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IES Grant

Title: Fourth and Fifth Graders' Growth in Writing Knowledge, Motivation, and Performance: The Influence of Teacher Instruction and Assessment Practices in the Context of Common Core State Standards
Center: NCER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Troia, Gary Awardee: Michigan State University
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (8/16/2016-8/15/2020) Award Amount: $1,396,837
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A160049

Co-Principal Investigator: Frank Lawrence

Purpose: Little is known about what occurs during classroom writing instruction and its relation to student writing outcomes. The proposed study examines the relation between 4th- and 5th-grade student growth in writing (i.e., knowledge, motivation, and performance) and teacher classroom writing instruction and assessment practices. The study will examine student-level and classroom-level covariates and potential teacher-related moderators. The study will also examine how much the content of the CCSS, CCAA, and writing curriculum are aligned and whether that alignment moderates the relation between teacher practices and student outcomes.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will (a) develop, pilot, refine, and field test instruments required for subsequent data collection and (b) collect pilot data from teachers and students using the instruments. During Years 2 and 3, the team will complete the primary data collection using the refined instruments. Researchers will devote the final year of the study to data analysis, product development, and dissemination.

Products: Researchers will produce preliminary evidence of promising teaching practices that support student growth in writing and publish in peer-reviewed journals.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating schools are located in urban, suburban, and rural school districts in eastern Michigan.

Sample: In year 1, the sample participants will include 120 students and 30 classroom teachers. In Years 2 and 3, study participants will include 540 poor, average, and good writers from 90 diverse grade 4 and 5 classrooms.

Intervention: Malleable factors include the frequency of observed writing instruction and assessment practices. If correlated with improved student outcomes, these factors could inform the development of an intervention.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will conduct a descriptive investigation with nested data (within-student repeated measures, between-student measures, and between-teacher measures), predicting growth in student outcomes over an academic year controlling for student and classroom demography, as well as determining how teacher-level variables moderate the relationship between practices and student outcomes.

Control Condition: There is no control condition in this study.

Key Measures: The research team will assess student writing knowledge, motivation, and performance using a researcher-developed Student Knowledge of Writing Test (SKOWT), Situated Writing Activity and Motivation Scale (SWAMS), and AIMSweb written expression and spelling curriculum-based measurement. They will measure writing instruction using a researcher-developed Observation Protocol for Writing Assessment and Instruction (OPWAI). Researchers will also collect student and teacher demographic information.

The research team will measure teacher writing ability and spelling using the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-Second Edition (WIAT-II). In addition, they will measure teacher writing content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge using a researcher-developed Teaching Writing Knowledge Test. Researchers will measure teacher beliefs using Teacher Efficacy for Writing Scale (TEWS). They will measure teacher attitudes toward the CCSS for writing and language and the CCAA for writing policy attitudes using the Policy Attitudes Scale. They will also measure policy-curriculum alignment using a researcher-developed Content Coding Taxonomy.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use a combination of descriptive statistics to identify similarities and differences in teachers' writing instruction and assessment practices and hierarchical latent growth curve modeling to examine (a) the relationship of those practices to students' annual growth in writing knowledge, motivation, and performance after controlling for covariates and (b) the role of moderators in the relationship between practices and outcomes.