Hue-An Wren


At present, it can be difficult for teachers to teach writing effectively in the formal classroom due to large class sizes and unreasonable standardized testing criteria. As a result, many students are unable to learn how to communicate well in writing. Teachers will need to look outside the traditional methods of writing instruction to find ways to teach writing strategies effectively and efficiently. Informal learning occurs frequently in online spaces. Online communities, such as fan fiction websites, offer an opportunity for experts and novices to work in the same digital space where one can learn from each other through interactions within the community. This dissertation analyzes the discourse among participants in an online fan fiction website,, in order to find evidence of writing support and effective writing instruction. Participants in the community contribute to the success of writers as they comment on stories and in the forums. Members of the community interact with one another in three different ways: through comments on stories as they are being updated, through comments in the Beta Forums, and through private interactions between beta readers and authors. Comment feeds and threads from the Beta Forums were coded for evidence of writing support and elements of effective writing instruction. Findings of the study centered on motivation and support for writers as they continue to update their stories. The study creates theoretical constructs to contribute to existing research on educational technology and writing instruction. Based on the evidence of this study, informal learning in the community can be harnessed to teach writing to novice writers. Technology and new media prove to be a useful tool for educators who are looking to for new ways to teach writing. This grounded theory research plans to provide teachers in the classroom with more effective tools. Online fan fiction communities offer students a chance to interact with other writers about stories they have written. Learning from the community has potential to provide motivation for students to write more often and frequently. Informal learning through the community has the potential to give educators a tool to teach vital writing skills.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching; Online social networks; Fan fiction; Educational technology

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Sparks, Paul;