The principal aim of this study is to explore Egyptian middle school students’ perceptions of their writing experiences using artistic expression, specifically drawings. It also aims to understand their levels of writing motivation using the Self-Beliefs, Writing-Beliefs, and Attitude Survey (SWAS) (Wright et al., 2019). Finally, it examines the relationships among participants’ perceptions, motivation, and their narrative writing performance. The view that students’ voices are valuable to research geared towards school improvement has largely propelled this study (Bland, 2018; Zumbrunn et al., 2017). In addition, due to the limited literature about middle school students enrolled at private Egyptian schools, this study fills a research gap by venturing into largely unexplored avenues relating to private education in Egypt.

This study adopted a mixed methods approach to data collection, utilizing drawings to serve as expressions of student perceptions, the Self-Beliefs, Writing-Beliefs, and Attitude Survey (SWAS) to gather information about their writing motivation, and narrative writing samples to measure their writing performance. The total number of participants was 49 students from grades six, seven, and eight who were enrolled at a private school in Cairo. The qualitative data pertaining to students’ drawings pointed to three general categories of perceptions, namely positive, negative, and mixed perceptions. A closer look brought to light more specific themes, including different types of emotions expressed in the drawings, such as joy, sadness, anxiety, and combinations of these. One of the major contributors to students’ mixed emotions towards writing was a perceived lack of choice. Specific themes also included students’ confidence in themselves as writers, their levels of engagement, who they portrayed in their drawings, and the different ways through which they expressed their perceptions. Moreover, the quantitative SWAS data yielded insights into different aspects of students’ writing motivation. For example, participants mostly wished they wrote less in school despite having relatively positive feelings about writing. In addition, even though most students believed that finishing writing tasks is important and that improving as a writer is a positive thing, a few number of students reported enjoying checking their writing for errors. Regarding the final research question, which was concerned with the relationships among students’ perceptions, writing motivation, and their narrative writing performance, the findings reflected moderate, but statistically significant correlations between most motivational variables and students’ narrative writing scores. In addition, in order to explore the relationship between perceptions and writing performance, four different student “vignettes” were constructed: positive perceptions- high performance, positive perceptions- low performance, negative perceptions- high performance, and negative perceptions- low performance. These two variables were also cross-referenced with the four students’ SWAS results. The purpose of this analysis was to explore the interactions among student perceptions, writing motivation, and performance. Interestingly, some features of those students’ writing mirrored the quality of their perceptions. For example, the student who fell into the positive perceptions- high performance category made mention of self-regulation strategies in her writing, while the participant who fell into the negative perceptions- low performance category showed a sense of apathy in her narrative composition, which was reflected in her writing style.

These results have implications for writing instruction. For example, teachers are encouraged to develop their students’ sense of autonomy by implementing collaborative writing activities, introducing self-regulation learning strategies, and fostering open communication in the classroom. In addition, recommendations are made for how to improve writers’ sense of confidence and raise student engagement with writing tasks. Other stakeholders who might benefit from these results include writing textbook designers, language assessment specialists, and also language programs at large.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date

Fall 12-11-2023

Submission Date


First Advisor

Atta Gebril

Committee Member 1

Maha Bali

Committee Member 2

Mariah Fairley


138 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item