WWC review of this study

Student team reading and writing: A cooperative learning approach to middle school literacy instruction.

Stevens, R. J. (2003). Educational Research and Evaluation, 9(2), 137–160. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ677647

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
     examining 
    3,916
     Students
    , grades
    6-8
No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with reservations

Reviewed: June 2017

Sentence structure outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

Language mechanics

Secondary Writing vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
3,986 students

0

0

No

--
Word choice outcomes—Substantively important positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

Language expression

Secondary Writing vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
3,986 students

0.19

-0.19

No

 
 
20

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 70% Free or reduced price lunch
  • Race
    Not specified
    81%
    White
    19%

  • Urban

Setting

Five middle schools in a large urban school district in the eastern United States. The schools are predominantly minority students (approximately 80%) and many of the students were classified as low-income because they receive free or reduced-price lunch (approximately 67%).

Study sample

The analytic sample for the intervention condition included 1798 students who were 80.2 percent minority and 69.1 percent disadvantaged (received free or reduced price lunch). The analytic sample for the comparison condition included 2188 students who were 82.1 percent minority and 70.8 percent disadvantaged (received free or reduced price lunch). SWPG Review Notes: There is discrepancy in the reported sample size. On page 155, the sizes of the intervention and comparison groups are reported as 1798 and 2188, respectively, which gives a total sample of 3986. However, on page 150, the sample size is reported as 3916 (intervention group n= 1798, comparison group n= 2118).

Intervention Group

The Student Team Reading and Writing (STRW) program program components included: a) cooperative learning classroom processes, b) a literature anthology for high interest reading material, c) explicit instruction in reading comprehension, d) integrated reading, writing, and language arts instruction, and e) a writing process approach to language arts. The STRW program is an integrated approach to reading and writing/language arts for early adolescents. The writing part of the intervention used an iterative writing process approach where students were taught to plan, draft, revise, edit, and finalize their writing. This was combined with language arts instruction and writing concept lessions. The language arts instruction was focused on writing, and instruction in grammar, language expression, and language mechanics related to students writing. The concept lessons involved instruction and models on style and techniques. The reading part of the program consisted of three principal elements: literature-related activities, direct instruction in reaidng comprehension strategies, and selection-related writing. In all of these activities students work in heterogeneous learning teams. All activities followed a regular cycle that involved teacher presentation, team practice, independent practice, peer pre-assessment, and individual accountability. Cooperative learning teams were used as a vehicle to get students to engage in academic interactions that would further their understanding of what had been taught and to take advantage of the strong peer orientation of early adolescents. SWPG Review Notes: Information about the dosage such as the number of class sessions, time per session, or number of days/weeks/months was not provided. Teachers were trained in the summer, and coaching (observation and feedback on STRW) continued into the school year for 4 months (one semester; p. 152). Thus, it is clear implementation lasted at least one semester, however, it is unclear whether the intervention continued for the remainder of the school year.

Comparison Group

The teachers in the comparison schools used traditional instructional methods. Students went to different teachers for reading and English. The reading teachers used a basal reading series and related adjunct materials (e.g., workbooks). The English teachers used an English literature anthology for their literature component and a grammar English textbook for the language arts component. The comparison teachers did not use cooperative learning processes in their instructional activities on a daily basis.

Support for implementation

The teachers in the intervention schools were trained in STRW during their summer vacation for 5 half-day (3 hr) sessions during 1 week. The training consisted of an explanation of the processes and the rationale behind them. During the training, teachers participated in a simulation of major components of the program. The teachers were also given a detailed manual that described each of the components in much the same way they were described by the trainer. During the first 3 months of implementation, the project staff observed and gave feedback to the teachers as they implemented the program. The project staff also met with teachers during and after school, often attending meetings of the reading and language arts department. At these meetings teachers' questions and problems were discussed in order to resolve any problems they were having and to use their feedback to improve the program.

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with reservations

Reviewed: February 2016

Comprehension outcomes—Substantively important positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

California Achievement Test (CAT): Reading Vocabulary

Student Team Reading and Writing (STRW) vs. Business as usual

1-year posttest

Full sample;
160 students

0.17

-0.16

No

 
 
13
More Outcomes

California Achievement Test (CAT): Reading Comprehension

Student Team Reading and Writing (STRW) vs. Business as usual

1-year posttest

Full sample;
160 students

0.12

-0.13

No

--
Literacy achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

California Achievement Test (CAT): Language Expression

Student Team Reading and Writing (STRW) vs. Business as usual

1-year posttest

Full sample;
160 students

0.19

-0.19

No

 
 
15
More Outcomes

California Achievement Test (CAT): Language Mechanics

Student Team Reading and Writing (STRW) vs. Business as usual

1-year posttest

Full sample;
160 students

0

0

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 67% Free or reduced price lunch
  • Race
    Not specified
    80%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Maryland
No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with reservations

Reviewed: November 2011

Comprehension outcomes—Substantively important positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

California Achievement Test (CAT): Reading Vocabulary

Student team reading and writing vs. Business as usual

1-year follow-up

Grades 6-8;
3,986 students

0.17

-0.16

No

 
 
13
More Outcomes

California Achievement Test (CAT): Reading Comprehension

Student team reading and writing vs. Business as usual

1-year follow-up

Grades 6-8;
3,986 students

0.12

-0.13

No

--
Literacy achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

California Achievement Test (CAT): Language Expression

Student team reading and writing vs. Business as usual

1-year follow-up

Grades 6-8;
3,986 students

0.19

-0.19

No

 
 
15
More Outcomes

California Achievement Test (CAT): Language Mechanics

Student team reading and writing vs. Business as usual

1-year follow-up

Grades 6-8;
3,986 students

0

0

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 67% Free or reduced price lunch
  • Race
    Not specified
    80%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Maryland

Setting

The study took place in five middle schools in the Baltimore City Public School System. The study school population was predominantly minority students (approximately 80%), and approximately 67% of students in the study schools received free or reduced-price lunch.

Study sample

This study is a quasi-experiment conducted in five urban middle schools. Two treatment schools volunteered to implement the intervention, and three schools, matched on academic achievement in reading and language arts on the California Achievement Test, served as comparison schools. The author also matched the schools on ethnicity and socioeconomic background. Participants were sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students. The study’s analytic sample included 1,798 students in 72 treatment classrooms and 2,188 students in 88 comparison classrooms.

Intervention Group

The study reported students’ outcomes after nine months of Student Team Reading and Writing implementation. The intervention components included (1) cooperative learning classroom processes; (2) a literature anthology for high-interest reading material; (3) explicit instruction in reading comprehension; (4) integrated reading, writing, and language arts instruction; and (5) a writing process approach to language arts. The reading part of the program consisted of three elements: (1) literature-related activities, (2) direct instruction in reading comprehension strategies, and (3) selection-related writing. In all of these activities, students worked in heterogeneous learning teams. All activities followed a regular cycle that involved teacher presentation, team practice, independent practice, peer pre-assessment, and individual accountability. Cooperative learning teams were used in instructional activities on a daily basis.

Comparison Group

The teachers in the comparison schools used traditional instructional methods. Students went to different teachers for reading and English. The reading teachers used a basal reading series and related materials (e.g., workbooks). The English teachers used an English literature anthology for their literature component and an English grammar textbook for the language arts component. The comparison teachers did not use cooperative learning processes in their instructional activities.

Outcome descriptions

For both the pretest and posttest, students took the California Achievement Test (CAT). Four subtests were used in the study: (1) Reading Vocabulary, (2) Reading Comprehension, (3) Language Mechanics, and (4) Language Expression. The pretests were given the spring before the study began; the posttests were given the following May near the end of the study. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

The teachers in the treatment schools were trained in Student Team Reading and Writing during their summer vacation for five half-day (three-hour) sessions during one week. The training consisted of an explanation of the processes and the rationale behind them. During the training, teachers participated in a simulation of major components of the program. The teachers also were given a detailed manual that described each of the components. During the first three months of implementation, the researchers observed and gave feedback to the teachers as they implemented the program. They also met with teachers during and after school, often attending meetings of the reading and language arts department. At these meetings, teachers’ questions and problems were discussed in order to resolve any problems they were having and to use their feedback to improve the program.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Stevens, R. J. (2006). Integrated reading and language arts instruction. RMLE Online: Research in Middle Level Education, 30(3), 1–12.

  • Stevens, R. J., & Durkin, S. (1992). Using student team reading and student team writing in middle schools: Two evaluations. Part II. Student team reading and student team writing: An evaluation of a middle school reading and writing program (pp. 1–11). Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on Effective Schooling for Disadvantaged Students.

 

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