Carnegie Mellon University

Danielle Wetzel

Danielle Zawodny Wetzel

Teaching Professor; Director of Writing & Communication Program

Area of Study

Professional Writing, Rhetoric, Writing & Communication


I focus mainly on teacher training, curriculum design, and assessment, specifically for first-year writing. Broadly, I am interested in how we design instruction to help linguistically diverse students make data-informed, mindful, and culturally aware writing decisions for the genres they produce. I am also interested in how to motivate and assess the rhetorical reasoning that leads to those writing decisions.

Teaching & Research
Each spring I teach a core course for our English Ph.D. students who teach first-year writing: Theory and Design of Writing Instruction. I also teach various flavors of our first-year writing courses, including our first-year writing half-semester courses called “minis.”

Currently, I work with the DocuScope team (Dave Kaufer, Suguru Ishizaki, Necia Werner, and David Brown), considering how to move a research-based tool to a pedagogical tool that puts the learner at the center. My most recent research projects relate to this collaboration.

Writing Program Administration
As the writing program administrator who directs the foundational writing & communication courses for the university, I work closely with the university’s Core Competencies educational initiatives, particularly in the area of writing and communication. These initiatives help me to learn about students’ needs throughout the university so that our foundations courses remain relevant.

In addition to this connection to university stakeholders, much of my perspective has been informed by two professional service positions that I was fortunate to hold. These positions connected me to research, assessment, and teaching practices for high school students and for multilingual students. I served as Chair of the College Board’s AP Language & Composition Test Development Committee and also as Chair for the Second Language Writing Interest Section for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

My work allows me to teach and practice with new writing teachers, whether new to CMU or new to teaching writing. I also teach our new college students--our first-year students--who challenge me to keep the writing instruction sincere and grounded. Hands down, I think I have the best job in the English department!

Research keywords: Writing Studies & Pedagogy; Instructional Design & Assessment; Rhetorical & Linguistic Diversity; Writing Program Administration


  • PhD in Rhetoric, Carnegie Mellon University
  • M.A. in English, Kent State University
  • B.A. in Literature, Grove City College


Selected Publications
1. Wetzel, D., Brown, D. W., Werner, N., Kaufer, D., & Ishizaki, S. (2021). Computer-
Assisted Rhetorical Analysis: Instructional Design and Formative Assessment Using DocuScope. Journal of Writing Analytics, Vol 5, 292-323.

2. Kaufer, D. and Wetzel, D. (2017). “Rhetoric, Composition, and Design.” Oxford Handbook of Rhetorical Studies, Ed. Michael McDonald. Oxford University Press.

3. Wetzel, D. and Reynolds, D. (2015) “Adaptation across Space and Time: Revealing Pedagogical Assumptions.” Transnational Writing Program Administration, Ed. David Martins. Utah State University Press.

4. Taguchi, N., Crawford, W., and Wetzel, D. (2013). “What Linguistic Features are
Indicative of Writing Quality?: A Case of Argumentative Essays in a College Composition Program.” TESOL Quarterly, 47 (2), 420-430.