Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


Language & Literacy

First Advisor

Amy Donnelly


In the chronology of writing process instruction, the use of response groups is not new. Research on using response groups as a predictable structure in writing classes focuses mostly on framework, control, and talk within the groups and the role of response on writers' revision work. There have been few studies that looked at response as a flexible tool used by student writers, in general and elementary aged writers, in particular. The purpose of this study was to fill this gap, by exploring the understandings of response constructed by student writers and the meanings they made of response as a tool to support their writing work. For my research, I defined response as a space for writers to seek feedback from peers on their writing.

Using a qualitative case study framework and constant comparative analysis, I examined how fifth-grade writers constructed understandings of response throughout the writing process. The context for the study was an established writing workshop, through which I also examined the role that responsive teaching played in supporting student writers' constructed understanding of response. Based on my analyses of the student writers' response session transcripts and reflective conversations with the case response group and classroom teacher, I found that these young writers used response in flexible ways to support self-identified needs throughout their writing process, as they developed their understandings of the reciprocal nature of reading and writing. The study also offers implications for expanding the current writing process models to include response and the use of response groups to develop readers as meaning makers and broaden the instructional base of reading and writing.