Kamla-Raj 2015 Anthropologist, 19(1): 111-121 (2015)
Examining Teachers Use of Creative Writing Activities
Nigde University, Faculty of Education, Department of Turkish Language Education,Nigde, 51100, Turkey
Telephone: (+90388) 225 4341, Fax: (+90388) 225 4316,E-mail: email@example.com
KEYWORDS Writing Method. Writing Education. Teachers Attitudes
ABSTRACT The study aims to examine teachers use of creative writing activities in writing classes. It wasconducted using a descriptive case study design within descriptive method. The data were obtained from fifty-twoTurkish language teachers through semi-structured interviews containing seven open- ended questions. The gathereddata were analysed using content analysis and the teachers responses to the open ended questions and further, werecategorized thematically based on similarities and differences. These codes formed in relation to the participatingteachers views were presented according to each theme with frequency/percentage information and a samplequotation from the teachers responses. As a result of the study, it was revealed that the teachers tried to usecreative writing activities although not very often, and they were aware of the contributions of creative writingactivities to student learning. However they had difficulties in using these activities because of reasons due toteachers, students, curriculum and lack of resources.
Writing is one of the skills areas in whichstudents have great difficulty. The process ofproducing a written text can be considered as aset of activities that requires the active partici-pation of the teacher and is also conducted with-in a certain time span. As generally accepted,the steps of this set of activities constituting thewriting process include pre-writing (producingideas, planning), drafting, revising, editing andpublishing (Richards 2005: 65). Producing a writ-ten text requires a certain process. The proce-dures needed to be followed by both the teach-ers and the students in this process are vitallyimportant to be able to produce more qualifiedtexts. However, it is known that, the process ofproducing a text by the students as the produc-ers of the text and the teachers as the observersand guiders is not very effective as it should be(Ulper 2009).
Hayes and Flower (1980) identified four ma-jor writing processes:
1. Planning takes the writing assignment andlong-term memory as input, which then pro-duces a conceptual plan for the documentas output. Planning includes sub-activitiesof generating (coming up with ideas), orga-nizing (arranging those ideas logically inones head), and goal setting (determiningwhat effects one wants to achieve and mod-ifying ones generating and organizing ac-tivities to achieve local or global goals).
2. Translating takes the conceptual plan forthe document and produces text express-ing the planned content.
3. In reviewing, the text produced so far is read,with modifications to improve it (revise) orcorrect errors (proof read).
4. Monitoring includes metacognitive pro-cesses that link and coordinate planning,translating, and reviewing (cited in Deaneet al. 2008: 4).
On the other hand, Olson (1999) provides 10essential characteristics of the process approach:
1. Writing is an activity, an act composed of avariety of activities.
2. The activities in writing are typically recur-sive rather than linear.
3. Writing is, first and foremost, a social activity.4. The act of writing can be a means of learn-
ing and discovery.5. Experienced writers are often aware of au-
dience, purpose, and context.6. Experienced writers spend considerable
time on invention and revision.7. Effective writing instruction allows stu-
dents to practice these activities.8. Such instruction includes ample opportu-
nities for peer review.9. Effective instructors grade student work not
only on the finished product but also onthe efforts involved in the writing process.
10. Successful composition instruction entailsfinding appropriate occasions to intervene
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in each students writing process (as citedin Bloom 2003: 32-33).
In contrast with process-oriented instruction(for example, writing workshop), traditional writ-ing instruction: (a) is more teacher-directed; (b)focuses more on discrete skills; (c) uses lessauthentic writing tasks; (d) devotes limited timeto composition of whole texts; and (e) valuesproduct over the process (Troia 2007: 149).
Tompkins (2000) suggests 7 reasons whychildren should write:
1. To entertain2. To foster artistic expression3. To explore the functions and values of writ-
ing4. To stimulate the imagination5. To clarify thinking6. To search for identity7. To learn to read and write
There are many books and articles on theconcept of creativity. Among these, it is possi-ble to find a number of conceptual thinking andacademic bases regarding creativity, creativepersons, methods for developing creativity andreasons constraining creativity. The primary aimof creative writing activities is to enable studentsto express their feelings and opinions in an orig-inal, fluent and interesting way instead of writ-ing boring, recurring and monotonous texts(Temizkan 2010: 630).
As defined within some social context cre-ativity is the interplay between ability and pro-cess by which an individual or group producesan outcome or product that is both novel anduseful (Plucker and Beghetto 2004: 156).
Wallas (1926) outlines four stages of the cre-ative process:
1) Preparation2) Incubation3) Illumination4) VerificationIndeed, for creativity in education, this is
important part of the learning about creative pro-cess stage. Although creative ideas and solu-tions can emerge splendidly, it is common to haveto work on and at them in order to produce some-thing worthwhile (Fautley and Savage 2011: 42).
Creative Writing practice is an all-encom-passing term, and perhaps is the first that needsto be unpacked in order to reveal some elementsof Creative Writings nature. Practice, in this case,means the practice of writing creatively; but thiscan, of course, entail a great many practices, some
simple acts of inscription, some acts of record-ing, some acts of invention, interpretation or dis-tillation, some acts of revisiting, rewriting or ed-iting, and so on. And yet, in talking of practicethere is some indication that we are not talking,as the primary focal point, about the finishedartifacts that result from that practice (Harper andKroll 2008: 3).
A skilled writer can confront a staggering hi-erarchy of problems, including how to generateand organize task-relevant ideas; phrase gram-matically correct sentences that flow; use cor-rect punctuation and spelling; and tailor ideas,tone, and wording to the desired audience, toname some of the more salient rhetorical and lin-guistic tasks (Deane et al. 2008: 3).
Bells project (2008) on Creative Writing InRelation to Formal Essay-Writing Skills and Un-derstanding of Literature presented evidencethat creative writing has a positive impact onconfidence in writing, comfort with others view-ing own writing, grammar and punctuation skills,critical reading of literature, vocabulary and form,expressiveness of writing.
Effective writing requires the activation ofprior knowledge on writing and the preparationfor the process of writing (Erdogan 2013: 53).Creative writing activities are also used to expe-rience and effectively use the language, developskills of organizing feelings and opinions in atext, explore information, expand imagination,gain a critical perspective, develop analysis andsynthesis skills, and use basic grammar and punc-tuation rules (Temizkan 2010: 630).
An important aim of the education based oncreativity is to enable individuals gain a multidi-mensional habit of intuition, emotion andthought (Sever 1991: 371). According to Mc-Laughlin (2008: 89), creative writing is about;making suggestions for improvement is only partof the process. Teaching creative writing is aboutteaching the writer methodologies and practicesthat enable them to criticise and edit themselves.
The writing activities presented by the teach-ers should be far from being boring. The litera-ture shows that students are not proficient inwriting as well as having high writing anxietyand negative attitudes towards writing (Kean etal. 1987; Karakaya and Ulper 2011; Kara 2013).When we encourage pupils in their thinking andwriting we are giving them the courage to beplayful in the face of increasing creative and in-tellectual demands (Bowkett 2008: 7). Teachers
EXAMINING TEACHERS USE OF CREATIVE WRITING ACTIVITIES 113
play the most important role in organizing freeanxiety-free, effective and functional education-al settings using the creative writing method inteaching writing. The reason is that it is the teach-ers who would plan and implement the teachingprocess.With regards to teacher capacity, manyteachers report that they are ill-prepared to teachwriting (Graham et al. 2013: 2). For example, in arecent survey conducted by Kiuhara et al. (2009cited in Graham et al. 2013: 2), one out of everytwo high school teachers indicated that they hadlittle to no preparation in how to teach writing. Inanother paper, Graham et al. (2014) a random sam-ple middle school teachers from the United Stateswere surveyed about their preparation to teachwriting, beliefs about responsibilities for teach-ing writing, use of evidence-based writing prac-tices, assessment of writing, use of technology,and adaptations for struggling writers. The find-ings from this survey raised concerns about thequality of middle school writing instruction. Manyteachers believed their pre-service and in-ser-vice preparation to teach was inadequate.Middleschool students spend little time writing or be-ing taught how to write. While most teachersused a variety of evidenced-based writing prac-tices and made adaptations for struggling writ-ers, such methods were applied infrequently.Palmquist and Youngs (1992) study also revealsthe importance of teachers role in shaping stu-dents attitude and motivation toward writing. Inthis regard, teachers use of creative writing ac-tivities in teaching writing has significance interms of organizing effective and functional ed-ucational settings. Based on this perspective,this study aimed to examine Turkish languageteachers use of creative writing activities inteaching writing. In parallel with this broad aim,the teachers use of creative writing activities,classes which are suitable for creative writingtechnique, practices and activities conductedwithin creative writing technique, problems en-countered in implementing creative writing ac-tivities, their proficiency perception with regardto creative writing technique, their backgroundknowledge in this sense, and finally their sug-gestions for implementing the creative writingtechnique more effectively were identified basedon their views.
This section presents information regardingthe research design, participants, data gatheringtool and data analysis.
This study examining teachers use of cre-ative writing activities was conducted using semi-structured interview method based on qualita-tive research approach. Being a type of descrip-tive research, this study is a case study aimingto examine, in detail, Turkish language teachersviews and opinions regarding their use of cre-ative writing method in teaching writing. Casestudy design is suitable for studies conductedindividually since it allows researchers to exam-ine an aspect of the research problem deeply andin a short time period. Although making general-izations is not a concern of such studies, theirresults may ched some light in a more generalsense (Cepni 2007; Yildirim and Simsek 2008).
The study was conducted with Turkish lan-guage teachers working at schools within Nigdecity centre. 52 Turkish language teachers select-ed by convenient sampling that is one of thepurposive sampling methods participated in thestudy. In convenience sampling, researchers se-lect a case that is close and available to them.This sampling method makes the research pro-cess fast and practical (Yildirim and Simsek 2008).
Data Gathering and Analysis
The data were gathered through semi-struc-tured interviews conducted with the teachers par-ticipated in the study. In semi-structured inter-views, participants are asked questions formed inadvance. Besides, new questions can be askedwhen necessary, some questions may not be askedor opportunities can be provided to elaborate an-swers (Cepni 2007; Yildirim and Simsek 2008;Buyukozturk et al. 2012). In this study, an inter-view form consisting of 7 open ended questionswas used as the data gathering tool in line withthe research aim. At first, the interview questionswere formed by the researchers and presented tothree experts in the field. Then, pre-interviews weremade with two elementary teachers to see howmuch time it would take and what possible prob-lems would be encountered. Finally, the questionswere finalized. The questions in the interview formare as follows:
1. How often do you use the creative writingmethod?
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2. Which grades do you think the creativewriting method is suitable for?
3. Which practices/activities do you use with-in the creative writing method?
4. What problems do you encounter in im-plementing the creative writing method?
5. How proficient do you feel in implement-ing the creative writing method?
6. Did you have any in-service training onthe use of the creative writing method?What type of training and when?
7. What would you suggest for implement-ing the creative writing method more ef-fectively?
The interviews were recorded using a voicerecorder. The recordings were firstly listed care-fully for a couple of times and then transcribed.The transcribed data were analysed holistically.For this analysis, content analysis was conduct-ed and coding of the data (Yildirim and Simsek2008) as one of the data analysis techniques wasused.
The responses for the questions in the inter-view form were firstly coded by each researcherbased on their similarities and differences. Thesecodes identified separately by the researcherswere then examined together and the similarcodes were identified while those that were notsimilar were negotiated and an agreement wasreached for forming common codes and themes(Yildirim and Simsek 2008; Buyukozturk et al.2012). These codes and themes were finalizedbased on expert opinion. This process followedin the data analysis was necessary and impor-tant for revising and confirming the codes andthe themes as well as enhancing the reliability ofthe study. These codes and themes were tabu-lated and presented with frequency/percentageinformation and sample quotations from theteachers responses regarding each code. In thequotations, the teachers were coded as (T).
In this section, the codes and themes revealedfrom the teachers views on their use of creati...