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Graduate Student Profile
Lisa Litterio
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Lisa Litterio

Hometown: Reading, Massachusetts
Prior Study: B.A., College of Holy Cross (2006); M.A., Univ of New Hampshire (2007)
Degree Sought: Ph.D. Communication and Rhetoric
Department: Communication and Media
Year of graduation: 2013

Lisa’s dissertation examines multimodal compositions and how integrating these compositions into the classroom benefits learning. Her goal is to obtain a tenure-track position in Rhetoric and Composition or Technical Communication.

Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.

In my doctoral work, entitled, “From Invention to Production: Examining Student Processes of Multimodal Composing,”  I examine how students learn, compose, and share multimodal compositions through a case study of the Digital Expository Writing (DEW) program at St. Rose College. Multimodal compositions are defined as works that extend beyond alphabetic texts to include images, audio recordings, films, and photographs in digital environments.  My dissertation research consists of extensive classroom observations, interviews with students and faculty, and analysis of students’ drafts and peer review feedback to determine how students develop rhetorical and technical skills for these new forms of composing and how faculty can successfully integrate and sustain these compositions in the classroom.  It addresses current discussions surrounding the development of digital literacy practices in higher education and sustaining new forms of communication.

What are your hobbies/interests/special talents?

I participate in road races and am currently training for the Boston half marathon next year.  I also enjoy practicing yoga, exploring new areas in the Capital region, watching foreign films, baking, and reading and translating Latin and Ancient Greek.   

Why did you choose to enroll at Rensselaer?

Rensselaer was the compelling choice for me based on: 1) The faculty support/mentoring; 2) The potential for interdisciplinary collaboration; and 3) The funding and opportunities available for graduate students.  RPI's interdisciplinary Ph.D. program has allowed me the flexibility to pursue my own research interests with supportive and knowledgeable faculty members, and to take a depth and breadth of courses relating to communication, rhetoric, and communication technologies.  Because the department is small, I’ve been fortunate to have seminar classes and quality interactions with faculty members.  I’ve also had valuable experiences with grant writing, directed research, co-authoring articles, and other opportunities that I would not have had at other universities.  I am grateful for all of these courses, experiences, and interactions that have helped to shape me into the academic I am today.  Finally, I’ve been consistently supported with funding from the institution and external grants, so that I’ve had the luxury to focus solely on my research. 

List Information about your background and accomplishments in College and Work Experience:  

  • Awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to conduct and develop research on web-scale platforms utilized for transdisciplinary methodologies, knowledge production, and problem solving from 2010-2011.  Co-organized NSF workshop at RPI and co-authored “Transdisciplinary ITexts and the Future of Webscale Collaboration” in the July 2011 edition of the Journal of Business and Technical Communication 
  • Selected as sole graduate researcher for Dr. Claire Lauer’s project, funded by the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA) and the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication. Developed comprehensive and current literature review addressing assessment practices of multimodal compositions and generated additional lines of inquiry
  • Presented research on multimodal compositions and integrating digital technologies in the classroom & writing centers at numerous national and international conferences, including: Columbia University's Teacher's College Educational Technology Conference, the National Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the National Communication Association Conference (NCA), and the International Writing Center Association's (IWCA) Conference
  • Awarded RPI University wide fellowship for graduate students with exceptional potential in scholarship, research, and leadership (1 of  2 school-wide recipients)
  • Awarded George F. Mahe Jr. ‘42 Fellowship for a student of extraordinary academic and personal achievement able to make important contributions to his or her field of study (sole recipient)
  • Awarded Joanne Wagner Memorial Fellowship for a “worthy woman” pursuing her Ph.D. in the Communication & Media Department during her final year of study

What are your plans following graduation?

I am currently pursuing tenure-track positions in Rhetoric and Composition, Technical Communication, as well as Writing Center directorships.



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