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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Just a Little Help from my Friend: Learning to Compose and Evaluate Creative Texts through Peer Interaction

Eva Vass.

The acquisition of literacy has recently been described as the "socialisation or acculturation into the particular conventions of creating and interacting with texts that characterise a particular discourse community" (Kern, 2000:35). Building on this definition, the study presented here focuses on the social aspect of literacy practices. In particular, it looks at how children learn the discourse of 'creative writing' through peer interaction: how they jointly master skills of composing and talking about creative texts in the classroom. The study also aims to investigate the role of the relationship between collaborative partners in shaping these processes.

The study builds on naturalistic observations of paired creative writing episodes of Year 4 (8-year-old) friends and acquaintances in English middle schools. The analysis uses a functional model, developed specifically for the context of paired creative writing (Vass, 2002). Via the analysis of paired talk, the paper explores the links and overlaps between friendship discourse (the discourse of 'spending time together in and outside school'), and creative writing discourse, and thus highlights the potential benefits of friendship pairing in this particular context. The paper concludes that 'informal' discourse practices can help facilitate the mastering of discourses associated with academic membership.

Kern, R. (2000) Literacy and Language Teaching. OUP
Vass, E. (2002) Friendship and collaborative creative writing in the primary classroom. Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, 18(1), 102-110.


Eva Vass  (United Kingdom)
PhD student
Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
The Open University

Received a PhD studentship in Psychology to study collaborative learning processes in the primary classroom, focusing on creative writing and IT. My study involves regular school visits, meetings/negotiations with heads and form teachers and observations of classrooms using a video camera. (Received an ORS award in 2000 for the duration of two academic years, 2000-2002)

  • Peer Collaboration
  • Creative Writing
  • Friendship Pairing
  • Literacy

(30 min Conference Paper, English)