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Title: Personal development in structured writing groups : a longitudinal mixed method study
Author: Cune-van Gelderen, Channa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 8564
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2014
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Can structured writing in a group context be a pathway for personal development? The aim of the thesis was to explore and substantiate developmental processes associated with pervasive factors in structured group writing, in a non-clinical, adult population. Do participants’ sense of a coherent self and flexibility, when stimulated by structured exercises and interactions, change in a beneficial and enduring way? Are new cognitive and emotional perspectives activated, which enrich embodied behavioural options? In exploring these questions the study used a constructivist ontology, informed by symbolic interactionism (SI) and humanistic system oriented concepts. Learning was assumed to be a result of behavioural integration of personal interpretations of experience. Life-long learning is, therefore, possible. The ability to (re)view options is as central to the likelihood of a person seeking out a writing group for development of individual life goals. A mixed-method longitudinal design was used to assess participants of four short-term structured writing groups (N=20). Self-perceived personal development was defined, operationalised and compared to baseline and followed up after nine months with one verbal, one pictorial, one quantitative instrument. Qualitative assessments included thematic and content analysis. Sense of Coherence scores were quantitatively compared. A majority of participants reported beneficial and sustained changes after short-term group writing activity. Group exercises and group dynamics figure as strong mediating factors for personal development. The mean Sense of Coherence scores increased (p=0.04) when baseline scores were compared to follow-up scores by T-tests. Weighted analysis of the combined assessment instruments for each individual showed varying detailed developmental trajectories. The study proposes a theoretical construct and methods to assess beneficial personal development through structured writing in a group context. The applicability of the findings to group writing activities are considered in a variety of domains, such as education, well-being, and professional development.
Supervisor: Wall, Geoff ; Atkin, Karl Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available