The study was conducted in a suburban mid-Atlantic school. The school’s student population was 62% African American, 23% White, 11% Asian, and 3% Hispanic; about 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 8% were English learners. The students in this study received services in general education classes, with the support of special education teachers.
The study sample included six students who were identified as having LD by their district. Marian, a 10-year-old fifth grader, was a Black female with an IQ of 81 and a third-grade reading level. Robin, a 10-year-old fifth grader, was a Black male with an IQ of 96 and a third-grade reading level. Alan, a 12-year-old sixth grader, was a White male with an IQ of 98 and a fourth-grade reading level. Matilda, an 11-year-old sixth grader, was a Black female with an IQ of 86 and a third-grade reading level. Richard, a 10-year-old fifth grader, was a Black male with an IQ of 105 and a third-grade reading level. John, a 12-year-old sixth grader, was a Black male with an IQ of 117 and a fourth-grade reading level.
The six-step SRSD intervention was used to help students write essays. Students were taught how to use the “TREE” mnemonic strategy which included starting with a topic sentence, stating the reasons behind their arguments, evaluating their reasons, and ending with a conclusion. Once a stable baseline was obtained for both students in the first pair (Marian and Robin), SRSD instruction was started for that pair. Instruction for the second pair of students (Alan and Matilda) began once the first pair reached criterion level (one and a half times the number of functional elements produced during baseline). The same procedure was used for the third pair (Richard and John). The instruction period consisted of 40–50 minute sessions, and the number of sessions varied across pairs, ranging from 8–10 to complete the training. The first author of the study led the instruction. Post-training essay probes were administered immediately following SRSD instruction.
The study used a multiple probe design across pairs of students. During the baseline period, usual writing instruction processes were used, in which students were encouraged to plan, draft, edit, and publish their papers. During the baseline condition, students wrote essays without special instruction.
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