“Blinking-out” and “Having the touch”: Two fifth-grade boys talk about flow experiences in writing

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A central goal of literacy instruction is to promote involvement in reading and writing. Recently, some investigators have reported how classroom instruction influences intrinsic motivation for literacy (Guthrie & Wigfield, 1997; Morrow, Sharkey, & Firestone, 1993; Oldfather, 1993a; Turner, 1995; Turner & Paris, 1995), but others are beginning to explore how students represent motivating literacy experiences (Oldfather, 1993b; Sweet & Guthrie, 1996). In this article, I report an interpretive study of two fifth-grade students' intrinsic motivation for writing. The study of these two students is part of a larger study examining the writing lives of 10 students in the fifth grade. In particular, I examine the ways in which children who self-sponsor writing express "flow" experiences (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990; Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988) associated with writing. Flow, a term coined by Csikszentmihalyi, is defined as an experiential state that is characterized by high levels of enjoyment and engagement and occurs when a person is functioning at his or her fullest capacity. I selected a sense of flow as a focus for this investigation because it seems to address why some children persevere when faced with challenging tasks and why they spend so much time and effort engaged in activities they find interesting.




Abbott, J.A. (2000). “Blinking-out” and “Having the touch”: Two fifth-grade boys talk about flow experiences in writing. Written Communication, 17(1), 53-92.



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