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College student writing, Non-traditional writing environments


Research Question: What happens in students’ descriptions of their generative writing when the physical materials of or the environment for writing are de-familiarized?

Method & Data Studied: Writing exercises in English 460: Multi-Genre Creative Writing and English 101: Writing and Critical Inquiry asked students to participate in two material/environmental disruptions. The first exercise consisted of writing with non-dominant hands (brain hemisphere switch) through typing (English 460) or handwriting (English 101). In English 460, the environment was altered from the classroom norm of silence by playing atonal music during the writing exercise. The second exercise offered non-standard paper with the option of using non-standard writing utensil (visual/spatial switch). Students in English 460 wrote on individual rolls of adding machine tape. Students in English 101 wrote on 18x24-inch drawing paper. Students in both classes were offered crayons as an optional part of this exercise. Students in each class were asked to rate each exercise, and the effects of both exercises together, as “extremely helpful,” “somewhat helpful” or “not helpful” in contributing to their creativity and their sense of the quality of the writing the exercises elicited. Written evaluations were anonymous and asked students to describe their experiences with each exercise as well as their evaluations of the resulting writing. Oral classroom discussions about the exercises as well as observations during the exercises were noted.