Heidi Byrnes


Emeritus Professor


Department of German


My research focuses on the analysis of students’ writing development across the curricular level using the theoretical framework of systemic-functional linguistics. With the publication of the MLJ monograph (with Hiram Maxim and John Norris), (MLJ 94-S1, 2010), "Realizing advanced foreign language writing development in collegiate education: Curricular design, pedagogy, assessment", we have provided an overall framework within which to continue the exploration of L2 development in other areas.
Through the Humanities Assessment Project we are exploring the possibility of tracing the simultaneous development of language abilities and cultural content knowledge. In line with one of the underlying assumptions of the curriculum, namely that language and content learning can be and need to be fostered concurrently, this project assesses cultural content knowledge and awareness through language use, specifically through the system of appraisal as developed in systemic functional linguistics (Martin and White. First research results are reported in Ryshina-Pankova & Byrnes (2013), "Writing as learning to know: Tracing knowledge construction in L2 composition", part of a special issue of the Journal of Second Language Writing which I guest edited. Its theme: Teaching for meaning-making - writing to mean.
I am currently working on the study of the longitudinal writing development over four years of undergraduate study of a particularly successful learner, Gabriel.

Beyond writing development I am particularly interested in curriculum development, using SFL as a theoretical framework that informs a genre-based and task-oriented pedagogical approach.