Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jessica Restaino

Committee Member

Emily Isaacs

Committee Member

Laura Nicosia


The purpose of this research is to investigate the value of creative writing instruction for increasing the literacy of remedial students in urban High School English classes. Students who are placed in remedial level classes often have preconceived negative feelings concerning their ability to produce academic writing. As I later discuss through the research of Debra Holmes Matthews, John A. Daly and Michael D. Miller, these preconceived notions impact the motivation and educational experience of remedial level students. In my research I will examine the ability of creative writing to motivate struggling student writers and help to improve specific writing skills that students need to demonstrate on standardized tests. I will consider the following areas: How can creative writing instruction help failing writers to succeed? What are the obstacles that remedial level students face in their ability to write? Can creative writing be presented in a way that does not intimidate students who have little confidence in their writing ability? How can creative writing instruction be used to improve writing skills?

Through an analysis of the problems faced by remedial level writers, I will specifically look at my experiences teaching the remedial level writing course at Passaic High School, Passaic, New Jersey. I will use these experiences to assist in the creation of a research study that tests suggested methods for improving writing instruction for remedial level student writers. As part of my research I will employ one of the strategies described in “Using Graphic Novels, Anime, and the Internet in an Urban High School,” by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher. In the first writing assignment, I will use one of the works of graphic novelist Will Eisner to create a writing activity for my students. Eisner’s work often focuses on urban life and I feel that this will help to generate student interest. For the second activity, I will incorporate the concept of letter writing for process and improvement. I have based the creation of this experiment on similar experiments by Gregory Shafer as documented in his article “Reading and Writing in the Developmental English Class.” In this activity the students will be guided through the creation of a short story told through a series of letters. In my examination of the results of the research I hope to develop creative writing activities that help to prepare students for the writing sections of standardized tests as well as to boost student confidence and improve writing skills overall.

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