Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Frances Moroney


This two year longitudinal study was designed to investigate young children’s changing perceptions and abilities within the writing process. Twenty-one children were interviewed and asked to produce writing samples at four intervals during two school years, nursery school and kindergarten. Responses to questions were categorically arranged and writing episodes were classified among five levels that emerged. Changes among categories and levels were reported and observations were discussed.

Data suggested that children have a limited perspective of the functions of writing. Children were observed to progress from writing their own name, to writing names of significant others, to writing one syllable words as they developed within the writing process. It was reasoned that this sequence is psycholinguistically logical because it permits children to meaningfully explore written language from a global to a specific perspective.

Secondary findings included the observation that children increased use of language strategies as they progressed through the five levels, found school adjustment and mechanics of writing to be demanding and perhaps constraining, and perceived letter formation and spelling to be obstacles in writing. It was theorized that drawing may be indicative of progress if it is used as a rehearsal or negotiating strategy.

Results of this study suggest that teachers need to make children aware of the functions of writing through modeling, reading, and other activities. They must analyze children’s writing carefully to evaluate progress and plan for instruction. Children must be encouraged to explore language through various strategies. Implications for research included discovering and testing techniques for modeling functions of writing, and finding evidence of the minimum-quantity hypothesis in English speaking children.