Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-12-2017


In this qualitative case, I explore the complexities of adolescent student writing within one project over the course of one trimester at a project-based learning (PBL) high school. With this study, I seek to both understand how students write within project work and open-up a conversation between the fields of adolescent literacy development and PBL. From my extensive collection of data—field notes; student writing samples; photographs; teacher artifacts; and audio records of teacher interviews, planning sessions, and implementation of writing activities—I sought to answer my overarching research question: What happens with student writing during one project in a PBL high school? With five research sub-questions, I present multiple perspectives on student writing. For analysis, I coded the various functions of student writing, conducted axial coding of project teacher interviews and instruction (Corbin and Strauss, 2007), presented a chronological account of teacher planning and instruction, and analyzed student writing from a literacy practices approach. From these findings, I explained my understandings of student writing as a contested space, how project teachers used writing to combat student resistance, and how student writing can be understood as students building relationships with the projects through writing. I concluded this study by proposing ways project teachers might implement a literacy practices approach to writing within PBL settings, suggesting project teachers support students as they maneuver between the material world of the project and the immaterial world of thinking as it is expressed through writing.


adolescent literacy, student writing, project-based learning, writing instruction, project writing, literacy practices

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Donald Zancanella

Second Committee Member

Dr. Sheridan Blau

Third Committee Member

Dr. Lucretia (Penny) Pence

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Vanessa Svihla