Original Research

Writing together alone: Digitally connected ‘snack writing’ for progressing academic writing

Christine Winberg, Hanlie Dippenaar, Penelope Engel-Hills, Heather Phillips
Reading & Writing | Vol 14, No 1 | a414 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v14i1.414 | © 2023 Christine Winberg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 November 2022 | Published: 09 June 2023

About the author(s)

Christine Winberg, Professional Education Research Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville, South Africa
Hanlie Dippenaar, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Wellington, South Africa
Penelope Engel-Hills, Professional Education Research Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville, South Africa
Heather Phillips, Department of Language, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mowbray, South Africa

Abstract

Background: ‘Snack writing’ is a term coined to describe regular short bursts of writing on a larger academic writing task. There is extensive research on academic writing, but research on ‘snack writing’ is limited. Moreover, the idea of ‘snack writing’ in an online environment is not evident in the literature.

Objectives: The study objectives were: (1) to evaluate the effectiveness of an online ‘snack writing’ group, and (2) to identify what might enable or constrain productive academic writing amongst group members.

Method: A reflective evaluation approach was used, in which participant researchers studied online chat data over a 6-month period. The study was framed by Activity Theory, in which digitally connected writing is understood as a new mediational means within an academic writing system.

Results: ‘Snack writing’ in a digital environment was found to be effective when the writing task was focused, appropriate to the time available, and connected to a larger writing task. Goal setting, debriefing, and reflecting kept writers focused, while seeing a writing task develop over time enhanced confidence. Including writers with different levels of experience was effective for developing and sharing writing practices.

Conclusion: Regular participation in digitally connected ‘snack writing’ is effective as it builds a supportive writing culture.

Contribution: The study contributes to an understanding of how short bursts of writing in a digitally connected space could benefit academic tasks. The findings are therefore of use to postgraduate scholars, academics, and all those who want to progress an academic writing task when time is limited.


Keywords

academic writing; activity theory; online chat; online writing group; postgraduate scholars; research supervisors; ‘snack writing’; time management.

Metrics

Total abstract views: 2030
Total article views: 1301


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.