Process-based approaches to writing tend to overlook the self-regulatory skills and motivational beliefs required for proficient writing (Harris, Santangelo, & Graham, 2008) and do not provide the support many students need to develop into effective writers (Graham, Harris, & Mason, 2005; Harris, Graham, & Mason, 2006). Additionally, restricted writing opportunities preclude the sustained deliberate practice students need to develop expertise in writing (Kellogg & Whiteford, 2009). This study examined an intervention that incorporated the self-regulated strategy development model (SRSD, Graham & Harris, 1993) with the automated writing evaluation (AWE) program NC Write. An embedded quasi-experimental mixed methods design was used to determine the impact of the intervention on students’ argumentative writing performance, knowledge, and self-efficacy. Middle school students (N=829) participated in one of three conditions: NC Write + traditional writing instruction, NC Write + SRSD instruction, or a comparison condition.
Results of multi-level models that controlled for pretest performance and predicted posttest performance averaging across students and within teachers showed that students in the NC Write + SRSD instruction condition produced posttest essays that were of a higher quality, longer, and included more basic elements of argumentative essays than students in the other two conditions. Students in the NC Write + traditional writing instruction condition produced higher-quality essays than students in the comparison condition at posttest. Students in the NC Write + SRSD instruction condition identified more essay elements at posttest, though there were no between-condition differences in writing knowledge of substantive processes or in students’ writing self-efficacy at posttest.
Additional multi-level models were specified to include all essays written by treatment condition students and examine the shape of growth in writing performance. Results showed that students’ growth in writing quality, essay length, and essay elements was best represented by a quadratic growth model. On average, students’ growth in writing performance reached a plateau following the fourth essay written during the intervention. Differences in rates of change and deceleration in writing quality, essay length, and essay elements were not significantly different between the two treatment conditions.
Survey results showed students and teachers held generally favorable opinions of NC Write. Interview results determined that NC Write as well as the overall writing intervention had acceptable social validity. Qualitative data analysis revealed that NC Write provided a framework for deliberate writing practice. In this framework students’ growth in writing performance is supported by a cycle of learning, practice, and feedback. NC Write enabled deliberate practice by affording writing quality feedback, efficiency, and evidence of growth, and supporting teachers’ writing instruction and students’ intrinsic motivation. Limitations of the framework included some aspects of feedback, limited lesson data, and lack of a plagiarism scanner in NC Write. Implications from these findings support integrating SRSD instruction with an AWE program to support teacher implementation of the SRSD model and more efficiently provide students with the strategy instruction, practice opportunities, and feedback needed to develop proficiency in writing. Recommendations are provided for AWE programs to better support students’ maintenance of writing quality growth.
|School:||North Carolina State University|
|Department:||Curriculum and Instruction|
|School Location:||United States -- North Carolina|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Middle School education, Educational psychology|
|Keywords:||Automated writing evaluation, Project essay grade, SRSD, Self-regulated strategy development, Writing, Writing instruction|
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