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(Un)Sure Writers

Title: (Un)Sure Writers: Potential Fluctuations in Self-Efficacy during the Writing Process.
Name(s): Brooks, Amanda Marie, author
Fleckenstein, Kristie S., professor directing thesis
Neal, Michael R., committee member
Yancey, Kathleen Blake, 1950-, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Department of English, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2016
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (140 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In “Some Thoughts about Feelings,” Susan McLeod encourages teachers to develop a “theory of affect” that could account for the various emotional processes that students encounter while writing (433). One contribution to such a theory concerns self-efficacy, a mechanism by which students interpret this emotional, sensory input. Self-efficacy plays a crucial role in understanding how students write as both a cognitive and affective activity. As students engage with various texts, they enter into a process wherein they must mediate and interpret the skills they possess. These interpretations, and the beliefs on which they are based, can significantly enable or hinder writers as they engage in the composing process. Therefore, students' self-efficacy beliefs are vital to their success as writers, both inside and outside of the classroom. Although a significant amount of research explores self-efficacy as related to motivation and performance outcomes, little has been done to map the potential fluctuations of students’ self-efficacy beliefs throughout the composing process. As students progress through a writing assignment, they encounter challenges to their self-efficacy, such as reading the assignment sheet, drafting, receiving feedback, revising, and assessment. These challenges suggest that self-efficacy is not a stable phenomenon; rather, self-efficacy very probably fluctuates as students engage with the challenges presented by a specific task. Understanding the nature of potential fluctuations is important, then, both in a theory of self-efficacy and in teaching writing. Accordingly, this study seeks to determine if, how, when, and from what causes students’ self-efficacy fluctuates over the course of a single writing assignment involving multiple drafts. To examine potential fluctuations in students’ self-efficacy, I conducted a case study with two students enrolled in a single section of ENC 1101. I interviewed each of the participants face to face twice—once before they reviewed the assignment and again after they submitted the assignment to be graded—in order to create a narrative arc of their sense of self-efficacy throughout the assignment. These interviews were supplemented by self-assessment questionnaires that were completed by students at four designated moments chosen by the researcher and one spontaneous moment chosen by the subjects. The questionnaires consist of two parts: a quantitative self-assessment and a qualitative reflection. The quantitative self-assessment operates as a self-efficacy scale in order to determine how students perceive their abilities at specific moments in the writing process. Following each of the five quantitative assessment occasions, students were then asked to respond to a prompt designed to engage them in a qualitative reflection. These qualitative reflections were coded to determine self-efficacy fluctuations, sources of self-efficacy beliefs, and strategies that students evolved to cope with potential fluctuations. I triangulated these data to generate a rich description of the potential ebbs and flows of self-efficacy across the composing process. My data reveals that self-efficacy does fluctuate as students engage with a single assignment involving multiple drafts. However, the fluctuations manifested in different ways and to different degrees. Fluctuations occurred both from moment to moment during the composing process as well as within each discrete moment of the writing process. Additionally, the students reported that performance accomplishments, social persuasion, and physiological reactions played a role in determining their efficacy perceptions and, thus, in triggering fluctuations. The students drew from these sources to varying degrees, and interpreted the sources differently. These data suggest that the sources students draw from to determine their efficacy beliefs vary from study to student and that the more influential sources are most likely to trigger fluctuations. Finally, this study explores the strategies students evolved to address fluctuations. The results of this study illustrate the need for compositionists to attend to what points in the writing process fluctuations are likely to occur, what factors in the writing process might trigger those fluctuations, and what strategies students evolve to address fluctuations. To that end, these findings invite compositionists to reconsider the role of self-efficacy in the writing classroom, and subsequently alter our pedagogy to account for fluctuations in self-efficacy beliefs as our students compose.
Identifier: FSU_2016SU_Brooks_fsu_0071N_13375 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester 2016.
Date of Defense: June 20, 2016.
Keywords: affect, composition, fluctuation, process, self-efficacy, writing
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Kristie S. Fleckenstein, Professor Directing Thesis; Michael R. Neal, Committee Member; Kathleen Blake Yancey, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Education
British literature
Irish literature
English literature
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Brooks, A. M. (2016). (Un)Sure Writers: Potential Fluctuations in Self-Efficacy during the Writing Process. Retrieved from