Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sarah Liggett


The purpose of this study of collaborative writing groups, those who share full responsibility for the production of a document, is (1) to measure the efficacy of using collaborative writing groups in a college level composition class (from the multi-perspectives of researcher, students, and teachers), and (2) to determine if students should remain in the same collaborative writing groups for an entire semester or for the duration of a writing project. My method of gathering and analyzing data integrated two social scientific research paradigms--a process-product, quantitative design, one which focused on measures of student writing performance, writing improvement, attitude, and retention and absentee rates; and a sociolinguistic, qualitative, one which described the social and interactional processes involved in collaborative writing groups. Participants were approximately 150 college freshmen at a mid-sized, public, open-admissions southern university, enrolled in 6 sections of a second semester freshman composition course; 2 instructors, and I. For an entire semester, two sections wrote the majority of their assignments in permanent groups; two sections wrote in groups that changed with each writing task, about every 2-4 weeks; two sections wrote all work independently. Groups consisted of 4-5 students, heterogeneously mixed. Results include what the researcher saw, an integration of measurement of writing improvement, withdrawal and absentee rates, and class and group observations; what the students saw, reflected in journals, evaluative essays, final exams and personal interviews; and what the teachers saw, reported in personal interviews. Results show that collaborative writing groups are efficacious: all students significantly improve their writing; retention rates for group classes are significantly higher than individual classes; students enjoy writing more in group classes. Permanent groups show more dialogic collaboration, while changing groups use more hierarchical collaboration. Although there are benefits to all groups, students in permanent groups achieve a more process-oriented education.