Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching (Higher); Community college students--Attitudes; English teachers--Attitudes;


The purpose of this study was to investigate community college students' and their teacher's perceptions about writing in a beginning composition course. This study explored student and teacher views about composition, possible tensions about ways writing is defined, and ways to resolve tension. Specifically, this study addressed the following questions:

  1. How do my perceptions as a writing instructor in a beginning community college composition course compare with my students' perceptions?
  2. How do my students and I understand real and perceived consequences that arise from various views about writing?
  3. How could my students and I mediate or resolve various views about writing?

This study is important in understanding the ways educators and students at the community college level approach the teaching and learning of writing as a classroom subject. Attention was given to the ways classroom participants view writing, the particular aspects of the process, and the classroom environment in general. Participants consisted of 19 students aged 19 to 24 in one section of a first-year, community college writing course and were enrolled in a variety of majors.

To gain in-depth understanding of the interaction among students and between the teacher and the students, an ethnographic methodology was used to enable a focus on the complex structure of classroom life. A teacher as researcher approach allowed constant interaction between participants and researcher to gain insights on a daily basis. Data collection included observations/field notes, instructor/researcher journal, course materials, student interviews, student records, individual student journals, and written assignments.

A four-phase plan was used to analyze relationships among students and between students and the teacher. Categories were generated through the constant comparison method, with continual refining and analysis.

Three main themes were discovered through this study.

  1. How students viewed themselves as writers and students on past experiences influenced their present attitudes and behaviors.
  2. Effective collaboration was important in strengthening a classroom culture.
  3. Developing goals helped students understand the relevancy and importance of writing. Findings extend aspects of the literature review by examining community college composition students as more complex than usually described.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

David Landis, Chair

Second Advisor

Dale Johnson, Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 239 pages)



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