Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Ann Foegen


Writing skills are important to young adult learners for their success in higher education, future employment, and to function as 21st century citizens. However, statistics suggest that a majority of first year college students in the United States do not possess the writing skills needed to meet the expectations waiting for them after high school graduation (NAEP, 2012). In addition, there is a lack of research, specifically qualitative research, focusing on best practices for postsecondary writing. This study attempted to fill this gap. The social cognitive model for self-regulated writing (Zimmerman & Risemberg, 1997) was used as the strategy-based instructional foundation and theoretical framework in this study. This study focused on two areas of this model, pre-write planning strategies and environmental structuring. The goal was to explore the impact of the collaborative pre-write planning format on overall essay writing quality, writing self-efficacy, writing anxiety, and student perceptions when taught in a socially-based writing format.

This study collected qualitative and quantitative data using the concurrent triangulated mixed methods research design. Participants were 18 postsecondary students (n=18) enrolled in an interdisciplinary first year writing seminar at a Midwestern university. Quantitative data collected consisted of student-written essays and survey responses. The Wilcoxon signed-ranks test (Wilcoxon, 1945) was used to determine statistical significance. Qualitative data included ability-grouped focus group interviews, classroom observations, and research notes.

The results of this study found a statistically significant relationship between collaborative planning and improved essay scores, increased self-efficacy, and lowered writing anxiety. In addition, participants' perceived collaborative planning to improve not only their writing ability but how they perceived themselves as writers. It was concluded that the use of collaborative planning can improve postsecondary writing ability.

This study provides a unique and valuable student-voiced perspective to postsecondary writing research. Professors and instructors who teach composition or use writing as a tool to communicate learning, may find the results of this study helpful in designing courses that support student writing. Though more research is needed, this study has contributed a valuable student-centered perspective to the field of strategy-based, postsecondary writing research.


Copyright Owner

Debra Anne Johnson



File Format


File Size

208 pages