Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Developing a Sentence Writing Intervention for Young Struggling Writers
Center: NCSER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Allen, Abigail Awardee: Clemson University
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (08/01/2020 - 07/31/2024) Award Amount: $489,003
Type: Training Award Number: R324B200016

Mentors: Stecker, Pamela; Branum-Martin, Lee; Gage, Nicholas; McMaster, Kristen

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research focused on improving writing outcomes among young students with or at risk for learning disabilities (LD), while participating in mentoring and training activities to build expertise in single-case research design, multilevel modeling, development of written language, and grant management. The ability to construct quality sentences using a variety of syntax structures is a necessary skill that contributes to the ability to write paragraphs, stories, and essays. Sentence writing is an appropriate goal for struggling young writers for whom paragraph-level writing is not yet appropriate. However, the majority of writing intervention research has been conducted in the late elementary and secondary grades, and studies with kindergarten through third graders have focused primarily on spelling single words and narrative story writing. To address this need, the PI will develop and test a sentence construction intervention to improve the writing outcomes of students with or at risk for LD early in elementary school.

Research Plan: The purpose of the research plan is to iteratively develop, refine, and evaluate a sentence-writing intervention across a series of studies. In Year 1, the PI will conduct a literature review to determine the key elements of early writing interventions and develop the initial version of the intervention with feedback from participating teachers and content experts. In Years 2-3, the PI will test the usability and feasibility of the intervention in a series of single-case design studies with researcher implementers and field trials with teacher implementers. The PI will solicit feedback from teachers and content experts to revise the intervention after each study. In Year 4, the PI will conduct a small randomized controlled trial with approximately 40 students to determine the promise of the final version of the intervention for improving their writing outcomes. Fidelity will be assessed through direct observation throughout the single-case design studies and the randomized controlled trial. Feasibility and usability will be assessed through focus groups and interviews with teachers. Writing outcomes will be assessed using a curriculum-based measure and a standardized writing assessment. Data from the single-case design studies will be analyzed using visual analysis and effect size calculation. Data from the pilot study will be analyzed using multilevel modeling. The PI will also conduct a cost analysis to determine the cost of implementing the final version of the intervention.

Career Plan: Through a career development plan, the PI intends to develop (1) knowledge in single-case research design, (2) skills related multilevel statistical modeling, (3) expertise in early writing, and (4) grant management skills. To accomplish these goals, the PI will participate in monthly mentor meetings, regular meetings with national experts in early writing, workshops in advanced statistical methods and research design, and courses and lecture series related to literacy.