A case study of a first-grade boy's writing flow : when creativity and the discipline of work connect

Bowles, Penny Hill, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Covert, Robert W., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hansen, Jane, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Trent, Stanley, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Wilson, Eleanor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The purpose for this case study was to document the connection between the affective and cognitive learning domains of a first-grade child learning to write. Using flow theory (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) as a theoretical framework, I asked the question: When is writing flow present in one first-grade boy's writing workshop experience?

Csikszentmihalyi (1990) describes flow as an optimal learning experience defined by a high level of interest, enjoyment, and concentration. This study aims to address a current gap in the research available connecting flow theory with primary education, and in particular in the area of writing. The included literature review of past relevant research includes research on the aspects of flow (interest, enjoyment, and concentration) and research in the area of students learning to write.

In order to provide a description of writing flow, this study uses qualitative research methods in a naturalistic writing workshop classroom environment.

This study shows one first-grade boy's writing flow to be present when he 1) believed in the value of himself as a writer; 2) was interested in his writing topics and genres; 3) enjoyed writing; 4) was concentrating on writing; and 5) was socially interdependent. The findings indicate evidence of writing flow as a highly connective and creative experience, where the self-discipline of writing work touches the enjoyment of creative expression.

Implications for using flow theory in writing curriculum, and in education in general, are far reaching, including education policy, research, classroom
practices, student motivation, and teacher education. Connecting flow theory with learning to write in a classroom setting, addresses the individual learner interests within the context of community, providing educators with a path to provide optimal learning opportunities to increasingly socially, educationally, linguistically, economically, and/or ethnically diverse populations of students.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
writing, affect and cognitive learning, flow theory, primary education

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-02-18 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:33:53.

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