Reverse Engineering the Initial Steps of the Writing Process for Students with Learning Disabilities
Keywords:Writing, paragraph, expository, learning disabilities
Writing is a recursive endeavor that includes multiple and often simultaneous steps (Graham & Harris, 2013; Harris et al., 2002; Rijlaarsdam et al., 2012) and is influenced by the task, environment, and learner characteristics (Flower & Hayes, 1981). These complexities within the writing process complicate the development and implementation of interventions because a breakdown in any of these areas can cause writing difficulties. This study examined an intervention designed to improve writing knowledge and skills by teaching students a strategy for creating a well-organized paragraph through a backward- then forward-sequencing of instruction. The strategy used a systematic coding method across the initial steps of the writing process (i.e., prewriting, drafting) using a graphic organizer and exemplar paragraphs. Ten elementary students in three resource classrooms at an urban school with a high English learner population in the southwestern United States participated in the four-week intervention program. Using non-parametric methods, the comparison of pre- and post-intervention measures indicate both statistically and practically significant improvements in sentence knowledge and expository paragraph writing skills; implications are discussed.
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