Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Leila Christenbury

Second Advisor

Michael Davis

Third Advisor

Lisa Abrams

Fourth Advisor

Thomas De Haven


The purpose of this case study was to compare the pedagogical and affective efficiency and efficacy of creative prose fiction writing workshops taught via asynchronous computer-mediated online distance education with creative prose fiction writing workshops taught face-to-face in order to better understand their operational pedagogy and correlative affective features to determine if workshops are transferable to a computer-mediated delivery system in order to aid administrative decision-makers regarding the possible pedagogical usefulness of expanding their existing writing program to offer an optional-residency creative writing program in concert with their current high residency program. Qualitative data were collected through non-participatory virtual observation of two computer-mediated workshops and in person at a face-to-face mediated workshop. Both workshops used the traditional social constructivist workshop approach which is widely considered to be the gold standard method by the majority of creative writing programs based on its long-standing success as a pedagogical method. In addition to observing the respective workshops, one-on-one interviews were conducted with three creative writing program administrators and three creative writing instructors, one of whom was also a former program administrator. Creative writing students participating in the three observed workshops were also interviewed one-on-one. Findings revealed that from a pedagogical perspective both the computer-mediated and the face-to-face mediated workshops are pedagogically efficient and effective using a social constructivist model when workshop teachers demonstrate a strong teaching presence focused on honing novice writers’ ability and desire to write. Additionally, the researcher concluded a robust teaching presence is imperative in order to establish and maintain a strong social presence between students and between students and the instructor, as both components are critical for learner autonomy in a social constructivist teaching and learning community. However, teaching presence alone cannot guarantee a strong affective social presence as differences between students’ and/or between students’ and an instructor’s social, cultural, educational, and historical ontogenies can lead to unresolved conflicts that increase psychological distance in the teaching and learning community. Additionally, while pedagogically equivalent, computer-mediated workshops have important time management and potentially affective advantages compared to the face-to-face mediated workshop that help ensure establishment and maintenance of social presence.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

February 2012

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