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Title:Negotiating spaces: Student agency in writer’s workshop
Author(s):Gutzmer, Cara Knox
Director of Research:McCarthey, Sarah
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McCarthey, Sarah
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Monda-Amaya, Lisa; Guitierrez, Rochelle; Davila, Liv T
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):student agency
Writer's Workshop
Abstract:Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate how student agency is conceptualized and enacted in writer’s workshop classrooms. Context. This study was conducted in a diverse middle school in a small urban area. The two sixth grade classrooms were taught by a teacher with five years of experience. These classrooms implemented writer’s workshop and writing conferences on a daily basis. Design. This qualitative study explored the daily interactions amongst the teacher and students in a writing classroom. This descriptive and interpretive study captured the perspectives and practices of the teachers and students as they enacted writer’s workshop. I observed in the setting of the teacher’s school, classrooms, and writing conferences. Data Collection. The data collected includes 82 class observations over 4 months. Fifty-one interviews in total were conducted of the teacher and focal students. Twenty-two interviews were done with the teacher, while 3-5 interviews were conducted with each of the focal students. Individual conferences between the students and teacher were audio-recorded and analyzed. Findings. While the teacher created some spaces for student agency in the classroom and in the writing conferences, she also limited students’ agency by functioning as a gatekeeper. The focus on the district-designed rubric by both the teacher and students constrained spaces for agency. When students asserted their agency, it was often through resistance to specific tasks or directions. Significance. This study provides examples of how a teacher opened spaces for and limited student agency within the writing conference. The research also details times when students exercised agency within the writing classroom. A close examination of teacher and student interactions can inform how curriculum is enacted and how students can be agentive in classroom spaces. By providing both teachers’ and students’ perspectives on writing classrooms, a more complete picture was created about agency in the writing classroom. This study sheds light on the influence of district-mandated curriculum and accompanying rubrics that may constrain agency in classroom interactions.
Issue Date:2020-12-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Cara Gutzmer
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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