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Ethnography of middle level online writing conference groups: Investigating behaviors, attitudes, and discourse

, Drexel University, United States

Drexel University . Awarded


This study investigated the impact of a ten week Online Writing Conference (OWC) on participants' behaviors, attitudes, and discourse. The researcher trained the 30, self-selecting sixth and seventh grade students on Internet Safety and bulletin board use. She then became a member of each of the four (purposefully assigned) online writing conference groups. Data collection consisted of pre/post Student and Parent Questionnaires, pre/post student completion of The Writing Attitude Survey, In-depth Student and Parent Interviews, OWC participation tracking, and researcher observations. After coding and categorizing data, the researcher performed analyses using the constant comparative method. High Level Participant and Low Level Participant categories emerged. (1) Students who were High Level Participants (HLPs) used the board because of quality feedback; they were more likely to use the OWC to obtain writing feedback. These students showed an awareness of social presence in their discourse. As a result of the feedback and modeling provided in the OWC, HLPs reported increased confidence as writers, improved ability to provide writing feedback, increased interest in content-related or meaning-level writing support, improved ability in understanding problems in their writing. (2) Low Level Participants often claimed that they had busy schedules or “forgot” to participate in the OWC, implying suggested schedules might be necessary for some middle level students in online learning environments. Low Level Participants (LLPs) had a significant decrease in attitudes towards writing (p < .02, t = 2.71, df = 13) and in the frequency of their engagement in In School writing behaviors (p < .04, t = 2.55, df = 13). All domains of effective writing were represented in board discourse, with writing content discussed the most. Findings led to implications for writing and online instruction. These implications are presented along with suggestions for future research.


Adelman, H.N. Ethnography of middle level online writing conference groups: Investigating behaviors, attitudes, and discourse. Ph.D. thesis, Drexel University. Retrieved August 5, 2021 from .

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

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