Though Hearing Ourselves Think: Cognitive Research in the College Writing Classroom was published in 1993, I think the book has much to offer today. Ann Penrose and her co-authors present findings on the ways various students process information when struggling to analyze texts and writing situations. Observational research (documented as transcribed recordings of students’ reflections) complements discussions of theory and practice.
As dry as that may sound, the content provides a fascinating insight into what different students are thinking when they wrestle with similar writing problems to the ones we design for our classes. Chapters 8 and 9 cover audience analysis. Chapter 1 explains the rationale for the cognitive approach. Here’s the link to the eBook version in the Ryerson library.