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IES Grant

Title: The Effects of Strategy and Self-Regulation Instruction on Students' Writing Performance and Behavior: A Preventative Approach (Project WRITE)
Center: NCSER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Lane, Kathleen Lynne Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 9/1/2006 to 8/31/2009 Award Amount: $1,431,137
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324B060018

Purpose: The purpose of Project WRITE was to further develop and examine the impact of a modified Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) on the writing and classroom behavior of elementary school students at high risk for serious behavior disorders (SBD). Prior research demonstrated SRSD improved the writing performance of students with learning disabilities and other struggling writers, but its impact on the writing performance, as well as behavior, of students with challenging behaviors was not determined. The modification of SRSD was particularly important for this population given that writing interventions such as SRSD are not equipped to address both the behavioral and writing needs of students with challenging behavior.

Project Activities: The research team used an iterative process to modify SRSD instructional procedures to meet the behavioral needs of second grade students showing signs of SBD who also had poor writing skills. In addition, they used a series of single-case design studies and randomized controlled trials to examine the feasibility and impact of implementing this program within the context of an integrated (academic, behavioral, and socio-emotional) tiered system of supports.

Key Outcomes: The main findings of the project's studies are as follows:

  • Second grade students with writing difficulties who also had externalizing or internalizing behaviors learned how to plan and write persuasive essays using SRSD for writing. Two single-case design (SCD) studies of SRSD instruction led by graduate students working individually with students showed that students increased their use of persuasive essay elements and improved their quality and length of writing passages (Little, Lane, Harris et al., 2010).
  • Second grade students with limited writing skills with externalizing or internalizing behaviors learned how to write stories using SRSD instruction. Results of two SCD studies with graduate students working individually with students indicated lasting improvements in story quality and lengths. Social validity data suggested teachers and students rated the intervention favorably (Lane, Graham, Harris et al., 2010).
  • Results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of SRSD in small groups (Tier 2) for second grade students with writing and behavior difficulties indicated students receiving SRSD instruction made statistically significantly greater improvements in writing quality and used more writing elements for both essay and story writing than students in the control condition. Students in the intervention group were also more academically engaged in the classroom when writing opinion essays compared to students in the control condition (Lane, Harris, Graham et al., 2011).
  • An RCT indicated teacher-implemented SRSD instruction to the whole class (Tier 1) yielded improvements in students' writing outcomes for story and opinion essay, and was viewed as socially valid by teachers and students. SRSD instruction was effective for students with and without challenging behaviors in terms of genre elements (components necessary when writing stories and opinion essays) and quality. However, students without challenging behaviors demonstrated greater gains than students with challenging behaviors on some outcome measures (Harris, Lane, Graham et al., 2012).

Structured Abstract

Setting: The studies took place in elementary schools in a large district in Tennessee in suburban and rural locales, with students representing a wide range of socio-economic strata. The district was committed to an inclusive approach to special education.

Sample: A total of 26 second grade students participated across the different SCD studies and 42 students participated in the RCT of SRSD at Tier 2. In the RCT examining SRSD at Tier 1, participants included 20 second and third grade teachers from three schools and 56 students (35 second graders, 21 third graders). All students were identified through screening tools as having externalizing or internalizing behavior and also struggling in the area of writing. The RCT of SRSD at Tier 1 also included a matched sample of students, based on the screening results, who had low writing performance but not behavioral challenges.

Intervention: The Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) model teaches students strategies for completing academic tasks, but students are also taught knowledge and self-regulatory procedures (goal setting, self-monitoring, self-instructions, and self-reinforcement) needed to apply the target strategies and better understand the task. Instructional procedures for fostering motivation are embedded within the model, with the number of sessions varying according to student needs. Instruction is scaffolded to meet student needs until students are able to use both writing and self-regulation strategies independently. It can be used with an entire class, small groups, and individual students.

Research Design and Methods:  A series of SCD and RCT studies were used to iteratively further develop and refine the intervention for this population. The SCD studies were multiple baseline across participants designs with multiple probes during baseline. For the first RCT, students were randomly assigned to treatment or control condition, with a research assistant serving as the interventionist working with students individually. In the second RCT, teachers were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, story writing or opinion essay writing. A 2 X 2 (group X time) repeated measures design was used, with group as the between-participant factor and time as the repeated measure.

Control Condition: Students in the control condition received their regular writing instruction.

Key Measures: Tools used to screen students for participation included the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders and the Student Risk Screening Scale. Student writing performance was screened with the Test of Written Language or district writing measures. Several different types of data were collected on student performance across the study, including student writing probes (coded for elements, quality, and length); direct observations of academic engagement; and standardized measures of students' academic, behavior, and social performance. Data were also collected on treatment integrity and social validity.

Data Analytic Strategy: For the SCD studies, data were analyzed using visual inspection techniques, with treatment fidelity and social validity data analyzed using descriptive statistics. For the first RCT, a series of one-way, fixed-effects multivariate analysis of variance using the general linear model were used to examine changes in student performance. In the second RCT, student outcome data were analyzed in a series of hierarchal linear models, with students nested within teachers' classrooms. Treatment outcome and social validity data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and effect sizes calculations.



Sandmel, K., Huffman, K., Harris, K., Lane, K., Graham, S., Oakes, W., Kiuhara, S.A., and Steinbrecher, T. (2011). Success and failure with tier 2 SRSD for timed writing tests among 2nd through 5th grade students with writing and behavior difficulties: Implications for evidence-based practices. In T.E. Scruggs, and M.A. Mastropieri (Eds.), Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, Volume 24 (pp. 251–293). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing. doi:10.1108/S0735–004X(2011)0000024012

Journal articles

McKeowen, D., Brindle, M., Harris, K. R., Sandmel, K., Steinbrecher, T. D., Graham, S., Lane, K. L., & Oakes, W. P. (2019). Teachers' voices: Perceptions of effective professional development and classwide implementation of self-regulated strategy development in writing. American Educational Research Journal, 56, 753–791.

Harris, K., Lane, K. L., Driscoll, S., Graham, S., Wilson, K., Sandmel, K., Brindle, M., & Schatschneider, C. (2012). Tier 1, teacher-implemented self-regulated strategy development for students with and without behavior challenges: A randomized controlled trial. The Elementary School Journal, 113, 160–191.

Harris, K. L., Lane, K. L., Graham, S. Driscoll, S., Wilson, K., Sandmel, K., Brindle, M., & Schatschneider, C. (2012). Practice-based professional development for self-regulated strategies instruction in writing: A randomized controlled study. Journal of Teacher Education, 63, 103–119. doi: 10.1177/0022487111429005

Lane, K. L., Harris, K., Graham, S., Driscoll, S. A., Sandmel, K., Morphy, P., Hebert, M., House, E., & Schatschneider, C. (2011). Self-regulated strategy development at tier 2 for second-grade students with writing and behavioral difficulties: A randomized control trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 4, 322 – 353. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2011.558987

Lane, K. L., Graham, S., Harris, K. R., Little, M. A., Sandmel, K., & Brindle, M. (2010). Story writing: The effects of self-regulated strategy development for second grade students with writing and behavioral difficulties. Journal of Special Education, 44, 107–128. doi:10.1177/0022466908331044

Little, M. A., Lane, K. L., Harris, K., Graham, S., Brindle, M., & Sandmel, K. (2010). Self-regulated strategies development for persuasive writing in tandem with schoolwide positive behavioral support: Effects for second grade students with behavioral and writing difficulties. Behavioral Disorders, 35, 157–179.

Sandmel, K., Brindle, M., Harris, K., Lane, K., Graham, S., Nackel, J., Mathias, R., & Little, A. (2009). Making it work: Differentiating tier two self-regulated strategies development in writing in tandem with schoolwide positive behavioral support. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42, 22–33.