The Stanford Study of Writing began in September, 2001, when Professor Andrea Lunsford invited a random sample of that year's entering class to participate in the Study. Of the 243 students invited, 189 accepted the invitation, amounting to roughly 12 percent of that year's class.
Participants agreed to submit the writing they did for all of their classes, along with as much of their out-of-class or extracurricular writing as they wanted. In addition, they agreed to participate in at least one annual survey. Out of the 189 students, a subgroup of 36 students agreed to be interviewed at least once every year.
The Study has several major goals: to provide an overview of student writing at Stanford; to trace student development in writing across a five-year period; and to use findings to inform the work of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, the Stanford Writing Center, and, if appropriate, our Writing in the Majors courses.
Data collection continued from September 2001 to September 2006, resulting in a very large archive of student writing (some 15,000 pieces) in an Oracle database. The range of student writing is wide: email in eleven languages, for example, as well as everything from multimedia presentations to problem sets and lab reports to honors theses across disciplines.