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Composing collaborative fiction with a hypermedia authoring tool: A qualitative study of sixth-grade students as they negotiated a new writing space

, Purdue University, United States

Purdue University . Awarded


This study attempted to understand the dynamic processes of students using hypermedia for written composition from a sociocognitive perspective. The research was guided by three questions; (1) Do children limit the organization of hypermedia to a manageable level when they are aware of the possible ways to connect information? (2) What problems do children struggle to solve when composing in the writing space of hypermedia, and how do they solve these problems? (3) What types of links do novice student authors create when they write in hypermedia? As teacher-researcher, I conducted a participant observation of my 6th grade class composing fiction using LinkWay 2.0. Students worked as partners to author a fictional story. No restrictions or expectations were established in order to allow the students' own structures and organizations to shape these compositions.

The results indicated that these novice authors' composing decisions were influenced by their perceptions of writing, teacher instruction, and the authoring program. Three findings emerged: students initially created linear compositions, appending branches to their existing uni-linear compositions through teacher intervention; the lack of a felicitous authoring tool for hypermedia distracted students from composing; hypermedia objects were viewed from multiple perspectives; an operational, an audience, and a literary perspective.

Students composed sequentially, resisting using buttons to provide a multi-linear structure. Teacher intervention encouraged students to consider how their stories could take advantage of the computer. Though not authentic hyper-stories, the revisions included pop-up buttons that provided multi-linear paths. The LinkWay interface inhibited students from focusing on hypermedia composing. Student attention shifted from composing to operational concerns which prevented them from exploring more complex structures. Students considered hypermedia objects from multiple perspectives. Students used the operational perspective in creating new objects. The audience perspective reflected student understanding of the reader's view. The literary perspective considered each object's function in communicating the fiction.

Implications include: familiarizing students with multi-linear structures to develop schemata for hypermedia authoring, incorporating hypermedia issues into the writing process, and developing hypermedia authoring tools for word processing and managing link designed for novice hypermedia authors. Future research addressing these findings is presented.


Dick, B.J. Composing collaborative fiction with a hypermedia authoring tool: A qualitative study of sixth-grade students as they negotiated a new writing space. Ph.D. thesis, Purdue University. Retrieved June 24, 2019 from .

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