Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Creative writing (Elementary education);


Writing instruction in today’s classrooms is often structured with “formulaic, sterile writing instruction” (Brown, Morrell, and Rowlands, 2011, p. 17). The focus on formulaic approaches can be problematic, for it may inadvertently cause the quality of students’ writing to decline (Brown, Morrell, & Rowlands, 2011; Gillespie, Olinghouse, & Graham, 2013). The National Writing Project (NWP) provides teachers with professional development to strengthen their own skills as writers, and also to learn how to effectively incorporate evidence-based practices into their writing instruction.

The aim of this study was to explore the practices of three elementary classroom teachers (second, fifth, and sixth grades), who had received professional development training from the National Writing Project (NWP). Data was collected using observations, a teacher questionnaire, teacher interviews, and a creativity rubric for evaluating samples of student work. Specifically, the questions that guided this study were:

1) How do teachers with a background and pedagogy for teaching writing through the workshop model of the National Writing Project (NWP) navigate the increasing standardization of writing curriculum and pedagogy?

2) What are the district level expectations for teaching writing and then how, if at all, are these reflected as constraints or catalysts in teachers’ instructional decision making?

3) What resources are teachers using to support their writing instruction?

4) How do teachers identify and support creativity in writing?

The first result of the study indicated that the participants appeared to be navigating the standardization of writing curriculum in various ways, from a student-centered workshop approach to more structured writing assignments. The second theme was the discovery of teachers’ use of autonomy in aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment. While all teachers adhered to district standards, their instructional resources and strategies varied. The third theme was student engagement and opportunities for creativity during writing instruction. During this study, student engagement was more apparent when students were given freedom for including creativity. The implications for teaching practices in schools and for future research are included.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Sarah Montgomery, Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Linda Fitzgerald, Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 151 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Wednesday, December 23, 2020