The Wayfinding Project is led by a core of three University of California researchers: Carl Whithaus (UC, Davis), Karen Lunsford (UC, Santa Barbara), and Jonathan Alexander (UC, Irvine), who, since 2017, have been engaged in a collaborative and multi-campus research project that examines the “writing lives” of UC students that are 3-10 years post graduation. The group has been particularly interested in the kinds of professional, personal, and civic kinds of writing that our alumni regularly engage in, as well as what kinds of knowledges about writing these alumni are developing after graduating.

The Wayfinding Project builds on findings from existing large-scale research projects within writing studies, such as Michigan State University’s “Writing, Information, and Digital Experience” (WIDE) study and the multi-campus work documented in The Meaningful Writing Project. Unlike these efforts, the Wayfinding Project is designed to attend to alumni’s experiences after they have left our campuses and are making transitions from collegiate to career and personal lives beyond their time as undergraduates.

The group has just finished its three-year pilot project.  As they  analyzed their pilot data, the researchers considered how the concept of “wayfinding” might help us understand how our graduates continue to develop as writers after graduation, building on and augmenting the skills strategies, and habits of mind learned on our campuses.  As part of the pilot, WP researchers have surveyed nearly 275 students from UC campuses and conducted in-depth focus group interviews with 22 participants — all of whom reflect the diverse population of a minority-majority state, and who also represent the various socioeconomic classes that attend UC. In the spring of 2023, the project researchers have launched the next phase of their research.