Re-visioning the writing classroom: an activity theory analysis of writing pedagogy

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University of Alabama Libraries

The revision-as-proofreading model has persisted in secondary English classrooms despite theoretical and research-based criticism of its efficacy to improve student writing. This multiple case study investigated the decisions of five tenth grade English teachers to minimize revision in their writing instruction, reducing it to the proofreading approach, even though their articulation of the purpose of revision was more complex. In order to understand why revision was minimized in these classrooms, I utilized an activity theory framework to examine the key settings in which these teachers operated, their motives for writing instruction within those settings, and the various instructional tools that they prioritized to achieve their objectives. My analysis of teacher interviews, observation field notes, and student artifacts revealed that the dominant settings in which these teachers operated were the state setting (i.e., the influence of the state writing test), the school setting (i.e., the influence of the recent shift to a block schedule), the professional learning community (PLC) setting (i.e., the influence of team decisions on individual practice), and the classroom setting (i.e., the influence of perceptions of students' abilities within each class level). An examination of the teachers' motives and tools within these settings, as well as the teachers' personal backgrounds, revealed that revision was not prioritized for a variety of reasons including its marginalization on the writing test, a sense of urgency created by the block schedule, the team's priority on other aspects of the writing process, perceptions of students' writing deficiencies, the teachers' narrow conceptualizations of revision, and the teachers' lack of revision pedagogy in teacher education. Despite the entrenched nature of the teachers' current writing instruction beliefs and practices within these powerful settings, the frustrations expressed by individual teachers concerning the inefficacy of some of their practices indicated that some of the teachers were positioned to problematize and potentially transform their writing pedagogy. The study concludes with implications for practice, teacher education, schools, policymakers, and educational researchers.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Secondary education, Pedagogy, Language arts