Reflection through Discomfort: What Resistance Reveals When Communication Technologies Mediate Authentic Writing Mentorships

Nov. 01, 2010

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(4), 366-382. (2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article examines the role that discomfort and resistance played in the experiences of participants by using online communication technologies to facilitate mentor relationships with high school students in writing.


The authors created a partnership where graduate students were paired with high school students who were dual enrolled on the campus of a local community college for the purpose of mentoring the high school students in their writing.
Of the five participants selected from this class for the study, four were preparing to become English teachers; one was already teaching and was pursuing an advanced degree.

The high school students emailed drafts of papers to their graduate student partners, and in return, the graduate students emailed the drafts back, with responses to the original writing designed to engage the writers in a dialog about the writing.
Exchanges of emails with drafts occurred outside of normal class-time hours, at times convenient to the partner pairs.

The authors also established chat rooms and bulletin boards for use in the Online Writing Partnership to facilitate communication in real time and in other ways besides email.
The partnership lasted for approximately 10 weeks.

The authors collected data for this study by conducting a series of interviews with each of the 5 participants over a 7-month period.
The authors also collected artifacts, such as reflective writing by the participants, high school student papers with embedded, and email correspondence between the participants and their partners.


The authors argue that the Online Writing Partnership provided the future English teachers in this particular case an opportunity to feel uncomfortable with their approach to student writing during a period when they were not responsible for it and in contexts that were supportive of approaching writing as a process.

In online experiences such as the one at the center of this study, preservice teachers’ views of instruction can be challenged and possibly adjusted so that that instruction can be approached as a process of learning for their students and themselves.

Updated: Nov. 27, 2012