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18 minutes and 11 seconds online: Exploring the cogntive processes of 12 good writers writing on the Internet

, Michigan State University, United States

Michigan State University . Awarded


New technologies and Internet resources are becoming more and more integral to 21st century writing. To write well in the 21st century requires the coordination of new technologies, new skills, and new information. The central challenge to coordinate these new elements of contemporary writing is the deictic influence they have on writing. Currently, there is very little research-based information available to understand and theorize this constantly-evolving phenomenon.

This dissertation study is an initial effort to closely examine the essential factors and cognitive strategies involved in the processes of writing with the Internet. Specifically, the study seeks to understand: (1) the role of prior knowledge in college writers' online searching, reading, and writing; (2) the strategies that college writers use to manage information load during online searching and reading; (3) the strategies that college writers use to transform online information into essay texts, and (4) the interstitial moments from searching to writing. The study employed a multiple-case study design that allows exploring and comparing the strategies and emerging patterns among a representative group of writers.Twelve good first-year college students participated in the study.

The results of the study show: (1) the writers' prior knowledge served as the primary source to orient their online searching. Associative patterns were found between the participant writers' prior knowledge structures and their online searching and reading. (2) The writers applied four cognitive strategies to manage cognitive load during the course of writing and searching, including minimal online reading strategy, deep online information engagement strategy, offloading useful web information strategy, and searching and reading behavior self-monitoring strategy. (3) The writers used five strategies including direct quoting, factual information picking, information restating, information summarizing, and information synthesizing to transform online information into essay texts. And (4) The writers' interstitial moments of searching, reading, and writing occurred when they evaluated web information based on their prior knowledge and the given writing topic, and when they integrated prior knowledge and web information to build an effective argument.

The findings in this study enable researchers in digital writing, educational technology, and web-based learning to understand more fully the cognitive processes of writing that are particular to 21st century writing and learning.


Zheng, J. 18 minutes and 11 seconds online: Exploring the cogntive processes of 12 good writers writing on the Internet. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State University. Retrieved October 23, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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