Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 827–856 | Cite as

Clarifying an Elusive Construct: a Systematic Review of Writing Attitudes

  • E. EkholmEmail author
  • S. Zumbrunn
  • M. DeBusk-Lane
Review Article


Although research recognizes that student attitudes toward writing have the potential to influence a variety of writing outcomes, there is no consensus as to what writing attitude signifies. Further, disparities between conceptualizations of writing attitude make the extant literature difficult to reconcile. In the present study, we systematically review writing attitude research published between 1990 and 2017. Our search procedure and quality analysis led to the retention of 46 articles examining the writing attitudes of students and teachers. Relatively few studies (n = 10) provided an explicit definition of writing attitudes. Further, although the authors of many studies (n = 16) conceptualized writing attitude as including a measure of liking/disliking writing, there was considerable variability in both conceptualization and operationalization throughout the literature, with some studies including measures of self-efficacy, perceived value, and other related constructs. Student writing attitudes were measured in a majority of the included studies (n = 33), and teacher writing attitudes were measured in substantially fewer studies (n = 6). Based on the findings of this review, we offer suggestions for researchers making inferences from studies of writing attitudes. Themes of the reviewed literature and implications for future research are also discussed.


Writing attitudes Attitudes Systematic review Literacy 



We would like to thank Karen Harris and Steve Graham for their feedback and guidance on this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the systematic literature review

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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