Handbook of Writing Research

By Charles A. Macarthur; Steve Graham et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 3
Writing Process Theory
A Functional Dynamic Approach

Gert Rijlaarsdam and Huub van den Bergh

In this chapter, we present key elements of a theory of Writing processes based on our observations in the empirical studies we have conducted over the last 10 years. The theoretical framework rests upon two paradigms in cognitive psychology. One paradigm is the Writing process model introduced by Hayes and Flower (1980; see also Hayes's 1996 revisions), which is assumed in this chapter as known. The second paradigm is parallel distributed processing (Rumelhart, McClelland, & the PDP Research Group, 1999). Connecting both paradigms, we propose a functional dynamic system as the basic structure of Writing processes. The empirical data we present have three common features:

1. We adapted a weak novice–good novice paradigm. Much Writing process research has been carried out using an expert novice paradigm. However, experts can be defined in different ways (Torrance, 1996). Experts may excel in some fields of Writing because of their subject and/or genre knowledge. How experts became experts and the dimensions on which they differ from novices are not considered in most analyses. Hence, differences in Writing processes between these extreme groups may have many causes. In order to circumvent this fallacy, just one group should be considered, whether (relatively) novices or experts (In one subject area). In our studies, we investigate the writing process of writers about 15 years old and study the natural variance within this group.

2. Students in our studies wrote two argumentative, documented essays within a peeraudience-oriented contextual frame, while having access to documentation on the topic (clippings from newspapers and journals, tables and figures). Writing time varied from 60 to 103 minutes.

3. Students wrote under think-aloud conditions; protocols were fragmented into cognitive activities, and a jury evaluated the quality of the resulting text written by the student.

During our excursion to reach the final destination (the last section of the chapter), we visit six observation posts that serve as landmarks for a theory in development and can be considered as calibration points for a Writing process theory. In the figure captions, we refer to the original studies.

Observation 1: What Constitutes a Writing Process?

To determine the constituting elements of Writing processes, one may observe processes, and identify and categorize mental activities. One problem is how to define and se


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Handbook of Writing Research
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 468

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?