How does language support the production of texts by primary school boys and girls?

Submitted by: Natalie Lavoie
Abstract: Learning to write is challenging for elementary school pupils, particularly boys, who show poorer writing performance than girls (Herbert & Stipek, 2005, MELS, 2012). Offering them motivating and meaningful writing activities is therefore a big challenge for teachers (Colognesi & Lucchini, 2018). Since student generally enjoy interacting with their peers, why not take advantage of this interest and allow them to write in pairs? If this opportunity is given to them, what are their exchanges? How do these exchanges support the writing of texts? To date, few studies have compared boys’ interactions with girls’ and the impact of these interactions on the quality of texts produced. The purpose of this study was therefore to 1) describe the content of interactions of girls and boys in grade 6 (11-12 years old) when producing a dyad text and 2) compare the quality of texts produced by these students according to the writing context (alone and by two). 33 dyads participated in this study (n = 66, 35 girls and 31 boys). Students planned, wrote and edited / corrected a story individually and then in a dyad. Their writing performance (syntax, punctuation, vocabulary, text structure, lexical and grammatical spelling, length of writing) and interactions (frequency, content, number) were evaluated and compared. The first analyzes (mean) show that the exchanges, which mainly concerned the content of the story (F = 113, G = 99), the lexical spelling (F = 17.66, G = 16.67) and grammatical (F = 15.49, G = 13.42), allowed boys, more than girls, to take advantage of the dyad writing situation (G productions: alone = 77.29%, in dyad = 85.08%, productions F: alone = 84.14%, in dyad = 88.37%).