Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Jody Clarke-Midura


Jody Clarke-Midura


Deborah Fields


Jina Kang


James Rogers


Joshua Thoms


This classroom-based research study explored applications of informal online spaces in formal language instruction. Using sociocultural theory as a lens, the present study examined how using creative writing genres and online feedback practices, may assist with alleviating the three pedagogical issues of academic writing instruction: rigidity of academic topics and forms, superficiality of in-class feedback process, and slow language development. Students in an intermediate English language course wrote weekly fiction inspired by their favorite video games. They also engaged in a scaffolded feedback process facilitated in an online space. At the end of the semester, they wrote a reflection on the assignment. A qualitative analysis of student creative writing, online feedback, and student reflections allowed for exploring 1) students’ experiences with this type of activity, 2) types of feedback they engaged in, and 3) the relationship between the feedback process and students’ language development. The results show that students found this assignment helpful in building their English vocabulary and grammar, as well as improving their writing skills. Participants enjoyed learning a new writing style and developing academic skills. They identified reading their peers’ writing pieces and receiving feedback as factors for why the topic and form of this type of writing was enjoyable and motivating. An important finding in this study was that while students engaged in feedback that focused on praise and encouragement, they also offered feedback on vocabulary and grammar, which is rarely present in the wild. Finally, two contrasting cases are provided to illustrate how students’ perceptions of their language gains measured up to their writing scores. While both students perceived improvement in their vocabulary and grammar, one, who received a large amount of feedback, experienced marked increase in her writing scores while the other, who received a small amount of feedback, did not show increase in writing scores. The findings suggest that using the creative writing genre combined with the online feedback process has the potential to provide motivation to write, result in quality constructive feedback, and lead to improved language development.



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