Promoting Motivated Writers: Suggestions for Teaching and Conducting Research With Students With Learning Disabilities and Struggling Learners


  • Susan De La Paz University of Maryland
  • Cameron Butler



Writing, motivation, intervention studies


This article considers the topic of motivation for writing, and explores connections between writing interventions and motivation. We review the extant literature with K12 students who participated in writing interventions and examine the motivation outcomes in those studies to determine whether improvements in writing ability also led to increased motivation. We wished to study motivation outcomes for students with learning disabilities; however, due to the limited number of available studies, we included studies with low achieving writers or English learners. In addition, one study focused on participants identified as emotionally disturbed, and two studies included average and/or gifted writers. Most studies were conducted in the United States, although others were were done in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, and China. Most studies included fifth and sixth graders, and the full range was from second through 12th grade. The majority of the writing interventions included some form of explicit instruction, often SRSD—and participants routinely improved their writing ability as a result of the specific instruction under investigation. Unfortunately, outcomes regarding students’ motivation were not as clear as their writing outcomes. We turn to Wigfield and Eccles’ (2000; 2001) expectancy-value theory as a promising lens both to understand the results in the literature review, and for teaching writing to students with learning disabilities and end with suggestions for researchers who study writing and struggling or heterogeneous learners. 

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Author Biography

Susan De La Paz, University of Maryland

Susan De La Paz, Ph.D.,Professor 
Director, Graduate Studies in Special Education
Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education (CHSE)