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Title: Exploring the writer's toolbox : a study of how writers and their use of writing implements and surfaces relate to their ways of thinking for writing
Author: Finkel, Kelsey Jo
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 5577
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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The state of writing abilities throughout the United States presents an urgent issue. Low student achievement in English Language Arts (ELA) exams and standardized English assessments persist (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012), while businesses spend billions of dollars on remedial writing instruction (Dillon, 2008). Technology is increasingly cited as a potential solution to these issues. Evidence for this is limited, as is existing research into the basis of the issues that technology might address. On account of that context, this thesis turns to a basic distinction between digital and non-digital writing: the writing surface and implement, or pen and paper - screen and keyboard. Conceptualizing such artefacts through a view of writing as a way of thinking raises the following question, which is this study's guiding inquiry. Might we use digital implements and surfaces to support the ways of thinking involved in composing written works of semantic cohesion? Building on research into writing as thinking, the study presented in this document analyses how uses of writing surfaces and implements relate to ways of thinking while writing, and which contextual factors influence those relationships. Drawing on a neuro-anthropological approach, the study focuses on the writer's mind as the driver and source of the lived experience of writing. Expert writers, therefore, are considered to be those who exhibit the ways of thinking while writing to which other writers aspire. To examine a range of uses of writing surfaces and implements with reference to expert writers' ways of thinking, the study was conducted in two parts. Part 1involved a content analysis of published interviews with professional writers. This generated a framework through which to conduct in-depth qualitative research with college student writers - part 2. This thesis is as much about thinking while writing as it is about the different tools available for writing. As such, the study refutes the hyperbolic and deterministic claims about technology and writing, and finds that technology is not leading to new ways of thinking while writing. Instead, surfaces and implements available allow writers to change how they practise their ways of thinking while writing. By considering this distinction and developing understandings of the dynamics involved and their implications, writers may begin to realize the potential of technology for writing. Ultimately, this thesis contributes to existing theories on writing through an informed discussion of how to think about implements and surfaces in ways that support writerly thinking, and by offering fresh ways to think about the lived practice of writing.
Supervisor: Davies, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Writing--Ability testing ; Writing--Psychological aspects ; Writing materials and instruments ; Word processing ; Authors--Psychology ; Thought and thinking