Date of Award

Summer 1986

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Denny Wolfe

Committee Member

J. R. K. Heinen

Committee Member

Carlton Brown


The study is an inquiry into the influence of expressive writing practice on the transactional writing abilities of selected fourth grade students. It is based on the ideas of James Britton, an English theoretician concerned with writing. The study was formulated to investigate how the process of writing occurs. Writing research is at an early stage, and this study will expand the knowledge of the field.

The study consisted of a treatment group receiving intensive practice with expressive writing over the course of one semester while the control group did not. A posttest was administered which involved the students having to write an essay on a transactional topic. The essays were then rated by three experts for the presence of three expressive characteristics. The ratings were treated as sources and used to calculate t-tests for matched groups since subjects from the treatment group were matched with subjects from the control group. The data were then used to determine the degree to which the study's two hypotheses are true.

The first hypothesis that characteristics of expressive writing would be found in the final writing samples on a transactional topic of both the treatment and control groups was proven correct. This would lend support to Britton's theory that good writing of all kinds tends to have an expressive dimension. The implication for the teaching of writing, then, would be that any writing program or sequence of writing instruction should include expressive writing as a primary component.

The second hypothesis that the treatment group would have significantly more characteristics of expressive writing in their transactional writing was partially proven. One of the three expressive characteristics defined in the study clearly revealed that the treatment group possessed significantly (at the .10 level of confidence) more characteristics of expressive writing than did the control group. An additional measure, a holistic quality rating of the writing samples, revealed that the treatment group wrote significantly better than did the control group. These findings lend support to Britton's theory that practice with expressive writing will improve other kinds of writing such as the transactional.