Reflexive writers: Re-thinking writing development and assessment in schools

Mary Ryan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Writing is a complex and highly individual activity, which is approached in different ways by different writers. Writers reflexively mediate subjective and objective conditions in specific and nuanced ways to produce a product in time and place. This paper uses a critical realist theory of reflexivity to argue that the teaching and assessment of writing must account for the different ways that students manage and make decisions in their writing. Data from linguistically and culturally diverse primary students in Australia are used to illustrate how four distinct reflexive modalities constitute the ways in which students approach writing. The paper offers a new approach to assessing writing for and of learning that considers writers as reflexive and agentic in different ways. It posits the importance of making visible and explicit the context and reflexive decision-making as writers shape a product for a purpose and audience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-74
Number of pages15
JournalAssessing Writing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


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