KeywordsEducation, Language and Literature.
Education, Curriculum and Instruction.
AdvisorGriffin, Gary A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this qualitative study was to examine and describe complex academic tasks undertaken by adolescents and the classroom conditions supporting them. The setting for this study was one southwestern university's Summer Institute for Writing and Thinking Across the Curriculum. With students and teachers working in collaboration, the Institute intended to provide high school students with opportunities to utilize the writing process as a tool for thinking and as a means to increase their writing proficiency. Teaching writing in classroom settings has been found to be particularly challenging, and further, sometimes the complexity of writing tasks have been sacrificed for the sake of maintaining classroom order. The Institute seemed a likely environment for engaging in complex cognitive processing and thus for examining complex tasks and noting the conditions that supported them. Participant observation and interviews were the data collection methods employed. Results of the study indicated that students engaged in complex cognitive processing, gained more control over their writing and thinking processes, and produced a variety of complex individual and group products. The Institute assessment, consisting of writing samples obtained on the first and last days of the three-week Institute, demonstrated growth in writing proficiency for 74% of the students. The features that supported the successful accomplishment of complex academic work included (a) well-designed, open-ended assignments that were scaffolded within and across tasks, (b) collaboration of students and teachers in small writing groups, (c) establishment and nurturance of writing communities, (d) the sharing of leadership, (e) availability of multiple resources, (f) instructional strategies that protected a non-threatening, non-judgmental environment, and (g) instructional strategies that fostered complex thinking and problem solving. The writing community played a key role in fostering complex cognitive processing, maintaining order, and connecting students to their academic work.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Teaching and Teacher Education