 846: Advanced Seminar in Collaborative Learning & Digital Authorship (IUP)

ENGL 846: Advanced Seminar in Hybrid & Online Writing Pedagogy (IUP)


Because I study the design, facilitation, and assessment of technology-mediated writing courses, my research informs and is informed by writing program administration. In this way, my work is deliberately practical: I strive to translate my research in ways that benefit my student and instructor participants and that inform departmental and programmatic policies.

I particularly enjoy the work of synthesizing multiple stakeholders’ perspectives and cultivating buy-in for faculty development initiatives and assessment plans. In these moments, writing program administration is an act of community building, and my job is to create spaces where teachers can talk about teaching and where student voices are valued.

Administrative Experience

GEW Coordinator, Literature & Writing Studies Department, CSUSM, August 2020 - present. I oversee the General Education Writing program at CSUSM, which includes GEW 100, GEW 101a, and GEW 101b. I conduct programmatic assessment, coordinate professional development activities, collaborate with stakeholders across campus to foster student success, and mentor the MA students who teach for the program.

Assessment Coordinator, English Department, IUP, May 2018 – August 2020. I assessed the required general education courses for the English Department, which includes first-year writing, research writing, and critical reading courses. I conduct focus groups with instructors, generate assessment instruments, coordinate data collection and analysis, and report assessment results to internal and external stakeholders. I also develop professional development initiatives and recommendations in response to the assessment results.

Program Developer, University Writing Program, UC Davis, September 2011 – June 2015. Our team developed, piloted, and implemented hybrid and online versions of UC Davis’ ten-week first-year composition course. We also coordinated a training program for first-time instructors and made recommendations for assessing the program.

Faculty Developer, Academic Technology Services, UC Davis, September 2011 – June 2014. I coordinated faculty development initiatives, showcased innovative faculty, served as the Associate Editor an instructional technology blog, and served on committees that informed institutional educational technology and hybrid/online learning initiatives at UC Davis.

Instructional Designer, University of the Rockies, June 2009 – May 2010. I revised and reviewed graduate-level, online psychology courses to ensure alignment of course, program, and institutional learning outcomes. I built and maintained the courses in Blackboard and eCollege, and was Quality Matters certified.


In addition to research and teaching, I enjoy contributing to my campus and disciplinary communities. This has involved assisting faculty who want to integrate technology in their courses, acting as a mentor to early-career instructors, and serving on committees.

Beyond CSUSM, I am the webinar co-chair for the Global Society of Online Literacy Eductors, a Writing Spaces co-editor, and the Communications Chair for the CCCC OWI Standing Group. In all of these arenas, I place a high value on interdisciplinary collaboration.

Current Service to the Writing Studies Community

Global Society of Online Literacy Educators, Webinar Co-Chair

CCCC OWI Standing Group, Communications Chair

Writing Spaces, Co-Editor

Current Service to my Campus Community

First-Year Experience and Students In Transition Council, Member

CHABSS Tuesday Teaching Tips, Contributor

LTWR Graduate Student Instructor Hiring Committee, Member

GEW Professional Development Workshops, Facilitator

Contact Me

Please email mkstewart at csusm dot edu if you want to talk about online writing instruction!