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IES Grant

Title: Exploration of Writing Instruction for Kindergarten Children
Center: NCER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Guo, Ying Awardee: University of Cincinnati
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2016-6/30/2020) Award Amount: $1,399,191
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A160253

Co-Principal Investigator: Cynthia Puranik (Georgia State University); Allison Breit-Smith

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine writing instruction for kindergarten students and to explore the relationship between writing instruction and writing outcomes for these students. Writing is critical for success in both school and career. The Common Core State Standards emphasize the importance of writing and outlines the skills students at each grade level need to accomplish, and provide a roadmap for writing instruction. However, little is known about what effective writing instruction looks like in kindergarten and which instructional practices can enhance young students' writing development. In this project, the researchers will observe writing instruction in kindergarten classrooms to look for specific features of instruction and to see whether any of these features are related to kindergarten students' writing outcomes.

Project Activities: Researchers will collect data from three cohorts of kindergarten students and their teachers, one in each year of the study. Researchers will observe kindergarten classrooms for features of writing instruction, including: frequency and amount of writing instruction; content of instruction; motivational techniques teachers use; types of writing activities; group size; and tools or technology used in instruction. The research team will assess children on emergent writing skills such as handwriting and spelling, as well as sentence writing and composition.

Products: Products include preliminary evidence of relationships between writing instruction and writing outcomes for kindergarten students. Researchers will also produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in urban and suburban kindergarten classrooms in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Sample: Approximately 600 kindergarten students and their 100 teachers will participate in this research.

Intervention: In this exploratory study, researchers are examining relationship between features of writing instruction and writing outcomes. Malleable factors include various features of instruction on writing including intensity, content, classroom management, motivational techniques, types of writing activities, group size, and manipulatives. Findings from the proposed study will provide critical information as researchers develop interventions intended to improve writing instruction and student writing outcomes in kindergarten.

Research Design and Methods: In each of the three project years, researchers will recruit kindergarten teachers and several of their students to participate in the study. The research team will observe and videotape each kindergarten classroom in the fall, winter, and spring. Researchers will also code d each observation for various features of writing instruction. Researchers will assess writing outcomes individually during non-instructional time in the fall and the spring. In addition, researchers will assess students' oral language, reading skills, behavioral regulation, fine motor skills, and writing motivation in the fall.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: Researchers will measure classroom writing instruction using the Writing Instruction Observation Scale, an assessment that was designed by the research team in previous work. Researchers will use various subscales of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement—Third Edition (WJ-III) and researcher-developed measures to assess writing outcomes. Researchers will also use subscales of the WJ-III to assess reading skills; the Test of Language Development—Primary, fourth edition to assess oral language; the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task to assess behavioral regulation; a subtest of the Early Screening Inventory–Revised to assess fine motor skills; and the Writing Attitude Scale to assess writing motivation. Teacher logs will also supplement data from the WIOS regarding dose frequency of writing instruction.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use hierarchical linear modeling to examine the associations between writing instruction and writing outcomes with students nested within classrooms and classrooms nested within schools. Models will include spring writing outcomes as the dependent variable and will include fall writing outcomes as a control variable. The research team will use students' developmental skills as moderators when analyzing the data.