Working Papers in Education

Analyzing Student Language on Writing to Inform Instruction: A Discourse Analysis

Patrick Hales


To better understand those students who are taught each day, it is necessary to hold conversation with them to better understand their frames of mind. This case study of 19 students at a rural, innovative high school in the southeastern United States sought to understand through discourse analysis the perspectives, positioning, and situated meanings at play in the participants‘ language. Findings suggest that students at the research site had trouble denoting their own writing growth, the value of writing, and ownership of writing produced at school. Implications of this speak toward how teachers can motivate and re-value writing for students. While the results are unique to this research site, the hope of this study is to generate conversation about the nature of writing instruction in public schools.


writing instruction; student language; discourse analysis

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