'Something different!' Does creative writing instruction influence students' writing performance?

Submitted by: Anouk ten Peze
Abstract: There are complaints in Dutch higher education that students' writing skills are insufficient and many teachers and students in secondary education are not satisfied with the writing curriculum (Bonset & Braaksma, 2008). Based on their meta-analysis, Graham et. al. (2012) conclude that the quality of texts can be improved via instruction in creativity, even if these instructions were not specifically tied to writing. Although creative writing is since 1998 no longer part of the Dutch secondary school curriculum, instruction in creative writing might be an effective way to improve students' writing skills in general.
In the present study, we compared the effects on text quality and writing processes of two courses: a creative writing course versus a regular text book adapted instruction in expository writing. Therefore, our research questions are:
• Does creative writing instruction based on divergent thinking enhancement improve the quality of students’ creative as well as expository texts?
• Does creative writing instruction influence students creative and expository writing processes?

A quasi-experiment was conducted in one secondary school in the Netherlands: 105 students of 4 classes participated (10th grade, 15-16 years). We used a switching replications design with three measurement occasions. Two classes received the experimental condition first, and then after the second measurement, the regular text book adapted instruction in expository writing, while the other classes received the conditions in the opposite order: the text book condition first, and then the experimental lessons.
The creative writing course consists of six creative writing lessons that are designed in collaboration with four participating teachers. During these lessons divergent thinking was stimulated, and students wrote short texts and received immediate peer-feedback.
During the pre- and post-test and the delayed post-test students completed two tasks: an expository and a creative writing task. During these tasks, their writing processes were recorded via key stroke logging and via screen recordings and questionnaires on students’ writing beliefs and creative ability were administered. The texts will be rated holistically. The data were collected in 2018 and the data analysis is in progress. The first results will be presented at ARLE 2019.

Bonset, H. & Braaksma, M. (2008). Het schoolvak Nederlands opnieuw onderzocht. Een inventarisatie van onderzoek van 1997 tot en met 2007 (A renewed investigation of the school subject Dutch. A stocktaking of research from 1997 till 2007). Enschede: SLO.
Graham, S., McKeown, D., Kiuhara, S., et. al. (2012). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for students in the elementary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 879-896.

Keywords: creative writing, writing processes, keystroke logging, intervention study, experiment