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PHD - Doctor of Philosophy




This ethnographic study of a single, second grade, public school classroom explores students' ownership of their writing as they negotiate their dual roles of active writer and compliant student.

Writing process advocates such as Calkins (1987), Graves (1983), and Murray (1968, 1985) stress the need for student writers to assume ownership of their work by writing from personal experience and by making the decisions governing direction of the text. This involvement encourages awareness of self as learner and as person, and stimulates cognitive and identity development. Robert Brooke (1991), in a study of college students, points out that the power differential between teacher and student creates a dilemma for the student who is required to be both enterprising learner and obedient student. The current study examines primary grade children's negotiation of student/writer roles.

The expressive writing of twenty-one students. eleven girls and ten boys, in a middle/upper-middle class suburban school was tracked over a seven-month period. Two writing classes per week were audio-taped, students and teacher were interviewed, and the children's writing was photocopied.

The children established ownership of writing in person specific and gender specific ways. Most boys wrote stories about dangerous adventures and competitive sports, while girls generally wrote about relationships (e.g. friendships. marriage. birth), and problems solved by cooperation rather than competition.

Teacher response to the stories demonstrated how the student/teacher relationship is embedded in a socio-cultural context. The girls were marginalized by the teacher's emphasis on problem/solution stories. Since the boys tended to write this type of story they were subtly being privileged.

Student control over texts was further jeopardized by whole class peer critiquing, and lengthy, overly directive conferences. Approaching the children's writing as a reader rather than a fellow writer , the teacher viewed resistance to correction as a behavior problem rather than an outgrowth of ownership. Emphasis on what was right with stories could have provided students with the language of constructive critique and sustained their pride of authorship. This research demonstrates how easily children can lose confidence in their writing instincts and accept the teacher's instruction without question.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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