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Writing Research Terms

Sociocultural approach to teaching writing

A sociocultural approach to teaching writing is the practice of understanding and teaching writing as a complex human activity that involves more than just one person sitting down to write at any one moment in time. When we treat writing as a sociocultural practice, we recognize that writing is both individuated and socialized, and that our writing is always changed by the people, tools, situations, genres, emotions, and bodies that influence how, why, when, and what we write.

Research (as) activity

Research (as) activity refers to the complex work we do everyday to figure out how to do and be things in the world. When we talk about research as activity, we mean a range of actions that count as research, including remembering what we did or wrote, asking for help online, searching through databases, creating focused researchable questions, conducting interviews, distributing surveys, reading published scholarship, and tracing your own writing practices to be published in the Grassroots Writing Research Journal.

Writing (as) activity

Writing (as) activity refers not just to a person who sits down to produce a kind of written text. Instead, writing activity includes all the practices involved in mentally, physically, and emotionally learning to make meaning through writing within and for different situations and communities.

Writing research

Writing research is the practice of investigating how our writing practices, skills, tools, and embodied feelings shape how we write, learn writing, and adapt to writing in particular situations.

Writing identity

Writing identity refers to how we understand ourselves as writers–including our writing histories, knowledge, practices, skills, tool use, and feelings about writing–as we write over time in different contexts.

Writing researcher identity

Writing researcher identity refers specifically to how we understand ourselves as writers who learn through writing research how to figure out what to do in both familiar and new-to-use writing situations.


Literacies are the ways that we interact and communicate in the world not just by reading and writing, but also by speaking and listening, to create communication and share our experience of the world as we know it.

Writing tools

Writing tools can be anything you use as you are participating in writing activity. When we talk about writing tools, we might talk about things you use to produce writing (laptop, paper), to distribute writing (printer, internet), to save writing (specific platforms for Cloud storage)–and the things your body uses that are also tools for other activity (water, furniture, clocks).

CHAT (as writing research tool)

CHAT (cultural-historical activity theory) can be used as a writing research tool to investigate how our writing activity is connected to the people, tools, and situations that influence our writing of specific texts. When we use CHAT as a writing research tool, we are usually using CHAT terms to break down, name, and unpack otherwise invisible writing practices so that we can then more accurately describe the complex relationships between them.

Writing in/for communities

Writing in/for communities is a practice that requires us to recognize how writing, as a sociocultural practice, is always practiced in relation to particular communities. It asks us to identify, describe, and respond to how community participants, resources, and goals shape how, why, when, and what we write.

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