What Are The Affective Domains Of Writing For Pleasure?

Writing is an emotional as well as a cognitive activity; we feel as well as think when we write. – Susan McLeod

If what we do instructionally achieves the instructional end—A learns X —we have succeeded instructionally, but if A hates X, we have failed educationally.  – Nel Noddings

When we teach our young apprentice writers, we must bear the sources of enjoyment and satisfaction in mind, and teach with a view to giving them the opportunity to feel pleasure in the craft of writing and in seeing their hard work achieve its intended outcome. If we don’t consider these things, our writing teaching suffers and children’s writing performance suffers. But how do we encourage such feelings in the classroom? Again, our own research has shown that there are at least six affective domains which contribute to Writing For Pleasure (Young, 2019). Consider how you can encourage these domains in your classroom.

Self-efficacy ‘I can do this!’

Self-efficacy is the belief that you can write well and realise your intentions.

  • Writers with high self-efficacy are more likely to succeed academically because they persist at writing even when it’s difficult.
  • Writers with high levels of self-efficacy are more likely to set themselves challenging learning goals.
  • Self-efficacy is increased when young writers know the end goal for their writing.
  • Self-efficacy is increased when children can apply in their current writing projects what they’ve learnt in the past.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Make children feel good about themselves as writers.
  • Relate current writing projects to previous learning.
  • Ensure children see writing as a mastery process through repeated practice as opposed to a performance related task.
  • Encourage children to employ skills, strategies and techniques used in previous writing projects.
  • Set individual and whole class writing goals and aim to achieve them together.

Agency ‘I have a say!’

Agency is about having control over your choice of writing topic and how you go about writing it. Agency helps create a culture of writers with self-determination.

  • Children like to be able to decide what they’ll write about for class writing projects.
  • Once experienced enough, children like to choose how they will write using their own preferred writing processes, and to write at their own pace.
  • Children like to have time to pursue personal writing projects.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Teach children techniques for generating their ideas for class writing projects.
  • Teach children how to set their own process goals.
  • Teach children about the writing processes and encourage them to use their favoured writing process.
  • Give children time to pursue personal writing projects.

Self-regulation ‘I know what to do and how to do it!’

Self-regulation, the feeling of independence away from continual external intervention, is closely associated with the concept of writing as pleasure.

  • A sense of ownership over their own writing craft is immensely important.
  • Self-regulating writers have an interest in improving the quality of the texts they create.
  • Children need to formulate their own goals for their writing and set their own deadlines. 
  • Children’s sense of self-regulation is supported by the explicit teaching of the writing process, regularly teaching writing strategies and craft knowledge, and through pupil-conferencing. 
  • They don’t feel they need their teacher all the time to be able to write well. They know how to use the writing environment of the classroom and the resources within it to help them succeed as independent writers.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Regularly teach strategies, techniques and introduce resources which encourage children to be more self-regulating.
  • Teach their classes techniques for revising and editing their compositions.
  • Encourage children to use a writing process which works best for them.

Motivation ‘I know why!’

The word ‘motivation’ derives from the Latin movere meaning ‘to move’. Children are moved to write when they know why they are doing it. They know why they want to move their audience – even if the audience is sometimes only themselves.

  • Undertaking the same behaviours as professional writers or those who write for recreation is clearly linked to an increase in children’s motivation.
  • Motivation is often what gets children through the difficult parts of the writing process because they know why they are staying with it. 
  • Children’s motivation to write is increased when they have ownership over their writing process and publish their finished writing products to a variety of real audiences.
  • When children have a personal interest or emotional investment in what they are writing and when this is coupled with a purposeful reason for writing it, they have increased levels of concentration and engagement. They can become utterly absorbed in their writing over long periods of time.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Ensure children care about their writing being successful, feel their writing has personal value and write for their own inherent fulfillment.
  • Ensure the writing project is serving a genuine purpose and will be read by, or performed to, a real audience.
  • Share their own exemplar texts and explicitly explain how and why they went about writing their pieces.

Volition ‘I want to!’

Volition is the need, urge, or internal demand to write. 

  • Young writers have a sense of volition when writing about experiences they have had or when the subject matter they are writing about is significant or culturally relevant to them personally. This results in the writing itself feeling important, and when things are important to children, they invest more care and effort in them.
  • Children want to write because they like the satisfaction that comes from achieving their writing intentions and goals.
  • Children who are avid readers are often also avid writers. This is because they are inspired and want to try out the things they are reading for themselves.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Ensure their children feel they can write.
  • Ensure that their class gain a great deal of satisfaction from their writing endeavours.
  • Ensure their class hold strong reader-identities.

Writer-Identity ‘I am!’

Writer-identity is the feeling of knowing you are a writer and feeling a relatedness to others within a supportive community of writers.

  • Children feel like writers when the classroom is a place where authentic writing is being undertaken and discussed and where they are engaged in serious work. Therefore, it should have the atmosphere of a rich creative writing workshop coupled with the seriousness and professionalism of a publishing house. 
  • Children feel like writers when they are taught how to improve their writing by a knowledgeable and passionate writer-teacher.
  • Children feel like writers when they are undertaking projects which match the writing done by fellow writers outside the classroom.
  • Children feel like writers when they establish genuine audiences for their writing. 
  • Children feel like writers when they are given ownership over their writing craft.
  • Children feel like writers when they are part of a genuine writing community where they can learn  and interact with their fellow apprentice writers.
  • Children feel like writers when they don’t have the misconception that you can only be a writer if it’s your profession or only once you’re older. Instead, they identify as writers now. They know writing is a pursuit, a craft and that it can be done for purely recreational purposes.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • They work hard to encourage all the above affective domains in their classroom and in rich combination.
  • Ensure their class feel like legitimate authors and that writing can be one of their hobbies.
  • Try hard to ensure their class identify as readers.

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