This is abstract from Brandi Leonard’s dissertation research:
Students in developmental writing courses and first-year composition courses struggle with the writing process. Individual instructional strategies have been insufficient to engage these students or build their self-confidences for further writing courses. The purpose of this study was to understand how students perceive a combination of three strategies, social networking, the writing process, and cooperative learning may help students to be successful with the prewriting phase of the writing process. The three research questions were (1) what are students’ perceptions of a social networking tool; (2) how do students perceive a social networking tool influences prewriting in cooperative groups; and (3) how do cooperative groups work together to prewrite? A combination of strategies together with a high level of student engagement may help to increase student success in developmental writing and first-year composition courses.
Nine students across four sections of writing courses agreed to participate in this qualitative inquiry. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, social networking posts, observations, and a researcher-made handout, and data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Three themes emerged: Students perceived usefulness related to using a social netowrking tool, their behaviors, and positive results. Group interaction refleceted students’ positive interdependnece, individual accountability, group processing, social skills, and face-to-face interaction. Finally, knowledge representation was evident as it encapsulated the participants’ views on making their thinking visible and sharing ideas.
A discussion of the research questions integrated these findings. Students perceived a social networking tool to be valuable, beneficial to helping them learn, and an achive for their ideas. Students perceived a social networking tool to influence prewriting in cooperative groups by generating ideas, representing their contributions, and communications with group members. Finally, the participants’ perceptions and observations revealed that working together in cooperative groups to prewrite reflected the five elements of cooperation. Implications for practice with writing instructions, limitations of the current study, and implications for further research about timeframes, participants, and challenges are provided.
The completed dissertation research file (in PDF) can be downloaded from the University of Memphis Electronic Theses and Dissertations system.