Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Carolyn Colvin


Research studies have investigated issues in the teaching of writing, particularly at the elementary and university levels. Studies of out-of-school writing done by adolescents have focused on digital contexts and social media. This study examines the intersections of the out-of-school and in-school writing worlds of three high school writers: a poet, a novelist, and a contest essay writer. I use data gathered over seven years from the student writers and four of their English language arts teachers. Research questions focused on how notions of student writers and the teaching of high school English might be informed by the ways student writers described their out-of-class writing and motivation for writing, how their teachers developed and implemented their philosophies and practices in teaching writing, and how the student writers developed their internally persuasive discourses about writing. In analyzing case study data to answer these questions, I used constant comparison analysis and narrative inquiry analysis, drawing upon theories of heteroglossic discourses, figured worlds, and writing identity. My findings show that in the intersections of out-of-school and in-school writing experiences, students select some writing practices and discourses from their teachers to adopt or adapt, such as developing writing processes, participating in writing communities, and caring about writing. They complicate their definitions of writing, however, as they create figured worlds of writing in which they explore identity, navigate and negotiate complex emotions, and receive recognition. The students illustrate their dialogism with writing discourses in stories of improvisation in which they find power and enact resistance. I argue that writing teachers need encouragement, education, and agency to entertain more complex perceptions of student writers and teaching writing to support students for future personal, academic, career, and public discourse worlds.


agency, dialogism, figured worlds, identity, resistance


xii, 252 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 242-252).


Copyright © 2014 Debora Lynn Hill Aldrich