Sixth-Grade Students' Compositional Processes in Traditional and Digital Writing

Sheila Cooperman, Fordham University


This exploratory case study was designed so that I could investigate the writing processes of sixth-grade students when composing traditional and digital compositions. With the increase in multimodal composing in classrooms, understanding how students compose and what traditional print text skills can be appropriated for digital composition is important. This knowledge will guide educators in how to effectively develop pedagogies to support digital writing development. I used a teacher-research paradigm to guide this study. I found several key factors that influence student writing through document analysis, participant interviews and stimulated recall sessions. Knowledge of purpose impacted student awareness of audience that in turn impacted revision processes. In addition, I discovered that students’ traditional writing knowledge was insufficient when composing digitally. While students possessed declarative knowledge for what they wanted to compose, they were unable to produce the types of digital compositions that met the rhetorical demands of the task. While digital writing motivated the students, they did not possess the knowledge to produce a digital composition that maintained the integrity of their compositions. During interviews, it became evident that the participants lacked rhetorical knowledge about digital composition and reverted to the knowledge they possessed about print writing. Utilizing the more familiar rhetorical knowledge they possessed about composing traditional text created digital compositions that did not utilize the affordances that digital writing offers to create meaning. These finding can impact the way digital composition is taught in school to ensure that students possess the necessary rhetorical skills for creating digital compositions.

Subject Area

Language arts|Middle School education|Education|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Cooperman, Sheila, "Sixth-Grade Students' Compositional Processes in Traditional and Digital Writing" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10685187.