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Affinity Based Writing Groups: Building Communities Across 9-12 Grade Levels

Melissa Pilakowski, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Writing instruction in secondary classrooms has generally focused on cognitive approaches with feedback and assessment from a limited audience, often only the teacher. However, the burgeoning digital world has made writing an increasingly social activity where individuals can influence a wider audience and engage in dialogue with their readers faster and more efficiently than ever before. This action research aims to study the impacts of online affinity based writing groups that span the 9-12 grade levels, especially in the areas of effort, self-efficacy, and feedback. Data was collected through interviews with participating students and teachers, samples of writing and feedback, and field notes from classroom observations and informal conversations. Students perceived increased self-efficacy beliefs about their writing due to the use of affinity-based writing groups and voiced their desire for more opportunities in choice and creativity in their writing. Teachers observed the use of the affinity based writing groups correlated with an increase in writing effort by most students. Another theme that emerged is the importance of establishing trust within writing groups so that praise is perceived as authentic and constructive criticism can be given and received without damaging group member relationships. These findings indicate that writing groups and the peer responses that accompany them are underused approaches in secondary writing instruction.

Subject Area

Education|Language arts|Educational psychology|Middle School education

Recommended Citation

Pilakowski, Melissa, "Affinity Based Writing Groups: Building Communities Across 9-12 Grade Levels" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30813849.