Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shumow, Lee

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Educational psychology; Elementary education; Instructional design; Competence and performance (Linguistics)--Psychological aspects; Language and languages--Composition and exercises; Language arts (Elementary); Fifth grade (Education); School children--Study and teaching (Elementary)


This dissertation explores writing instruction in fifth-grade classrooms, focusing on the attitudes and behaviors of student writers of differing abilities and their teachers' activities during written language instruction. Assessment of student writing, classroom observations, and interviews with students and teachers showed that above-average, average, and struggling writers have different perceptions about the skills necessary to master the writing process and that their views differed from those of their teachers. While teachers attempted to model composing, editing, revising, and publishing for their students, it was challenging for fifth-grade students to integrate these skills to create high-quality writing products. Writers of different abilities spent their time differently, with greater engagement among more competent students. Less proficient writers struggled with creating text and revising their drafts, placing greater value on correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar. In addition, views of good writing differed among the students and teachers in this study. Attitudes toward writing instruction ranged from strongly positive to negative and were dependent upon the genre, the audience, and the purpose of writing. The study also shows that individualized teacher feedback was critical for student success and provided students with information about the quality of their writing. Finally, results suggest the need for greater differentiation in fifth-grade classrooms to meet the needs of diverse learners.


Advisors: Lee Shumow.||Committee members: Lindsay Harris; Jennifer Schmidt.


179 pages




Northern Illinois University

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