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Trial shows benefits of structured approach to teaching writing

Posted on 4 June 2014

Researchers at the University of York have found that a structured approach to teaching writing about a memorable experience can make a significant improvement to children’s writing skills.

The York Trials Unit - part of York’s Department of Health Sciences, in collaboration with Durham University, provided an independent evaluation of the Calderdale Excellence Partnership’s Improved Writing Quality Programme.

The programme uses memorable experiences, such as trips to local landmarks or visits from World War II veterans as a focus for writing lessons. It also uses an approach called Self-Regulated Strategy Development which provides a clear structure to help pupils plan, monitor and evaluate their writing.

The findings, presented in a report published by the Educational Endowment Fund, show that the structured approach improved Year 6 and Year 7 children’s writing skills by nine months compared with children whose teachers did not use the method.

The evaluation was based on a randomised controlled trial of 23 schools and 842 pupils in the Calderdale area of West Yorkshire.

Professor David Torgerson, Director of the York Trials Unit, said: “This was a rigorously designed trial which showed a large impact on writing skills.  It is important to replicate these results in younger and older children.”

Carole Torgerson, Professor of Education at Durham University, said: “These results are welcomed as they build on previous studies undertaken in North America and show that the writing interventions, suitably adapted, can be beneficial to UK pupils’ writing of text.”

The Improved Writing Quality Programme particularly focused on helping struggling writers in Years 6 and 7. The researchers found that the Self-Regulated Strategy Development approach had a strong positive effect on the writing outcomes of low attaining pupils at the transition from primary to secondary school.

They conclude that these findings, in combination with existing evidence from the United States and elsewhere, suggest that the Self-Regulated Strategy Development approach has substantial promise as a literacy catch-up

The full report is at:

Further information:

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