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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy Trial of the We-Write Intervention with 4th- and 5th-Grade Students
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Wijekumar, Kausalai Awardee: Texas A&M University
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $3,299,952
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A180212

Co-Principal Investigators: Graham, Steve; Harris, Karen; McKeown, Debra; Lei, Pui-Wa; Meyer, Bonnie J.F.

Purpose: Writing is an important skill for learning, communication, and self-expression; however, national assessments indicate that many students in the U.S. do not write proficiently. The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of We-Write, a web-based intelligent tutoring system that is paired with teacher-led lessons to improve 4th and 5th grade student writing outcomes. We-Write was developed in a previous IES study, and is delivered within the intelligent tutoring system for the structure strategy (ITSS), which was developed and tested for efficacy in various IES grants.

Project Activities: We-Write is delivered by teachers and supported by web-based software that teaches writing strategies and self-regulation skills. Researchers will randomly assign schools, and all of their 4th and 5th grade students and teachers, to receive either We-Write or the regular classroom practices already in place. The research team will assess students in both groups before the study and at the end of receiving their assigned intervention.

Products: The products of this project include evidence of the efficacy of We-Write for 4th and 5th grade students' writing achievement, peer reviewed publications, and a publicly available dataset.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in Texas.

Sample: Approximately 6,500 4th and 5th grade students and their teachers will participate in this study.

Intervention: We-Write is a fully-developed intervention that combines teacher-led lessons and a web-based intelligent tutoring system. It is an extension of the evidence-based Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) which has been shown to be effective for improving writing outcomes for students in elementary, middle, and high school. We-Write teaches students strategies for writing including planning and goal-setting, as well as structure strategy skills such as classifying text structures.

Research Design and Methods: This project uses a multi-site cluster randomized trial. Five districts will participate in the project and researchers will randomly assign schools within district to We-Write or the control condition. During Year 1, the team will finalize experimenter-developed measures. Researchers will invite all fifth grade teachers to participate with their students in Year 2 of the study, and all fourth grade teachers with their students in Year 3 of the study. The team will assess students' writing skills at the beginning of the school year before participating in the study, and at the end of the school year after the intervention is complete.

Control Condition: In the control condition, students receive standard classroom practices in place at the school.

Key Measures: Researchers will assess writing outcomes with the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III essay composition subtest, and with released writing prompts from the Texas STARR state standardized test. Other measures include experimenter-designed assessments of arguments, advance planning, and persuasive writing self-efficacy. Implementation fidelity and comparison group practices will be assessed using observations and teacher logs.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use multilevel modeling to examine the efficacy of We-Write on student writing outcomes (students are Level 1, classrooms Level 2, schools Level 3, and districts Level 4). Random assignment occurs at Level 3. Researchers will include pre-test scores as covariates in models with the post-test used as the outcome of interest.

Related IES Projects:
Development of a Web-Based Writing Partner (Strategic Writing Assisted by intelligent tutoring for 5th grade Youth (SWAY) to Improve Writing Persuasive Essays for 5th Grade Students (R305A130705)
Intelligent Tutoring Using The Structure Strategy To Improve Reading Comprehension Of Middle School Students (R305G030072)
Efficacy and Replication Research on the Intelligent Tutoring System for the Structure Strategy—Rural and Suburban Schools Grades 4, 5, 7, and 8 (R305A080133)
Efficacy and Replication Trial of the Individualized Adaptive ITSS with 4th and 5th Grade Students in High Poverty Schools (R305A150057)