Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Teacher Education

Major Professor

Susan Groenke

Committee Members

Sherry Bell, Katherine Greenberg, Stergios Botzakis


The purpose of this study is to investigate the phenomenon of the teen writer as defined as one who answers readily to the label of writer and who reports writing regularly outside of school for his or her own purposes. The research questions guiding this work are: (1) What do these young people write on their own time and for their own purposes? and (2) Why do young writers choose to write and how do they value and understand their own writing practices? In this multi-case study, seven teenage participants were interviewed twice, invited into any of three focus groups to learn about their writing practices and beliefs, and shared writing samples. Following interaction with these teens and close iterative coding and analysis of interview transcripts and writing samples, I made several findings including: 1) the seven teens in this study write in a variety of genres for their own purposes, but predominantly write in fictional and narrative modes, and 2) the teens' motivations to write are intimately connected to their ongoing personal/individual and social identity work. These findings hold strong implications for teachers and education policymakers in the age of "Common Core," where less instructional emphasis is placed on writing in fictional/narrative modes. It also provokes consideration of education in its role of personal development and the role of the learner as a stakeholder in his or her own education.

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