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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Donna LeCourt

Second Advisor

Anne Herrington

Third Advisor

Denise Ives

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction


This dissertation addresses the question of whether focusing on revision in writing instruction can be a form of critical pedagogy in middle school classrooms. Building on the work of A. Suresh Canagarajah, Lisa Delpit, Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Kay Halasek, Joseph Harris, Amy Lee, Timothy Lensmire, Min-Zhan Lu, Peter McLaren, Richard Ohmann, Ira Shor, and others, I explore and challenge commonly held attitudes about revision and language, primarily that the goal of revision is to correct errors and that language and its conventions should be thought of in terms of correctness. I explore the ways in which traditional writing workshops both support and fall short of critical pedagogy, and how a revised writing workshop—a critical workshop—might be a vehicle for critical pedagogy. Would focusing on revisions give students the attitude, ownership, and agency to enable them to identify what might be better in their lives and the world, and to see themselves as agents of that change?

As a teacher-researcher and teaching-researcher, I investigated students’ attitudes toward revision to see if they became more critical during and after exposure to the critical workshop. In other words, did revising become less about judging, earning grades, and correction? In the minds of students, did revising writing become more about making writing stronger, seeing applications of revision to other areas of their lives, considering their audience and others, taking risks in their writing, and opening their minds to new ideas? Did their critical thinking become more complex? Second, I used my data to explore whether students appeared to feel more ownership of their writing, and what kinds of agency this ownership led to.

My primarily qualitative (and partly quantitative) analysis indicates that focusing on revisions in the critical workshop can significantly change students’ attitudes toward revision to a more critical way of thinking. My data also indicates that the critical workshop helps to create a variety of feelings of ownership and agency in students. I propose that this approach to writing can be a form of critical pedagogy that is developmentally appropriate for eighth-grade students.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.