Situation Based (authentic) Writing

Submitted by: Louise Molbæk
Abstract: Authenticity has often been perceived as an ideal and challenge in education. Especially Resnick and Shaffer are known for their multiple perspective (real world-, personal- and disciplinary authenticity and, authentic assessment). In this presentation, which is based on my Design Based inspired Ph.D Project, this notion on authenticity is nuanced, in that authenticity in writing is defined as an emancipatory ideal linked to the concept of agency and approached as a dialogic performance (Hatab).

In order to support writing as a dialogic performance, an Educational Design was developed in which writing is approached as not merely form and content. The Design intended to initiate students into practices, where writing could appear and be enacted as a social action; a rhetorical response to a situation with the intention of changing that situation (Miller).

A focus in the Design has therefore been specific rhetorical situations. These situations were represented in three classrooms (5th grade) in form of a fictional short film and two different real world situations. Students have worked collaboratively on interpretations of the rhetorical situations using so-called writing maps (inspired by Bakhtin’s concept on voice and dialogism). The writing map encourage the students to discuss purpose, presentation of topic, positioning of reader and themselves as writers in order to achieve their defined goal in their written response to the specific situation.

The purpose of the project has been to explore, describe and comprehend primarily student participation during implementation and identify challenges and potentials in this Situation Based approach to writing as authentic practice. Using ethnografic approach; observation, voice recordings and interviews, I explored how students encountered, enacted and attached aspects of writing significance. In my analysis I am informed by Constructivistic Interactive Analysis especially focused on the use of voice and possibilities for selfhood (Ivanic).

In short my findings shows that this Situation Based Writing:

• is challenging for some students
• holds a potential of representing writing as dialogical social action
• indicates that real world rhetorical situation may be real and stimulate imagination but not necessarily authentic from the perspective of the students


Bakhtin, M.M. (1986) Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Trans. Vern W. McGee. Austin, Tx: University of Texas Press
Hatab, L. J. (2015). Can We Drop the Subject? Heidegger, Selfhood, and the History of a Modern Word. In H. Pedersen & M. Altman (Eds.), Horizons of Authenticity in Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Moral Psychology: Essays in Honor of Charles Guignon (pp. 13-30). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Ivanič, R. (1998). Writing and identity : the discoursal construction of identity in academic writing Studies in written language and literacy. Amsterdam. John Benjamin
Miller, C. R. (1984). Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70(2), 151-167.