Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Martha D. Collins


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between belief systems and attitudes toward reading and writing and the effect of personal journal writing on those attitudes and beliefs. By combining three established areas of research (the affective component of attitude, the reading-writing relationship, and the self-defining nature of personal narrative), the use of personal journals was tested as an effective means for contributing to the development of positive attitudes. Subjects were 95 fourth graders enrolled in four intact classes which were randomly assigned to experimental or control conditions Pre-/post-assessments included administration of reading and writing attitude scales and collection of student-generated statements pertaining to reading and writing beliefs. Over six weeks, experimental classes received 18 sessions of journal writing time, each lasting 15 minutes, while control classes received traditional instruction. Results indicated that journal writing caused positive reading and writing attitudes (experimental group) to decrease. Post hoc analyses of extreme attitudes within this group indicated that after journal writing, (a) students reporting extreme attitudes toward writing demonstrated an increased positive reading attitude, (b) students demonstrating negative attitudes toward reading demonstrated an increase in positive reading attitude, and (c) beliefs did not reflect cultural expectations. Control group pre-/post-treatment differences in attitude/beliefs were not significant. Conclusions include (a) journal writing should be optional in that mandating journal writing can be detrimental to the development of positive attitudes, (b) affective assessments should be incorporated into cognitive assessments, and (c) cultural influences should be addressed during instruction.