Student blogging and outside audience: a study on fifth grade students' motivation to write

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Small, Rachel V.
Students often lack motivation to write because the writing process is difficult (Oldfather & Shanahan, 2007), writing is regularly taught through lecture and traditional exercises (Hidi & Boscolo 2007), and writing is typically assigned in school for assessment purposes, not to communicate (Nolan, 2007). Traditionally, teachers are the only audience students have to read their writing (Britton, Burgess, Martin, McLeod, & Rosen, 1975). The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore and determine to what extent and how fifth grade students are motivated to write when they are provided with an outside audience via blogging. An examination of the data gathered from observations, student interviews, a classroom teacher interview, and document reviews of 19 fifth graders from one classroom in an upper middle-class suburban town in New England, resulted in three thematic connections: (1) students enjoyed writing blog posts; (2) students appreciated having an outside audience to read their writing; (3) and students appreciated having subject choice. Using Deci and Ryan's Self-Determination Theory (1985), students were found to be intrinsically motivated to write blog posts when they were given an outside audience to read and respond to their writing. This study was significant because my findings indicate that when teachers provide an organized, predictably structured writing instruction environment, give their students the autonomy to write blog posts, allow subject choice, and offer their students an outside audience to read their writing, their students may become intrinsically motivated to write.