How do struggling writers' strategic behaviors and overall writing performance change as their participate in guided-writing groups?
Reinhart, Kelly Christine
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Despite the critical importance of writing proficiency for success in higher education and the workplace (National Commission on Writing, 2003, 2004, 2005), writing achievement has remained stagnant for a number of years. Despite being firmly grounded in tenets of effective instruction (Graham & Perin, 2002) the widely used writer's workshop model (Calkins, 1994) has not produced the elevated achievement in writing that one might expect from such a program. An examination of what might account for the lower than expected gains led to speculation that the workshop model might not provide struggling writers sufficient opportunities to receive intensive and individualized instruction focused on their particular writing needs. This study examined the use of teacher-mediated, guided-writing groups as part of a traditional writer's workshop to explore how this context might mediate the difficulties experienced by struggling writers. A collective case-study approach generated a rich description of how four, struggling, fourth-grade writers experienced guided-writing groups and provided insight into how they applied taught strategies to their work during one personal narrative unit. Data sources were: writing samples, semi-structured student interviews, in-process writing interviews, videotaped guided-writing and whole class lessons, writing conference notes, and field notes. Writing samples were coded for revising and editing behaviors. All other data sources were open-coded, with a search for emerging themes. Findings indicated: (a) Participants improved in their overall writing performance and application of new strategies; however, strategy improvement varied according to the particular strategies taught during guided writing; (b) Participants grew in their ability to make text-level changes to their work; (c) Participants progressed toward independent application of new strategies; (d) Participants perceived guided-writing instruction as the source of their learning (as opposed to whole-class instruction); (e) The teacher's instructional actions and use of self-regulatory language differed between the guided-writing and whole-class contexts. During guided writing, the teacher provided frequent explanations and opportunities for guided practice, followed by assignment to students' own writing. Further, the teacher frequently used conditional language (when and how to apply a strategy). The author concluded that adding guided-writing groups to writer's workshop may improve struggling writers' application of target strategies.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University