Alla Boulos


Spring 2021


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Susan Manikowski and Julia Reimer

Content Expert

Kristina Deffenbacher and Patricia Strandquist


The composition pedagogy of expressivism, which grew out of process theory in the 1960s has been influencing academia’s approach to teaching writing for several decades. The major characteristics of this pedagogy first outlined by its most prominent champion Peter Elbow include the focus on the process rather than the product of writing, the personalization of academic writing with inclusion of personal experiences and pronouns, the lack of textbooks and prescriptive atmosphere, the use of low stakes writing assignments like freewriting and journaling, and the prevalent use of formative assessment techniques such as writing workshops, peer responses, and portfolios. Although expressivism facilitated a significant shift in the methods of teaching writing in higher education and the creative writing field, it has not impacted secondary schools to the same degree, leaving secondary students to outdated follow-the-rules mentality of writing to the test, thus preventing the development of their creative and independent thought. In this capstone project I examined the evolution of expressivism through the decades, its integration with other theories, and its value for engaging secondary students in the process of writing, which takes a new importance in the digital age. To spread the word and present an alternative to the overwhelming reliance on five-paragraph essays in secondary schools, I created a website called Teaching Writing Techniques found under, which offers professional development for English teachers with ideas for incorporating expressivist pedagogy in their classrooms. Because of the pedagogy’s flexibility, these ideas can be implemented as stand alone activities without disruption of existing curriculum. Having researched, utilized, and taught expressivist techniques, I found that they significantly increase student interest and engagement in the process of writing.

Project Type

Website Creation


Motivation, Teachers/ Teaching, Writing, Writer’s Workshop








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