Date of Award

Spring 1992

Project Type


Program or Major

Reading and Writing Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Jane Hansen


The present study examines the ways in which the available resources of books, classmates, and teacher affect three fourth-grade students' writing development within the same classroom. The study's unique contribution is its holistic description of how all three resources contribute collectively to the ongoing writing of these individuals over the better part of their school year. The study describes the ways in which the children's writing and their notions of good writing are being formed in the dialectical processes of interaction with these resources. Further, the study describes the global traits of their particular classroom's culture--its extant written forms and literacy contexts of interaction--in order to understand more fully the effects of the social context on the individuals.

Data were collected using a variety of techniques of ethnographic inquiry: field observation notes, formal and informal interviews, audio-recordings of classroom literacy events, and the writing of the case study children as well as that of their classmates. Data were analyzed by using ethnographic tools of analysis: data categorization, data triangulation, as well as through exploratory writing.

Major conclusions include: (1) the extant written forms and contexts constrained as well as multiplied the choices the children made for learning about writing; (2) the ways these children "read" and "took" from the classroom resources were both a function of who they were as individuals--their literacy development, personalities, and proclivities--and of what the classroom offered; and (3) the resources overlapped to strengthen their power to influence the case study children's writing.