Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Belinda McFeeters


U.S. employers have reported that many college graduates are underprepared in written communication when hired and that lack of preparedness hinders these graduates’ employment success. Higher education institution (HEI) administrators need information regarding which writing skills should be taught across the curriculum to improve student outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate employers’ perspectives on the written communication skills gap that hinders college graduates from being successful in their professional practice. Swales’s six characteristics of a discourse community provided a conceptual lens for the study, as graduates commencing employment represent newcomers to a discourse community. A basic qualitative study design was used. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 employer participants who manage recently graduated new hires. Qualitative coding was used to identify themes for analysis. Results of the study point to practices such as following a methodical approach to writing practice; prioritizing audience research and needs; and emphasizing self-awareness, confidence, and thoroughness among new hires. HEI administrators should prioritize common conventions, but also strategies for uncovering audience needs and disciplinary conventions. Doing so may decrease the perceived gap in graduates’ written communication skills and improve hiring prospects and professional success for recently graduated new hires. Improvements in these areas may contribute to positive social change by improving employment outcomes for college graduates, which is particularly important given the time and money that learners invest in education.