Date of Award

Summer 5-13-2017

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Susan Bennett-Armistead

Second Committee Member

Kenneth Martin

Third Committee Member

James Artesani

Additional Committee Members

Tanya Baker

Richard Kent


Teachers need support in writing instruction as they often feel unprepared to teach writing, lack knowledge of the writing process and writing pedagogy, and even have negative attitudes toward writing. There is compelling evidence that improvements in teaching writing may rest on teachers’ conceptions of their own identity as both writers and teachers of writing. One promising possibility for developing these aspects of identity is to provide opportunities for professional development through mentorship within a community of practice. Drawing on case study and phenomenological approaches, this investigation documented six mentor/mentee pairs and their experiences with the phenomenon of transformative mentorship in the State Writing Project (SWP). The main question guiding this study was the following: In what ways do mentors influence teachers’ identities as writers and teachers of writing? Sources of evidence included semi-structured interviews, observations, textual activity of online discussion forums, and reflective writing samples. Deductive and inductive analytic codes were generated and applied. Findings showed that mentors acted as transformers through establishing effective collegial dynamics, using identity attribute strategies, and engaging in transformative dialogue. As a result of these processes, participants perceived deep, structural shifts in their identities as writers and teachers of writing. This study offers researchers and practitioners a framework for designing professional development experiences to support teachers’ growth as writers and teachers of writing.