Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

First-year composition students' perceptions regarding the use of classroom blogs to improve student writing
by Sims, Emily M., Ph.D., The University of Alabama, 2012, 132; 3511086
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative case study explored first-year composition (FYC) students' use of classroom blogs in their writing practices. Together, a social constructivist worldview and socio-technical systems (STS) theory provided a working framework for this investigation. STS theory holds that there are several human and organizational factors (i.e., personnel and technical) operating mutually that create interrelated relationships. All participants (personnel factor) were enrolled in a FYC course at a medium-sized community college satellite location. This group of FYC students participated in classroom blogs (technical factor) to reflect on the writing process and their growth as writers throughout one full-term fall semester as part of the course section requirement. The study examined students' blog posts, peer comments, and artifacts (including prewriting activities, early drafts, and final drafts of essays). Additionally, students completed PMI inventory sheets, which were reflective in nature; students identified pluses (P), minuses (M), and interesting (I) aspects of their blog participation. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with a purposeful sample of six students. Themes emerged from various sources of data, namely, blog posts, PMI inventory sheets, and semi-structured interviews. The themes identified were as follows: sensitivity to peers' experiences and opinions, openness of peers' views and opinions, awareness in writing, and growth as writers, growth as humans.

Findings of the study revealed that FYC students need more opportunities to write both formally and informally. Additionally, as FYC students gained confidence in their writing abilities, motivation was increased and writing was improved. Moreover, secondary education writing teachers and FYC instructors need to work closely together to communicate student expectations at the FYC level. Policymakers should revisit current secondary education writing requirements to determine students' preparedness for FYC courses. Finally, this study found that the virtual classroom transformed the physical classroom; the physical classroom environment changed because student relationships were forming via classroom blogs. Supported by STS theory, personnel (FYC students) and technical (classroom blogs) components proved to be interrelated as changes in one component generated changes in others factors.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wright, Vivian
Commitee: Dayton-Wood, Amy, Major, Claire, Scherff, LIsa, Spector, Karen
School: The University of Alabama
Department: Secondary Education
School Location: United States -- Alabama
Source: DAI-A 73/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Language arts, Secondary education
Keywords: Blogs, First-year composition students, Technology, Writing
Publication Number: 3511086
ISBN: 9781267383624
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