Examining the impacts of the structures writing intervention for teaching fourth-grade students to write informational text

Abstract

Expository writing may be especially difficult for elementary grade students due to lack of background knowledge and unfamiliar text structures. A text structure writing intervention aimed at teaching students to write informational text using text structures has been shown to have promise for improving the informational text writing of upper elementary grade students using small group instruction (Reading and Writing, 31, 2115–2145; Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 31, 2165–2190; Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 23, 35–55. ). There are disadvantages to small group instruction, however, because it requires additional resources. In the current study, 41 students in grade 4 were randomly assigned to receive the Structures Writing intervention or BAU narrative writing instruction. Both groups received instruction in a large group setting. At posttest, students who received the Structures Writing intervention statistically significantly outperformed the control group on researcher-created measures of simple description, compare/contrast, sequence, problem–solution, and cause-effect writing. Results indicated no differences between on distal reading outcomes. The intervention components completed within the allotted time-frame were completed with a high degree of fidelity (97%), providing an indicator of usability. However, students only fully completed 57% of lesson activities, indicating that it is not feasible to complete the lessons within a 30-min time frame. The discussion highlights the Structures Writing intervention as a promising approach for improving informational text writing skills of fourth grade students with moderate to large effect sizes that support findings of a prior pilot test. A larger efficacy trial is warranted following revision of the lessons to shorten lesson duration.

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Acknowledgement

The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through award R324B130005 to the University of Nebraska. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. Funding was provided by Institute of Education Sciences (Grant No. R324B130005).

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Correspondence to Michael Hebert.

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Hebert, M., Bazis, P., Bohaty, J.J. et al. Examining the impacts of the structures writing intervention for teaching fourth-grade students to write informational text. Read Writ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-021-10125-w

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Keywords

  • Writing
  • Intervention
  • Informational text
  • Text structures
  • 4th Grade
  • Experiment