Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Le, Tina. Student Motivation in Secondary-College Public Writing Partnerships. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2019.


Copyright Tina Le 2019.


Secondary-college public writing partnerships pair middle and high school students with undergraduate college students and community agencies to engage students in public writing. Public writing involves using literacy skills in the wider civic arena to actively create change in the community, such as through proposing policy changes and collaborating on projects with local organizations (Flower, 2008). Through participation in public writing partnerships, middle and high school students learn key literacy skills, as emphasized in the Nebraska English/Language Arts Standards. Nebraska standards 10.2.2 and 12.2.2 target writing “for multiple modes for a variety of purposes and audiences,” including the “argumentative, informational, and persuasive” modes “using a variety of media and formats.” Yet little has been published about such partnerships, and at the Conference on Community Writing, directors of various programs began talking about the need for a national network of programs in order to share best practices, materials, and research. Careful construction of community partnerships is necessary to support student learning and avoid harming communities, so the development of best practices can help programs foster healthy and effective partnerships. The existing body of research about secondary-college partnerships primarily focuses on college students (Dale & Traun, 1998; Wheeler, 2010). However, there is a lack of research about middle and high school students’ role in such partnerships. This research project aims to support the development of a national network of programs, promoting ways to make partnership collaborations a meaningful learning experience for middle and high school students. Drawing upon the existing body of scholarly research and the expertise of secondary teachers and students, this study aims to provide a framework for thinking about motivation and identify motivational principles that affect secondary-college partnerships, centered around the goal of helping teachers better understand and address the complexity of student motivation in the unique context of their partnerships. This project aims to spark a critical inquiry into how interrelated factors at play in secondary-college public writing partnerships can affect secondary students’ motivation, helping teachers plan their partnership curricula with students’ motivation in mind. On a broader scope, this study hopes to assist in creating programs that are healthy and beneficial for all partners involved.