Handbook of Writing Research

By Charles A. MacArthur; Steve Graham et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Motivation and Writing

Suzanne Hidi and Pietro Boscolo

The psychological conceptualization of motivation to write has developed relatively recently and has continued to change under the influence of the various motivational theories and theoretical views of Writing that have developed over the past two and a half decades. In this chapter, we introduce these developments in chronological order and describe them in greater depth.

Psychological research on Writing started officially at the end of the 1970s, when a few cognitively oriented scholars "discovered" writing—particularly expository writing—as an ability to be investigated in terms of information-processing and problem-solving strategies. Interestingly, there were a few early psychological studies on a motivational aspect of writing, Writing apprehension (Daly & Miller, 1975a, 1975b). The increasing interest in the cognitive aspects of writing, however, may have constrained the development of studies on Writing apprehension, which continued in the 1980s only as an isolated line of research. Due to the focus on cognition, the motivational and affective dimension of Writing tended to be neglected or ignored by Writing researchers in the 1980s (e.g., Boscolo, 1995; Hayes, 1996; Hidi, 1990). The most important early cognitive model of Writing processes (Hayes & Flower, 1980) included motivation only as an element of the writing-task environment, such as the "motivating cues" of the teacher's stern expression that make a student understand that a task is to be taken seriously (p. 12). Developmental studies have also focused on the cognitive aspects of writing. For instance, in Bereiter and Scardamalia's (1987) seminal book on written composition, there was no reference to motivation to write. In spite of some isolated voices in the 1980s arguing for the need for researchers to take into account the writer's needs, attitudes, beliefs, and intentions (e.g., Beach & Bridwell, 1984), on the whole, the cognitive approach contributed only in an essentially implicit way to the investigation of motivational and affective aspects of writing. By underlining the complexity and difficulty of the Writing process, as well as its metacognitive dimensions, cognitive researchers prepared the way for subsequent studies on Writing self-efficacy and self-regulation. The impressive development of motivational research during the 1980s had an impact on Writing research only toward the end of the decade, when interest researchers on the one hand, and self-efficacy researchers on the other, demonstrated that Writing is a complex activity involving not only cognitive and metacognitive processes but also affective components. The integration of metacognitive and affective aspects of Writing was further investigated in studies on self-regulation and on its motivational implications. The outcome of these developments led to a new conceptualization of the Writing process, as demonstrated by Hayes's (1996) re

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