Date of Graduation

Spring 2022


Master of Science in Education in Secondary Education in English



Committee Chair

Margaret Weaver


I present a study of eight graduate assistants who teach introductory composition courses as part of their graduate assistantships. Each participant was asked to freewrite for ten minutes a day, five days a week, for ten weeks. Participants were interviewed about their teacher and writer identities prior to the freewriting, at week five, and at week ten. Graduate assistants offer a unique perspective, as many of them are neither professional writers nor trained teachers, yet they are hired to teach writing. Using Peter Elbow’s Embracing Contraries (1986) as a theoretical framework, I determine that freewriting offered the participants a space to explore the contradictions of their teacher and writer identities, eventually moving into a wider frame of reference through which they understood themselves and their profession. I find that this study provided a space for identity exploration that these instructors did not have elsewhere. Implications of this study are that teachers need an opportunity to explore issues of teacher and writer identity in a low-stakes, unevaluated environment that allows for the interaction of contradictions. It cannot be assumed that writing teachers have explicitly considered their notions of writing and teaching; many of these participants had not done so prior to the study. If teachers of writing must be writers themselves, then teachers must be given an opportunity to explore their identity as writers, and freewriting provides one means of doing so.


freewriting, teacher identity, writing teachers, writer identity, graduate assistants, contraries, Peter Elbow

Subject Categories

Higher Education and Teaching | Language and Literacy Education | Rhetoric and Composition | Secondary Education | Secondary Education and Teaching


© Katherine A Busch

Open Access