Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

William Morris


The underlying assumption of this study is that writing as a process has profound implications for success and fulfillment both in and beyond the classroom. A second assumption is that electronic portfolios provide students a space to write, revise, reflect, share, and explore themselves as writers. Students who engage with and embrace the writing process to the point that they self-identify as writers may be more likely to not only succeed at academic writing tasks but to integrate writing into their future lives (Lengelle and Meijers, 2014). For writing to play a prolonged role in this level of academic, professional and personal achievement, individuals must integrate the concept of being a writer into their multi-faceted identities. Junior high school students enrolled in Advanced Placement Language and Composition, a writing intensive course, are preparing to take a writing exam for possible college credit and are also on the threshold of transitioning to college. Embracing a writer’s identity may help them through and beyond these processes. Therefore, the purpose of this action research was to explore how students in an Advanced Placement writing course develop identities as writers while engaged in an online community of practice.. Three research questions were (1) what do students in an AP writing course perceive as impediments to becoming successful writers in the course?; (2) how does use of electronic portfolios impact how student writers see themselves?; and (3) how does working collaboratively with other student writers impact how student writers see themselves?

Eight students enrolled in AP Language and Composition were purposively selected from larger classes to participate in this study. The data was collected from semi-structured focus group interviews, writing reflections, and students’ reflective journals. A general inductive approach was used to analyze the data (Cresswell, 2014). Inductive analysis involves 1) transcription, 2) reading the data, 3) assigning codes to parts of text, 4) identifying similarities and differences in codes and organizing them into categories, and 5) identifying themes that emerge from the categories. Three themes emerged from this study: (1) confronting anxieties as developing writers in an AP classroom, (2) finding community with developing writers in an AP Classroom, and (3) thinking like developing writers in an AP Classroom.

Findings indicate that use of electronic portfolios and working collaboratively with other student writers supported students writing efforts and positively impacted how they viewed themselves as writers in the course. Implications of findings for implementing student portfolios into a high school writing community of practice are discussed, as are the limitations of the study.


© 2023, Archibald Franklin Harrison IV