I grew up in small town Ohio surrounded by pickup trucks and cattle farms. I took a few classes at The Ohio State University during high school, and subsequently went on to earn my Bachelor of Arts in English there in 2009.

Abigail Oakley MA Graduation

After graduation I got an office job with which I transferred to a new facility in Arizona in 2010. Although I had a good position within the company and was initially satisfied with my position, I grew to be dissatisfied with office life. So, I made the decision to go back to school to get my MA in the Spring of 2012. I was accepted into the Literature program at Arizona State University. However, after taking a rhetoric class my first semester as a graduate student (Rhetoric of Axe Murders, focusing on the case of Helen Jewett), I knew I needed to switch majors. There was something about finding patterns and connections in real-world argumentation and theory that appealed deeply to me. Basically, I discovered I'm a huge nerd for rhetorical analysis.

In Fall 2013, I presented my applied project titled "Private Thought and Public Discourse in the Social Media Sphere" that used public sphere theory to argue for the influential role that media and popular culture play in both online discourse and the public sphere. I was thrilled to walk across the stage and be hooded at the end of that semester. 

I began the second part of my journey as a graduate student in the Writing, Rhetorics, and Literacies program at Arizona State University in Fall 2014. For the majority of my academic career, I have been interested in most things digital. At the beginning of my PhD, that mean a fascination with how Tumblrites talked about and expressed their gender identities. But that interest has evolved to also include digital pedagogy. Not only does my dissertation focus on digital pedagogy, but I have also been part of a team that is developing an online teaching certification program for ASU Writing Programs. The team has worked to respond to teacher and graduate teaching associate needs to develop a flexible certification program that meets teachers at their specific levels of comfort with technology and online teaching.

In my dissertation, I take up and critique institutional ethnography as a methodology, looking to feminist and intersectional feminist methodologies to take a dialectical approach to the research paradigm and problematic. More specifically, I am examining the intersections of graduate teaching associates online teaching practices, ASU staff and faculty working experience, and institutional discourse. This examination should work to My dissertation works to illuminate the ways in which institutional discourse and mindsets have real effects on online teaching practices, teaching conditions, and, subsequently, the online classroom.


Banner Photo by Scott Taylor.