Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Patricia Daniel-Jones, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Cheryl R. Ellerbrock, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarah Kiefer, Ph.D.


Writing, affective climate, motivation, student voice, middle level


In this qualitative case study, I investigated eighth-grade honors students’ and their language arts teacher’s perceptions of the support provided in writing groups, the climate in writing groups, and student and teacher support that enhanced students’ motivation to write in writing groups. Eleven study participants engaged in the inquiry, 10 middle school students and one language arts teacher. I collected data during the fall semester of 2014. Data were individual interviews, classroom observations of participants in writing groups, and program-related documents. The main aim in this investigation is to discover middle school students’ and their teacher’s perceptions of the support, climate, and motivation to write in writing groups. Five domains emerged from the data: peers working together on writing, teacher facilitation with writing, student perceptions of climate, teacher perceptions of climate, and creating a community of learners. Peers working together on writing and teacher facilitation with writing correspond to research question one: In what ways do 10 language arts middle school students and their language arts teacher support students’ writing efforts in writing groups over the course of a semester? Student perceptions of climate and teacher perceptions of climate correspond to research question two: In what ways do the language arts middle school students describe the writing climate in their writing groups over the course of a semester? Creating a community of learners corresponds to research question three: What type of teacher and student support do the language arts middle school students and their teacher think may enhance students’ motivation to write in writing groups? Discoveries show student participants believed working together on writing supported their personal writing and their teacher perceived teacher facilitation supported students’ writing efforts. Perceptions of climate in writing groups were mixed, with the majority of students describing the climate as supportive, although two students did not agreed. The teacher perceived a supportive climate in writing groups. Perceptions were also mixed regarding the support students and their teacher provided that enhanced students’ motivation to write in writing groups. Eight out of 10 students and the teacher perceived collaborative writing enhanced student motivation to write, while two students did not perceive collaboration had any effect on their writing motivation. The student participants believed peer assistance helped to enhance their motivation to write in writing groups while the teacher believed student choice in group mates might enhance student motivation to write.

Writing groups may affect students’ and their teacher’s perceptions of students’ writing efforts, as working together on writing led to more positive perceptions. A lack of choice in groups and working with peers with established friendships may have implications for students’ perceptions of the group climate and motivation to write, especially when some students are allowed to choose their group and others are not. Students’ perceptions of the writing group climate play a role in their writing efforts, as students who held positive perceptions of their writing group climate had positive perceptions of the support in writing groups. Working with peers as a community is important to student motivation, as the collaborative aspect can serve as a motivator for many adolescents. This study is significant because it fills gaps in the literature about research on writing and group social environments, as well as middle level research on writing groups, and motivation, and the inclusion of student and teacher voice. This inquiry also provides teacher and student insights on the ways affective climates are created in a middle school language arts setting.