Date of Award

6-9-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lilia P. Savova, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kenneth W. Sherwood, Ph.D.

Abstract

This case study evaluates four years of blog writing produced by a university student, Karen (pseudonym), at Seton Hill University from her freshman year (September, 2003) through the summer after graduation (July, 2007) to determine the effectiveness of using blogging as a composition tool for students developing into better writers. The narrative analysis of writing efficacy, based on examination of sixteen hundred pages of blog entries, showed how blogging is useful for freewriting; developing a better sense of audience; and building a sense of community. I drew on a modified version of Vilma Hanninen’s (2004) sociological model of narrative circulation. The model can assist academic researchers in seeing how stories are circulated, shared and retold in slightly different ways by each community member within a social network. My theoretical framework divided the blog posts into told, lived and inner narratives. A told narrative is intertextual academic writing; a lived narrative is a reflective episodic story of Karen’s undergraduate experience; and an inner narrative is an expressive post on her writing development. The results from four years of blog entries demonstrated the extent to which blogging acts as an effective means of online composition which can build writing skills through practice. It will show how the writer learned how to brainstorm, organize and exchange ideas with peers through academic blogging; how the student learned how to write more effectively in a public context, and how sharing daily narratives online can help students more effectively plan and organize their learning. The student developed a useful network of peers and educators on campus with whom to discuss her academic work; complete her English coursework; and participate in activities for development into a professional writer.

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