A descriptive analysis of interactive journal writing as communication and literacy practice

Ernestine Terrell Redman, University of Pennsylvania


This study deals with the description, analysis, and interpretation of the data of students engaged in written dialogue interactively with the teacher during the time span of an academic school year. One entire eighth grade class assigned to the teacher for language arts and also for homeroom participated in the study. These students ranged in ability from below-average to above-average according to standardized testing. Eight of the students provide the primary data. However, summative statements are a collection of data from all 26 students. This study is based on research on dialogue journal studies by Jana Staton (1984), Joy Kreeft Peyton (1984), and other dialogue journal research practitioners. The initial studies focused on the teacher writing interactively with the students of varied cultures in a west coast school. The subjects of this descriptive analysis were adolescent students attending a public middle school in the School District of Philadelphia. This study describes how daily journal writing affects communication, literacy acquisition, and classroom dynamics. This study highlights the self-selected topics in the journals and how those topics may present opportunities for encouraging thinking, values clarification, and problem-solving. This study indicates that daily interactive journal writing is a way to provide context and relevance for students to engage in writing as literacy practice. Writing about ideas and concepts which are comfortable and which will not be subjected to marking standards is a way to promote writing fluency and to boost the confidence of students to try other kinds of writing. The results of the study describe language variations including a coded list of nonstandard English expressions used by all students and also speech patterns peculiar to minority students. Minority and majority cultural factors are discussed. Topic elaboration and the gradual escalation of trust are illustrated in chronological sequence. This study is a way for the secondary teacher with limited opportunities for interaction due to time constraints and a comprehensive course of study to develop rapport, trust, and in-depth dialogue with every student.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Secondary education|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Redman, Ernestine Terrell, "A descriptive analysis of interactive journal writing as communication and literacy practice" (1993). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9403431.